Saudi Gazette report
RIYADH — Reports that Saudi Arabia will open cinema houses are not accurate and any such moves will be within the official policies the Kingdom has been following in all its projects, according to Ahmed Al-Khateeb, chairman of the board of directors of the Entertainment Authority.
The official was clarifying a number of points he had made during an interview with Reuters news agency, which he said were “misinterpreted or not fully understood”.
That interview was conducted on Thursday.
“The statements I have made during the interview were not correctly understood or some points were lost in translation from English into Arabic,” he said.
Khateeb clarified that what he said about Saudi Arabia having cinema houses would not be outside the framework of the official procedures and policies that the Kingdom was following in all its projects to attain sustainable development.
“These procedures usually take into consideration the wishes of all segments of society who will benefit from such projects,” he said.
“These procedures will be reflected on the time and modalities of launching such projects,” he added.
The chairman said the authority was endeavoring to support the entertainment industry in the Kingdom in partnership with the private sector.
Khateeb explained that his remarks about entertainment in the Kingdom to be 99 percent similar to that in London or New York was also misunderstood.
“The policies that have been pursued by the authority since its establishment were aimed at enabling the private sector to extend high-quality entertainment programs that will be commensurate with the Kingdom’s policies based on the tenets and teachings of Islam,” he said.
Khateeb reiterated that the authority, within its attempts to develop entertainment and recreation, would not accept anything that might be against the Kingdom’s consistent policies.
He, however, admitted that there were some individual violations but said they were duly dealt with and contained.
The chairman also denied that he had asked the conservatives who were against the movie industry to stay at home.
“Again this is not entirely true. The authority’s objective is to lure all segments of society regardless of their age or attitude to its entertainment activities and programs,” he said.
The chairman reiterated that the authority respected various tastes of all segments of society and was keen to provide entertainment programs that would be line with their choices and preferences.
He said the authority compelled all entertainment providers to make a commitment that they would strictly abide by the teachings of Islam.
“We have rejected or stopped a number of entertainment activities that we deemed to be against the teachings of Islam,” he said. “We have rejected more than 150 activities that we considered to be violating Islamic tenets,” he added.
Khateeb said the absolute majority of Saudis had supported the moderate approach of the authority. “We will never abandon this line and will never do anything that may be against the Kingdom’s consistent policies,” he said.
The chairman said the authority would organize 11 entertainment activities in 15 cities and towns during Ramadan, which is set to begin on May 27.
“We will provide entrainment programs that will suit the tastes of Saudi families during the fasting month,” he confirmed.
He explained that these activities would include a special Qur’an exhibition to introduce the Holy Book to the visitors through a number of interactive exhibits, another exhibition of Arabic calligraphy and a museum for Islamic heritage.
Khateeb said since its establishment about seven months ago, the authority has organized at least 150 different activities, which were attended by more than 2.5 million people.