For 35 years in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, cinemas and almost every type of art was banned from the land. Now, after lifting it, we finally see progress towards cultural advancement. Clouds are clearing over the kingdom, it seems. As of this last weekend, they began screening kids films in a makeshift theater.
However, their first permanent theaters will open in March. We’re expecting to see concerts, comedy shows and other forms of art in this liberating movement. Until the theaters open, the authorities opted to make arrangements in the cultural hall in Jeddah. They’ve equipped it with a projector, red carpet and a popcorn machine.
“Until now, there is no infrastructure for movie theatres, so we are trying to take advantage of [alternative] venues to approximate the cinematic form,” said Mamdouh Salim, whose Cinema 70 brand organised the week-long screenings.
“We tried to use these films to be a starting point as the first cinematic screening after the decision on December 11 to permit movie theatres.”
The ban started in the early 1980s under pressure from Islamists; as Saudi society turned towards a particularly conservative form of religion. It discouraged public entertainment and public mixing between men and women.