Saudi Arabia plans to end its 35-year ban on movie theaters early next year as part of a package of social reforms by the crown prince, according to Agence France-Presse.
“Commercial cinemas will be allowed to operate within the kingdom as of early 2018, for the first time in more than 35 years,” the culture and information ministry said in a statement Monday.
The goal is to have 2,000 screens in more than 300 cinemas by 2030, and the government promised to start licensing cinemas immediately.
The move represents a seismic shift in attitudes for the notoriously strict Muslim country. Saudi Arabia is embracing entertainment as part of a broad reform effort known as Vision 2030, which is built around three themes, according to the government’s website: a vibrant society, a thriving economy and an ambitious nation.