The impact of cinemas


Al-Madina newspaper

WE have seen so many contradictions in the past. For example, some agencies organized film festivals in the Kingdom when there was a blanket ban on cinemas.

Some short films produced by Saudis have won international awards even though those filmmakers were unable to screen their works inside their country due to the absence of cinema houses.

A number of Saudi film producers have come to prominence in recent years. They have established their distinguished presence in the industry as a result of their excellent works. In the past 10 years Saudi filmmakers have bagged more than 60 awards at Arab and international film festivals.

During the period Saudis have produced about 300 films. Unfortunately none of them were screened inside the Kingdom due to the absence of an authority to license cinema houses in the country after they were banned 35 years ago.

Going to cinemas is considered one of the main recreations for Saudis who travel abroad as tourists. Family members go to the cinema to watch movies together and this is one of the main activities of Saudi tourists while visiting foreign countries.

Of course, some families have their own private cinemas inside their houses to watch films with friends and relatives.

Now the board of directors of the General Commission for Audiovisual Media, chaired by the minister of culture and information, agreed to issue licenses to people intending to open cinema houses in the Kingdom.

Saudi authorities will start issuing cinema licenses after preparing the bylaw for presentation of audiovisual programs

I believe citizens would be as happy over this decision as they did when authorities took other strategic decisions such as allowing women to drive on Saudi roads.

A survey conducted by an electronic newspaper has shown the public’s ecstatic response on the decision to allow cinema halls in the country.

According to the survey, 90 percent of Saudis in different age groups endorse the plan to open cinema houses to screen films that discuss real issues, of course conforming to our values and traditions and not contravening Islamic principles.

The Ministry of Culture and Information has stated that the content of films being screened at cinemas will be monitored on the basis of the Kingdom’s media policy and standards. The content should comply with the Kingdom’s values and traditions and should be rich with objective topics and should not violate moral values upheld by the Saudi people.

Saudis have been waiting for this beautiful decision for long. It will contribute to creating a suitable atmosphere for the youth to spend their spare time constructively instead sitting along the road, chatting with friends late into the night and engaging in dubious activities.

The move to open cinema houses across the country will have a positive economic impact as it will add SR90 billion annually to the Kingdom’s gross domestic product. It will also create 30,000 permanent jobs and 130,000 temporary jobs by 2030.