The theater, which opened yesterday in the capital of Riyadh, kicked off the kingdom’s new cultural revolution by playing a showing of Marvel’s empowering box office hit Black Panther.
To celebrate the landmark event, the theater was filled with the country’s most honored officials and icons, such as government representatives, ministers, diplomats, and celebrities.
“It is just great to watch a superhero fighting for his kingdom, surrounded by women empowered as warriors, while the issues of race and colonialism were tackled,” a 27-year-old political scientist told ABC News. “And all of this in Riyadh.”
The lifted ban is just a part of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s efforts to create a more “open and moderate Islam” for the country. In addition to opening up theaters for men and women, he has also passed legislation that allows women to attend sports games, drive cars, vote, run for office, and pursue health care and education without a man’s permission.
The Saudi government, which is already planning on adding 350 more cinemas with 2,500 screens by 2030, hopes that adding such cultural investments will help steer the country’s economy away from their oil dependency.
“The restoration of cinemas will … help boost the local economy by increasing household spending on entertainment while supporting job creation in the Kingdom,” Culture and Information Minister Awwad Alawwad said in a statement.
(WATCH the news segment on the historic event below)
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