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, Wednesday, April 18, 2018. Saudi Arabia held a private screening of the Hollywood blockbuster "Black Panther" Wednesday, to herald the launch of movie theaters that are set to open to the public next month. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
Visitors wait in front of a Black Panther movie banner. Amr Nabil / AP

Saudis enjoy Black Panther as first public cinema premieres



Dozens of Saudi families flocked to the movies Friday for the first time in almost 40 years after the lifting of a ban on a form of entertainment once deemed corrupting and un-Islamic.

Tickets for the American superhero movie Black Panther went on sale online at midnight for 75 riyals (DHR73) and sold out within minutes. Excited cinema-goers posed for selfies in the foyer and stood in line for popcorn.

“It’s like a historical event that happened here,” said Mana, an usher at the movie theatre in the King Abdullah Financial District, a new development in northern Riyadh.

Movie houses were closed in the early 1980s when they were deemed inconsistent with a strict interpretation of Islam.

They are now returning through a drive by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to open the country culturally and diversify its economy. He has eased other social restrictions, including on public concerts, women driving and gender mixing.

Before the main feature, the audience watched a short on the history of film, a clip from a US television interview with Prince Mohammed, and an advertisement for Coca-Cola featuring women driving.

The choice of movie was not random.

“It is the story of a young prince who transforms a great nation,” Adam Aron, chief executive of the theatre operator AMC Entertainment Holding said at a VIP screening on Wednesday. “That might sound familiar to a few of you.”

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Two scenes of kissing appeared to have been cut from the Black Panther screening.

While many Saudis rejoiced at the end of the cinema ban, some called on people to avoid the movies, saying they remain haram, or forbidden.

Others complained about gender restrictions and the ticket price, posting the logo of streaming service Netflix as a more affordable option.

There has been little apparent domestic resistance to the social changes that seemed unthinkable just a few years ago, though the space for criticism is severely limited.

Protests and political parties are banned and the media is controlled. The powers of the religious police that once patrolled the streets were curbed in 2016, and prominent clerics and activists have been arrested in an apparent bid to silence conservative dissent.

To serve a population of more than 32 million, most of whom are under the age of 30, the authorities plan to set up around 350 cinemas with over 2,500 screens by 2030.

Company Profile

Company name: myZoi
Started: 2021
Founders: Syed Ali, Christian Buchholz, Shanawaz Rouf, Arsalan Siddiqui, Nabid Hassan
Based: UAE
Number of staff: 37
Investment: Initial undisclosed funding from SC Ventures; second round of funding totalling $14 million from a consortium of SBI, a Japanese VC firm, and SC Venture

SPECS

Engine: 1.5-litre turbo

Power: 181hp

Torque: 230Nm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Starting price: Dh79,000

On sale: Now

TWISTERS

Director:+Lee+Isaac+Chung

Starring:+Glen+Powell,+Daisy+Edgar-Jones,+Anthony+Ramos

Rating:+2.5/5

Notable cricketers and political careers
  • India: Kirti Azad, Navjot Sidhu and Gautam Gambhir (rumoured)
  • Pakistan: Imran Khan and Shahid Afridi (rumoured)
  • Sri Lanka: Arjuna Ranatunga, Sanath Jayasuriya, Tillakaratne Dilshan (rumoured)
  • Bangladesh (Mashrafe Mortaza)
TOURNAMENT INFO

Fixtures
Sunday January 5 - Oman v UAE
Monday January 6 - UAE v Namibia
Wednesday January 8 - Oman v Namibia
Thursday January 9 - Oman v UAE
Saturday January 11 - UAE v Namibia
Sunday January 12 – Oman v Namibia

UAE squad
Ahmed Raza (captain), Rohan Mustafa, Mohammed Usman, CP Rizwan, Waheed Ahmed, Zawar Farid, Darius D’Silva, Karthik Meiyappan, Jonathan Figy, Vriitya Aravind, Zahoor Khan, Junaid Siddique, Basil Hameed, Chirag Suri

Ads on social media can 'normalise' drugs

A UK report on youth social media habits commissioned by advocacy group Volteface found a quarter of young people were exposed to illegal drug dealers on social media.

The poll of 2,006 people aged 16-24 assessed their exposure to drug dealers online in a nationally representative survey.

Of those admitting to seeing drugs for sale online, 56 per cent saw them advertised on Snapchat, 55 per cent on Instagram and 47 per cent on Facebook.

Cannabis was the drug most pushed by online dealers, with 63 per cent of survey respondents claiming to have seen adverts on social media for the drug, followed by cocaine (26 per cent) and MDMA/ecstasy, with 24 per cent of people.

Fifa Club World Cup quarter-final

Esperance de Tunis 0
Al Ain 3
(Ahmed 02’, El Shahat 17’, Al Ahbabi 60’)

ESSENTIALS

The flights

Emirates flies direct from Dubai to Rio de Janeiro from Dh7,000 return including taxes. Avianca fliles from Rio to Cusco via Lima from $399 (Dhxx) return including taxes.

The trip

From US$1,830 per deluxe cabin, twin share, for the one-night Spirit of the Water itinerary and US$4,630 per deluxe cabin for the Peruvian Highlands itinerary, inclusive of meals, and beverages. Surcharges apply for some excursions.

SPEC SHEET: APPLE M3 MACBOOK AIR (13")

Processor: Apple M3, 8-core CPU, up to 10-core CPU, 16-core Neural Engine

Display: 13.6-inch Liquid Retina, 2560 x 1664, 224ppi, 500 nits, True Tone, wide colour

Memory: 8/16/24GB

Storage: 256/512GB / 1/2TB

I/O: Thunderbolt 3/USB-4 (2), 3.5mm audio, Touch ID

Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3

Battery: 52.6Wh lithium-polymer, up to 18 hours, MagSafe charging

Camera: 1080p FaceTime HD

Video: Support for Apple ProRes, HDR with Dolby Vision, HDR10

Audio: 4-speaker system, wide stereo, support for Dolby Atmos, Spatial Audio and dynamic head tracking (with AirPods)

Colours: Midnight, silver, space grey, starlight

In the box: MacBook Air, 30W/35W dual-port/70w power adapter, USB-C-to-MagSafe cable, 2 Apple stickers

Price: From Dh4,599

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Day 1 results:

Open Men (bonus points in brackets)
New Zealand 125 (1) beat UAE 111 (3)
India 111 (4) beat Singapore 75 (0)
South Africa 66 (2) beat Sri Lanka 57 (2)
Australia 126 (4) beat Malaysia -16 (0)

Open Women
New Zealand 64 (2) beat South Africa 57 (2)
England 69 (3) beat UAE 63 (1)
Australia 124 (4) beat UAE 23 (0)
New Zealand 74 (2) beat England 55 (2)

Last-16

France 4
Griezmann (13' pen), Pavard (57'), Mbappe (64', 68')

Argentina 3
Di Maria (41'), Mercado (48'), Aguero (90+3')

ABU DHABI'S KEY TOURISM GOALS: BY THE NUMBERS

By 2030, Abu Dhabi aims to achieve:

• 39.3 million visitors, nearly 64% up from 2023

• Dh90 billion contribution to GDP, about 84% more than Dh49 billion in 2023

• 178,000 new jobs, bringing the total to about 366,000

• 52,000 hotel rooms, up 53% from 34,000 in 2023

• 7.2 million international visitors, almost 90% higher compared to 2023's 3.8 million

• 3.9 international overnight hotel stays, 22% more from 3.2 nights in 2023

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

ABU DHABI ORDER OF PLAY

Starting at 10am:

Daria Kasatkina v Qiang Wang

Veronika Kudermetova v Annet Kontaveit (10)

Maria Sakkari (9) v Anastasia Potapova

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova v Ons Jabeur (15)

Donna Vekic (16) v Bernarda Pera 

Ekaterina Alexandrova v Zarina Diyas