UAE works on breaking up with Saudi Arabia, according to diplomatic leaks

Saudi flag 23 Feb 2018

Al-Zahrani pointed out that there are available spaces in commercial complexes that can be converted to movie theatres after requirements are fulfilled.

The initiative is a part of the ongoing Vision 2030 program led by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a bid to socially reform the conservative kingdom.

Dr. Awwad Alawwad, the Saudi Minister of Culture and Information, and Adam Aron, chief executive and president of AMC Entertainment, joined diplomats and industry experts to watch Black Panther in the first in a series of invitation-only screenings during April.

The crown prince is behind measures such as lifting a ban on women driving that will go into effect this summer, and bringing back concerts and other forms of entertainment to satiate the desires of the country's majority young population.

AMC, which is owned by Chinese property and entertainment conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group, has plans to open at least 30 cinemas across the kingdom in the next five years.

The kingdom expects to have more than 300 movie theaters by 2030, and theaters could reportedly open to the public as soon as next month.

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

In particular, the country has at long last allowed women to drive and serve in the army as well as limiting the overwhelming powers of the religious police.

By the 1980s, movie screenings were largely banned unless they took place in private residential compounds for foreigners or at cultural centers run by foreign embassies.

However, women in Saudi Arabia still have limited rights.

America's biggest movie theater company, AMC, will show the Hollywood blockbuster on Wednesday at its new single-screen cinema in the financial district of the capital Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia said a year ago 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 Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced earlier this month that the wholly-owned Development and Investment Entertainment Company has signed an agreement with USA giant AMC Entertainment to manage its cinemas in Saudi Arabia.

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