Black Panther graces Saudi cinema after decades-long ban

  • lifting the veil
- Reuters, RIYADH

Apr 20, 2018-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.

A red carpet invitation-only gala event on Wednesday attracted senior government officials, foreign dignitaries and select industry figures to watch Marvel’s superhero movie “Black Panther” on a 45-foot screen at a converted symphony concert hall in Riyadh. Tickets went 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.

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.

Many Saudis have rejoiced at the end of the cinema ban, sharing praise and pictures of Prince Mohammed on social media. The kingdom shuttered cinemas in the early 1980s under pressure from Islamists. 

Saudis have nonetheless been avid consumers of Western media and culture. Hollywood films and TV series are widely watched at home and private film screenings have been largely tolerated for years.

Published: 20-04-2018 06:32

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