Major plot twist for students at Saudi Arabia’s first cinema school

Saudi women study film making at a university in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in this March 7, 2018 photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 13 March 2018
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Major plot twist for students at Saudi Arabia’s first cinema school

JEDDAH: Student Sama Kinsara adjusts her camera at Saudi Arabia’s only cinema school, her dream of seeing her work on the big screen coming into focus after the lifting of the country’s 35-year ban on cinema.
“Everything is about to change,” the first-year student of “visual and digital production” at Effat University in Jeddah told Reuters.
Her course is to be renamed “cinematic arts,” dropping the deceptive title employed originally to help stay under the radar of religious police and local communities opposed to the idea of men teaching women how to make movies.
Kinsara and her classmates on the four-year, women-only course have been able to film outside the university grounds for the first time.
“A girl carrying a camera and shooting in the streets is pushing boundaries,” said Mohamed Ghazala, head of Effat’s Visual and Digital Production Department, which began the course in 2013.
The changes follow the lifting of restrictions by reform-minded Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the last year.
Authorities hope that by opening 300 cinemas and building a film industry, more than $24 billion can be added to the economy and 30,000 jobs created.
Cinema is one of several new avenues for Saudi women, who can now attend soccer matches, take part in sport, and in a few months will be allowed to drive cars.
For film student Qurratulain Wahab, the chance to get off the university campus and film with her classmates is welcomed.
“Before, there was a problem if we had a camera in the malls; we were not allowed to enter the malls but things are getting smoother now when we have access,” she said
“When we have permissions it gets easier, it gets better and people are more accepting. They want to see what we’re doing.”


First Saudi female air traffic controllers begin work

Updated 22 March 2019
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First Saudi female air traffic controllers begin work

  • Eleven women completed a one-year program conducted by Saudi Air Navigation Services

JEDDAH: Saudi Air Navigation Services (SANS) on Wednesday celebrated the appointment and start of work of the first batch of Saudi female air traffic controllers at an air traffic control center in Jeddah.
Eleven women completed a one-year program conducted by SANS in cooperation with the Saudi Academy of Civil Aviation. This is the first program to qualify women to work as air traffic controllers.
The academy initiative, in collaboration with SANS, seeks to create more jobs for women as part of a reform push to wean the economy off oil. Vision 2030 plan aims to increase employment and diversify revenue sources.
Earlier, SANS CEO Ryyan Tarabzoni said the state-owned company was prioritizing the hiring of women in the profession, as the country pushes to extend women’s rights in the country and also recruit more nationals as part of the “Saudization” project.