‘Barakah Meets Barakah’ stars say cinema move will help bring Saudi stories to world

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Hisham Fageeh and Fatima Al-Banawi are well-known for their roles in successful Saudi comedy Barakah Meets Barakah. (Courtesy: El-Housh Productions)
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Hisham Fageeh and Fatima Al-Banawi. (AN Photo)
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Hisham Fageeh and Fatima Al-Banawi. (AN Photo)
Updated 23 February 2018
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‘Barakah Meets Barakah’ stars say cinema move will help bring Saudi stories to world

LONDON: Saudi film stars Hisham Fageeh and Fatima Al-Banawi said the arrival of cinema in the Kingdom will help open up society and “share our narrative’’ with the world.
The pair — who are well-known for their roles in successful Saudi comedy “Barakah Meets Barakah,” an Oscar submission for 2016’s Best Foreign Language Film — were speaking during a gathering at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, hosted by the Saudi British Society.
Set in Jeddah, the production was the first award-winning romantic comedy to come out of the Kingdom and became Saudi Arabia’s first film on Netflix.
Al-Banawi, who recently co-starred in the OSN series “Bashar,” emphasized the scope of cinema to “break stereotypes’’ by telling the stories of real people.
“We’re such a private society,” she said. “It’s important to share our narratives.’’
Fageeh, an actor and producer-director who made a name as a stand-up comedian on YouTube, said people in Saudi Arabia were hungry to tell their own stories.
He said many are interested in “taking back our narrative’’ and not having Western institutions dictate the direction of Saudi Arabia’s evolving film landscape, which he described as a “gorilla industry” at this stage.
“In Saudi Arabia, if you want somebody who’s a lighting guy, you get an electrician. You want an actor, you go ask somebody who’s got liberal parents,” he said.
“The more sophisticated our art will be, the more sophisticated the viewer can become.”
Opening the discussion, Alistair Burt, the UK minister for international development and the Middle East, described Saudi Arabia’s recent move to lift the ban on cinemas as “another exciting development in the Kingdom.’’
Praising the success of “Barakah Meets Barakah,” and confessing a preference for romantic comedies including “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail,” the minister said that such films “tell us something very special about a society.’’
“Changing perceptions of the Islamic world is important,” he added. “Anything that helps build our relationships is very welcome.”


The Six: Female rappers from the Middle East who are changing the game

Updated 18 November 2018
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The Six: Female rappers from the Middle East who are changing the game

DUBAI: These women are changing the face of rap in the Middle East with their bold lyrics and powerful prose.

Soultana

This Moroccan female rapper champions women’s rights and uses bold lyrics to tackle social issues. True to her feisty form, Soultana’s hit “Sawt Nissa” addresses sexual harassment in her home country.

Shadia Mansour

The British-Palestinian rapper uses hip-hop to highlight the Palestinian struggle. Mansour sees music as a medium for expressing dissent.

Mayam Mahmoud

The Egyptian rapper, who has been featured on CNN and the BBC for her efforts to advance women’s rights and combat sexual harassment, is making a name for herself on the rap scene.

Meryem Saci

The music of the Montreal-based songwriter of Algerian origin ranges from soulful R&B and jazz to reggae and hip-hop. Saci’s mixtape, “On My Way,” is a testament to her eclectic sound.

Malikah

The self-proclaimed “Queen of Arabic hip-hop” has established herself as one of the most important musicians in Lebanon and beyond with hard-hitting lyrics. She even opened the show for Snoop Dog in Abu Dhabi in 2011.