Saudi Arabia starts screening movies after lifting 35-year ban
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Saudi Arabia has begun screening movies after a 35-year-ban on commercial movie theaters was lifted last month.

According to Reuters, a makeshift theater erected at a cultural hall in the city of Jeddah began to screen recent children’s movies, including "The Emoji Movie," this weekend.

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The kingdom’s Ministry of Culture and Information said in mid-December that it would begin to grant licenses to commercial movie theaters starting in early 2018. The first permanent cinemas are expected to open in March.

Until then, officials are working to set up temporary settings for screenings. 

Awwad Alawwad, Saudi Arabia’s minister of culture and information, said in a statement at the time that the move “marks a watershed moment in the development of the cultural economy in the Kingdom.”

Movie theaters had been banned in the nation since the 1980s.

The government hopes to spur economic growth by opening commercial theaters. The Ministry of Culture and Information said in December it expects to open 300 movie theaters by 2030.