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12 December 2017

The ministry added that the government will begin licensing cinemas immediately.

According to some sources, cinemas will increase the size of the media market and motivate economic growth and diversity as it will contribute with around 90 billion riyals to the GDP and create more than 30,000 permanent jobs as well as more than 130,000 temporary jobs by 2030.

Saudi Arabia lifted on December 11 a decades-long ban on cinemas, part of a series of social reforms by the powerful crown prince that are shaking up the ultra-conservative kingdom."Commercial cinemas will be allowed to operate in the kingdom as of early 2018, for the first time in more than 35 years", the culture and information ministry said in a statement, adding that the government will begin licensing cinemas immediately.

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However, this move comes as a part of an ambitious reform plan initiated by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in April 2016, under the Vision 2030 banner, despite the discontent of ultra-conservative circles. It was hardliners such as these who played a leading role in shutting down theaters in the 1980s. People will also be able to participate in other entertainment events, like concerts starting in 2018.

Less than a year ago, Saudi Arabia's highest-ranking cleric had described cinemas as "a depravity".

Entertainment will build and operate movie theatres in Saudi Arabia which will show blockbusters such as The Last Jedi.

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"About 230,000 tourists from the kingdom went to the United Arab Emirates in the summer of 2010 simply for the sake of watching movies", the mayor of Riyadh, Prince Abdulaziz bin Ayyaf, told The National, earlier this year.

The Saudi government said a resolution was passed Monday to pave the way for licenses to be granted to commercial movie theaters, with the first cinemas expected to open in March.

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