Censor and sensibility: Saudi scriptwriter aims to encourage local filmmakers

A Saudi family accompanies their child, who is wearing a Jason Voorhees hockey mask during an entertainment event in Riyadh. (AFP)
Updated 05 December 2018
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Censor and sensibility: Saudi scriptwriter aims to encourage local filmmakers

  • Afnan Linjawi explains how things have changed from 1896 to 2000, and why
  • The Jeddah native has written and directed stage plays, as well as having several scripts under her belt

JEDDAH: Saudi filmmakers should not be discouraged by censorship in the Kingdom, according to scriptwriter Afnan Linjawi.

Linjawi was leading a seminar organized by the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Art (SASCA) and gave a talk about censorship at home and in Hollywood.

The events have been held since the beginning of the year and cover cinema-related topics.

“We hold these seminars because we want to introduce the cinema industry to people here, to educate them about the workings of the industry, how to look at it from a business and artistic perspective and how to get them into the industry,” Linjawi told Arab News.

The Jeddah native has written and directed stage plays, as well as having several scripts under her belt.

“It is a positive time for Saudi filmmakers right now. Cinemas are opening and I hope cinemas continue to flourish and to open and stay. I hope that we get to see a more national flavor of films and not just a copy and paste of the Hollywood format, because I believe films are an important vehicle for cultural advancement. So we want to create something that’s ours as Saudis, as people living in Saudi Arabia.” 

She gave an overview of Hollywood censorship at the seminar, explaining how it had changed from 1896 to 2000 and why.

Hollywood was not as liberal as people thought because there had long been rules that affected who could watch what films at the cinema, she said. 

Violent scenes and sexual content often determined if scenes were to be censored, she added, but the advent of sites including Netflix meant that people had greater access than ever to movies with no need for a cinema.

Censorship was no excuse to go into the film industry, she said, because the limitations of what was acceptable changed in line with a country’s political and economic status.

There was no way of knowing what might upset people and what a government might do about it, she added, and that film culture could still grow even with censorship.

“My message is more directed to filmmakers who may feel discouraged by the idea of censorship in our country and I just want to encourage them that it should not be an excuse.”

“As a big fan of Hollywood movies I found the talk was very inspirational and helped me a lot in getting the concept of censorship and to what extent it can be applied,” said audience member Abdulla Omar.

Linjawi’s work can be found here: www.screenwriterafnan.com


‘Saudi Arabia moving fast toward achieving its Vision 2030 goals’

Dr. Ayedh bin Hadi Al-Otaibi, deputy governor of investment climate.
Updated 24 min 44 sec ago
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‘Saudi Arabia moving fast toward achieving its Vision 2030 goals’

  • The SAGIA adopts strategies that are in accordance with Vision 2030 to support an investor’s journey within the Kingdom

RIYADH: The Saudi economy is standing strong and it is supported by a competitive environment, said a senior official of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA).
Dr. Ayedh bin Hadi Al-Otaibi, deputy governor of investment climate, was speaking at the Sixth Saudi Trade Finance Summit, which began on Wednesday in Riyadh.
Al-Otaibi delivered a speech on “Unlocking the potential of the Arab world’s largest economy” in which he reviewed the objectives and role of SAGIA with a particular reference to Vision 2030.
The SAGIA official also highlighted the recently introduced reforms in the investment environment to support the business sector in the Kingdom.
Al-Otaibi said Saudi Arabia is moving rapidly toward achieving its goals as envisaged in Vision 2030. The goals, he added, include an increase in foreign direct investment in the Kingdom, diversification of sources of income and leveraging its unique attributes as the heart of the Islamic world and the link between three continents.
The official said the Kingdom is taking all steps to make small and medium enterprises (SMEs) the main engine for economic development in the Kingdom.
Due to the recent measures and reforms the SMEs in the Kingdom are witnessing a spurt in growth and job creation, he added.
SMEs are considered a key partner in the development of Saudi Arabia.
One of the important actions in supporting these companies is the establishment of the General Authority for SMEs (Monshaat), which aims to increase the contribution of such businesses in the economy. Monshaat aspires to contribute to innovation, facilitate funding and create jobs for Saudi males and females.
The government has put in place stimulus packages of up to SR200 billion ($53 billion) until 2020 under the Fiscal Balance Program, one of the central initiatives for realizing the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reforms.
The PIF, the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, has also supported the sector by setting up a SR4 billion fund ($1 billion) that will give SMEs access to capital. The “fund of funds,” as it is known, will invest in venture capital and private equity funds targeting the SME sector.
A privatization program also encourages the private sector to own or manage state-owned assets and to take over public services currently provided directly by the government.
SMEs are important to all economies around the world and will specifically play a major role in the non-oil-reliant Saudi economy. SMEs contribute to the economy by generating employment opportunities for the Saudi people and fostering economic empowerment for the youth and women. This will help in achieving the Vision 2030 goals of decreasing unemployment from 11.6 percent to 7 percent and increasing female participation in the workforce from 22 percent to 30 percent.
The SAGIA adopts strategies that are in accordance with Vision 2030 to support an investor’s journey within the Kingdom.
It also promotes a business environment based on customer service by measuring the satisfaction of investors with the services offered to them.