Saudi Vision 2030 is positive move in global campaign: UK envoy for gender equality

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Updated 21 March 2018
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Saudi Vision 2030 is positive move in global campaign: UK envoy for gender equality

RIYADH: Women and men working together will drive social and economic change, Joanna Roper, the UK Foreign Office’s Special Envoy for Gender Equality, said in an exclusive interview with Arab News during the Women’s Economic Forum that opened in Riyadh on Monday.
"We talked earlier at the forum about working with men who are our allies and champions, and only together can we really see a change," Roper said.
"I think the changes we are seeing in Saudi Arabia with Vision 2030 are a positive move. I met a few of the delegation on the crown prince’s visit to London. That was my first encounter with Saudi men and women who are looking to change the economy. To bring more women in, and I think this is really positive."
Roper said that the UK was a firm supporter of Saudi Arabia "in whatever way it can be."
She said the UK's foreign secretary had made girls’ education a priority and this was an area of shared interest.
"In terms of specific things we are doing in cooperation with Saudi Arabia, with the British Council and in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, is the training of PE teachers for girls, so this is where international cooperation really comes in. Also, in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), there has been cooperation across the border, in supporting women in STEM and helping them become female STEM leaders. That’s something that we are all very passionate about in the UK Foreign Office."
Roper said that many families already recognized the value of education for boys and girls. "If we can build on that and continue to talk about the real value and benefit of education, then the case makes itself."
Roper, who took up her role in April last year, said she saw her job as supporting and helping the British government in its gender equality work. "For example, the Foreign Office has a whole lot of work for, let’s say, women’s peace and security, and international development. They do a lot on our program work: education, economic empowerment, political participation as well.
"What I try to do is support all their work when we are talking to partners overseas. My job is not to tell people what to do, it’s about where can we find a way to work together.


Saudi films soar at Golden Falcon film awards

Updated 18 min 10 sec ago
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Saudi films soar at Golden Falcon film awards

  • Winners of first Golden Falcon award will travel to the Netherlands to study filmmaking techniques
  • Film screenings have been revived in KSA as part of wide-ranging social and economic reforms encouraged by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman 

RIYADH: Saudi films have won awards at an international film festival organized by the Netherlands to coincide with the return of cinema to the Kingdom.

The first Golden Falcon Film Festival awards drew Saudi actors, filmmakers and cinema-lovers to the Netherlands embassy in Riyadh on Wednesday.

More than 30 shortlisted Saudi films were shown at the maiden festival on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Nine films were nominated, with three each in the best film, best script and best director categories. Overall winners were chosen by an international jury headed by Dutch filmmaker Hans Treffers.

Best movie award went to “Mazban.” The other two films nominated in the category were “Tongue” and “Building 20.”

“The Poetess,” “Matour” and “Atoor” were nominated in the best director category with “Atoor” bagging the award.

“Departures,” “Atoor” and “The Remaining” were nominated in the best script category with “Departures” winning the award.

Besides the Golden Falcon trophy, the winners will travel to the Netherlands to study filmmaking techniques.

Joost Reintjes, the Netherlands ambassador in Riyadh, told Arab News: “We are proud to organize the first Golden Falcon Film Festival here to promote filmmaking in the Kingdom and provide a platform for young Saudi filmmakers to show what they have to offer.”

Film screenings — banned in Saudi Arabia in the 1980s following religious changes in the Kingdom — have been revived as part of wide-ranging social and economic reforms encouraged by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

The return of cinema was heralded with a film screening on Wednesday at a newly built theater at the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in Riyadh. 

Commenting on the lifting of the 35-year ban, Reintjes told Arab News: “That’s Vision 2030 — it is good sign to diversify and develop.

“Although the cinemas in the Kingdom have only been restarted now, Saudi filmmaking has already made a name for itself on the world stage.

“The Saudi film industry will grow very fast. The level of talent is high,” he said.

Mohammed Al-Qass, lead actor from “Departure,” said: “We have been working for this day for years. 

“Saudis with a thirst for cinema were traveling outside the country — now they can enjoy and share the experience in their homeland.” 

Mohammed Khawajah, a Saudi filmmaker and adviser for the film festival, told Arab News: “The idea for this festival came last year when the lifting of the cinema ban was being discussed.

“The Netherlands embassy had this idea about nine months ago; we sat together and planned the whole festival, which was carried out successfully, with hundreds of people enjoying Saudi films.

“We will improve with our next festival, which will have more fun and entertainment,” he said.