Saudi Arabia renews offer to deploy troops to Syria

Syria airstrike

Men and women will also be allowed to sit together at the initial screening and during showings for the general public, according to CNN.

The theatre is to open to the public this week, and details on how to obtain tickets will be announced on Friday 20 April 2018.

Late a year ago, Saudi Arabia announced it would allow cinemas to open in the country as part of its economic overhaul, dubbed Vision 2030.

Al-Zahrani pointed out that there are available spaces in commercial complexes that can be converted to movie theatres after requirements are fulfilled. Many Saudi clerics view Western movies and even Arabic films made in Egypt and Lebanon as sinful.

The initiative is a part of the ongoing Vision 2030 program led by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a bid to socially reform the conservative kingdom.

The crown prince is behind measures such as lifting a ban on women driving that will go into effect this summer, and bringing back concerts and other forms of entertainment desired by the country's majority young population.

Supervisor of the cinema sector in Saudi Arabia, Badr Al-Zahrani, said: "The commission has worked a lot during the past months to coordinate with different parties including municipal and rural affairs as well as customs and civil defence to organise the investors' entry to the market".

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The comments were in response to a Wall Street Journal report on Monday that US President Donald Trump's administration was seeking to assemble an Arab force, including troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to replace a US military contingent in Syria.

AMC was the first company granted an operating license from the Saudi government.

AMC Entertainment, which is the largest theatrical exhibitor in the world with approximately 1,000 theaters and 11,000 screens across the globe, won the first licence to operate movie theaters in the kingdom and runs the Riyadh cinema.

The cinema will be operated by US-based firm AMC, which signed a deal with Riyadh earlier this month, stating that AMC will open 30 to 40 movie theatres in 15 cities across the kingdom within five years.

Films screened in Saudi cinemas will be subject to approval by government censors, as is the case in other Arab countries. According to the Saudi government, it is expected that the film industry will contribute some 24 billion dollars to the kingdom's Gross Domestic Product. Scenes of violence are not cut, but scenes involving nudity, sex or even kissing often do get axed.

The gala opening will be limited to about 500 invited guests, executives and officials, but public screenings of the movie will begin soon, AMC said.

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