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>> Saudi Arabia isn't short of impressive cinematic backdrops, and now it's getting movie theaters to show them in. The kingdom has lifted its 35 year ban on cinemas, and movie theaters are expected to open as soon as March. The ban was overturned as Saudi Arabia steps up reform efforts.
In 2008, there was a brief attempt to ease restrictions. A movie produced by a company owned by a Saudi royal prince was screened in two cities across the kingdom, and audiences loved it. But there was strong resistance from the kingdom's religious police. More recently, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has been driving a program of social and economic reforms under the Vision 2030 banner.
This also includes plans to lift a ban on women driving. Saudi authorities anticipate 300 movie theaters opening by 2030, with more than 2,000 screens. The government says the kingdom has been hit hard by low oil prices. But it predicts that the cinema industry will contribute more than $24 billion to its economy by 2030 and create 30,000 permanent jobs.