Manama: Saudi Arabia has denied a report claiming that a movie theatre was going to open in the capital Riyadh.

“Regarding reports carried in several media about launching cinemas in Saudi Arabia, the General Commission for Audiovisual Media clarifies that the reports are baseless and that the people mentioned in them do not have any official capacity,” the commission said in a statement.

A report published earlier on Sunday said that the Saudi cinema commission had signed an initial deal with investors to launch the first movie theatre in Riyadh and that it would adhere to the Islamic traditions and to the national identity.

The initiative was launched following extensive studies of the protocols and regulations related to such projects, and after investors were briefed on the project, the report said.

The opening of a movie theatre in Saudi Arabia would stimulate cultural activities in the kingdom, facilitate increasing social awareness in the kingdom, rectify misconceptions, consolidate the sense of national identity and good citizenship and assist gifted young people in movie production, the report added.

Reacting to the report, Saudis expressed conflicting views ranging from warm welcome to a long-due initiative to outright rejection of a move that would cause deep rifts and grave problems within the society.

In August, Fahad Al Tamimi from the Saudi Arabia Producers and Distributers Association said there were no regulations that banned the establishment of cinemas in the Kingdom and that the absence of a vibrant cinema was caused by the misconception that the system prohibited opening movie theatres.