INVITATION ONLY—In this April 18 file photo, visitors wait in front of a “Black Panther” movie banner, during an invitation-only screening, at the King Abdullah Financial District Theater, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP)—Saudi Arabia opened its second movie theater last week with tickets expected to go on sale to the public last weekend.

The Vox Cinemas movie theater in the capital, Riyadh, has four screens, including an IMAX screen and a special theater for kids. VOX Cinemas is owned by Dubai-based Majid Al Futtaim, a major regional developer of malls and movie theaters.

Majid Al Futtaim’s CEO Alain Bejjani told The Associated Press on Thursday the company plans to open theaters in all of the kingdom’s major cities over the next two years, with a Vox movie theater opening in the second largest city of Jiddah early next year.

Saudi Arabia opened its first movie theater two weeks ago after a more than 35-year ban on cinemas, showing the blockbuster “Black Panther.”

“This is a landmark moment in the transformation of Saudi Arabia into a more vibrant economy and society,” Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Awwad Alawwad said in statement ahead of the screening.

It’s a stark reversal for a county where public movie screenings were banned in the 1980’s during a wave of ultraconservatism that swept Saudi Arabia.

 

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