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Saudi Arabia Screens Emoji Movie After Decades of Cinema Ban

© REUTERS / Reem Baeshen General view of the new first Saudi cinema at cultural club in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia January 13, 2018
General view of the new first Saudi cinema at cultural club in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia January 13, 2018 - Sputnik International
In December, after more than 35 years Saudi Arabia allowed movie theaters to open all around the country following a reformist lead of the young Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Out of the universe of movies available, Saudi Arabia singled out "The Emoji Movie", a cartoon which fully incarnates the spirit of the modern time, as its characters are emojis living inside a smartphone.

READ MORE: Social Reforms Continue: Saudi Arabia to Open Cinemas After 35 Year Ban

After watching "The Emoji Movie" with his wife and daughter, 28-year-old Sultan al-Otaibi shared his impressions and noted that people in Saudi Arabia are glad to go watch movies in a theater instead of sitting at home, as quoted by Reuters.

"It’s more comfortable, more fun to have a change of scenery and an activity on the weekend. It is a step that was very late in coming but thank God it’s happening now," he said.

The event got mixed reactions on social media as many people could not agree to Saudi Arabia's choice of the movie.

The screening, which was followed by a showing of "Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie," took place on Sunday evening and marked an important milestone in the kingdom's history, as it was the first screening since Saudi Arabia lifted its cinema ban in December.

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Cinema theaters were forbidden in the beginning of 1980s when the kingdom was leaning towards a conservative fundamentalist form of Islam which does not encourage entertainment in public, especially with men and women participating together.

But Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud spoke out in favor of returning to "moderate Islam" and initiated a number of unprecedented socio-cultural reforms which include lifting the ban on women driving in the country and allowing women to attend sports events at stadiums as well as lifting the ban on cinemas.

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