Saudi film industry has growth potential: Top UK director

Saudi film industry has growth potential: Top UK director
Director Jonas Grimas during a two-day workshop in Riyadh. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 14 October 2018

Saudi film industry has growth potential: Top UK director

Saudi film industry has growth potential: Top UK director
  • Grimas won a British Academy Award (BAFTA) for his graduation short film “Artisten” in 1988
  • Recently the Saudi Film Council (SFC) was established to promote and support the industry

RIYADH: The Saudi film industry has much potential for growth, although the formation of an academy or film school is essential to move forward, Swedish film and television director Jonas Grimas said in a public talk in Riyadh recently.

Grimas was speaking at the Faisaliyah Hotel last month when the British Council, in partnership with the General Culture Authority, represented by the Saudi Film Council, held a workshop there.

In an interview with Arab News, Grimas spoke about his background as a successful filmmaker and about the future of filmmaking in the Kingdom, along with his insights about the country during his visit.

Grimas was born in Uppsala, Sweden and studied at the Dramatiska Institute Film School in Stockholm and the Royal College of Art in London. His passion for filmmaking grew out of his work in theater. “It was a natural way of taking story-telling a step further and making it accessible to a larger audience and timeless,” he said.

After graduating, Grimas moved to London where he went on to direct movies, documentaries and short films; he also worked on British crime dramas as well as a string of Swedish productions.

Grimas won a British Academy Award (BAFTA) for his graduation short film “Artisten” in 1988, which he admits was his proudest achievement. “I am proud of everything I made. Getting something done is an achievement in itself. But if I were to single out one film it would be my graduation film for a number of reasons: It won a BAFTA and a string of other international awards, and it is still being screened internationally 30 years later. But first and foremost, because it was made by a large group of friends whose passion and commitment not just made it possible, but made it what it is.”

In 2011, the Stockholm Culture Foundation also named Grimas Cultural Personality of the Year. He believes that his success, and that of any movie, is due to passion and hard work. “Talent is just a starting point, after that it takes hard work and commitment.” He added: “You also need to recognize a good story — which is always a simple one. Finally you need luck — being in the right place at the right time and meeting the right people that share your ideas.” 

Grimas decided to hold the workshop, titled “The Art of Filmmaking” as well as a public talk on “The Art of Directing,” because he believes that it is the responsibility of any artist to share and pass down knowledge and experience to the next generation. “The language/grammar of film is an international language. I take great pleasure in teaching, and the chance to do so on an international level is very attractive.” The impressions and feedback received from the workshop were positive and Grimas described the participants as “passionate with a great eagerness to learn.”

When asked for his thoughts on the future of filmmaking in the country, Grimas said that, given the resources, Saudi Arabia has the potential to move forward in this new and growing industry. “I recently saw the Saudi film “Wadjda” and was very impressed; a simple story well told is the hallmark of any good film.” He does, however, believe that the country will face challenges, one being the need for training: “Since there isn’t an indigenous industry, the necessary knowledge has to come from education.”

But he also believes that the country is heading in the right direction by taking the first steps toward change. Recently the Saudi Film Council (SFC) was established to promote and support the industry. Some members of the council receive training abroad and can ultimately share this knowledge with others. However, Grimas also believes firmly that forming an academy or film school would be essential for progression.

“In the end, the only way of learning how to make films is to make films and make mistakes during the process. I learned everything I know from making mistakes, something that a film school is there for and allows you to do.”

In addition, the SFC has announced that it will launch the biggest location library for film shooting in the Middle East, which Grimas said is an important achievement. “Finding a location is often a time-consuming and difficult task, and without them you can’t make a film. Any initiative to simplify this process is wonderful and will be welcomed by everyone in the industry,” he said.

Grimas added: “The experience I had during my short visit to the Kingdom created a desire to learn more about Saudi culture.” He also expressed that given a good story, he could see himself telling Saudi stories in the future.

He advised Saudis eager to venture into this new field: “You need three things: Passion, determination and grit. No one is ever going to ask you to make a film, so you need to go out — with your friends — and start making them. It’s not about the technology; it’s about having a story to tell. Today with the help of smartphones and laptops, this is possible for anyone.”


Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting southern Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting southern Saudi Arabia
Updated 19 June 2021

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting southern Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting southern Saudi Arabia
  • Iran-backed Houthi militia have consistently launched attacks against the Kingdom

RIYADH: The Arab coalition said it had intercepted a Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia’s Khamis Mushait, Al Ekhbariya TV reported early Saturday.
The coalition, which is fighting to restore the legitimacy of the internationally recognized government in Yemen, said it will take all measures to protect civilians in accordance with international law.
The Iran-backed Houthi militia have consistently launched attacks against the Kingdom.


Second dose of coronavirus vaccine available from July in Saudi Arabia

Second dose of coronavirus vaccine available from July in Saudi Arabia
Testing hubs and treatment centers set up throughout the country have dealt with hundreds of thousands of people since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. (AP)
Updated 19 June 2021

Second dose of coronavirus vaccine available from July in Saudi Arabia

Second dose of coronavirus vaccine available from July in Saudi Arabia
  • Health Ministry reports 1,236 new cases, 1,050 recoveries, 15 deaths

JEDDAH: A second dose of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine will be available to everyone from July, Saudi TV channel Al-Ekhbariya reported on Friday.

The Ministry of Health announced on Thursday that a high COVID-19 immunization rate had been achieved among members of the Kingdom’s population aged 60 years and over.
Minister of Health Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said the country’s leadership was keen to provide highly effective vaccines to tackle the virus.
Dr. Abdullah Assiri, assistant deputy minister of preventive health, said that a delay in receiving a second dose could better stimulate immunity in some vaccines.
“There is no need to worry about delaying the second dose for some groups of society for the public good, and the follow-up of immunity levels after the first dose of COVID-19 vaccines shows that there is no ideal period between the two doses,” he added.
Meanwhile, all foreign travelers and those accompanying them to the Kingdom must complete registration for their COVID-19 immunization data before departure, according to the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA).
GACA said the protocol would help ease entry procedures and reduce waiting periods. Registration will apply to all citizens from Gulf Cooperation Council countries, holders of new visas, residents, and their companions whether vaccinated or not.

INNUMBERS

471,959 Total cases

453,259 Recoveries

7,650 Deaths

The authority noted that the move was, “in line with efforts made by the Kingdom to limit the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring the safety of citizens and residents.”
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia on Friday reported 15 more COVID-19-related deaths, taking the overall toll to 7,650.
There were 1,236 new cases, meaning that 471,959 people in the country had now contracted the disease. A total of 11,050 cases remained active, of which 1,496 patients were in critical condition.
Of the newly recorded cases, 372 were in Makkah, 240 in Riyadh, 213 in the Eastern Province, and 65 in Madinah.
In addition, the ministry said 1,050 patients had recovered from the disease, increasing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 453,259.
Saudi Arabia had so far conducted 20,799,293 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, with 86,695 carried out in the past 24 hours.
Testing hubs and treatment centers set up throughout the country have dealt with hundreds of thousands of people since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.
Among them, Taakad (make sure) centers provide COVID-19 testing for those who show no or only mild symptoms or believe they have come into contact with an infected individual. Tetamman (rest assured) clinics offer treatment and advice to those with virus symptoms such as fever, loss of taste and smell, and breathing difficulties.
Appointments for both services can be made via the ministry’s Sehhaty app. Meanwhile, 16,387,147 people in the country had to date received a jab against COVID-19.


Nasana wooden dolls: Preserving Saudi heritage through artisanship

Nasana wooden dolls: Preserving Saudi heritage through artisanship
Saudi designer Malak Masallati chooses to preserve the traditional costumes of her country through a collection of wooden dolls called Nasana. (Supplied)
Updated 19 June 2021

Nasana wooden dolls: Preserving Saudi heritage through artisanship

Nasana wooden dolls: Preserving Saudi heritage through artisanship
  • The collection was launched in November 2020 and is currently on display at the Assila Hotel in Jeddah

JEDDAH: Every culture has a special way to tell the story of its people. Saudi designer Malak Masallati chooses to preserve the traditional costumes of her country through a collection of wooden dolls called Nasana (which translates to “our people”).
“Nasana is there to highlight the diverse individuals of Saudi Arabia, with their different backgrounds, ages, stories, traditions, and customs,” Masallati told Arab News, adding that it also reflects the pride Saudis feel for their Kingdom.
The collection was launched in November 2020 and is currently on display at the Assila Hotel in Jeddah. It has previously been exhibited at Shara Art Fair by the Saudi Art Council.

Saudi designer Malak Masallati chooses to preserve the traditional costumes of her country through a collection of wooden dolls called Nasana. (Supplied)

It consists of 15 dolls, each representing a different region of Saudi Arabia. Each character has a name inspired by traditional names from each region, including Saud, Al-Joharah, Nourah, Sitah, Abdulaziz, Itra, Hajjar, Zahra, Haylah, Obaid, Saeed, Amnah, Fatou, Fouad, and Shifa.
“I believe that Saudi Arabia has a vast heritage yet to be discovered (by many). The younger generation possesses the knowledge and creativity that is required to (promote that heritage),” she said, citing the Saudi fashion brand Sleysla, with whom she has previously worked, as a good example.

HIGHLIGHTS

• ‘Nasana’ is a collection of 15 hand-painted wooden dolls representing the traditional costumes of different regions of Saudi Arabia.

• The collection is currently on display in Jeddah and the dolls are also available to buy.

• Most of the collection’s costumes are based on information found in the book ‘Traditional Costumes of Saudi Arabia’ by The Mansoojat Foundation.

Masallati, who has more than 15 years of experience in interior design and residential renovation, is the founder of Dar Malak, a makers’ space in Jeddah dedicated to producing other unique Saudi products. The Nasana collection was itself produced there. The dolls are hand-painted by emerging artists from different Saudi communities working in Dar Malak.
“The collection went through a long design process, trying different techniques with various materials such as paint, gesso, as well as gold and silver leafing,” Masallati explained.
The dolls are based on research carried out online and in the field. “(We) captured stories and researched the facts,” Masallati said. “We traveled to most of these areas and incorporated details we found in Abdul Raouf Khalil Museum in Jeddah, where they showcase beautiful traditional costumes.”
She also mentioned that “Traditional Costumes of Saudi Arabia” — a book produced by the Mansoojat Foundation Collection, a charity dedicated to the preservation of ethnic textiles and designs — was of invaluable assistance to the project.
The Nasana dolls — some of which stand 59 centimeters tall — are also on sale for between SR9,000 and SR11,000 ($2,400-2,933).
Masallati said she and her team intend to expand the collection in the future, and to work with art college graduates. They will also produce a new collection this year, she said.


Saudi Arabia distributes food baskets, provides medical services to refugees

Saudi Arabia distributes food baskets, provides medical services to refugees
KSrelief distributes food baskets, provides medical services to refugees. (SPA)
Updated 19 June 2021

Saudi Arabia distributes food baskets, provides medical services to refugees

Saudi Arabia distributes food baskets, provides medical services to refugees
  • The general medicine clinics received 192 patients, pediatric clinics received 59 patients, the emergency department received 37 patients, and dental clinics received 22 patients

DHAKA: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) continued distributing food baskets to Rohingya refugees and needy families in Bangladesh, in collaboration with the Muslim World League.
KSrelief has recently distributed 1,000 food baskets in Gazipur City in Dhaka district, benefiting 5,000 people, the Saudi press Agency reported on Friday.
The center is aiming to distribute 80,000 food baskets to 500,000 Rohingya refugees from the poorest families in Bangladesh, in support of the quick response action plan to alleviate their suffering.
Meanwhile, KSrelief clinics offered their medical services to 436 patients in the Zaatari Syrian refugees’ camp in Jordan.
The general medicine clinics received 192 patients, pediatric clinics received 59 patients, the emergency department received 37 patients, and dental clinics received 22 patients.
In addition, the child rescue clinic rescued 10 patient children, while a total of 316 prescriptions were registered at the pharmacy.
KSrelief mobile clinics have treated 2,925 people in Al-Khoukha in the last week. The clinics responded to emergencies and provided services related to pediatrics, reproductivity, nutrition, education and awareness raising, plus surgeries and medical referrals.
In addition, 1,475 lab examinations have been made and 2,449 patients have received medicines, with 861 patients examined at the medical care units. Ten received blood transfusions and 11 patients visited obstetrics.


Driving the future of Saudi fashion toward sustainability, diversity, innovation

Driving the future of Saudi fashion toward sustainability, diversity, innovation
The Fashion Commission launched the Fashion Future Initiative in 2019 as the first event dedicated to fashion in Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock)
Updated 19 June 2021

Driving the future of Saudi fashion toward sustainability, diversity, innovation

Driving the future of Saudi fashion toward sustainability, diversity, innovation
  • Industry leaders at studios in Riyadh, NY virtually meet to discuss ways to build right ecosystem

JEDDAH: Sustainability, diversity and inclusion, entrepreneurship, and innovative solutions in the global fashion industry were the highlights of the second Fashion Futures initiative by the Saudi Ministry of Culture.

The Culture Ministry’s Commission of Fashion hosted a digital event on Thursday through a hybrid model that gathered leaders from the global and regional fashion world at studios in Riyadh and New York, and virtually from around the world to discuss issues related to the future of the industry and ways to build the right ecosystem for it.
“Our mission is to enable the development of (the) thriving Saudi fashion industry, (make it) sustainable and inclusive, maximizing local talent, experiences and competencies. This will be realized through initiatives and our flagship event, Fashion Futures is part of this process,” Princess Noura bint Faisal Al-Saud, sector development director at the Fashion Commission, said in her opening speech.

Princess Reema Bandar Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, highlighted how KSA could be the leader of sustainable fashion. (Supplied)

The program “Fashion Futures: Moving Towards Sustainability, Diversity & Innovation” is the result of a collaboration with US-based Fashinnovation, a multimedia platform focused on sustainability innovation and entrepreneurship led by Jordana Guimaraes.
Chantal Line Carpentier, chief of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), said that the creative industries, such as the fashion business, were worth more than its $2.5 trillion globally. The market in fashion products could lead to significant employment gains in developing countries and for small and medium enterprises, and for many women and young entrepreneurs.
However large environmental footprints were created as the industry was responsible for 8 to 10 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and 20 percent of industrial wastewater pollution worldwide.

Saudi entrepreneur and runway supermodel Bandar Hawsawi, US-based fashion designer Elle B. Mambetov and Saudi designer Yousef Akbar attend the meeting.

Carpentier discussed the potential of fashion for sustainable development and economic growth. She said the declaration of 2021 as the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development was an opportunity to raise awareness and promote cooperation and networking. It would encourage the sharing of best practices and experiences to enhance human resource capacity and promote an enabling environment to tackle challenges and take advantage of creative economy opportunities.
The conference’s content was divided into four parts; entrepreneurship and experimentation, diversity in culture and style, investment in new business models and innovation solutions, and sustainable development goals. Each part of the event had four different sessions, including keynote speeches and panel discussions.
Notable international speakers included Susan Rockefeller, the president and trustee of Oceana, a nonprofit marine conservation foundation; Rebecca Minkoff, a fashion designer and author of “Fearless: The New Rules for Unlocking Creativity, Courage, and Success;” Oskar Metsavaht, an environmental activist and founder of fashion brand Osklen; Helen Aboah, the CEO of luxury lifestyle brand Urban Zen; and Abrima Erwiah, co-founder of Studio One Eighty-Nine, a social enterprise that promotes and curates African fashion.

BACKGROUND

The program ‘Fashion Futures: Moving Towards Sustainability, Diversity & Innovation’ is the result of a collaboration with US-based Fashinnovation, a multimedia platform focused on sustainability innovation and entrepreneurship led by Jordana Guimaraes.

Morten Lehmann, chief sustainability officer at the Global Fashion Agenda, highlighted the need to embrace and encourage change in the global fashion industry to be more sustainable and overcome the challenges it faced environmentally, socially and from a human rights perspective.
“If we can change fashion, which is so complex and so fragmented, we can change everything,” Lehmann said. “We can inspire other industries to do the same, and we can inspire citizens also to be part of that movement.”

Yousef Akbar

The event featured leading Saudi fashion leaders such as designer and entrepreneur Arwa Al-Ammari, designer Youssef Akbar, entrepreneur and runway supermodel Bandar Hawsawi, and fashion designer and head of womenswear at Les Benjamins, Lamia Al-Otaishan Aydin.
In addition to addressing issues related to education, business models, fashion design, transparency and women’s empowerment, the diversity and inclusion discussion was a major highlight of almost every talk throughout the conference.
For Youssef Akbar, being a Saudi fashion designer was a unique selling point; however, starting his business and establishing his name was very challenging. Nonetheless, for players that belong to a minority in the global fashion industry such as Akbar, diversity and inclusivity happened out of instinct.
Akbar was critical of shallow presentations of diversity. “The entire company culture needs to reflect these values, not just campaigns, photoshoots and runways. Companies should start with diversity from within, not from the outside,” he said.

Bandar Hawsawi

The conference ended with an interview with Princess Reema Bandar Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, in which she highlighted how Saudi Arabia could be the leader of sustainable fashion in the coming years.
“Today, the work of our Fashion Commission, we are really proud to have Burak Cakmak as our CEO because he brings not only the background and education of fashion, but also the fashion sustainability,” she said. “And what he’s allowing us to do is enter our pathway through sustainability and leapfrogging essentially, where everybody else has started because we have no historic fashion industry.”
Concepts of sustainability, reusing and recycling were critical foundations of the commission’s mindset; however, it was also built based on Saudi culture and heritage, Princess Reema said.
The Fashion Commission launched the Fashion Future Initiative in 2019 as the first event dedicated to fashion in the Kingdom, and redesigned it in 2021 as a leading digital platform in the field of fashion accessible from all over the world at https://fashionfutures.com/en/home
A main goal of the initiative is to support the creation of a fashion ecosystem in the Kingdom, while also leading the way in achieving a more globally sustainable fashion sector.
The Fashion Commission is one of 11 Saudi cultural bodies established in February last year by the Ministry of Culture to oversee the development and success of cultural subsectors.