Movie theatres will not be segregated by gender, according to reports.
It’ll be the first public cinema in the kingdom in 35 years, and it’s set to open its doors this month.
A movie theatre in Saudi Arabia’s capital will welcome film fans from April 18, authorities said this week, marking the end of the nation’s long-standing ban on the entertainment venue.
And it’s just the start. In an agreement with US cinema chain AMC Entertainment Holdings, the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information revealed it will open around 40 movie theatres across the kingdom in the next five years.
The first will be located in Riyadh’s King Abdullah financial district, and will not be segregated by gender like most other public places in the kingdom, according to The Guardian.
The first film the cinema will screen will be hit Marvel superhero flick Black Panther, a source added to Reuters.
“The restoration of cinemas will … help boost the local economy by increasing household spending on entertainment while supporting job creation in the Kingdom,” Culture and Information Minister Awwad Alawwad said in a statement.
The move comes as part of Vision 2030, the kingdom’s post-oil economy plan under which the government aims to increase the percentage of women in the nation’s workforce from 23 per cent to 28 per cent by 2020.
The initiative, spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aims to make Saudi a more modern, tourist-friendly destination.
Under the plans, King Salman issued a historic royal decree in September, allowing females the right to lawfully gain driving licences in the kingdom from June 2018.
Women will be able to attend sports events in stadiums in three cities from this year, and female students in the kingdom are now allowed to carry their phones while on campus.
Additionally, more Saudi females have been appointed to top jobs, a royal directive allowed women to use certain government services without a male guardian’s consent, and recent approval was issued for the go-ahead of women’s gyms.