11 January 2012

Saudi & the Cinema

Depending on which part of the world you are visiting this blog from, you may or may not know this; Saudi Arabia has no cinemas. Nope, none at all. They're illegal, banned, immoral, haram, shaitan. What the reasons are behind them not being allowed really don't make sense to me, but then neither do a lot of Saudi laws.

My best guess on why cinemas aren't allowed is that they would they would encourage mixing of sexes, although that could probably be solved through separate seating. The other reason is the content being shown, although to me that doesn't make much sense since pretty much every household has access to both Satellite TV and internet. Also, you could always censor certain scenes (or depending on the movie, whole parts). We're pretty used to censoring scenes in Bahrain & UAE; I don't really mind if it's a pretty upfront sex scene, but sometimes they seem to cut random things out of the movie leaving you with a 'WTF just happened there' moment.

Whatever the reasons behind it, it's pretty clear that going to the cinema has become a bit of a tourist attraction for Saudis whenever they leave the country (that would explain the sharp increases in ticket sales on Wednesday and Thursday nights in Bahrain). Statistics (verified or not, I don't really know, but these were compiled by Saudi) show that a quarter of a million people visited UAE in 2010 JUST to go to the cinema. Pretty hefty number just for movies.

Recently, the Saudi Ministry of Culture & Information has made an announcement, saying it is ready to support the opening of cinemas in the country, as long as the government approves and gives the go-ahead. The Mayor of Riyadh also recently mentioned they are in the process of setting up cinemas in the country. Put it all together and it seems fairly likely that Saudi will finally have cinemas, and pretty soon.

Woohoow Saudi, finally turning into a country of sin.


Mark said...

I remember watching Snow White as a child on Saudi TV. The prince walked up to the princes *cut* and all of a sudden she wakes up, no kiss or anything. I was always confused by that.

Anonymous said...

haha, no ceinema? i knew they were bad but not to this level