The Saudi Arabian government on Monday announced the lifting of a 35-year ban on cinemas.

Cinemas, once considered as a threat to cultural and religious identity in the ultra-conservative kingdom, were banned in the 1980s.

The move to allow them to reopen is part of a series of social reforms embarked upon by Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince.

The development is coming about three months after the government granted Saudi women the right to drive cars for the first time in history.

“Commercial cinemas will be allowed to operate in the kingdom as of early 2018, for the first time in more than 35 years,” the culture and information ministry said in a statement.

The ministry added that the government will begin licensing cinemas immediately.

Awwad Alawwad, the information minister, also said: “This marks a watershed moment in the development of the cultural economy in the kingdom.”

Saudi filmmakers have long argued that a ban on cinemas does not make sense in the age of YouTube.



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