Black Panther the ideal choice for Saudi cinema debut, says film critic

Jeddah-based film blogger Maher Mosly
Updated 19 April 2018

Black Panther the ideal choice for Saudi cinema debut, says film critic

  • No other movie suits the occasion as much as Black Panther does, says Mosly
  • Blogger predicts Saudi film industry to take off

JEDDAH: Few people are more ready for the opening of Saudi’s first cinema in more than 35 years than Maher Mosly, a Jeddah-based film blogger with a YouTube channel dedicated to his reviews in Arabic.

Mosly began reviewing films in 2014, watching films on iTunes about three months after release and traveling to Dubai every few months to watch batches of the big new releases. He saw Black Panther in Dubai, and believes it is an ideal choice for the new cinema’s first screening.

“No other movie suits the occasion as much as Black Panther does. It is a great choice because until now, we do not know the criterion that will be applied in cinemas here. Of course there will be regulations on what is safe to show, whether it is political or too different from Saudi culture.

“Black Panther is a safe choice: it is suitable for ages 13 and above, families can enjoy it, it has no controversial themes and is completely a fantasy genre.” 

He predicted that cinemas will be popular due to their novelty. “Tickets will sell, consumption will be high.” 

The new cinemas will also boost the film industry in the Kingdom. “Our movies are revealed at global festivals, but they are short films, and we never get a chance to see them. With the cinemas finally opening in the Kingdom, we will go into the industry. There will be professional institutes for theater, voice-acting etc,” Mosly said. 

“It won’t be something you do to pass the time any more,” he added. “It will be a profession from the start. We will have producers.”

Saudi film fans will no longer have to travel to neighbouring Gulf countries for screenings. “In Bahrain or Dubai, most who attend the cinemas are Saudis,” Mosly pointed out.  

“I believe that in a year, our cinemas will be more like the ones all over the Gulf countries. Dubai is doing a great job. It’s not accepting all movies, but not rejecting all movies either. Big movies are entering their cinemas, but with the necessary restrictions of course,” he said.

“Cinemas are never not a part of entertainment around the world. The easiest entertainment plan I can think of is to take my wife and kids out for dinner and later go to the movies. Cinemas are essential to entertainment.”


Startup of the Week: Eco-friendly food waste startup brings value-added benefits

KAUST has been highly supportive of Carbon CPU, both technically and financially. (Supplied)
Updated 7 min 44 sec ago

Startup of the Week: Eco-friendly food waste startup brings value-added benefits

  • Aldrees: “Over 90 percent of food waste in Saudi Arabia is dumped into landfills”
  • Carbon CPU’s technology uses a specially developed, eco-friendly reactor to help convert food waste into fatty acids

Carbon CPU is a biotechnology startup specializing in turning food waste into fatty acids for use as livestock nutrients.

Launched through the post-graduate startup accelerator program (TAQADAM) of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), the venture was co-founded by Bin Bian, Jiajie Xu, Yara Aldrees, Sara Al-Eid and Prof. Pascal Saikaly.

The idea behind the enterprise began to take shape in 2018. Al-Eid said: “Our aim was to recycle food waste into value-added products in a manner that matched the Saudi Vision 2030 strategy.”

Similar to most countries, Saudi Arabia has a food waste problem, but Carbon CPU thought of utilizing it in a way that caused less harm to the environment and also benefitted the animal feed industry.

“Over 90 percent of food waste in Saudi Arabia is dumped into landfills,” said Aldrees. “This produces a lot of gas, including methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and cycloaromatics, and contributes to global warming and air pollution.”

Water and soil were also being contaminated through leachate production, she added. “We’re trying to solve those issues, too.”

The team found that animal farms often struggled to provide enough feed nutrients for livestock such as cows and sheep. Al-Eid said there was a huge shortage of fatty acids, which are used as livestock nutrients and were in high demand from farmers.

“We’re trying to help animals live longer and be more nutritious,” she added.

Carbon CPU’s technology uses a specially developed, eco-friendly reactor to help convert food waste into fatty acids.

“We produce fatty acids from the food waste, extracting them through a liquid-liquid extraction system. The fatty acid oils are then used to help animal feed, as well as the feed and chemical industries,” said Xu.

KAUST has been highly supportive of Carbon CPU, both technically and financially, added Bian. “KAUST, especially the Environmental Biotechnology Lab led by Prof Pascal Saikaly, provided us with the facilities to set up our reactors. The KAUST Innovation and Economic Development department and the Entrepreneurship Center also gave us a lot of guidance on how to push our technology into the market.”

The startup initially faced many challenges that KAUST helped to resolve. As individuals coming from backgrounds mainly in engineering and science, the team lacked the know-how in business that its project needed.

“KAUST made up for our lack of business thinking through training on how to solve business issues and create business modules and find the right customers for our product,” said Bian.