AbstractThis paper discusses the historical perspective of the movie industry in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The article primarily focuses on the cinema theaters in Saudi Arabia, and how it functioned in the 1960s. Also, it presents the reasons that made the Saudi government ban movie theaters in the 1980s. The paper also describes the film industries is improvements in Saudi Arabia from 1950s to the present. Furthermore, how the academic environments is contributing as well as film festivals in filmmaking in the last years. The author predicts that with the independent filmmakers’ improvement the cinema theaters opening is a matter of time.Introduction1 Having Cinema Theater is a controversial issue in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This topic has come up in the Saudi’s media as well as the international media many times coinciding with any active movement for having cinema theaters or watching a movie in a public space in Saudi Arabia. The pro-cinema theaters have maintained the issue if they encounter a rebuttal. As a teaching assistant in the Radio, TV and Film department at Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, which is the capital of Saudi Arabia, I need to address this topic. My professors have studied different aspects of drama in TV shows in their research while conceding that Saudi Arabia does not have a cinematic industry. Therefore, my teachers did not cover the short version of TV shows, which is obviously film based on the fact that storytelling in a movie is shorter than TV show episodes regarding length. It is important that we in the academic environment study the materials that we have in the present toanticipate the possible direction in the future. The paper begins from the date that cinema theaters were in Saudi Arabia in the 1960s to the year that cinema theaters were banned in 1980s. Also, the paper acknowledges the movies that were produced from the 1950s until 2016. In the end, I will state the outcome of the historical events. I will follow that with my final recommendations. I believe that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is not far away from having cinema theaters again because today they allow film festivals, which do the same as cinema theaters but for particular people.Early Development2 Starting from the standpoint that cinema theaters were in existence in Saudi Arabia at one time the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C reports, “By the 1960s, Saudi Arabia had made significant advances in many areas”. One area is establishing the national broadcasting TV in the 1960s (Guaaybess 2013). The economy in Saudi Arabia had started improving dramatically with the discovery of the oil. “Soon after World War II, steady oil exports provided the funds to build a basic infrastructure of roads, airports, seaports, schools and hospitals” the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C added. Foreigners, specifically the Americans whom King Abdul-Aziz bin Abdurrahman Al-Saud granted were from Standard Oil of California (SOCAL), contributed to the entire development, who worked on the whole to improve the issue throughout. The Saudi government was financing the development process because the Saudis were Bedouins or nomadic Arabs of the desert mostly. Therefore, the government had part ownership of the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco). Education was one of the factors motivating the Saudi’s improvement. Taylor, C. and Albasri, W point outin the article “The Impact of Saudi Arabia King Abdullah’s Scholarship Program in the U.S” that the Saudi government started to expand international study opportunities to the United States and Europe in 1960 after only sponsoring student study to the Arabic and Islamic countries (2014). Since the Arabic and Islamic countries did not have the experience in oil technology, and the Saudi government wants to have a full ownership of Aramco, the government began sponsoring students to the U.S. and Europe. Consequently, this accelerated the improvement.Early Movie Houses3 Early 1960s, there were movie theaters in several locations confirmed by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim, a reporter for Arab News, who went to the Al-Munira camp in Dhahran city, and the Al-Farhah camp in Abqaiq city, both on the Eastern side of Saudi Arabia (2012). These locations were where the foreigners lived completely isolated from Arab society. While there, he was observing, he reports how he could hear the sounds coming from the plants at Aramco oil installations (Al-Mulhim 2012). The city of Dhahran is a major administrative center for the Saudi oil industry since it was close to the oil wells. “We could even smell the burning torches”, he points out (2012). Dhahran had many people from the West, who were accustomed to having movie theaters as they did in their home countries. Al-Mulhim adds “I was about eight years old when I saw my first American movie. It was in the mid-1960s at an Aramco movie theater in the city of Dhahran” (2012). The cinema theaters was primarily for Aramco’s employees.4 Other Saudis communities further from Dhahran had informal movie theaters in their football clubs in many cities. For example, Riyadh had three football teams Alhilah, An-Nusser,and Al-Shabab while Jeddah had two clubs Al-Ahli and Al-Etihad. One rationale for these football clubs was to advertise themselves as football clubs so that they would attract Saudi youths. These football clubs are early examples of the places where Saudis used to watch movies for entertainment. Al-Mulhim describes the football clubs as showing the movies outdoor ‘in the outside’, so they were not a typical movie theaters. They were showing predominantly Arabic, Egyptian and Lebanese movies (2012). In “The week in an hour”, an Arabic talk show in Rotana khalijia TV, the host admits that the movies in the 1960s “were not classified or rated regarding content and age” (Al-idreas 2012). In fact, the audience were mostly young of varying ages.Early Movies 1950s-1980s5 Regarding the movies themselves, the start of producing Saudi movies was in Aramco. Aramco produced the first Saudi movie in 1950, and it was 30 minutes long. The movie name in Arabic was “Athubab”, or “The Fly”, and it was made to create awareness for how to eat healthy. Saad Al-Fureh is the first Saudi director who made a movie in 1966. In 1977, the first Saudi short documentary movie was well regarded internationally “Ijtiah Madinah” or “The invasion of a city” by Abdullah Al-Hussain. In the early 1980s, the first Saudi feature-length movie was two hours long, titled in Arabic “Maued ma’a Al-majhol” or “A Date with the Anonymous” starring the Saudi actor Saad Kider. This movie was produced by the Ministry of the Interior in Saudi Arabia. These examples were produced before the movie theaters were banned. However, these examples were not shown in Saudi’s movie theaters, and the firstfeature-length movie did not show in any movie theaters inside or outside of Saudi Arabia except the movie that recognized internationally.Changing Times 1980s6 After many years of westernization and development, a counter Islamic movement named the “Islamic Awakening” or “Islamic Revival” occurred in the mid-1980s all over the Islamic world with varying degrees of involvement. The Islamic Revival movement was popular in Islamic modern history after Ottoman Empire. In Saudi Arabia, the movement was widespread and grew quickly. The scholars who initiated it were Dr. Safar Al-Hawali in Jeddah ‘the west’, Dr. Aaidh Al-Qarni in Abha ‘the south’, Dr. Salman Al-Ouda in Al-Qassim ‘the north of Riyadh’, and Dr. Naser Al-Omar in Riyadh. During this period, from 1975 to 1982, King Khalid was serving as the King of Saudi Arabia, and his period of leadership was known as “the golden age of well-being”. The reason is that the first improvements had been completed, and the government accomplished full ownership of the Aramco oil company. On the other hand, some of the Islamic Revival movements were violent as “the storming of the Mecca mosque by Juhayman al-‘Utaybi and his fellow rebels in November 1979” (Hegghamme, Lacroix 2007). The Mosque in Mecca is where more than one and a half billion people pray towards it, five times a day. Juhayman al-Utaybi set conditions to surrender, and one of the conditions was to shut down the cinema theaters all over the country. Another event coincided with the storming of the Mecca mosque was the start of the Soviet-Afghan War, which the Saudi government sponsored to fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The Islamic Revival movements occurred among all the communities in the Islamic countries.7 As Islamic Revival movement was spreading, the government immediately banned the movie theaters all over the country. Isabel Stevens reports “The ban on cinemas, in place since the 1980s” (2012). The only conclusion for the governments banning of movie theaters is that the government gave in to the overwhelming atmosphere of the Islamic Awakening, which many people believed to be the case. However, in Dhahran city, the movie theaters continued as they were, meaning, they were operating without any changes except for the fact that they were limited to Aramco Oil Company employees and their families only.Movies in The 1990s8 Beginning in the mid-1990s, there were Saudi Summer youth Camps, which were four to six weeks long, and where teenagers from the Saudis schools participated in a variety of activities. The teachers and the students who attend these camps mostly reflecte the Islamic awakening since they came from Quranic Schools. Wael Bakker, an executive producer of AlMajid TV, an Islamic TV station, points out in a personal interview, “We started to participate in movie production for the purpose of entertaining as well as raising awareness about the issues the Islamic world was encountering” (Bakker 2016). Abdul-Aziz Alsaeedi, a reporter of MBC TV, however, claims that “from 1994 to 2001 there were not any Saudis movies produced” (2015). These issues referred to the conflicts between Israel and Palestine, Soviet and Chechen, and Afghanistan. The movies in the Summer Camps were shown also in the schools. These events were public and open to all the ‘men’, and they sold as VHSs or CDs or DVDs of the movies after these screening shows.Movies 2000s9 On the liberal side, movies were produced mostly to be watched on TV. At the Beginning of 21 century, “Me and the other”, was a short movie created by Haifaa Al-Mansour, who is the first filmmaker female in Saudi Arabia (IMDB). In 2006, “Keif al-hal?” or “How it’s going”, a film produced by Rotana Film Production is the first Saudi movie by a professional production company, and the movie “Keif al-hal?” has 3.8 out of 10 (IMDB). Vincent Dowd, BBC World Service Arts correspondent, reports that “there is only a small film-making industry, concentrating on short movies and documentaries” (2006). In 2009, “Manahi”, starring the Saudi actor Faiz Al-Maliki, the only movie that was shown in public in Saudi Arabia in the city of Jeddah and Attaif and only one time. Omar Salem said, “The organizers had to screen extra shows” (2011). Haifaa Al-Mansour, the female Saudi filmmaker, said: “Wadjda is the first feature film to be shot entirely in Saudi Arabia” (2012). The movie “Wadjda” was produced by Rotana Film Productions. Since 2012 when the movie “Wadjda” was created, no Saudi future-length produced.Academic Education and Film10 The Media and Mass Communication Colleges in Saudi Arabia teach filmmaking as a part of the TV producing major offered. Riyadh has two public universities that have Radio and TV majors. One of these Universities has introduced Film to coincide with the Radio and TV majors, which is the only university to do so. Macca and Al-Madinah, which are on the West side of Saudi Arabia, have two universities. Also, on the eastern shore, there is a university that has a Radio and TV program. Consequently, as far as the educational environment, there are several universities that offer Radio and television majors. The students in these schools arerequired to produce a short movie, mostly documentary. Usually, a documentary movie contains all of the essential elements of producing entertaining movies except the casting part. Teaching Acting is an area that this kinds of colleges do not cover because it demands an artistic path more than an academic one.11 The Saudi Students who study filmmaking in the United States have high expectations regarding the film industry in Saudi Arabia. There are students study in film major including animation in the U.S. colleges and universities such as New York Film Academy, Savana College Art and design and other institutes. The Saudi students in majors such as filmmaking, producing, documentary filmmaking and animation.Saudi Movie Festivals11 Movie festivals are where the filmmakers can see their movies. The first movie festivals were in Dammam in 2008 when the first Saudis documentary movie, “Ijtiah Madinah” or “The invasion of a city” by Abdullah Al-Hussain was shown for the first time since 1977 (Saudi Film Festival 2016). The website of Saudi Film Festival reports that 44 movies nominated in the first competition in 2008 (2016). In 2015, the second competition nominated 66 movies Saudi Film Festival 2016). Last month, April 2016 was the third competition of the Saudi Film Festival. The number of movies increased from 2008 until 2016, and they show 70 movies in 2016.Conclusion12 All in all, the oil industry development is the central factor that created cinema theaters in Saudi Arabia in the past. The Saudi movies were mostly by independent filmmakers.