Saudi filmmaker Ahd Kamel stars in BBC-Netflix series Collateral

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Ahd Kamel during filming. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Ahd Kamel. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Ahd Kamel during filming. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Ahd Kamel during filming. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Updated 25 February 2018
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Saudi filmmaker Ahd Kamel stars in BBC-Netflix series Collateral

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabian filmmaker Ahd Kamel is most recognized for the movies she directed and was honored for in film festivals in the Arab world, such as “Al-Gondorji” and “Hurma.” Kamel is also an actress and writer. She excelled in her role as school principal in the movie “Wadjda,” which had international success and made it to the Oscars.
Kamel’s ambitions in filmmaking and acting know no limits. Once again, she broke out of the local context to take part in Collateral, an English series produced by Netflix, airing currently on BBC2.
In a report published in Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Kamel expressed her joy at being the first Saudi actress to take part in an English series starring the Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan. She also expressed her wishes to have cinemas in Saudi Arabia as “there are many talents in the Kingdom.”
When asked about her experience around the brightest British stars and the difference between acting in the Arab world and in Britain, Kamel said: “The difference is huge. The great thing about working in London is that they really love actors in this country; there is a lot of respect for the craft.”
Despite the fright of her first experience, Kamel admitted that TV series “are so much fun.” She said: “Living the character’s life details and being around these artists … That is such a huge thing for any actress.”
Kamel said she felt excited and nervous when she first met Collateral’s screenwriter David Hare. “When I first entered the room to meet David, I saw two seats with the name tags ‘Carey Mulligan’ and ‘Billy Piper.’ I felt so proud, as though my 10-year career was rewarding me. I will do my best and go all the way. It is such an amazing thing to work with someone like Carey. She is such a humble person.”
About her role in Collateral as Fatima, a Syrian refugee, Kamel said: “What makes the series so special is that when I auditioned for the role, I met with David Hare and S. J. Clarkson. The two artists insisted that I put a natural act and portray Fatima’s human side. This decision allowed me to study the character deeply. Hare and Clarkson helped me a lot and gave me a lot of advice.”
Kamel studied acting and directing in the US and her dream is to appear in a UK theater.
About the character she plays, and Arab characters in general, Kamel said: “It is funny how Arab characters are always portrayed as terrorists or refugees … I think this stereotype is now broken and we can now find a diversity of other characters. People are more interested in the characters’ human side. In the role I am playing, I am trying to be part of that change.”


Saudi businesswomen eye greater role in the economy with end to driving ban

The end of the driving ban is expected to help bring an economic windfall for Saudi women. (Shutterstock)
Updated 23 June 2018
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Saudi businesswomen eye greater role in the economy with end to driving ban

  • The historic move is a huge step forward for businesswomen in the Saudi Arabia, says businesswoman
  • A recent survey by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce indicated that transportation was a major concern holding Saudi women back from joining the labor market

The end of the driving ban will boost women’s financial power and allow them to play a bigger role in economic and social diversification in line with Vision 2030, prominent businesswomen said on Friday.

Hind Khalid Al-Zahid was the first Saudi woman designated as an executive director — for Dammam Airport Company — and also heads the Businesswomen Center at the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

She sees the historic move as a huge step forward for businesswomen in the Kingdom.

“Women being allowed to drive is very important; of course this will help a lot in sustainable development as the lifting of the ban on women driving came as a wonderful opportunity to increase women’s participation in the workforce,” she told Arab News on Friday, ahead of the end of the ban on Sunday.

She added that women in the job market are under-represented; they make up to 22 percent of the national workforce of about six million according to official estimates. Lifting the ban will help to take women’s representation in the workforce to 30 percent by 2030, she said.

“This is not just the right thing to do for women’s emancipation, but also an essential step in economic and social development as part of the reforms,” she said.

She said that there were different obstacles in increasing women’s participation in the workforce and other productive activities, and the driving ban was one of them. It was a strategic issue that needed to be addressed on a priority basis. With the issue resolved, it would help immensely in giving Saudi women better representation as they would help to diversify the Saudi economy and society.

She said that women could contribute hugely to the workforce and labor market as half of Saudi human resources were female, and unless allowed to excel in different sectors it would not be possible to do better, mainly because of restricted mobility.

A recent survey by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce indicated that transportation was a major concern holding Saudi women back from joining the labor market.

Nouf Ibrahim, a businesswoman in Riyadh, said: “It will surely boost female economic participation and help increase women’s representation in the workforce immensely. It will also help to reduce the overall national unemployment rate as most of the unemployed are women and many of them are eligible as university graduates.”

She echoed the opinion that the move would help to bring an economic windfall for Saudi women, making it easier for them to work and do business, and thus play a bigger and better role that would help economic and social diversification in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

“Being able to drive from Sunday onwards after the ban is lifted will be a wonderful experience. Earlier we were dependent on a male family member and house driver to take us to workplace, to the shopping center, school or other required places for some work, now we can drive and that will allow active participation in productive work,” Sulafa Hakami, a Saudi woman working as the digital communication manager with an American MNC in Riyadh, told Arab News.

“Saudi women can now share effectively the bigger and better responsibilities,” she said.