‘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.”


Startup of the Week: ‘What comes naturally: Organic soaps head to Jeddah’

Updated 22 July 2019
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Startup of the Week: ‘What comes naturally: Organic soaps head to Jeddah’

  • The brand offers 100 percent organic products

Organic skincare methods have always proven reliable. Lora, an organic skincare business established by 33-year-old Saudi entrepreneur Hashim Al-Shawi in 2016, understood that although globally many skincare brands have embraced this knowledge, in the Kingdom, there were relatively few.

Al-Shawi, who spent three years in the US, decided to exploit the gap in the market, while creating dream jobs for many of his Saudi contemporaries.

The brand offers 100 percent organic products, including natural soaps made with essence of lavender, olive oil, oud, rose and musk, peels, creams, scrubs and shea butter products.

“Natural oils are the main component in all of our products, which adds quality,” Al-Shawi told Arab News.

“Lora is all about what’s being produced cleanly from the earth delivered to your hands. It is all handmade, and gentle on your skin. We use carefully chosen natural ingredients ready to make you fall in love with them.”

He explained that “Lora” in Arabic means the heart of the bay tree. “This name is used in many cultures, such as Persian and Arab cultures and some cultures in Africa, to symbolize the rose and the female form alike.”

He encourages people to use organic skincare products instead of commercial ones.

“Natural soaps are best used, because we are dealing with skin, the largest organ in the human body which protects us. I encourage the use of organic skincare products to benefit it.”

Lora is working to open a new store in Jeddah in a few months. Customers can place their orders through the shop’s Instagram account (@loragoskin)