It feels like Eid, say Saudi film enthusiasts

Saudis arrive to watch Saudi short movies during the "Short Film Competition 2" festival on October 20, 2017, at King Fahad Culture Center in Riyadh. (AFP)
Updated 13 December 2017

It feels like Eid, say Saudi film enthusiasts

RIYADH: In a landmark decision, Saudi Arabia on Monday said that cinemas will open in the country for the first time in more than 35 years — and filmmakers in the Kingdom are ecstatic.
Sultan Al-Bazie, director of the Saudi Society for Culture and Arts, told Arab News: “We are returning to what we previously had. As you know, Saudi screened movies in the past, but now we will be better developed and well-organized.
“It will be a great cultural and entertainment experience for the whole family. In the past, we traveled to Dubai and Bahrain to watch movies; now we will have them in Saudi Arabia — Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam.”
Abdullah Qurashi, a Saudi filmmaker and producer, is delighted. “Ever since the news broke, we (Saudi filmmakers, producers, directors, actors) have been going around congratulating each other with ‘mabrouks’ and kisses; it feels like Eid!”
Before, filmmakers in Saudi Arabia faced difficulties and skepticism in financing their films. “Now, there is an actual market... This will have a huge economic impact, and this is so exciting. Now I can confidently approach investors and say, ‘I would like to make a movie,’ and it now sounds like a business pitch and not a hopeful dream.”
Dr. Omar Al-Jaser, a Saudi actor and director, said: “This is wonderful news and coincides with Saudi Vision 2030. I hope that the Ministry of Information and Culture will support both males and females in producing and directing movies financially so that we can be given a chance to produce Saudi films.”

“It’s crucial that Saudi filmmakers take courses abroad to widen their horizons and that they may gain crucial experience. Logistic and financial support from the government is vital in order to develop this field,” he said.
Khaled Yeslam, a Saudi actor, said: “We now have no excuse not to excel in this field. I would like to act in dramatic roles that showcase the struggles of human beings. Globally, all humans struggle and this can break the barrier of stereotyping Saudis… and make people all around the world relate to us. It will bridge gaps.”
The first multiplexes are expected to open in March 2018, and experts predict that by 2030 there will be more than 300 cinemas across the Kingdom.


Houthi attack on Saudi Aramco facilities act of terror: Japanese defense minister

Updated 16 September 2019

Houthi attack on Saudi Aramco facilities act of terror: Japanese defense minister

TOKYO: Taro Kono, the defense minister of Japan, said that threats to his country’s oil supply was the “most worrying scenario” he could imagine in international relations, in the wake of attacks on Saudi Arabian oil production facilities. 

“The most pessimistic scenario right now is that something happens in the Straits of Hormuz and the oil supply gets cut down, and that would send a shock wave through the global economy. I think the price of oil is already rising after this attack on Saudi facilities, so that’s the most worrying scenario right now,” he told a conference in Tokyo, Japan.

However, speaking on the sidelines to Arab News, he insisted that Saudi Arabia would remain a reliable partner of Japan - which imports around 40 per cent of its crude from the Kingdom - and downplayed concerns about long-term supply problems.

“Saudi has been and will be an important source of our energy supply. We have international co-ordination, and we have reserves, so we are not really worried about that,” he said. 

Kono, who was until recently Japan’s foreign minister, said that his country would be seeking to promote diplomatic solutions to the latest Middle East conflagration. "We definitely need to ease the tension between those countries. As Foreign Minister, the last thing I was doing was calling the Iranian Foreign Minister and the French Foreign Minister to ease the tension the region through diplomatic actions, and I think it's important to continue doing it.

“This Houthi attack on Saudi is a little different, because it's a terrorist attack. I think we may require some kind of military operation against those drone attacks, and that's something out of Japan's constitutional boundary. I think Japan will be focusing on diplomatic efforts in easing tension in the region.”

He raised concerns about the apparent lack of sophistication in the recent attacks. “If it is really drones, that is a lot cheaper than any form of conventional missile,” he said.