This is the first movie to be shown in Saudi Arabia in 35 years

Cinemas had been prohibited in the country until late last year

Saudia Arabia has begun screening movies again after a 35-year-old ban on cinemas was lifted.

The ban came into place in 1983 as the country moved towards a more conservative form of Islam that discouraged public entertainment, and the public mixing of men and women.

On Sunday (January 15), citizens in the city of Jeddah watched the first movie to be shown since the ban was lifted on December 11, 2017 in a makeshift tent, with the film screened on a projector.

The first film to be shown was The Emoji Movie, which has a score of 9 percent on reviews aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, and was called “pointless” by some critics. Screening organiser Mamdouh Salim told Reuters: “We tried to use these films to be a starting point as the first cinematic screening after the decision to permit movie theatres.”

He continued: “Until now, there is no infrastructure for movie theatres, so we are trying to take advantage of [alternative] venues to approximate the cinematic form.”

While films are now permitted to be shown in public, they will be censored before they are shown in cinemas to make sure they are in keeping with Saudi Arabia’s indecency laws and values. Meanwhile, as many as 300 cinemas are estimated to have been built in the country by 2030.