General Culture Authority chief says ‘seeing is believing’ as movies help to shatter misconceptions of Saudi Arabia

Ahmad Al-Maziad, CEO of Saudi Arabia’s General Culture Authority (GCA). (Supplied)
Updated 15 May 2018
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General Culture Authority chief says ‘seeing is believing’ as movies help to shatter misconceptions of Saudi Arabia

  • Ahmad Al-Maziad, CEO of Saudi Arabia’s General Culture Authority (GCA) gives an exclusive interview to Arab News
  • 54 percent of the employees in the GCA are women

CANNES: Ahmad Al-Maziad, CEO of Saudi Arabia’s General Culture Authority (GCA), gave an exclusive interview to Arab News about how projects will be selected, when production will begin and the GCA’s long-term goals.

What is the ultimate objective of Saudi Arabia’s movie plans?
“I think this is the beginning. We’re putting (in) the seeds for an industry, and we’re building an industry from the bottom up. We’re not doing what others have done, with a festival, we’re starting from the bottom. We’re doing training, we’re doing education, we’re working on infrastructure, we’re working on talent, production — all the elements of building an actual sustainable industry in Saudi Arabia.”

Have you drawn up filming guidelines?
“We’re developing the guidelines as we speak, but when we talk about international movies, (it’s) movies that can be, and make sense to be, shot in Saudi Arabia, that showcase what Saudi Arabia is about. Another element could be the script — whether it’s neutral or positive in its depiction. It is not mandatory, but it is a plus to have a positive depiction. We need to look into the script and see if it is really worth seeing, and worth investing in.”

Will your plans help to address international misconceptions about the Kingdom?
“Seeing is believing. We can’t just say that we are changing without showing that we are actually changing. Allowing women to drive is showing that we’re changing. Opening cinemas is showing that we’re changing. The fact that 54 percent of the employees in the GCA are women shows that we’re changing. The fact that in the GCA and Saudi Film Council we have equal pay between men and women shows that we’re working toward what many others are in terms of gender equality pay opportunities. This is already within the DNA that we’re developing. In time, they need to see it. They hear it first and don’t believe it. There’s so much baggage from the media over the last 30 to 40 years. I think, once they hear it, then they come again and they see it once or twice, it will become a reality.”

Is there a mandate to hire Saudi nationals as part of your planned incentives?
Having a mandate might have had a negative impact of turning off some institutes. It’s a fact that we don’t have a lot of talent. We are developing the talent as we speak. We will be filling some elements of the talent, but not the entire ecosystem. More and more talent will be built. I think rather than coming out as mandating, let’s put it the other way around and give an incentive whereby they will also (want to) look, because they have an incentive to save more money, so they will be looking to find that talent.
Also, it will create a layer of the industry: Saudis who create the talent and manage that talent, because they will be the connection between the international filmmakers who don’t know Saudi Arabia and Saudis who don’t have access to the international filmmakers.”


New warning to WhatsApp users after hackers strike

CITC is trying to raise awareness regarding fraudulent messages that come via WhatsApp.
Updated 22 May 2018
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New warning to WhatsApp users after hackers strike

JEDDAH: Saudi users of the popular messaging platform WhatsApp have been warned to be on their guard against hackers after a spate of cyberattacks.
“Users are advised to enable two-step verification to protect their accounts from any digital breakthroughs,” the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) said.
“Also do not click on any link until you have verified the source of the link, and make sure you do not disclose your personal information and phone number to any untrusted sites.”
A large number of WhatsApp users in Saudi Arabia have recently had their accounts hacked, and in some cases have suffered financial losses as a result. “CITC tweeted this warning to raise awareness regarding many fraudulent messages through WhatsApp,” spokesman Adel Abu Haimed told Arab News.
Attached to the CITC tweet was an infograph to clarify to users how to enable two-step verification.
Many people shared their thoughts on social media about the subject.

 

Fahad @Fah2dofficial tweeted: “OMG I have a lot of important information on my WhatsApp I better get my account secured.”
Abu Hatem @abuhatem1386 said: I am so done with hacking.”
To enable two-step verification and keep your account safe, open WhatsApp Settings then select Account then two-step verification then select Enable then enter a six-digit PIN.
Upon enabling this feature, you can also optionally enter your email address. This email address will allow WhatsApp to send you a link via email to disable two-step verification in case you ever forget your six-digit PIN, and also to help safeguard your account.

Decoder

WhatsApp verification process

Two-step verification is an optional feature that adds more security to your account. When you have two-step verification enabled, any attempt to verify your phone number on WhatsApp must be accompanied by the six-digit PIN that you created using this feature.