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Saudi Arabia is now allowing movie theaters to operate 35 years after the cinema ban was implemented.
In the 1980s, the Saudi Arabian government ceased the operations of cinemas, which was a move prompted by the country’s conservative culture and the notion that Western movies are immoral. But in December last year, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman decided to lift the ban as part of the modernization plans for the country.
Black Panther, one of Hollywood’s box-office hits, was the first Western film screened in cinemas in Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, / riˈyɑd / after the ban’s lifting. The film revolves around the fictional African kingdom called Wakanda, which is ruled by a young king who decided to utilize its resources for the common good.
Reports say that Black Panther’s plot reflects Saudi Arabia’s situation. Like Wakanda, the country is dependent mainly on its natural resources, particularly oil. Because oil reserves have greatly contributed to Saudi Arabia’s wealth, Prince Salman aims to utilize these resources for the country’s political and economic reorganization before they become depleted.
According to the Saudi Arabian government, the lifting of the ban on cinemas is in line with Prince Salman’s “Vision 2030,” a program that focuses on economic and social reforms. Culture and Information Minister Dr. Awwad Alawwad believes that the revival of cinemas will benefit the local economy as it boosts household spending on entertainment. At the same time, it will provide job opportunities in the country.
By 2030, the government aims to establish around 350 cinemas to cater to Saudi Arabia’s population of over 32 million.