‘Barakah Meets Barakah’ stars say cinema move will help bring Saudi stories to world

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Hisham Fageeh and Fatima Al-Banawi are well-known for their roles in successful Saudi comedy Barakah Meets Barakah. (Courtesy: El-Housh Productions)
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Hisham Fageeh and Fatima Al-Banawi. (AN Photo)
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Hisham Fageeh and Fatima Al-Banawi. (AN Photo)
Updated 23 February 2018

‘Barakah Meets Barakah’ stars say cinema move will help bring Saudi stories to world

LONDON: Saudi film stars Hisham Fageeh and Fatima Al-Banawi said the arrival of cinema in the Kingdom will help open up society and “share our narrative’’ with the world.
The pair — who are well-known for their roles in successful Saudi comedy “Barakah Meets Barakah,” an Oscar submission for 2016’s Best Foreign Language Film — were speaking during a gathering at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, hosted by the Saudi British Society.
Set in Jeddah, the production was the first award-winning romantic comedy to come out of the Kingdom and became Saudi Arabia’s first film on Netflix.
Al-Banawi, who recently co-starred in the OSN series “Bashar,” emphasized the scope of cinema to “break stereotypes’’ by telling the stories of real people.
“We’re such a private society,” she said. “It’s important to share our narratives.’’
Fageeh, an actor and producer-director who made a name as a stand-up comedian on YouTube, said people in Saudi Arabia were hungry to tell their own stories.
He said many are interested in “taking back our narrative’’ and not having Western institutions dictate the direction of Saudi Arabia’s evolving film landscape, which he described as a “gorilla industry” at this stage.
“In Saudi Arabia, if you want somebody who’s a lighting guy, you get an electrician. You want an actor, you go ask somebody who’s got liberal parents,” he said.
“The more sophisticated our art will be, the more sophisticated the viewer can become.”
Opening the discussion, Alistair Burt, the UK minister for international development and the Middle East, described Saudi Arabia’s recent move to lift the ban on cinemas as “another exciting development in the Kingdom.’’
Praising the success of “Barakah Meets Barakah,” and confessing a preference for romantic comedies including “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail,” the minister said that such films “tell us something very special about a society.’’
“Changing perceptions of the Islamic world is important,” he added. “Anything that helps build our relationships is very welcome.”


Ellen DeGeneres gifts her entire studio audience a trip to Abu Dhabi

Jennifer Aniston was Ellen DeGeneres's guest. (AFP)
Updated 12 min 50 sec ago

Ellen DeGeneres gifts her entire studio audience a trip to Abu Dhabi

  • DeGeneres gifted the entire studio audience with a giveaway trip to Abu Dhabi
  • DeGeneres surprised Jennifer Aniston with tickets for the both of them

DUBAI: In spirit of the holiday season, comedian Ellen DeGeneres, host of cult daytime talk show “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” gifted the entire studio audience with a giveaway trip to Abu Dhabi. 

 DeGeneres, along with her guest, actress Jennifer Aniston, kicked off the giveaway session with gift cards, an at-home rowing machine and covetable luggage.

 “They have all those stuff, but they have nowhere to go,” DeGeneres said. 

 “You know what Ellen? I think we should send them someplace exotic,” replied the “Friends” star. 

 “There’s an island called Yas where you can ride the fastest rollercoaster at Ferrari World, catch a wave at Yas Waterworld and meet your favorite characters at Warner Bros World,” Aniston continued to the excited cheers of the audience members. 

 

 

 “They’re going to fly there on Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE,” Aniston said. 

When the Etihad air hostesses walked into the studio to give out the tickets to the audience, DeGeneres surprised her guest with tickets for the both of them. 

This is not the first time the talk show host has given away a trip to the UAE. In 2015, she picked an audience member, along with actor Vin Diesel, for a 13-day trip to Abu Dhabi to promote the release of the movie “Furious 7.”

 A year later, she gifted the audience a trip to Dubai. 

 The host started off the segment she called “Hello Dubai” during her show by inviting two audience members to play a mock quiz game.

Once she picked the winner, with a little help from an Emirates pilot named Ashley, the comedian and talk show host informed the excited audience that there was a bonus round — for a round trip to Dubai — and they all won.