Watching movies was pure family fun: A veteran of Arab News can look back on the movie night.
JEDDAH: Lately, there have been many Western media who have upheld the Saudi government's decision to allow cinemas and cinemas to blow up cinemas in the Kingdom.
Since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman initiated a more tolerant, acceptable, and modern era, there has been a change in Saudi society.
The fear of the harbingers of darkness was dashed when, despite cries of hellfire and damnation and the wrath of the Almighty, nothing happened. Art, culture and music festivals took place in an atmosphere of complete decency. There were no unwanted incidents as Saudi men and women, families, young and old, mingled and behaved like any normal spectator in the world.
As far as movies are concerned, they are not new phenomena: films have been screened for people like me and seniors in Jeddah, Makkah, Taif and even Madinah. My uncle visited Riyadh in 1
Aramco had his theater in Dhahran. Petromin had a weekly movie screening on Kilo 4, the old Makkah Road, which had a mixed community. The most famous was the Jamjoom Theater. It was owned by Fua Jamjoom, a Jeddawi with a carefree attitude who dared, those who came to close the theater. Tickets for an air-conditioned hall were charged at SR5. Non-air conditioned seats cost SR3.
Film visitors to the Jamjoom Theater would always take a bite on Shawarma Shakir, either before or after the movie. It was a famous shawarma joint that many enjoyed, along with refreshments. Throughout the city, near the seaport and in the Hindawiya district, there were several other makeshift theaters that showed both Arabic and English films. The area would be sprayed with "raid" mosquito repellent. At the Jamjoom Center I saw a lot of movies. My mother was a big fan of James Bond, and we've seen several, "From Russia with Love," "Goldfinger" and "Dr. No."
I remember my mother crying during "Love Story." when Ali MacGraw's character fell ill. We saw "Deliverance" with Jon Voight, the father of Angelina Jolie. And of course many Arabs, especially those with Ismail Yaseen, the famous Egyptian comedian.
The Al-Attas Hotel also had a hall where we visited movies with my cousins. It was a normal life. Music and culture flourished. At Jeddah, where I worked part-time, we were our own disc jockeys.
I saw the play "My Fair Lady" in Jeddah, where the audience was entertained in a kind of haymarket way. The famous Moroccan singer Abdelwahab Al-Doukkali performed live on stage at the Ministry of Education in the district of Al-Baghdadiah in Jeddah. Yes, the Ministry of Education!
He sang his classic song "Marsool Al Hobb" (messenger of love) to an enthusiastic crowd. As Mary Hopkin would say, "Those were the days." And then in the year 1980, darkness and darkness spread. However, I do not want to focus on this period, but now claim that this new change has a political will and someone who picks up the mace says, "Enough is enough."
The Saudis are like others in the world. They want to be part of this world culture, music, art and beauty. And Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has opened this door.