This has been rumoured for some while, so not really a surprise – many new commercial developments have had cinemas built already, in anticipation of this move – but a very welcome sign that Saudi Arabia is finally leaving behind its more draconian laws and allowing the arts to, if not yet flourish, at least develop more freely.

The Board of the General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM), chaired by the Minister of Culture and Information Awwad Alawwad, passed a resolution to allow the granting of licenses to cinemas.

As the industry regulator, the General Commission for Audiovisual Media has started the process for licensing cinemas in the Kingdom. We expect the first cinemas to open in March 2018.

Bizarrely it will be another three months after that before Saudi women will be allowed to drive to the cinemas (or anywhere else) themselves. That draconian law will bite the dust in June 2018, as part of the country’s Vision 2030 social and economic reform programme.

Alawwad added,

Opening cinemas will act as a catalyst for economic growth and diversification; by developing the broader cultural sector we will create new employment and training opportunities, as well as enriching the Kingdom’s entertainment options.

It is expected there will be more than 300 cinemas in the country by 2030, serving a population of 32 million people.

Surprisingly, books are already quite a force in the Saudi infotainment sector.

 

The Jeddah Book Fair kicks off later this week (December 14-24) for an eleven day book festival that will see upwards of 50,000 visitors (10am-10pm Saturday to Thursday and 4pm-Midnight on Fridays).

Small beer compared to the Riyadh International Book Fair in March, that last year had 375,000 visitors.

In March of this year Saudi Arabia’s first ever comic con took place.

The Global New Renaissances continues!