Muslim World League, Vatican to set up permanent liaison body

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Pope Francis meets Muhammad al-Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League, at the Vatican, Wednesday, on Sept. 20, 2017. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)
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Pope Francis greets Mohammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League, during a meeting at the Vatican on September 20, 2017. (Osservatore Romano/Handout via Reuters)
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Pope Francis poses with Mohammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League, and members of theirs staff during a meeting at the Vatican on September 20, 2017. (Osservatore Romano/Handout via Reuters)
Updated 26 September 2017
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Muslim World League, Vatican to set up permanent liaison body

JEDDAH: Following his meeting with Pope Francis in Vatican City, Muslim World League (MWL) Secretary-General Mohammed Al-Issa met with the head of the Pontifical Council of the Vatican, Cardinal Jean-Laurent Tauran.
The latter meeting was held in the presence of the secretary of the Council of Archbishops, Miguel Isosu, and Archbishop Khalid Akasha.
The meeting established a permanent liaison committee between the Vatican, represented by the Pontifical Council, and the MWL, to discuss various initiatives.
Tauran welcomed Al-Issa and his accompanying delegation, and said the meeting with the pope opened a new chapter of friendship and cooperation between the Vatican and the Islamic world in the face of global challenges and risks.
Al-Issa thanked the Vatican and Tauran, and expressed appreciation for the work undertaken by the Pontifical Council, which he said enhances coexistence and cooperation.
The MWL chief lauded the historic meeting with the pope, and his rejection of claims that Islam is linked to extremism and terrorism. Al-Issa said no religion espouses extremism, but none is free from extremist elements.
He said the MWL has communicated and cooperated with the Vatican via the Pontifical Council in all areas to achieve common goals, notably the spread of peace and harmony.
The MWL delegation visited the headquarters of the Community of Sant’Egidio, an international Catholic organization based in Rome.
The president and secretary of the dialogue committee briefed Al-Issa on the humanitarian work carried out by the organization inside and outside Italy.
The president expressed pleasure over the MWL’s historic visit, which he said carries a new vision of peace and coexistence.
He said the Community of Sant’Egidio looks forward to opening new horizons with the East in religious and cultural spheres.
Al-Issa said the MWL is fully prepared to cooperate with the organization in all areas that serve cultural communication. In this context, he called for more cooperation between the two organizations.


Saudi films soar at Golden Falcon film awards

Updated 54 min 58 sec ago
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Saudi films soar at Golden Falcon film awards

  • Winners of first Golden Falcon award will travel to the Netherlands to study filmmaking techniques
  • Film screenings have been revived in KSA as part of wide-ranging social and economic reforms encouraged by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman 

RIYADH: Saudi films have won awards at an international film festival organized by the Netherlands to coincide with the return of cinema to the Kingdom.

The first Golden Falcon Film Festival awards drew Saudi actors, filmmakers and cinema-lovers to the Netherlands embassy in Riyadh on Wednesday.

More than 30 shortlisted Saudi films were shown at the maiden festival on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Nine films were nominated, with three each in the best film, best script and best director categories. Overall winners were chosen by an international jury headed by Dutch filmmaker Hans Treffers.

Best movie award went to “Mazban.” The other two films nominated in the category were “Tongue” and “Building 20.”

“The Poetess,” “Matour” and “Atoor” were nominated in the best director category with “Atoor” bagging the award.

“Departures,” “Atoor” and “The Remaining” were nominated in the best script category with “Departures” winning the award.

Besides the Golden Falcon trophy, the winners will travel to the Netherlands to study filmmaking techniques.

Joost Reintjes, the Netherlands ambassador in Riyadh, told Arab News: “We are proud to organize the first Golden Falcon Film Festival here to promote filmmaking in the Kingdom and provide a platform for young Saudi filmmakers to show what they have to offer.”

Film screenings — banned in Saudi Arabia in the 1980s following religious changes in the Kingdom — have been revived as part of wide-ranging social and economic reforms encouraged by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

The return of cinema was heralded with a film screening on Wednesday at a newly built theater at the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in Riyadh. 

Commenting on the lifting of the 35-year ban, Reintjes told Arab News: “That’s Vision 2030 — it is good sign to diversify and develop.

“Although the cinemas in the Kingdom have only been restarted now, Saudi filmmaking has already made a name for itself on the world stage.

“The Saudi film industry will grow very fast. The level of talent is high,” he said.

Mohammed Al-Qass, lead actor from “Departure,” said: “We have been working for this day for years. 

“Saudis with a thirst for cinema were traveling outside the country — now they can enjoy and share the experience in their homeland.” 

Mohammed Khawajah, a Saudi filmmaker and adviser for the film festival, told Arab News: “The idea for this festival came last year when the lifting of the cinema ban was being discussed.

“The Netherlands embassy had this idea about nine months ago; we sat together and planned the whole festival, which was carried out successfully, with hundreds of people enjoying Saudi films.

“We will improve with our next festival, which will have more fun and entertainment,” he said.