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Saudi 'Prince Charming' Mohammed bin Salman comes to Hollywood

Saudi 'Prince Charming' Mohammed bin Salman comes to Hollywood
From BBC - April 5, 2018

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was given a king's welcome in Hollywood this week.

The conservative kingdom's plan to open up cinemas and Western entertainment after a 35-year ban had Hollywood's top executives jockeying to make deals with the billionaire crown prince.

Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS as he's also known, dined at media mogul Rupert Murdoch's house along with studio heads and actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

In a Facebook post about the dinner, The Rock said he was humbled to discover he has so many young fans in Saudi Arabia.

"I look forward to my first visit soon to Saudi Arabia," Johnson wrote. "I will be sure to bring my finest tequila to share with the his Royal Highness and family."

Tequila and The Rock in Saudi Arabia? Alcohol is banned in Saudi Arabia and punishable by lashes.

But the times they are a-changing. That's how it looked at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills.

The prince's vast entourage took over the entire hotel where everything from the music to the menus had a Saudi flare this week.

They also hosted a summit there on the future of entertainment in Saudi Arabia. It was packed with hundreds of Hollywood insiders.

While a handful of activists demonstrated throughout the prince's trip to protest the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen and the way women are treated in Saudi Arabia, Hollywood was shown a slick, modern version of the country ready for change under the direction of the 32-year-old crown prince.

As a result, Saudis can expect to see some Hollywood blockbusters at a cinema near them soon.

AMC, the biggest movie chain in the US, plans to open 30 cinemas in the kingdom - the first one later this month. Saudis can also expect to see Disney on Ice and Cirque du Soleil coming soon.

Rick Licht, the CEO of Hero Ventures, attended the summit carrying Thor's hammer from the Avengers movie.

His company is bringing the travelling theme park, The Marvel Experience, to Saudi Arabia before the end of the year.

"Our hosts today have been absolutely spectacular and I hope we are going to be able to do this for many years to come over there," Mr Licht said.

In a slick promotional video, The General Entertainment Authority of Saudi Arabia used "change" as a theme - and highlighted the fact that nearly 70% of Saudi Arabia's 32 million people are under the age of 30. And they are hungry for entertainment.

But not everyone was impressed with the royal treatment given to the Saudi delegation.

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