Meet two young Saudi actors who are making waves at the Saudi Film Festival

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Ibrahim Al-Hajjaj has acted in four movies, including “2097” and “Wasati.”
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Dana Dhahrani was spotted by a teacher and encouraged to act.
Updated 30 March 2017
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Meet two young Saudi actors who are making waves at the Saudi Film Festival

DHAHRAN: Meeting its mission of nurturing the nascent filmmaking industry in the Kingdom, the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts can be credited with recognizing young actor Ibrahim Al-Hajjaj’s talent.
The 23-year-old Saudi actor found his calling after a failed career in music.
“That’s how most actors start … with a failed career in music,” Al-Hajjaj laughingly told Arab News.
In 2012, Al-Hajjaj frequented the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts, where he started taking up roles in short plays and theater productions.
After completing a short course at the National Youth Theater of Great Britain, he came back to the Kingdom and embarked upon a career in the theater.
So far, he has acted in four movies and counts his favorite roles as those he played in the films “2097” and “Wasati.”
Al-Hajjaj plays a schizophrenic in the movie 2097, which was screened on the third day of the Saudi Film Festival in Dhahran.
To prepare for the role, he spent extensive time with a psychologist to fully understand the behavior of a schizophrenia suffering patient. In the critically-acclaimed “Wasati,” Al-Hajjaj has a cameo role.
The actor says he is very pleased to see the emergence and recognition of filmmaking in the country.
“There is nothing wrong with art. In fact, it is a good thing because it brings out the talents of Saudi citizens which might have been buried,” he said, which is significant as the festival saw an eight-year hiatus prior to 2015.
Another young acting talent making waves at the festival is 11-year-old Saudi, Dana Dhahrani.
The young actress was encouraged to pursue her talent by a teacher at Manarat Al-Sharqiya school in Alkhobar and with permission from her parents, was allowed to play a role in a movie.
Dhahrani told Arab News how happy and grateful she is for the opportunity to act and said that she hopes she will be able to pursue a career in the arts once she is older.
Some of the movies that were screened on the third day of the 4th edition of the Saudi Film Festival include “Departures” (psychodrama), “Where Is the Way?” (drama, social), “An Angel Leave” (drama, social), and “Calm in the Midday” (psychodrama).


Saudi hires ex-Canary Wharf executive for Red Sea tourism project

Updated 7 min 48 sec ago
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Saudi hires ex-Canary Wharf executive for Red Sea tourism project

  • Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Project has been registered as a standalone company
  • The venture will be will be headed by John Pagano, former director of London’s Canary Wharf business zone

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Project, a vast tourist development aimed at opening the economy, has been registered as a standalone company and will be headed by a former director of London’s Canary Wharf business zone, the country’s sovereign wealth fund said on Sunday.
In July, the Saudi government revealed plans to develop resorts on some 50 islands off the Kingdom’s Red Sea coast and said the Public Investment Fund (PIF), the country’s sovereign wealth fund, will make initial investments and seek partnerships with international investors and hoteliers.
The Red Sea Project, part of an ambitious strategy to open the economy and ease social restrictions, will be built between the cities of Amlaj and Al-Wajh, will offer a nature reserve, heritage sites and diving in coral reefs. It will break ground in the third quarter of 2019 and complete its first phase in late 2022.
PIF has two other major initiatives: NEOM — a $500 billion business and industrial zone extending into Egypt and Jordan — and Qiddiya, a multi-billion dollar entertainment resort that will be 2-1/2 times the size of Disney World.
“The Ministry of Commerce and Investment has registered The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) as a closed joint-stock company wholly owned by PIF,” a statement emailed to Reuters said.
John Pagano, the former managing director for development, of the Canary Wharf Group in London, has been appointed as chief executive officer, it said.
The Red Sea Development Co. will create a special economic zone with its own regulatory framework, visas on entry, relaxed social norms, and improved business regulations, the statement said, adding this will enable it to develop and deliver a world-class international tourist destination.
The fund, chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is believed to have assets totalling about $183 billion and is set to receive a cash injection next year after the share sale of state oil giant Saudi Aramco.
The crown prince has said more than half of the proceeds from that sale would be reinvested domestically to develop promising Saudi non-oil sectors.