Alawwad said: “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.” It is the first time that cinemas have been licensed in the country since the early 1980s. In the 1970s, there were many movie theaters in Saudi Arabia but they were seen as contrary to Arab cultural norms.
Later, with the exception of one IMAX theater in Khobar, in the Scitech complex, a science and technology center offering exhibits that deal with varying science and technologies as well as an astronomic observatory, there were no cinemas in Saudi Arabia. There were continuous objections of religious conservatives during the Islamic revival movement in the 1980s. On the other part, cinema of Saudi Arabia is a fairly small industry, expected to increase now. “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,” the Minister of Culture said.