Saudi Arabia lays red carpet for Hollywood with Travolta visit

CAIRO (dpa)- Hollywood star John Travolta arrived in Saudi Arabia on Friday for his first ever visit to the conservative kingdom, in the same week that saw Saudi authorities announce a plan to open the country's first cinema in decades.
The move to bring more international entertainment to the public is part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan, launched by ambitious Crown Prince Mohammed in a bid to open the country to investments and diversify its oil-dependent economy.

Online newspaper Sabq featured a photo showing the 63-year-old Travolta - star of hit films including "Grease," "Pulp Fiction" and "Face/Off" - drinking a traditional Saudi coffee following his arrival for the two-day visit.
Later Friday he will give a live interview open to the public in the capital Riyadh on his journey to fame, according to Saudi media. He will also tour landmarks of the city.
On Monday Saudi authorities announced the opening of the first movie theatre in the country in March, after a 35-year-old ban on cinemas.
Mohammed, 32, has vowed that the kingdom will return to “moderate Islam” as he works on reducing the influence of the hard-line religious establishment in the country.
He is believed to have championed lifting a long ban on women driving, a move that will go into effect in June.
In recent months, top foreign performers have held an unprecedented string of concerts in Saudi Arabia.
On Thursday US rapper Nelly and Algerian singer Chab Khaled performed at a sell-out concert in the western city of Jeddah.
In the past, Saudis used to go to Gulf neighbours for live performances.

Monday, December 18th 2017

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