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
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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.


Sandstorms cause major health problems, expert warns

A choking cloud of sand covers the Saudi capital. (AP)
Updated 23 May 2018
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Sandstorms cause major health problems, expert warns

  • People should take adequate precautions during sandstorms in Saudi Arabia, says scientist
  • Dr. Sultan Ayoub Meo: The diseases of the respiratory system induced by air pollutants are influenced by the type of dust and duration of exposure to the particles

JEDDAH: An eminent scientist has advised people to take adequate precautions during sandstorms in Saudi Arabia, which can cause a number of health problems, including respiratory complications.

Dr. Sultan Ayoub Meo, professor at the College of Medicine at King Saud University, Riyadh, said that sandstorms are the main cause of bacterial and viral infections, especially among elderly people.

Meo, referring to a series of sandstorms that hit various regions of the Kingdom in the past six weeks, said that “a large number of people, exposed to sandstorms, have complaints of allergic rhinitis, runny nose, wheeze, cough, chest tightness, acute asthmatic attack, eye irritation, redness of the eyes, headache, sleep disturbance and psychological disturbances.”

These are in addition to the respiratory symptoms more common in children and elderly people, he said.

“The most vulnerable part of the body to sandstorms is the respiratory system,” Meo said. “People who are exposed to them are more vulnerable to the air pollutants, as the dust particles enter the respiratory system and cause various health problems.” 

The diseases of the respiratory system induced by air pollutants are influenced by the type of dust and duration of exposure to the particles, he said.

He pointed out that the environmental protection agencies must make use of the print and electronic media to provide information about the exact date and time of sandstorms to minimize unnecessary exposure.

 He advised people to wear masks, which are designed to filter out small particulates, and also airtight goggles to protect the eyes. 

He also suggested that in the desert areas, people might “cultivate the land and adopt a fallow system” as the cultivation and fallow system minimizes the frequency of sandstorms. 

Meo said that the choking dust in sandstorms contains “a large number of bacteria, fungi and viruses.”