Stars in their eyes: US film school seeks Saudi talent

Haifaa Al-Mansour
Updated 26 February 2018
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Stars in their eyes: US film school seeks Saudi talent

LONDON: The re-opening of cinemas in Saudi Arabia is drawing interest from international film schools seeking to recruit the next generation of filmmakers from the Kingdom.
The New York Film Academy is sending a team to Riyadh next month to promote its degree programs as the country opens cinemas for the first time in 35 years.
“The re-opening of movie theaters in Saudi Arabia is a huge breakthrough. It’s the pre-condition for the development of a local industry and I think that’s really important,” Professor Chris Berry of the department of film studies at King’s College London told Arab News.
“People in the Arab world are very aware of the decline of the Egyptian cinema. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, and through the 1980s and 1990s, the Arab world was dominated by a Cairo-based industry.
“That industry went into decline for lots of reasons, including Hollywood’s efforts to get into that part of the world — so there has been a lack of local industry, distribution and local content.”
The Saudi government said on Dec. 11 that commercial cinemas would be allowed to operate in the Kingdom from as early as March 2018.
Within weeks, cinema operators including Vue International had announced plans to develop movie theaters across the country.
That move may spur interest among young Saudis to pursue film studies and emulate the success of directors such as Haifaa Al-Mansour, whose 2012 drama “Wadjda” earned a Best Foreign Film nomination at the 2014 BAFTA Awards in the UK.
“Her story about traveling overseas to get trained and somehow being able to make this film in Saudi Arabia is indicative of this determination to move things forward,” said Prof. Berry.
“So it’s interesting that the government in Saudi Arabia seems to be moving in a similar direction.
“There have also been exhibitions of video art and other kinds of audio visual material from Saudi Arabia that have been going around in various shows around the world, indicating a much stronger audio visual literacy, if you will — but also more of an ability to deploy audio visual media than maybe people would have expected.”
The New York Film Academy will visit Saudi Arabia to host information sessions from March 12 to 14.


Major projects, investments worth over $685bn unveiled on Saudi National Day

A photo taken on July 5, 2018, shows Bader al-Ajmi, 38,(L) owner of "One Way Burger" serving customers from his truck at a main street in the capital Riyadh. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2018
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Major projects, investments worth over $685bn unveiled on Saudi National Day

  • The private sector’s contribution to the GDP at constant prices doubled to around SR1236.6 million in 2017

JEDDAH: A major economic boost in the form of 10 major projects and investments exceeding SR685 billion ($183 billion) were unveiled as celebrations of the 88th Saudi National Day got under way.
The Council of Saudi Chambers released a report focusing on great economic achievements in 2017.
These projects reflect the Kingdom’s vision under the wise leadership of King Salman and that of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to provide a brighter future through diversifying sources of national income, tackling environmental challenges and increasing investment and prosperity.
The report summarized the most important events and economic developments in the Kingdom over the past year. These include the lifting of the ban on women driving in June, and the establishment of the General Authority for Cyber Security, in addition to the numerous royal decrees providing financial support to Saudis.
It also noted the important decisions related to the Saudi business sector. These include the launch of a private sector incentive program with a value of SR72 billion, the privatization of 10 government sectors and the establishment of the General Authority for Real Estate. The private sector is still showing a strong performance as an efficient partner in the inclusive development process and in the achievement of the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision, the report noted, as it contributes 39 percent to the Saudi gross domestic product (GDP).
The private sector’s contribution to the GDP at constant prices doubled to around SR1236.6 million in 2017. There has been increased contribution to GDP from non-oil private sector streams.
The private sector also witnessed an increase in the number of workers, in its capital, in the number of shares on the Saudi market, in the cumulative number of establishments operating in the Kingdom, and in non-oil exports.
Continued growth of the private sector was attributed by the report to the Saudi government’s support. This support comes through initiatives such as the removal of obstacles to financial development, improvements to the working environment and policies adopted to boost investment.
It also reviewed the private sector’s efforts to support diversification of the economy and lower unemployment rates.
The importance of the measures taken to prioritize the employment of qualified Saudi workers over the employment of expatriates in the private sector were stressed, as well as the sector’s role in providing education and health services.