Taking your family to the movies in Saudi Arabia will become a lot easier next year… when there will be theaters again. The government has officially declared that public movie theaters will return for the first time in 35 years.
The move had been expected for a little while now, since building and opening theaters was a focus in the Future Investment Initiative held in October in the city of Riyadh. This is part of the Vision 2030 program led by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
Theaters were originally closed in 1982 when the clerics persuaded the government to do so.
The move was explained by the Minister of Culture and Information, Awwad bin Saleh Alawwad, as a catalyst for economic growth and diversification. He said:
"By developing the broader cultural sector we will create new employment and training opportunities, as well as enriching the Kingdom's entertainment options."
Local reports say that the theaters are likely to open starting in March. While there will likely be a certain amount of censorship, the General Entertainment Authority has said there goal was to be, "like, 99% of what is going on in London and New York."
The board of the General Commission for Audiovisual Media passed a resolution allowing the authority to grant cinema licenses. It's projected that there will be over 300 cinemas with more than 2,000 screens by 2030. Saudi Arabia is a young, growing audience with 65%-70% of the population under the age of 30, well within the key demographic that most films are target for.