Black Panther screening to end Saudi ban

Soft start as kingdom ends 35-year prohibition

by Amber Wilkinson

Black Panther screening will end Saudi cinema ban after 35 years
Black Panther screening will end Saudi cinema ban after 35 years

A private movie screening of Black Panther will mark the end of a 35-year ban on cinema in Saudi Arabia tonight.

The invitation-only screening - which will be held in a newly built complex in Riyadh - will be attended by both men and women.

It was described as a "landmark moment in the transformation of Saudi Arabia into a more vibrant economy and society" by the minister for culture.

The ending of the movie ban - which will be followed by a wave of cinemas opening their doors to the public next month - is one of a number of social reforms driven by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is generally referred to as MBS. His aim, with the backing of his father King Salman, is to combat the falling oil price by creating new jobs and boosting the local economy as part of what he has termed Vision 2030.

Before the cinema ban in the Eighties, cinemas had been extremely popular in the country. After the ultraconservative restrictions, people were forced to create home cinemas or travel to Kuwait or Dubai to watch mainstream movies - spending an estimated five per cent of Saudi GDP. Now US cinema giant AMC have entered into a partnership with the Saudi Development and Investment Entertainment Company to open 40 cinemas in the next five years. Films shown will still be subject to government censorship.

The Kingdom expects that by 2030, there will be 300 cinemas, worth almost £17 billion to the economy.

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