Saudi Arabia Lifts 35-Year Ban on Movie Theaters

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2018 is shaping up to be a big year for Saudi Arabia: women will finally be able to drive, perhaps even to the movies.

On Monday, Deadline reported Saudi Arabia officially lifted its ban on movie theaters, which was in place for more than 35 years.

The Minister of Culture and Information, Awwad bin Saleh Alawwad, heralded the move as one that would help the country’s “economic growth and diversification”:

Opening cinemas will act as a catalyst for economic growth and diversification; by developing the broader cultural sector we will create new employment and training opportunities, as well as enriching the Kingdom’s entertainment options.

The first movie theaters in Saudi Arabia will reportedly open up in March.

The lifts on entertainment prohibitions are part of Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030,” which is meant to help foster economic growth.

Movie theaters were banned in the 1980s, as they were seen as a threat to Islam.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman said he wants to focus on the country practicing a “more moderate Islam.”

While allowing movies will be a shift away from the hardline Islamic values, the movies shown will reportedly still be censored so they’re “in line with values and principles in place and do not contradict with Sharia Laws and moral values in the kingdom.”

Deadline predicts there will be over 300 movie theaters by 2030.

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