JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture and Information has announced that commercial cinemas will be allowed to operate in the Kingdom as of early 2018.
The announcement marks the first time in 35 years that cinema theaters will be allowed to operate in the country.
Meanwhile, the Board of the General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM), which is chaired by the Minister of Culture and Information Awwad Alawwad, passed a resolution on Monday allowing the authority to grant licenses to cinemas.
In a released statement, Alawwad said: “As the industry regulator, the General Commission for Audiovisual Media has started the process for licensing cinemas in the Kingdom. We expect the first cinemas to open in March 2018.”
The announcement comes as part of the Vision 2030 social and economic reform program in the Kingdom and follows the announcement that women in the Kingdom will be allowed to drive come June 2018.
The move marks the first time that cinemas have been licensed in the country since the early 1980s.
“This marks a watershed moment in the development of the cultural economy in the Kingdom,” Alawwad added in the statement.
“Opening cinemas will act as a catalyst for economic growth and diversification; by developing the broader cultural sector we will create new employment and training opportunities, as well as enriching the Kingdom’s entertainment options.”
According to authorities, Vision 2030 aims to increase Saudi household spending on cultural and entertainment activities from 2.9 percent currently to six percent by 2030.
The announcement opens up a domestic market of more than 32 million people and it is forecast that, by 2030, Saudi Arabia will be home to more than 300 cinemas, according to the Board of the General Commission for Audiovisual Media.
Source Credit: Arab News