Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s modernization plans for the kingdom advanced one more step on Monday when it was announced that a 35-year ban on movie theaters will be lifted soon.

Women in a Saudi stadium

Women in a Saudi stadium Photo Credit: CNN/Channel 2 News

The latest social reform in Saudi Arabia was announced on Monday, making headlines across the world. According to the Saudi authorities, movie theaters will soon be allowed to operate in the kingdom. It is estimated that the first public movie theaters will open their doors in 2018.

Saudi Arabia’s movie theaters were shut down in the 1980s due to pressure from religious leaders. The move to reopen them was pushed by the country’s young crown prince, who is also believed to be the driving force behind the previous social reforms the kingdom announced recently.

The Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information announced the lifting of the ban in a press release. According to the ministry, the kingdom will have over 300 movie theaters by 2030. The ministry added that the move is part of the Vision 2030 initiative led by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“Vision 2030 aims to increase Saudi household spending on cultural and entertainment activities from 2.9% currently to 6% by 2030,” the press release continued. “The move opens up a domestic market of over 32 million people.”