Why animation and storytelling are growing in Saudi Arabia

Why animation and storytelling  are growing in Saudi Arabia
Members of Verve Studios say the platform provides them an ideal place to pursue their passion. (AN)
Updated 14 May 2018

Why animation and storytelling are growing in Saudi Arabia

Why animation and storytelling  are growing in Saudi Arabia
  • There is a large audience for animated films in the Kingdom
  • Verve Studios was established in 2015, and now has more than 30 partners

JEDDAH: There is a large audience for animated films in the Kingdom, according to Verve Studios’ animator 23-year-old Saudi Ola Sfeeran. 

“It gives us a great opportunity to actually work and present new kinds of animation related to Saudi culture and closer to the Saudi audience,” she told Arab News. 

Sfeeran said that the field of animation and storytelling had existed for quite a long time, but on a small scale. “But now it is more efficient as we see some of the local companies offering scholarships to Japan, sponsored by famous animation studios and gaming companies such as Toei Animations and Square Enix.”  Sfeeran said that animation had a promising future in the Kingdom, highlighting that “entertainment makes a good business.” 

Verve Studios was established in 2015, and now has more than 30 partners. “We call them partners instead of customers, and the numbers are rising every year.” 

Sfeeran said that Verve Studios was the ideal platform for artists to pursue their passion. “We welcome all artists and share with each other the same language of art and collaborate to empower such passion,” she said. 

Another animator is Samaher Bantan, from Effat University’s Visual and Digital Production (VDP) department. 

Bantan was interested in animation and storytelling from a young age, drawing comics and sharing them with friends and family. She followed her passion for animation by studying it in her free time, and registered at Effat University as soon as she was told about the animation stream at the VDP department.  “VDP is the first filmmaking major in Saudi Arabia; it made a raucous movement in the Kingdom at first, especially as it was the first major that was under an all-female university. That motivated students to work harder to show what they are capable of, and to share Saudi Arabia’s culture and life,” Bantan said. 

Bantan explained the importance of animators in advertisements. 

“Now that Saudis are animating and storytelling more; you notice it especially in advertisements. Companies start asking for more animators to animate whether it is an ad or a video for their websites. Storytelling has started before with novels, and now it is going into films and will go more into animation,” she said.  “It made it easier for customers to get interested in the ad and understand the company purpose in an entertaining way,” she said. 

Bantan also believes in the potential of animation and storytelling in Saudi Arabia. “This field will have a bright future in the Kingdom. Many things are changing with Saudi Vision 2030; cinemas are opening up and a number of Saudis have received awards for their films, soon it will be global and the world will understand Saudi better.” 

Bantan hopes to create her own animated stories one day. “I dream of making my own stories, and animation that carries our good ethics and beliefs for the next generations.” 

“Harb Attaj” comic book series creator Wasim Shaer, a 34-year-old Swede, says that storymaking and animation is a long and challenging process. “It needs time to create good quality — building something out of almost nothing and turning it into a stunning story,” he told Arab News.

“Beautiful animation can take years in production, but when you have the passion and commitment to making it right, you can really come up with a true masterpiece that creates a memorable animated show for many people, and it will last for decades and inspire many generations,” he said.

Shaer creates original content, ideas, plots and art for comic books and storyboards. 

He explained that “these comics’ content become the very first stage and source for animation and animated shows later on.” 

Shaer encourages pre-animators and storytellers to stay committed to ensure a successful bright future in the Kingdom. 

“Not only a bright one but a golden one if the current and future creators stay committed to doing what they are doing,” he said. “Only this will help build up rich local content and make it ready and attractive to be animated.”

Shaer said that there are now Saudi publishing houses fostering pre-animations. “(One is) Ironixcomix, the Saudi company and publishing house that is building up artists and authors communities to help them build and publish high-quality content that is good enough for future animations.” 


King Salman issues royal order to promote members of Public Prosecution Office

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman issued a royal order to promote a number of members of the Public Prosecution Office. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman issued a royal order to promote a number of members of the Public Prosecution Office. (SPA)
Updated 17 min 36 sec ago

King Salman issues royal order to promote members of Public Prosecution Office

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman issued a royal order to promote a number of members of the Public Prosecution Office. (SPA)
  • Attorney General Sheikh Saud bin Abdullah Al-Mujib praised the issuance of the royal order

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman issued a royal order to promote a number of members of the Public Prosecution Office, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Saturday.

Attorney General Sheikh Saud bin Abdullah Al-Mujib praised the issuance of the royal order, and said that it came within the framework of the king and crown prince’s support for the Public Prosecution, and their “interest in promoting the principle of universal sufficiency for all its needs,” SPA said.

The attorney general said this included stimulating the administrative system in a way that contributes to fulfilling its duties to the fullest.

Sheikh Al-Mujib urged employees of the Public Prosecution to redouble their efforts to meet the expectations of the leadership and society.


Al-Jubeir calls on Kingdom’s accusers in Bezos phone hack to ‘acknowledge their mistake’

Saudi Arabia's Adel Al-Jubeir called on Saturday for people who
Saudi Arabia's Adel Al-Jubeir called on Saturday for people who "accused the Kingdom" with regard to claims it was involved with the hacking of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos' phone last year to "acknowledge their mistake." (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 12 min 49 sec ago

Al-Jubeir calls on Kingdom’s accusers in Bezos phone hack to ‘acknowledge their mistake’

Saudi Arabia's Adel Al-Jubeir called on Saturday for people who "accused the Kingdom" with regard to claims it was involved with the hacking of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos' phone last year to "acknowledge their mistake." (Reuters/File Photo)
  • Minister of State for Foreign Affairs said Saudi Arabia “had nothing to do with the allegations”
  • Saudi embassy in US rejected the claims at the time as “absurd”

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's Adel Al-Jubeir called on Saturday for people who “accused the Kingdom” with regard to claims it was involved with the hacking of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos’ phone last year to “acknowledge their mistake.”

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs posted to Twitter asking if now that the truth that “the Kingdom had nothing to do with the allegations” had been revealed, whether people would “simply delete their tweets” and “hope that their positions at the time disappear into the sunset?”

Reports in January 2020 suggested Bezos’ phone was hacked after receiving a WhatsApp message sent from the personal account of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Saudi Arabia's embassy in the US rejected the claims at the time as “absurd,” while Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the allegations were “absolutely silly” while speaking to Reuters at last year’s World Economic Forum in Davos.

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Saudi crown prince and Pakistani prime minister discuss bilateral ties, international issues

Saudi crown prince and Pakistani prime minister discuss bilateral ties, international issues
Updated 15 min 16 sec ago

Saudi crown prince and Pakistani prime minister discuss bilateral ties, international issues

Saudi crown prince and Pakistani prime minister discuss bilateral ties, international issues
  • The two sides reviewed all regional and international issues, and agreed to intensify cooperation
  • Khan arrived in the Kingdom for his two-day visit on Friday

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan held talks on Saturday to discuss bilateral relations and ways to strengthen them in all fields.
Khan arrived in the Kingdom for his two-day visit on Friday upon an official invitation from the crown prince.
The two sides affirmed the depth of the historical relations between their two countries, a joint statement said, adding that they also reviewed all regional and international issues, and agreed to intensify between government officials and the private sector in both countries, with the aim of promoting bilateral relations to broader horizons in a way that serves their common interests.
Khan praised King Salman’s leadership role in promoting Islamic unity, the Kingdom’s positive role in resolving the issues facing the Islamic nation, and its endeavors for regional and international peace and security.
He also praised Prince Mohammed’s historic visit to Pakistan in February 2019, during which the launch of the Saudi-Pakistani Supreme Coordination Council was announced, and the two visits that his country made to the Kingdom in 2018 and 2019.
Khan said the visits “contributed to pushing bilateral relations toward more joint cooperation based on trust, mutual benefits and common interests between the two countries.”
The crown prince affirmed the Kingdom’s continued support for Khan’s vision of transforming Pakistan into a prosperous and developed country.
The two sides discussed ways to strengthen and enhance economic and trade relations between them by exploring areas of investment and opportunities available in light of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, and Pakistan’s development priorities to shift from geopolitics to economic geography, in addition to increasing cooperation in the fields of energy, science, technology, agriculture and culture.
“They affirmed their satisfaction with the strength of bilateral military and security relations, and agreed to further cooperate to achieve common goals between the two countries,” the statement said.
It added that issues pertaining to the Islamic nation were at the forefront of discussions, and “they stressed the need for concerted efforts by Muslim countries to confront extremism and violence, reject sectarianism, and relentlessly pursue international peace and security.”
They also stressed the importance of continuing joint efforts to combat terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations regardless of their source, and should not be associated with any religion, race, or ethnic background.
The two sides also reaffirmed their full support for all the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, especially their right to self determination and the establishment of an independent state with pre-1967 borders and East Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative and relevant UN resolutions.
They also expressed their support for political solutions in Syria and Libya, and the efforts of the UN and its envoys in this regard.
The two sides also stressed the importance of supporting efforts to reach a comprehensive political solution to the conflict in Yemen based on the Gulf Initiative and its implementation mechanism, the outcomes of the comprehensive national dialogue, and the relevant Security Council resolutions, including Resolution 2216.
The crown prince and prime minister condemned ballistic missiles and drones attacks by “terrorist groups and militias,” including the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen, on Saudi territory targeting vital installations and civilian objects.
“They expressed their grave concern over the threats (posed) to the security of oil exports and the stability of global energy supplies,” the statement said.
The prime minister praised the Saudi Arabia’s role and its peace initiative to end the war in Yemen, “which aims to achieve security and stability in Yemen for the benefit and development of the region and its people.”
The crown prince welcomed the understanding reached recently between the Pakistani and Indian military authorities regarding a cease-fire in Jammu and Kashmir at the Line of Control (LoC), which is based on a 2003 understanding between the two regional rivals.
“The two sides stressed the importance of dialogue between Pakistan and India to solve the outstanding issues between the two countries (especially the Jammu and Kashmir conflict) to ensure peace and stability in the region,” the joint statement said.
On Afghanistan, Prince Mohammed said Pakistan played a pivotal role in facilitating the Afghan peace process, and the two sides agreed to continue mutual consultations and said that a comprehensive political settlement is the only way forward.
The two sides also agreed to continue exchanging support and coordination in international organizations and forums, and stressed the importance of all states committing to the UN Charter and the principles of international legitimacy, adhering to the principles of good neighborliness, respect for the unity and sovereignty of states, non-interference in their internal affairs, and to resolve disputes by peaceful means.
Khan congratulated the Saudi government for successfully organizing and holding the G20 summit last year and the positive decisions that it yielded in all economic, developmental, environmental, health, energy and other fields.
Pakistan also welcomed the Saudi Green and Middle East Green Initiatives launched by Prince Mohammed in late March, which shows the Kingdom’s leadership role toward common international issues, including combating climate change, and praised its positive impact on the region and its inhabitants.
The crown prince also praised the prime minister’s Clean Green Pakistan initiative, as well as the successful 10 Billion Tree Tsunami initiative.
Khan also praised Saudi Arabia’s efforts and its leadership in serving the Two Holy Mosques, pilgrims, Umrah performers and visitors, especially in organizing last year’s Hajj season despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Several agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) were signed to further strengthen and diversify bilateral relations, including an agreement to establish the Saudi-Pakistan Supreme Coordination Council (SPSCC), a cooperation agreement to cooperate in combating crime and an agreement to transfer convicted prisoners, a MoU in combating illicit drug trafficking, and a MoU to finance projects in energy, hydropower generation, infrastructure, transport, communication, and water.
The prime minister expressed his gratitude and appreciation to King Salman, the crown prince, and the Saudi people.


Saudi Arabia records 14 COVID-19 deaths, 997 new cases

Saudi Arabia records 14 COVID-19 deaths, 997 new cases
Updated 08 May 2021

Saudi Arabia records 14 COVID-19 deaths, 997 new cases

Saudi Arabia records 14 COVID-19 deaths, 997 new cases
  • The Kingdom said 1,026 patients recovered in past 24 hours
  • The highest number of cases were recorded in Riyadh with 372

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia recorded 14 new COVID-19 related deaths on Saturday, raising the total number of fatalities to 7,059.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 997 new confirmed cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 425,442 people have now contracted the disease. 
Of the total number of cases, 9,707 remain active and 1,319 in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 372, followed by Makkah with 250, the Eastern Province with 123, Asir recorded 54 and Madinah confirmed 49 cases.
The ministry also announced that 1,026 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 408,676.

The ministry renewed its call on the public to register to receive the vaccine, and adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs temporary closed nine mosques in five regions after nine people tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of mosques closed to 1,056 within 89 days, 1,037 of which have reopened after being sterilized.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 157 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 3.28 million.


Saudi Arabia, UAE reject Israeli measures to evacuate Palestinian homes in Jerusalem

Saudi Arabia, UAE reject Israeli measures to evacuate Palestinian homes in Jerusalem
Updated 08 May 2021

Saudi Arabia, UAE reject Israeli measures to evacuate Palestinian homes in Jerusalem

Saudi Arabia, UAE reject Israeli measures to evacuate Palestinian homes in Jerusalem
  • The ministry renewed its stand with the country’s people, and supported all efforts aimed at reaching a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia rejects Israeli plans to evacuate Palestinian homes in Jerusalem and impose Israeli sovereignty over them, Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement.

The ministry stressed the country’s condemnation of any unilateral measures and violations of international legitimacy decisions. It also denounced anything that might undermine the chances of resuming the peace process to achieve security and stability in the region.

The ministry renewed its stand with the country’s people, and supported all efforts aimed at reaching a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue.

It has also shown its support in enabling the Palestinians to establish their independent state on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with international legitimacy decisions and the Arab Peace Initiative.

A night of heavy clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and elsewhere in Jerusalem left more than 200 Palestinians wounded, medics said Saturday, as the city braced for even more violence after weeks of unrest.

Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates has also condemened the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque by Israeli authorities, stressing the need for them to assume responsibility in accordance with international law.