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Saudi Arabia to lift decades-long ban on movie theaters

Watching a screen (Kenneth Lu/Flickr)

Saudi Arabia on Monday said it would lift the kingdom’s decades-long ban on movie theaters, part of reforms by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The government passed a resolution paving the way for licenses to be granted to commercial movie theaters for the first time in 35 years. They could open in March.

The conservative kingdom shut movie theaters down in the 1980s during a wave of ultraconservatism in the Middle Eastern country that has a strict Islamic code.

The move is the latest effort by the young crown prince, 32, to consolidate power and socially reform a nation that has a majority young population.

A ban on women driving will be lifted next year, and concerts and other forms of entertainment have recently been permitted.

Last week, Prince Mohammed bin Salman was the reported buyer of a rare

Leonardo da Vinci painting worth half a billion dollars.

It was not immediately clear what films would be allowed to be screened.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, 81, chose Prince Mohammed bin Salman to be his successor earlier this year. The prince has since launched what he’s called an anti-corruption crackdown that has led to the arrest of dozens of princes, military officers, businessmen and top officials. It has also cemented his power.


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