The cinema will open for women and children at a Riyadh hotel at the Eid Al-Fitr feast at the end of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan on 2 or 3 November, said the source who requested anonymity.

The source also said the move was made possible following an agreement with Riyadh municipality.

The pan-Arab Saudi newspaper Al-Hayat said on Sunday that the 1400-seat cinema would hold three one-hour shows to screen foreign cartoon films dubbed in Arabic every evening. It estimated that more than 50,000 people would visit the cinema during the two-week Eid break.

The paper said the project was a prelude to the start of real
cinema screenings for all in Saudi Arabia, given that cafes in main cities already show films, sports games and video clips on large television sets.

Cinema was once shown in private clubs in Saudi Arabia until all public screenings were banned because they were considered against Islamic law in the early 1980s.

Saudi Arabia is the only country to have banned cinema theatres in the Arab Gulf region.