In yet another step further into the world of entertainment, Saudi Arabia is set to take part in the Cannes Film Festival for the first time in history.
The Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information has confirmed that the conservative kingdom will make its debut at the upcoming festival in May.
This comes months after Saudi authorities decided to end a long-standing ban on cinemas in the country, which will open its first cinema on April 18.
Additionally, the Saudi Film Council will partake in the Marche du Film, the business counterpart of the Cannes Film Festival, and will organize networking panels for Saudi filmmakers.
In a statement, the kingdom's culture minister, Awwad Alawwad, said the kingdom looks forward to "celebrating and supporting the diversity of talent and opportunities within the Saudi film industry."
"Saudi Arabia is embarking on the development of a sustainable and dynamic industry that supports and encourages all stages of a film cycle and offers an incredible range of locations for the world’s filmmakers to discover," Alawwad added.
The Saudi films that will be featured at the festival are yet to be revealed.
Despite a long-term ban on cinemas, the kingdom has been home to film-making talents that have made it to international screens.
Wadjda (2012,) by the first female Saudi filmmaker Haifa Al-Mansour, was the first full-length feature to be shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first-ever Saudi film to be submitted to the Oscars.
In 2016, Mahmoud Sabbagh's Barakah Meets Barakah (2016) became the second Saudi film to ever be submitted to the Oscars. Set in Jeddah, the drama comedy depicts the relationship between a young couple who must battle through the constraints of societal segregation in the conservative kingdom.
The kingdom will open its first cinema on April 18
Late in 2017, Saudi Arabia ended a decades-old ban on cinemas in the country, announcing plans to open movie theaters in 2018.
These plans materialized last week, when Saudi authorities officially announced the opening date of the country's first cinema in more than 35 years.
The theater, which is set to launch on April 18, will be located in the King Abdullah financial district in the capital city of Riyadh.
The announcement came soon after the kingdom finalized an agreement with AMC Entertainment Holdings - an American movie theater chain - which will see 40 theaters open in the kingdom in the next five years.