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

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.”


King Salman congratulates nation on Saudi National Day

Updated 23 September 2020

King Salman congratulates nation on Saudi National Day

  • As part of a tweet to congratulate the nation, the king said that he is looking forward to a “more beautiful” future
  • Earlier, the King addressed the 75th UN General Assembly

RIYADH: King Salman expressed his pride in the Kingdom and its loyal citizens as Saudi Arabia marked its 90th National Day.
As part of a tweet to congratulate the Saudi nation, the king said that he is looking forward to a “more beautiful” future.
He also thanked God for security and stability in the Kingdom.
Earlier, the King addressed the 75th UN General Assembly where he said that the Kingdom has chosen the “path of the future” through its Vision 2030 and called for peaceful coexistence and solidarity between countries.