Cinema of Saudi Arabia

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The cinema of Saudi Arabia is a fairly small industry that only produces a few feature films and documentaries every year.

With the exception of one IMAX theater in Khobar there are no cinemas in Saudi Arabia, many Saudis watch films via satellite, DVD, or video. Keif al-Hal?, billed as Saudi Arabia's first film, was shot in the United Arab Emirates; the lead female was played by a Jordanian. The film triggered a debate on the country's stance on cinemas and films. The documentary short film directed by Abdullah Al-Eyaf called Cinema 500 km discussed the issue of banning movie theaters and the film forced the media to take up the issue and discuss it.

Movie theaters[edit]

In the 1970s, there were many movie theaters in Saudi Arabia and they were not considered un-Islamic, though they were seen as contrary to Arab cultural norms.

In the 1980s, there were some improvised movie halls in Saudi Arabia, most of which were in Jeddah and Mecca, where Egyptian, Indian, and Turkish films were screened without government intervention. However, all these halls were closed down due to the continuous objections of religious conservatives during the Islamic revival movement in the 1980s, and as a political response to an increase in Islamist activism including the 1979 seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the government closed all cinemas and theaters.[1]

Currently, the only theater in Saudi Arabia is an IMAX cinema located in Khobar in the Scitech complex, a science and technology center offering exhibits that deal with varying science and technologies, as well as an astronomic observatory. This IMAX cinema is showing documentaries, mostly produced in the US, during non-prayer timings. The documentaries are shown in Arabic, and headphones are available with English audio.

Video rental stores[edit]

Video rental stores first started appearing in the 1980s and offered Arabic, Western, and Asian movies. By the late 1990s, the increasing number of free-to-air satellite TV channels prompted most video stores to go out of business.

Saudi films[edit]

Films shot in Saudi Arabia[edit]

Saudi directors[edit]

Saudi actors[edit]


  1. ^ Admon, Y. (March 11, 2010). "Revival of Cinema Sparks Debate in Saudi Arabia" (Inquiry and Analysis Series Report No.595). Middle East Media Research Institute. Retrieved May 27, 2012. 

See also[edit]