Saudi Cinema Launch Ends Decades-old Ban, Public Screenings Start Friday
RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia launched its first commercial movie theater on Wednesday, ending a nearly 40-year ban on cinemas under a push by the crown prince to modernize the deeply conservative Muslim kingdom.
Tickets will go on sale on Thursday for the first public viewings on Friday, according to Adam Aron, chief executive of operator AMC Entertainment Holdings.
“Saudis now are going to be able to go to a beautiful theater and watch movies the way they’re supposed to be watched: on a big screen,” he told Reuters ahead of the screening.
The smell of buttery popcorn filled the air as confetti rained down through the multi-story atrium where Aron and Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Awwad al-Awwad announced the launch and proceeded into the 450-seat hall.
The opening marks another milestone for reforms spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to open the country culturally and diversify the economy of the world’s top oil exporter.
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