Saudi Arabia Lifts 35-Year Cinema Ban, Screens Emoji Movie

January 16, 2018 in World News

The country has longed banned the showing of movies in public, as well as the mixing of men and women at cinemas.

Saudi Arabia has begun screening movies after a 35-year-ban on commercial movie theaters was lifted last month.

The development is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s liberalising reform drive, which has already made strides by opening the door for concerts, comedy shows and women drivers in the past year. The government is looking to boost the economy and ease its dependence on oil. The real answer it turns out is perhaps the most critically reviled US film of 2017: “The Emoji Movie”. One of the first screenings took place this past weekend, and it was a double feature of The Emoji Movie and Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie.

A trade delegation of 60 Japanese companies led by the Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Hiroshige Seko, will attend the Saudi Arabia-Japan Business Forum on Sunday in Riyadh, under the co-chairmanship of Saudi Commerce and Investment Minister, Majid Al-Qasabi. “The cynical, lazy ignorance of this movie is heartbreaking”, reported the The Verge.

The Emoji Movie” was the first movie to screen in Saudi Arabia following the recent lifting of a 35-year ban on cinemas. The film is light-hearted and children will enjoy it, which gives the ideal vibe for the moment.

Mamdouh Salim, who organized the screening, told Reuters: “We tried to use these films to be a starting point as the first cinematic screening after the decision on December 11 to permit movie theatres”.

Any film shown in Saudi Arabia will still be censored according to the ultra-conservative country’s “moral values”. It was also reported that the movies “will be subjected to censorship based on the media policy of the kingdom”.

After watching The Emoji Movie with his wife and daughter, 28-year-old Sultan al-Otaibi told Reuters that Saudis are enjoying being able to watch films at cinemas rather than at home.

‘It’s more comfortable, more fun to have a change of scenery and an activity on the weekend.

The Saudi government will now start to built permanent cinemas, instead of the makeshift tents seen in Jeddah, and it is estimated that as many as 300 could be satisfying film-buffs in the Gulf Kingdom by 2030.


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