Saudi Arabia to start raising energy prices from January 1

The Saudi government expects cinemas to commence operation by March of 2018. Fayez  AFP

Saudi Arabia, in a major announcement today, said it will allow cinemas early next year for the first time in more than 35 years as part of the kingdom's plan to revive the entertainment industry and overhaul the economy. Many of Saudi Arabia's clerics view Western movies and even Arabic films made in Egypt as sinful. The move to reopen them was pushed by the country's young crown prince, who is also believed to be the driving force behind the previous social reforms the kingdom announced recently. This is expected to contribute $24 billion to the Saudi economy and generate 30,000 jobs by 2030, according to AP & Bloomberg, which quoted a press release issued by the Saudi Ministry of Culture & Information.

Activists and scholars have criticised Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman, for purchasing Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi at a record $450 million last month. In 2012, Haifaa al-Mansour became the first Saudi woman to direct a feature.

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Reuters news agency reports the government will make sure the movies are "in line with values and principles in place, and do not contradict with Sharia Laws and moral values in the kingdom".

"It is a lovely day in #Saudi Arabia!"

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Nevertheless, the theaters will be regulated to ensure that the movies are in line with Saudi religious standards.

Minister of Culture and Information Awwad Al-Awwad on Monday presided over a meeting of the board of directors of the General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM) at the commission's headquarters in Riyadh, in a meeting which approved the issuance of licenses to those wishing to open cinema houses in the Kingdom.

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As part of its plan to gradually eliminate fuel subsidies, Saudi Arabia plans to raise domestic gasoline prices by 80 percent in January, and make them level with worldwide prices until 2023 or possibly 2025, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, quoting a person familiar with the Kingdom's plans.

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