Saudi cinema launch ends decades-old ban

28/09/2019 Posted by admin

Saudi Arabia has screened blockbuster ‘Black Panther’, ending a decades old ban on public cinema.Saudi Arabia has launched its first commercial movie theatre, ending a nearly 40-year ban on cinemas under a push by the crown prince to modernise the deeply conservative Muslim kingdom.
Nanjing Night Net

A red carpet invitation-only gala event attracted senior government officials, foreign dignitaries and select industry figures to watch Marvel’s superhero movie “Black Panther” on a 13.72 metre screen at a converted symphony concert hall in Riyadh on Wednesday.

Tickets will go on sale on Thursday for the first public viewings on Friday, according to Adam Aron, chief executive of operator AMC Entertainment Holdings.

“Saudis now are going to be able to go to a beautiful theatre and watch movies the way they’re supposed to be watched: on a big screen,” he told Reuters ahead of the screening.

The smell of buttery popcorn filled the air as confetti rained down through the multi-storey atrium where Aron and Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Awwad al-Awwad announced the launch and proceeded into the 450-seat hall.

The opening marks another milestone for reforms spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to open the country culturally and diversify the economy of the world’s top oil exporter.

The prince, 32, has already eased restrictions in the last two years, including on public concerts, women driving and gender mixing. The kingdom held its first-ever fashion show last week with a women-only audience.

Many Saudis have rejoiced at the end of the cinema ban, sharing praise and pictures of Prince Mohammed on social media.

Others expressed confusion at what they consider a government flip-flop, with one tweeting on Wednesday: “Remember you will stand in front of God … and you will bear the sins of all those who watched the movies.”

Some religious conservatives view cinema and acting as inconsistent with Islam.

There has been little apparent resistance to the social reforms, which seemed unthinkable just a few years ago, though the space for criticism is also limited. Several prominent clerics were arrested last year in an apparent bid to silence dissent.

Australian Associated Press

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