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Saudi nod to Cinema Halls in Madinah sparks anger in India, Pakistan

It all started when Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani of Pakisnat re-tweeted an old tweet of Madinah al Munawwarah civic body

Tuesday September 7, 2021 9:34 PM, ummid.com Staff Reporter

Cinema in Madina

[The infographics tweeted by Madinah Regional Municipality on November 22, 2020 that enraged Muslims in India and Pakistan now.]

Mumbai: Saudi Arabia’s nod to cinema halls and entertainment centres in Madinah al Munawwarah – the final resting place of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), has sparked anger in India and Pakistan.

Angry reactions and articles are flooding the social media sites and Urdu newspaper against the Saudi Government’s move to allow building what they termed “Marakaz e Shayateen” and “Be hayai ke adde” – “centres of satan” and “hub of vulgarity and nudity”, in the holy city.

It all started on September 03, 2021 when Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani, top Pakistani Islamic scholar, former judge and currently Vice President and Professor of Hadith at Darul Uloom Karachi, re-tweeted an old tweet of Madinah al Munawwarah civic body.

Madinah Regional Municipality in the tweet dated November 22, 2020 shared info-graphics of the plans to build an outdoor shopping centre, Boulevard U Walk, at a prime location in Madinah city by Arabian Centres, a leading owner, operator and developer of contemporary lifestyle centres in Saudi Arabia.

"The Mall not in Haram Limit"

Later reports in the media said that Arabian Centres has sealed a 25-year lease and investment agreement with Madinah Regional Municipality for investing in a vacant plot located at the intersection of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Road and King Abdulaziz Road for an annual rental charge of SR1.07 million ($268,150). The site is outside the Hudood e Haram, the Haram limit.


According to Arabian Centres, the new mall is set to be built on the lines of its successful predecessor, the U-Walk Centre at Riyadh, which opened in September 2019.

Ummid.com has written to Madinah Regional Municipality to know the exact status of the project. The civic body has so far not responded.

"10 Cinema Halls"

The info-graphics of the project listed six components of the project that included shops, restaurants, and 10 Cinema Halls and 02 Entertainment Sites. It is the construction of the cinema halls and entertainment sites that has angered the Muslims in India and Pakistan.

“Now there are plans to set up ten cinema halls in Medinah. Words fail to describe the shock at the news", Mufti Taqi Usmani, who has a huge fan following on the social media, wrote on Twitter.

" ۖ أَلَيْسَ مِنْكُمْ رَجُلٌ رَشِيدٌ (Isn’t there a rational man amongst you?)” the Pakistani scholar added, quoting Ayah 78 of Surah Hud of Quran.

Al Noor Mall

[Al Noor Mall which is operational at King Abdullah Branch Rd, Al'uyun in Medina - some 6 kms from Masjid Nabawi - the Prophet's Mosque. (Image: Arabian Centres)]

Mufti Taqi Usmani’s tweet opened the floodgate of criticism against the Saudi government, especially the Kindgom’s Crown Prince, Muhammad bin Salman as the project is part of his ambitious Vision 2030 - a strategic framework to reduce Saudi Arabia's dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation, and tourism.

“Even J Jayalalithaa had declined permission to build theatres and cinema hall in Tamil Nadu”, an Indian user wrote on Twitter. J Jayalalithaa, a former actress, became Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu later on.

Also Read | Prophet Muhammad: A Brief Biography

Angry social media users while criticising the Saudi government even said that the Saudi rulers have gone astray, have become inept and insensitive, and have lost the credibility to rule the holy land.

The decision to grant permission for cinema hall in the City of the Prophet (peace be upon him) also rekindled the old demand of handing over the control of Haramain Sharifain to an International Body of Islamic countries and Muslim scholars.

Interestingly, Arabian Centres already has a similar mall named Al Noor Mall and Shopping Centre which is operational, and also hosts Cinema Hall and Entertainment Centre. The critics however ignored Al Noor Mall.

Also Read | 'Prophet Muhammad was mocked when he first spoke about women's rights'

Amidst the onslaught and wild criticism, Saudi Arabia got a supporter in Nusrat Abbasi, Member of Provincial Assembly Sindh Pakistan and Information Secretary Mother Wing Sindh.

“Opening a Cinema Hall in itself is not bad. It will be evil if it is used for wrong purpose”, she wrote responding to Mufti Taqi Usmani’s tweet.

“One can use these cinema halls to screen films about Science and Technology, and also Islamic history and other sane topics”, she added.

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