Soft opening for Saudi cinemas, then curtain up in May

People attend a film festival in Riyadh recently. (AFP file photo)
Updated 17 April 2018
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Soft opening for Saudi cinemas, then curtain up in May

  • Cinemas were popular in major Saudi cities 50 years ago
  • Cinema revival in the Kingdom is part of widespread social reforms

JEDDAH: A new era of cinema history in Saudi Arabia will be ushered in at a private film screening this week.

The screening, a collaboration between the Saudi Development and Investment Entertainment Company and US theater giant AMC Entertainment, will take place on Wednesday at a newly built cinema complex in Riyadh’s King Abdullah Financial District.

The private screening — one of a series of invitation-only shows — comes as cinemas in the Kingdom prepare to open their doors following the end of a 35-year ban. The move is part of widespread social reforms led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Cinemas will open their doors to the public in May, with tickets expected to go on sale online later this month.

Three screens will open in the third quarter of 2018, with 40 or more cinema complexes due to be built in the next five years.

Half a century ago, cinemas were popular in major cities in Saudi Arabia. Oil workers in the 1930s set up large outdoor screens to watch US and European films.

Cinemas quickly spread across the Kingdom, with 30 theaters operating in Jeddah alone. 

But religious changes in the Kingdom in the early 1980s led to a ban, forcing people to install home theaters or travel to neighboring countries to enjoy global films.

Saudis have been watching the rebirth of cinema in the Kingdom with growing excitement.

Jeddah student Amani Al-Ghoraibi told Arab News: “It will be a new experience that everyone is ready to embrace.” 

Teacher Maha Al-Zahrani said: “Cinemas were only banned because of some hard-liners. All citizens want them back.”


Saudi Cabinet welcomes Ethiopian, Eritrean peace agreement

King Salman chairs the Cabinet session in Jeddah on Tuesday. (SPA)
Updated 18 September 2018
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Saudi Cabinet welcomes Ethiopian, Eritrean peace agreement

  • The king briefed the Cabinet on the results of his meetings with Eritrea President Isaias Afwerki and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali to sign the Jeddah Peace Agreement
  • The king wished the two countries further security, prosperity and stability

JEDDAH: King Salman chaired the Cabinet’s session at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah on Tuesday.

The king briefed the Cabinet on the results of his meetings with Eritrea President Isaias Afwerki and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali to sign the Jeddah Peace Agreement.

King Salman expressed his congratulations to the two countries and said that he hoped the signing of the agreement would be a strong basis for closer cooperation and friendship, achieving security and stability, and would positively affect the security and stability of the region.

The king also congratulated Djibouti and Eritrea on their historic meeting in Jeddah — which came in response to his invitation — wishing the two countries further security, prosperity and stability.

The Cabinet praised the efforts of the two countries’ leaders to restore relations between them to establish a new stage that would witness a great development in relations and further cooperation.

The Cabinet congratulated the king and crown prince on the success of these efforts, which resulted in the signing of the Jeddah Peace Agreement and also the historic meeting between Djibouti and Eritrea after ten years of severed relations. 

The Cabinet praised the resolutions of the 150th ordinary session of the Arab League’s Council at the level of foreign ministers held in Cairo, and the statement issued by the Arab Quartet Ministerial Committee held on the sidelines of the 150th session of the Arab League’s Council, on the follow-up of the crisis with Iran and ways to address its interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries.

The Cabinet highlighted the terrorism practiced by Iran through its interference in Arab affairs, which needs cooperation to confront and deter, reiterating that the Kingdom has made efforts to combat terrorism and has not hesitated to provide support with the cooperation of the international community to address this.

The Cabinet expressed the Kingdom’s strong condemnation of the suicide bombings north of Tikrit in Iraq, the Somali capital of Mogadishu and Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, expressing condolences to the families of the victims, the governments and peoples of Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan.