12/12/2017, 12.44
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After 35 years, cinema returns to Saudi Arabia

The first cinema should open its doors next March. They were closed due to pressure from religious authorities in 1982. The crown prince's reforms continue in the context of the "Vision 2030" program, towards a more "moderate and open" country.

Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - After 35 years, cinema returns to Saudi Arabia. Yesterday by the Ministry of Culture and Information announced the immediate  issuing of licenses and the opening of the first cinema in March next year.

Movie theatres have been absent from the life of the Saudis since their closure in 1982, decided under pressure from the religious authorities. Last January, the great mufti Abdul Aziz Al al-Sheikh warned they are responsible for "depravity" and corruption of the morals.

The ministry statement said the decision was "central to the government's program to encourage open and \rich national culture for the Saudis". More than 300 cinemas and 2 thousand screens are expected to be inaugurated by 2030.

The measure is part of the "Vision 2030" social and economic reform program commissioned by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. One of the goals is to increase national spending in cultural and entertainment activities from 2.9% to 6% by the end of the project.

This year, the Saudi authorities have also started sponsoring concerts. The American hip hop singers Nelly and Algerian Cheb Khaled will perform in the city of Jeddah in two days’ time - even if the event is open to men only. Last week, Hiba Tawaji was the first female musician to perform at a concert in Saudi Arabia. It is the umpteenth opening promoted by the Saudi prince, after the green light to women drivers and their entry into the stadiums. Mohammed bin Salman intends to make the kingdom, famous for its strict vision of Wahhabite Islam, a "moderate and open" country. The "revolution" also embraces Islam, according to a vision in which "our religion translates into tolerance" shelving Wahhabism once and for all.

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