Top Saudi artists delighted at cinema reopening

Saudis attend a film festival in Riyadh. (AFP)
Updated 14 December 2017

Top Saudi artists delighted at cinema reopening

JEDDAH: In a historical decision to lift the ban on cinemas in the Kingdom announced on Monday, movie theaters will open for the first time in 35 years in March 2018, with 2,000 screens expected to be installed within 12 years.
The Saudi government anticipates that this decision will contribute to the diversification of the Saudi economy by creating more than 30,000 jobs.
The announcement was welcomed with enthusiasm by the public, but what does the emerging Saudi Arabian art community think of this decision?
Arab News spoke to some of the Kingdom’s most prominent art personalities to determine their perspective.
Ahmed Mater, one of Saudi Arabia’s most influential contemporary artists today, expressed both delight and concern over this decision: “Saudi Arabia, and the wider Middle East region, is a story-telling culture. Oral histories form an underlying net within our society, they’re a big and important part of our intangible heritage. The fluidity of film suits this medium — the combination of the visual combined with the oral brings to light approaches, concepts, cultural references, and histories.
“There is already a number of Saudi filmmakers and directors such as Mahmoud Sabbagh, whose film “Barakah yoqabil Barakah” was made inside the Kingdom with an all Saudi cast, and is going on to be nominated for an Oscar for best foreign film. I hope that the decision to lift the ban creates an ecosystem of support for existing filmmakers and those to come. I also hope that it will create the opportunity for the new generation to identify with their own culture more closely, whether through engaging with Saudi-made films, or by exploring the visual culture at home. In an age where everyone has a video camera, it is really exciting to think about what lifting the ban on cinemas will do for young filmmakers from Saudi in the future. It will also be important for Saudi to create access through education to the movie industry, to ensure that a wide range of films, independent and mainstream — not just Hollywood blockbusters — are represented,” Mater concluded.

Saudi director Ali Alsumayin, conveyed a sense of responsibility as a filmmaker to provide the viewer with a worthwhile movie experience: “Just now we can talk about the movie industry in Saudi where the viewers can live the full experience of movies’ magic. When a person finds the time and the money to go and watch a movie in a cinema, the pressure on moviemakers is great to produce something worth the time and the money spent by the audiences.”
Contemporary artist and designer Ahmad Angawi shared his perspective: “This decision will positively influence our culture by creating dialogue,” but he remains wary of the selection process of movies and its effects on the viewers’ experience.


Pompeo meets with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for talks on Aramco attacks

Updated 1 min 37 sec ago

Pompeo meets with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for talks on Aramco attacks

  • Pompeo described the drone and cruise missile strikes on Saturday as an 'Iranian attack'
  • Pompeo was met at Jeddah airport by Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf. 

JEDDAH: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Wednesday described strikes on key Saudi oil installations as an “act of war” as he landed in Jeddah to meet with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Pompeo described the drone and cruise missile strikes on Saturday as an “Iranian attack”.

He said it had not come from Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militants and that there was no evidence the attacks had been launched from Iraq.

"This is an attack of a scale we've just not seen before," he added.

Pompeo was met at Jeddah airport by Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf.

Pompeo's visit comes as President Donald Trump said on Wednesday there were many options short of war with Iran after Saudi Arabia's display of remnants of drones and missiles it said were used in the I that was "unquestionably sponsored" by Tehran.

"There are many options. There's the ultimate option and there are options that are a lot less than that. And we'll see," Trump told reporters in Los Angeles. "I'm saying the ultimate option meaning go in — war."

Trump, who earlier said on Twitter that he had ordered the US Treasury to "substantially increase" sanctions on Iran, told reporters the unspecified, punitive economic measures would be unveiled within 48 hours.

Trump's tweet followed repeated US assertions that the Islamic Republic was behind Saturday's attack on Aramco facilities and came hours after Saudi Arabia said the strike was a "test of global will."

Earlier on Wednesday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he had spoken with US President Donald Trump about the Aramco attack, and agreed that Iran must not be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon.

Also on Wednesday, Kuwait's army released a statement announcing it was raising its preparedness level for some units, given the tensions in the Middle East region.