Saudi Arabia Lifts Ban On Cinemas

Saudi state media said on Wednesday that Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia’s main sovereign wealth fund, had signed a deal with AMC Entertainment Holdings to operate cinemas in the kingdom.

The two sides are expected to establish up to 40 theatres in 15 Saudi cities over the next five years, state news agency SPA reported.

Further ahead, between 50 and 100 cinemas will be set up in about 25 Saudi cities by 2030, it added.

The first cinema will open in Riyadh on April 18, according to a statement by the information ministry’s Centre for International Communication.

It will reportedly be located in the capital’s King Abdullah Financial District, in a site originally intended to be a symphony concert hall.

The announcement comes after the Saudi government said in December 2017 that it would lift a 35-year ban on cinemas and allow films to be screened as early as next year.

However, critics at the time questioned whether the move signalled a new era of free speech.

Saudi Arabia placed a complete ban on cinemas in the early 1980s.