Religious clerics in Saudi Arabia may constantly warn of the ‘depravity’ of cinemas and music concerts, but that isn’t stopping Saudis from coming to Bahrain to watch their favorite movies, according to a top Saudi official, who is reported as telling Saudi newspaper Al-Hayat that up to 98% of cinema goers in Bahrain are from Saudi Arabia.
Ahmed Al Mulla, who is the Saudi Film Festival Director, says that Saudis are also visiting Egypt and Dubai to watch movies in cinemas, but that the highest percentage by far is for those visiting Bahrain.
“I learned about this trend from some of my friends in the showbiz in Bahrain,” said Al Mulla adding that art is important for human beings and its absence will “turn them into monsters”.
Meanwhile Khalid al-Falih, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, recently announced that the kingdom is considering opening cinemas; “The extremist religious idea must be eradicated from the cultural situation, not just from cinema but from music, sculpture and other art forms,” Al Mulla said, adding that culture and arts in the kingdom have been criminalised in Saudi Arabia for the past 30 years.
“We were demanding to alleviate this fierce attitude before it harms the country, but no one listened,” said Al Mulla.
Talks about reopening cinema halls have grown in the kingdom, and Saudi Arabia has created a government agency to support private companies that organise entertainment events, under a wide-ranging “Vision 2030” plan for economic and social reform.
recently there has been a lot of talk about Saudi Arabia becoming less restrictive and that cinemas will possibly reopen soon. The recently established General Authority for Entertainment has re-allowed music concerts to take place in the kingdom.