Cinemas to re-open in Saudi Arabia as of 2018, Ministry of Information confirms

Saudi Arabia has announced that cinemas will be allowed in the country. (Shutterstock)
Updated 11 December 2017
0

Cinemas to re-open in Saudi Arabia as of 2018, Ministry of Information confirms

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.


Christchurch Muslims praise King Salman’s Hajj offer

Updated 29 min 24 sec ago
0

Christchurch Muslims praise King Salman’s Hajj offer

  • The president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury Shagaf Khan said people will be both financially and spiritually supported during the journey
  • Khan said a trip to Makkah would normally cost around 10,000 New Zealand dollars ($6,769), but King Salman’s offer would cover pilgrims “from the time they leave their house and come back”

CHRISTCHURCH: King Salman’s Hajj offer to host families of those affected by March’s Christchurch terror attacks is “something really special,” said the president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury, Shagaf Khan.
The Saudi king has offered to host and cover the expenses of 200 Hajj pilgrims when they journey to Makkah this year.
Khan said people will be both financially and spiritually supported during the journey. “For some of them, it’ll be a great comfort feeling like they’ve fulfilled the obligations of being a Muslim,” he added.
Khan said a trip to Makkah would normally cost around 10,000 New Zealand dollars ($6,769), but King Salman’s offer would cover pilgrims “from the time they leave their house and come back.”
When asked what the offer would mean for Canterbury’s Muslim community, Khan said it is part of the solidarity and support that has been shown to them since the Christchurch terror attacks, which claimed the lives of 51 people.
“Four months on … people still feel supported and they feel they’re still being remembered,” he added.
Sheikh Mohammed Amir, who is working closely with the local community, Saudi Arabia’s Embassy and its Ministry of Islamic Affairs to implement King Salman’s offer, said it will be available for those who had lost family members or been injured in the mosque attacks.
Canterbury’s Muslims are “very appreciative” of the offer, added Amir, who is chairman of the Islamic Scholars Board of New Zealand.
“I’ll say with full confidence that this will be a big relief for the deceased’s families, for the victims, for all those who’ve been injured and affected,” he said.
When asked how the organization of the pilgrimage is going, Amir said “so far, so good,” but added that it has been challenging without official records to track everyone down.
He said it is an honor and a responsibility to help organize the pilgrimage, which he has been helping to plan since the end of Ramadan. “People are very excited about it,” he added.
He said he believed that the king’s offer had been made to help people’s rehabilitation after the terror attacks.
“The community believes he’s going to contribute in building Christchurch and bringing people to a normal life,” Amir added.