Saudi Arabia to allow cinemas to reopen from early 2018

A Saudi woman takes a selfie with person dressed as the Beast from Disney's 2017 Beauty And The Beast film at a Comic Con Arabia event Riyadh on 25 November 2017Image copyright

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Fans dressed as famous film characters at a Comic Con Arabia event in Riyadh last month

Saudi Arabia has announced it will lift a ban on commercial cinemas that has lasted more than three decades.

The ministry of culture and information said it would begin issuing licences immediately and that the first cinemas were expected to open in March 2018.

The measure is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 social and economic reform programme.

The conservative Muslim kingdom had cinemas in the 1970s, but clerics persuaded authorities to close them.

As recently as January, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al al-Sheikh reportedly warned of the “depravity” of cinemas, saying they would corrupt morals if allowed.

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