Mountainfilm festival makes its debut in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Climbing Federation hosts the first Mountainfilm festival in Jeddah. (Huda Bashatah/Arab News)
Updated 25 November 2018

Mountainfilm festival makes its debut in Saudi Arabia

  • Mountainfilm is an American documentary film festival that has been celebrated since 1979
  • The festival showcases nonfiction stories not just about climbing, but also about the environment, culture, and politics

Saudi Climbing Federation (SCF) hosted the first Mountainfilm festival in Jeddah as part of its world tour. A list of 10 short films of various topics including skiing, climbing, nature and running were shown.

The documentaries were filmed in great spots for climbing sports in Spain, France, the US, Nepal and Norway. The event took place at the auditorium of Waad Academy from 8-10:30 p.m.

Mountainfilm is an American documentary film festival that has been celebrated since 1979. It showcases nonfiction stories not just about climbing, but also about environmental, cultural, political and social justice issues.

SCF sets as its aim the promotion of mountain sports in the Kingdom, displaying their artistic and sensual aspects and their impact on the life of the individual and society to motivate Saudi society to go into the rich mountainous desert nature surrounding them, to encourage them to plan their own adventures outside the cities and to gather people of shared interests in one place.

Majed Al-Naji, director of operations at SCF, told Arab News: “It is really our first big event as a federation since we were founded in January. We started in Asharqiyah, we were in Riyadh last weekend and this is the last show of the tour.”

He added: “We wanted to promote climbing and such sports by opening people’s eyes to possibilities.”

Teams set up by the Royal Commission for Al-Ula and the SCF will identify, catalogue, map and mark climbing routes, as well as creating the infrastructure to ensure the safety of climbers and adventurers.

The festival started with a teaser clip about the tour of the SCF team to Al-Ula mountains, showing how hard the team are working to pave the way for this sport in mountains of Saudi Arabia.

Majid added: “We were invited by the Royal Commission for Al-Ula. In the future we want to hold climbing festivals and invite climbers from abroad. Once we open Saudi Arabia to outsiders people will want to come to climb here as Saudi Arabia has really one of the best climbing areas in the region.”


It is worth mentioning that the SCF team includes the first Saudi female certified trainer, SCF General Manager Yasmin Al-Qahtani.

The festival goes beyond the film medium by bringing together world-class athletes, change makers and visionary artists for a multi-dimensional celebration of indomitable spirit.

Mountainfilm travels year-round and worldwide with a selection of current and best-loved films from festival archives.

SCF was established at the beginning of 2018 with the aim of developing the sport of climbing specifically, and mountain sports in general. Federation is working on a number of other initiatives, including preparing the first outdoor climbing area, “Al-Shafa,” outside the city of Taif, where 35 climbing tracks have been developed. The “Tanoma’’ area in Al-Abha will be open to receive climbers by next week.

One of the attendees, Afnan Linjawi, a Saudi screenwriter, told Arab News: “I was blown away by the documentaries that I have seen; they have exceeded my expectations. I was so enthralled by them that I did not feel the time pass by.”

She added: “I am glad I came here. I wish that the festival had been more widely advertised, and that more people had come because there are a lot of great messages; many of them were female-empowering. It really makes me proud and I am humbled that I am among a generation that believes in us and that supports us.”



A city some 110 km southwest of Tayma north of Madinah in northwestern Saudi Arabia. Al-Ula was historically located on the Incense Route.

Saudi civil aviation announces the opening of NEOM Bay airport

Updated 7 min 50 sec ago

Saudi civil aviation announces the opening of NEOM Bay airport

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's General Authority of Civil Aviation announced on Tuesday the opening of Neom Bay Airport in the northern region of Sharma.
The authority said that the airport has been licensed and is ready to receive commercial flights starting next week, after the first phase of development work was completed and was registered by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) earlier with the code “NUM.”
At present, Neom Bay Airport will conduct regular flights to investors and employees of the Neom project.