Saudi Arabia on Monday announced a lifting of the kingdom’s 35-year ban on cinemas, AFP reports.
This is a landmark decision part of a series of social reforms ushered in by the powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.
Cinemas, once considered as a threat to cultural and religious identity in the ultra-conservative kingdom, were banned in the 1980s.
The development is coming about three months after the government granted Saudi women the right to drive cars for the first time in history.
The culture and information ministry announced in a statement that “commercial cinemas will be allowed to operate in the kingdom as of early 2018, for the first time in more than 35 years.”
The ministry also added that the government will begin licensing cinemas immediately.
Awwad Alawwad, the information minister, also said: “This marks a watershed moment in the development of the cultural economy in the kingdom.”
Saudi filmmakers have long argued that a ban on cinemas does not make sense in the age of YouTube.