Upcoming filmmakers, actors determined to build a Saudi film industry

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Yasser Hammad on set of one of his short films (images courtesy of Yasser Hammad)
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Nahar Alhamrani (center) on the set of his YouTube hit show ‘N8n8a.’ (images courtesy of Nahar Alhamrani)
Updated 13 December 2017
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Upcoming filmmakers, actors determined to build a Saudi film industry

JEDDAH: Since the news about the reopening of cinemas in Saudi Arabia broke on Monday, directors, producers and actors are rejoicing and cannot contain their excitement on the new chapter the Kingdom is going through. It is no secret that there is a small, up-and-coming film industry in the Kingdom. It just has not seen the light of day on the domestic front.
Many participate on an international level, but now things are turning around and many are hopeful and enthusiastic about what is coming up next.
Sara Taibah, a young Saudi actress who played Zaina in Nada Mojadidi’s “Zaina’s Cake,” which recently won the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) best short film award at Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival (SICFF), was excited with Monday’s news.
“This is our time now. The announcement is going to open doors for all potential actors and actresses that want to get into this field.”
“There’s a passion to it and I have had the privilege to experience it. Now others can too. Acting is another level of talent and there are so many talented Saudis here that want to show it,” she said.
As an actress, she said she would like directors and producers to make movies that are less intense and more toned down in the messages they convey.
“I hope that there’ll be more real social stories,” she said. “We all know of the major issues we have in the Kingdom, and I am not undermining them, but what about the real issues? How about going into people’s homes and telling the stories of us, to us, for us? That would be refreshing.”
Yasser Hammad, a writer and director and soon-to-be a graduate of the prestigious NY Film Academy in Los Angeles, said his dream is finally coming true.
“I’ve been wanting this since I was a child. People would always discourage me and tell me to keep dreaming. Well, the dream has finally come true.
“With the introduction of cinemas, an industry will surely happen. I’ve worked so hard to achieve my dream and my goal is to come back and throw myself into the game as soon as I can and be a part of the movement. I want people to view our films on the big screen and see how much we can give and appreciate the message we’re relaying on screen. Nothing is impossible now.”
He said with the growth of the industry, Saudi filmmakers would surely learn from the experiences of their neighbors like from their Egyptian counterparts.
He understands that it is going to be new and is still in its initial phases but the information is out there to organize and generate a system to make it easy for film casters, creative producers, cinematographers, etc. to do their job in the most efficient manner.
Nahar Alhamrani, creative director of “The Crew KSA Productions” and a major movie enthusiast, felt the news was a great milestone for the budding industry.
He told Arab News: “We don’t have the know-how of creating a full-fledged film but we’re learning along the way. It’s an experience for everyone taking part.
“Yesterday’s announcement was the best thing I’ve heard in a long time. I booked a ticket to Dubai this morning just to watch ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi,’ that’s how dedicated I am... You could imagine how it’d be if we had cinemas in the Kingdom. People would flock to them and finally enjoy the experience.”
As a movie enthusiast, Alhamrani feels that cinemas bring people together, sharing one experience together, reacting to the same movie scene together. “You laugh, you cry and you show fear all together as a collective. That is an experience you can never have at home. The naysayers can complain all they want but they can never deny that they too watch movies on their TV screens, so why not give it a try on the big screen?”
It is also a fact that many, like Alhamrani, are giving it all they have got to produce the highest quality of work they can. As mentioned, they are still learning along the way, but it is something to look forward to in the future.


High-level investment forum aims to further boost business between Saudi Arabia and Japan

Updated 18 June 2019
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High-level investment forum aims to further boost business between Saudi Arabia and Japan

  • Japan is one of Saudi Arabia’s most important economic partners

TOKYO: More than 300 government, investment and industry leaders on Monday took part in a high-level gathering aimed at further boosting business opportunities between Saudi Arabia and Japan.

The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) welcomed key figures from the public and private sectors to the Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 Business Forum, held in Tokyo.

Hosted in partnership with the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), the conference focused on the creation of investment opportunities in strategic sectors of the Kingdom. Delegates also discussed key reforms currently underway to enable easier market access for foreign companies.

Speaking at the event, Saudi Economy and Planning Minister Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri, said: “Today’s forum is a testimony to the success of the strategic direction set by the Saudi-Japanese Vision 2030 two years ago, which seeks to drive private-sector involvement, both by partnering with public-sector entities.”

SAGIA Gov. Ibrahim Al-Omar said: “At SAGIA, we have been working on creating a more attractive and favorable business environment in Saudi Arabia, which is making it easier for foreign companies to access opportunities in the Kingdom.”

Japan is one of Saudi Arabia’s most important economic partners. It is the Kingdom’s second-largest source of foreign capital and third-biggest trading partner, with total trade exceeding $39 billion.

JETRO president, Yasushi Akahoshi, said: “Saudi-Japan Vision 2030 has made great progress since it was first announced. Under this strategic initiative, the number of cooperative projects between our two countries has nearly doubled, from 31 to 61, and represents a diverse range of sectors and stakeholders.”

Since 2016, the Saudi government has delivered 45 percent of more than 500 planned reforms, including the introduction of 100 percent foreign ownership rights, enhancing legal infrastructure and offering greater protection for shareholders.

As a result, the Kingdom has climbed international competitiveness and ease-of-doing-business rankings, with foreign direct investment inflows increasing by 127 percent in 2018 and the number of new companies entering Saudi Arabia rising by 70 percent on a year-on-year basis in the first quarter of 2019.