Upcoming filmmakers, actors determined to build a Saudi film industry

Upcoming filmmakers, actors determined to build a Saudi film industry
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Yasser Hammad on set of one of his short films (images courtesy of Yasser Hammad)
Upcoming filmmakers, actors determined to build a Saudi film industry
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Nahar Alhamrani (center) on the set of his YouTube hit show ‘N8n8a.’ (images courtesy of Nahar Alhamrani)
Updated 13 December 2017

Upcoming filmmakers, actors determined to build a Saudi film industry

Upcoming filmmakers, actors determined to build a Saudi film industry

JEDDAH: Since the news about the reopening of cinemas in Saudi Arabia broke on Monday, directors, producers and actors are rejoicing and cannot contain their excitement on the new chapter the Kingdom is going through. It is no secret that there is a small, up-and-coming film industry in the Kingdom. It just has not seen the light of day on the domestic front.
Many participate on an international level, but now things are turning around and many are hopeful and enthusiastic about what is coming up next.
Sara Taibah, a young Saudi actress who played Zaina in Nada Mojadidi’s “Zaina’s Cake,” which recently won the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) best short film award at Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival (SICFF), was excited with Monday’s news.
“This is our time now. The announcement is going to open doors for all potential actors and actresses that want to get into this field.”
“There’s a passion to it and I have had the privilege to experience it. Now others can too. Acting is another level of talent and there are so many talented Saudis here that want to show it,” she said.
As an actress, she said she would like directors and producers to make movies that are less intense and more toned down in the messages they convey.
“I hope that there’ll be more real social stories,” she said. “We all know of the major issues we have in the Kingdom, and I am not undermining them, but what about the real issues? How about going into people’s homes and telling the stories of us, to us, for us? That would be refreshing.”
Yasser Hammad, a writer and director and soon-to-be a graduate of the prestigious NY Film Academy in Los Angeles, said his dream is finally coming true.
“I’ve been wanting this since I was a child. People would always discourage me and tell me to keep dreaming. Well, the dream has finally come true.
“With the introduction of cinemas, an industry will surely happen. I’ve worked so hard to achieve my dream and my goal is to come back and throw myself into the game as soon as I can and be a part of the movement. I want people to view our films on the big screen and see how much we can give and appreciate the message we’re relaying on screen. Nothing is impossible now.”
He said with the growth of the industry, Saudi filmmakers would surely learn from the experiences of their neighbors like from their Egyptian counterparts.
He understands that it is going to be new and is still in its initial phases but the information is out there to organize and generate a system to make it easy for film casters, creative producers, cinematographers, etc. to do their job in the most efficient manner.
Nahar Alhamrani, creative director of “The Crew KSA Productions” and a major movie enthusiast, felt the news was a great milestone for the budding industry.
He told Arab News: “We don’t have the know-how of creating a full-fledged film but we’re learning along the way. It’s an experience for everyone taking part.
“Yesterday’s announcement was the best thing I’ve heard in a long time. I booked a ticket to Dubai this morning just to watch ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi,’ that’s how dedicated I am... You could imagine how it’d be if we had cinemas in the Kingdom. People would flock to them and finally enjoy the experience.”
As a movie enthusiast, Alhamrani feels that cinemas bring people together, sharing one experience together, reacting to the same movie scene together. “You laugh, you cry and you show fear all together as a collective. That is an experience you can never have at home. The naysayers can complain all they want but they can never deny that they too watch movies on their TV screens, so why not give it a try on the big screen?”
It is also a fact that many, like Alhamrani, are giving it all they have got to produce the highest quality of work they can. As mentioned, they are still learning along the way, but it is something to look forward to in the future.


Timeless craft of cane carving sees Saudi statement pieces go global

Visitors to Saudi Arabia are constantly on the hunt for souvenirs such as swords, or canes. (Photos/Supplied)
Visitors to Saudi Arabia are constantly on the hunt for souvenirs such as swords, or canes. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 22 June 2021

Timeless craft of cane carving sees Saudi statement pieces go global

Visitors to Saudi Arabia are constantly on the hunt for souvenirs such as swords, or canes. (Photos/Supplied)
  • Adel Al-Shehri turns handmade sidr pieces into online phenomenon using local talent, materials

MAKKAH: A young Saudi in the south of the Kingdom is bringing back the timeless craft of hand carving wooden canes with a new look to suit modern tastes, driving demand from Hajj pilgrims and online customers from around the world.

Walking canes have always been associated with the elderly and ill, and usually comprise simple designs that focus more on function rather than appearance.
That association has prompted Adel Al-Shehri to give the concept a new life by bringing back an old craft and turning canes into famous statement pieces used by Saudis.
Through his work, he can convey the cultural and historical essence of Saudi Arabia by engraving cultural designs on sidr wood.
Al-Shehri grew up in the southern mountain ranges of the Kingdom and uses the old indigenous tree to create unique intricately designed canes just as his forefathers once did.
The sidr tree, known as Christ’s thorn jujube, is an evergreen species that is a deep-rooted part of the culture. It can be used in medicine and also in the construction of canes and wooden objects found in many homes in the south of the Kingdom.

FASTFACT

The sidr tree, known as Christ’s thorn jujube, is an evergreen species that is a deep-rooted part of the culture. It can be used in medicine and also in the construction of canes and wooden objects found in many homes in the south of the Kingdom.

He told Arab News that he inherited from his ancestors a love of artifacts, such as shiny swords and jambiyas, a type of dagger with a curved blade. Growing up surrounded by architecture adorned in stones and wood, Al-Shehri said that he wanted to bring the rich history of design back using a product found right in his backyard.


“Visitors to Saudi Arabia are constantly on the hunt for souvenirs, swords, or canes. However, shipping swords is a real problem, because they are considered white weapons. Meanwhile, some items lose quality or are damaged during shipping. This is why I shifted my entire focus to making canes,” he added.
Al-Shehri said that while carrying out his Hajj pilgrimage, he used his cane as a “crutch,” engraving his name on it. Soon after, he decided to use the phrase “Made in Saudi Arabia” and focus on the Umrah and Hajj seasons to introduce the product as a souvenir that could be carried back home by pilgrims. Al-Shehri said that some Hajj institutions even reached out to give out his canes as gifts at the end of pilgrimage tours.

The canes I create are enough to stop importing canes that neither accentuate our identity nor highlight our intellectual and cultural message.

Adel Al-Shehri

He said that many people from across the world have requested their canes through Hajj institutions or on social media.
Most recently, he added, a German citizen requested four canes with different designs inspired by Saudi culture, but some customers request personalized canes or ones that are specifically customized to illustrate a memory.
Al-Shehri said that the canes he designs are delivered in handmade luxurious boxes that serve as a masterpiece to be displayed in a customer’s home. He described the cane as a “sign of prestige, warmth, and hospitality.”
The first thing that caught his attention as a child was how his family stores their ancient swords, guns, and jambiyas — all wrapped in ornate fabrics and stored in old boxes.

I inherited the love of artifacts from my ancestors.
Adel Al-Shehri

Al-Shehri had always wanted to put this heritage in the limelight and share it with other Saudi cities. The public’s broad praise of his initial work was the first building block in his dream toward producing his canes. He stressed that he often uses sidr wood for the canes because the diameter must be more than 40 centimeters.
For the wood fibers to grow, the sidr must also be dried for six months. “The handle is made from the core of sidr wood so that it could bear the grafting, which sometimes may reach a thousand grafts inside,” Al-Shehri said. With no educational experience, his drive to create such masterpieces taught him to push through and learn the craft with time and patience. “The manufacturing stages became an inspiration and taught me the ins and outs of this creative craftsmanship, which shaped the features of my personality and led me towards worlds of magic and beauty,” he said.
“I was first concerned with the metal lathe and mastering its unique way of manufacturing accessories and adding wood to them. I then focused on the element of touch and adding luster in the absence of real manufacturers in this field. I insisted on mastering the metal lathe myself so I would not have to depend on anyone else. My workshop, filled with nickel, chrome, stainless steel, and brass, along with the metal and wood lathes, became my best friend.
“I work for hours on end to meet the various requests, especially if a customer places an order for a special occasion with a tight deadline,” he added.
Al-Shehri said that what he and many other craftsmen in the Kingdom do promotes the Saudi culture and is a sign of pride in the Saudi identity. “The canes I create are enough to stop importing canes that neither accentuate our identity nor highlight our intellectual and cultural message.”


Saudi security officials arrest Ethiopian national for selling drugs in Asir region

Saudi security officials arrest Ethiopian national for selling drugs in Asir region
Updated 22 June 2021

Saudi security officials arrest Ethiopian national for selling drugs in Asir region

Saudi security officials arrest Ethiopian national for selling drugs in Asir region
  • He was caught violating the border security system in Balqarn Governorate
  • Initial legal measures have been taken against him

RIYADH: Saudi security officials arrested an Ethiopian national in Asir region who was accused of distributing hashish and was found with a large quantity of amphetamine tablets in his possession.
Spokesman for the General Directorate of Narcotics Control Capt. Mohammed Al-Nujaidi said that during a “proactive security follow-up of the activities of criminal networks that smuggle narcotic drugs into the Kingdom,” an Ethiopian was caught violating the border security system in Balqarn Governorate, in the Asir region.
He was arrested for selling a quantity of cannabis while 1,096 amphetamine pills were found in his possession, he added.
Capt. Al-Nujaidi said that initial legal measures have been taken against him, and he has been referred to a branch of the Public Prosecution.


16 Saudi companies join Arab Health Exhibition under ‘Made in Saudi Arabia’ program in Dubai

The Arab Health Exhibition 2021, in Dubai, UAE, is being held from June 21 to 24, with participation from 16 Saudi companies. (Screenshot)
The Arab Health Exhibition 2021, in Dubai, UAE, is being held from June 21 to 24, with participation from 16 Saudi companies. (Screenshot)
Updated 22 June 2021

16 Saudi companies join Arab Health Exhibition under ‘Made in Saudi Arabia’ program in Dubai

The Arab Health Exhibition 2021, in Dubai, UAE, is being held from June 21 to 24, with participation from 16 Saudi companies. (Screenshot)
  • Saudi companies in the health, pharmaceutical and specialized medical equipment fields took part
  • The program also aims to expand regionally and globally through actively participating in international exhibitions and conferences

RIYADH: The “Made in Saudi Arabia” program is participating in the Arab Health Exhibition 2021 in Dubai, UAE, from June 21 to 24.
A total of 16 Saudi companies in the health, pharmaceutical and specialized medical equipment fields have signed up for the exhibition.
The “Made in Saudi Arabia” program is part of an initiative to promote Saudi national products and services locally, regionally and globally.

The program seeks to market national products to raise the private sector’s contribution to GDP to 65 percent and raise the percentage of non-oil exports in non-oil GDP to about 50 percent by 2030.
The program also aims to expand by participating in international exhibitions and conferences with member partners. It will provide a package of opportunities for member companies enabling them to use the program’s logo “Made in Saudi Arabia” on their products to ensure commitment to a recognized quality.
A total of 66 countries are participating in the exhibition in Dubai, with more than 3,500 participants, and the number of visitors to the exhibition is expected to reach nearly 52,000.


Suzan Al-Yahya appointed as director general of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts

Suzan Al-Yahya appointed as director general of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts
Updated 22 June 2021

Suzan Al-Yahya appointed as director general of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts

Suzan Al-Yahya appointed as director general of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts
  • Al-Yahya will be responsible for managing the institute, implementing its strategic directions and developing traditional arts according to the institute’s vision
  • The institute will launch its first training courses in September aimed at enriching the traditional arts

RIYADH: Dr. Suzan Mohammed Al-Yahya has been appointed director general of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts.
Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, minister of culture and chairman of the institute’s board of trustees, made the announcement, the Saudi Press Agency has reported.
Al-Yahya will be responsible for managing the institute, implementing its strategic directions and developing traditional arts according to the institute’s vision.
She is one of the top academic experts in the field of art and design, having worked as a faculty member at Princess Nourah Bint Abdul Rahman University and held a number of administrative and advisory positions there. She also worked as a consultant and was a member of advisory committees inside and outside the university.
Al-Yahya holds a master’s degree in art education and a PhD in educational technology, as well as a PhD in educational policies and leadership from the University of Northern Colorado, USA.
She has published research in various fields and participated in several scientific conferences.
The institute will launch its first training courses in September aimed at enriching the traditional arts, training specialized national cadres, raising the level of public awareness and preserving the assets of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage in the traditional arts field.
The Royal Institute of Traditional Arts is one the initiatives of the Quality of Life Program, part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan. The Ministry of Culture aims to develop the local cultural sector and develop it through education and knowledge, as the institute will provide advanced educational programs for national skills to ensure.


Red Sea Development Company, KAUST sign research agreement

The Red Sea is home to abundant species of coral and marine life, including a large number of species found nowhere else on earth. (Courtesy: Red Sea Project website)
The Red Sea is home to abundant species of coral and marine life, including a large number of species found nowhere else on earth. (Courtesy: Red Sea Project website)
Updated 22 June 2021

Red Sea Development Company, KAUST sign research agreement

The Red Sea is home to abundant species of coral and marine life, including a large number of species found nowhere else on earth. (Courtesy: Red Sea Project website)
  • The agreement will see the two organizations cooperate in fields such as marine environment sustainability, food security and energy conservation

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Development Company signed a research agreement with the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) on Monday, Saudi Press Agency reported.

“There is a growing realization that tourism must be more sustainable and renewable, and the Kingdom’s Red Sea coast is among the purest ecosystems in the world, so our collaboration with KAUST helps go beyond just conservation. on the environment to enhance this unique ecological treasure for future generations,” John Pagano, CEO of the Red Sea Development Company, said.

The agreement will see the two organizations cooperate in fields such as marine environment sustainability, food security and energy conservation.

Pagano pointed out that the first task within the framework of the new research agreement is the continuous scientific monitoring of environmental changes over time, as this helps the Red Sea Development Company to fulfil its commitment to achieve an increase in the value of biodiversity in the project area by 30% by year 2040.

The head of Environmental Sustainability at the Red Sea Development Company, Dr. Rusty Brainard, explained that achieving carbon neutrality and improving biodiversity at the site is a difficult task, but  is extremely important for the company.

He reported that 11 of the current employees in the Environment and Sustainability Department of the Red Sea Development Company have previous professional experiences at KAUST, including seven employees who obtained a doctorate degree, and two who completed an associate's degree at the same university.

A joint working group between the Red Sea Development Company and King Abdullah University of Technology and Science is currently planning to establish a joint center for marine research and the protection of coral reefs on the Red Sea coast, which will become a permanent base for marine research and monitoring, and will open its doors in the future for visitors to learn about the natural environment and wildlife in this area.