Smugglers of illegal pilgrims fined

Updated 03 December 2012

Smugglers of illegal pilgrims fined

An administrative court has slapped a fine of SR 280,000 on a smuggler of illegal pilgrims to Makkah during the past Haj season. The punishment also included jail time and the confiscation of his vehicle. In a similar incident, the court also fined another smuggler SR 110,000. 
The administrative committee of the Passport Department looked into the violations committed by 80 smugglers during Haj season, Al-Madinah daily reported yesterday. 
There are two types of pilgrim smuggling during the Haj season. The more serious violation is helping illegal residents into the country to travel to Makkah or the holy sites. The other violation entails transporting pilgrims without the mandatory Haj permit.
The amount of the fine varies depending on the seriousness of the violation and the number of illegal pilgrims the accused transports to the holy city. The minimum fine for smuggling a single illegal pilgrim is SR10,000. If the smuggler repeats this crime again the fine is doubled. 
“The expatriates administration started receiving arrested pilgrims who did not carry residence permits as well as the drivers who carried them to the holy city, since the beginning of the Haj season,” Brig. Hussain Al-Harithy, director of the expatriates administration at the Passport Department in Jeddah, said.
The administrative committee interrogated and released a smuggler on bail, on the condition that he should be present for his trial at a later date, he said.
Head of the administrative committee Col. Ali Al-Shahrani said security officers at various checkpoints on the roads leading to Makkah, checked all vehicles carrying pilgrims.
If the pilgrims did not carry the mandatory Haj permit, the driver was detained and the pilgrims were sent back to the place from where they started their journey. If the pilgrims did not have valid residence documents they were also detained, he said.
“If the smuggled pilgrims are without valid residence permits, the driver is fined between SR 10,000 and SR 100,000 for each illegal foreigner he transports,” Lt. Col. Abdul Rahman Al-Qarni said, adding that the driver may receive six months jail time as well.
“If the pilgrims are legal residents or Saudis without the Haj permit, the fine does not exceed SR 10,000,” he said. The vehicle used for transporting the illegal pilgrims is also seized, he said.
According to reports, close to 1.4 million people performed Haj this year without permit. Authorities announced that tough measures will be taken against illegal pilgrims and those who transport them to Makkah. 

Saudi films soar at Golden Falcon film awards

Updated 19 April 2018

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.