Saudi Cinemas have now opened once more, following a 35-year-old ban on screenings which was recently lifted.
His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, has instigated numerous changes within the Saudi kingdom, in an effort to create a more progressive and inclusive society.
Saudi women now have the facilities to learn to drive (something which was previously unavailable to them). 2015 also saw the introduction of a voting system which also allowed Saudi women to have their say.
Moviegoers flocked to screenings this week, albeit to makeshift theaters (it has been reported that cinema chains and developers are currently eyeing up their prospects within the country), and a number of animated feature films were shown to delighted audiences. It has been stated that permanent cinemas could be opened as soon as March of this year.
Mamdouh Salim, whose Cinema 70 brand organized the week-long screenings, spoke to Reuters about the initial screenings, which included The Emoji Movie and Captain Underpants.
“Until now, there is no infrastructure for movie theaters, so we are trying to take advantage of (alternative) venues to approximate the cinematic form,” said Salim, “We tried to use these films to be a starting point as the first cinematic screening after the decision on Dec. 11 to permit movie theaters.”
Reuters added; “The authorities expect to open 300 cinemas with 2,000 screens by 2030, building an industry it hopes will contribute more then 90 billion riyals ($24 billion) to the economy and create 30,000 permanent jobs.”
The Saudi population is predominantly made up of young people, who currently comprise an astonishing 70% of the overall populace. The current trend for young people seeking entertainment is to travel to neighbouring countries, which is something that the Saudi government would reportedly like to reduce, thereby increasing the economy internally.