Saudi PIF's subsidiary oversees historic launch of first public cinema

Saudi Arabia to open first cinema in 35 years

As part of ongoing reforms in ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia, Marvel's superhero film Black Panther which has broken many record in the world's movie industry will be shown in the country's cinema today, bringing an end to a 35-year ban on movies. "With that in mind we didn't just want to launch a cinema in Saudi Arabia, we wanted to launch one that fitted the scale of the occasion".

Saudi Arabia has launched its first commercial movie theatre, ending a almost 40-year ban on cinemas under a push by the crown prince to modernise the deeply conservative Muslim kingdom.

The theatre is to open to the public this week, and details on how to obtain tickets will be announced on Friday 20 April 2018.

A special panel at the Euromoney Saudi Arabia Conference, organized in partnership with the Ministry of Finance, will examine the economic impact of the growth of this new sector, the contribution to job creation and the investment opportunities for global investors.

AMC was the first company granted an operating license from the Saudi government.

Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Entertainment, said: "At AMC we have around 1,000 theatres and 11,000 screens across the globe - but none of them have caught the world's imagination like this one". "Hollywood has been showing movies in the Middle East for a long time [and] has proven that it can be sensitive to the local cultures here and in the region".

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In 2017, the government said it would lift the ban as part of ambitious economic and social reforms that include retaining money that Saudis now spend on entertainment in trips to Dubai, Bahrain and elsewhere.

"For those that would like to come and enjoy watching the movie at the movie theater, they are more than welcome", he said. "Younger people and older people will be flooding to the place to see the show", he added.

Movies screened in Saudi cinemas will be subject to approval by government censors, as is the case in other Arab countries. 'We hope over the next five years to be opening some 40 movie theaters in different cities, which should total 100 theaters, target planned for 2030, explained Alawwad. It said it expects the first venue to open later this year.

Saudi Arabia said past year that movies "will be subject to censorship according to media policy standards of the Kingdom", to ensure they comply with Saudi values and principles and do not contradict Sharia, or Islamic, law.

The comments were in response to a Wall Street Journal report on Monday that US President Donald Trump's administration was seeking to assemble an Arab force, including troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to replace a US military contingent in Syria.

Saudi movie fans already got a taste of Tinseltown in January, when a film festival in Jeddah screened "The Emoji Movie" and "Captain Underpants".

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