Saudi Arabian filmmaker Haifaa Al-Mansour picks up Crystal Award at Davos 2019

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Haifaa Al-Mansour, the first female filmmaker in Saudi Arabia, has received a Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum's 2019 meeting in Davos. (Screenshot/WEF)
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Saudi film maker Haifaa Al-Mansour. (Photo: Brigitte Lacombe)
Updated 22 January 2019

Saudi Arabian filmmaker Haifaa Al-Mansour picks up Crystal Award at Davos 2019

DAVOS, Switzerland: Haifaa Al-Mansour, the first female filmmaker in Saudi Arabia, has received a Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum's 2019 meeting in Davos for her leadership in cultural transformation in the Arab world. Watch a recap of the award ceremony below:

“Wadjda”, Al-Mansour’s feature debut, was the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first by a female director.

The success of her 2005 documentary “Women Without Shadows” was a breakthrough that was followed by a new wave of Saudi filmmakers and front-page headlines of Saudi Arabia finally opening cinemas in the Kingdom.

She was recently appointed to the Board of the General Authority for Culture to advise on the development of the cultural and arts sectors in Saudi Arabia.

She recently released “Mary Shelly” starring Elle Fanning, and “Nappily Ever After” starring Sanaa Lathan. Al-Mansour is the first artist from the Arabian Gulf region to be invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

In her speech after receiving the award, Al-Mansour reflected on the role her father played in her filmmaker dream, paying homage to the films he showed her as a child.

“Those films made me feel part of a bigger world, they made me love the world. They made me who I am,” Al-Mansour said.

"I wanted to have a voice. I wanted to have a passion. I wanted to be happy," she added.

The other winners of the Crystal Awards at this year's Davos meeting are Marin Alsop, for her leadership in championing diversity in music and legendary broadcaster Sir David Attenborough for his leadership in environmental stewardship.

The Crystal Awards honour exceptional artists and cultural leaders whose important contributions are improving the state of the world and who best represent the “spirit of Davos.”


Saudi education provider passes pandemic challenges

Following the COVID-19 outbreak, Saudi authorities moved swiftly to ensure continuity of education in the Kingdom by promoting online learning platforms. (Shutterstock)
Updated 36 sec ago

Saudi education provider passes pandemic challenges

  • “We have invested significantly in our online platform MLG (Ma’arif Learning Gateway) which has proven a trusted platform by our teachers and students"

JEDDAH: Despite the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, students in Saudi Arabia’s public and private schools have been virtually receiving their education through online learning platforms made available by the Ministry of Education.
Dr. Mohammad Al-Arfaj, CEO of Ma’arif for Education and Training — one of the largest private school owners and operators in Saudi Arabia — said that the Education Ministry had carefully studied the current situation.
“At Ma’arif, we were proactive (in) early planning and preparation for e-learning, which paved (the) way to offer an advanced model of education delivery,” he told Arab News.
“This is based on two main principles to ensure the comprehensiveness and quality of e-learning — the adherence to a schedule that is very similar to the usual schedule adopted during normal face-to-face study, and to ensure that our students receive live classes that exceed 75 percent of the weekly schedule.”
 He added that they had provided over 71,000 live lectures to students via remote learning since the start of this academic year on Aug. 29, and succeeded in establishing new parameters in education delivery in the Kingdom. The Ma’arif CEO pointed out that e-learning had been embraced as a reliable model by governments and educational authorities.
“There was apprehension in the past but with the pandemic, we all addressed the challenge by leveraging the opportunity that e-learning presented. We are witnessing a remarkable transformation in the educational ecosystem,” he said.
Commenting on whether or not the available digital solutions would be enough for a good learning experience, Al-Arfaj said that building on their online learning experience, they had continued to strive for excellence in education provision.

There were apprehension in the past but with the pandemic, we all addressed the challenge by leveraging the opportunity that e-learning presented.

Dr. Mohammad Al-Arfaj CEO, Ma’arif for Education and Training

“We have invested significantly in our online platform MLG (Ma’arif Learning Gateway) which has proven a trusted platform by our teachers and students. Several remote educational services and applications have been added and the library has been uploaded with all the resources needed for asynchronous access. Our platform is designed to continue to deliver the curriculum as seamlessly as possible,” he added.
 He asserted that while nothing could beat the school experience “we must not be discouraged by the situation and must do all we can to ensure quality learning for our students.”
Al-Arfaj blamed some schools for not arranging or preparing for such a difficult situation beforehand.
“There should always be a backup where you leverage your resources based on the situation, and this is what some schools did not take into consideration. The challenges are everywhere and frequent, but we must be prepared to deal with them without impacting the quality of education,” he said.
The CEO said Ma’arif was building on its successful online and interactive learning experience from last year, as they “carefully designed a plan that blends online and offline lessons, taking into consideration the screen-time students are exposed to during online learning.”
He added that their e-learning schedule included synchronous and asynchronous learning, and that most of their lessons were delivered in a synchronous manner where teachers from inside the classrooms, and students at home, interacted in real-time.
“We organized a detailed online orientation session, including routines for online learning and schedules. We have also shared our e-learning policies and
guidelines with our parents and students before the start of the academic year.
“Once we go back to the schools’ premises, we intend to continuously employ the e-learning process to enhance and enrich our academic programs,” he added.
“We are first and foremost education providers, committed to ensuring the holistic development of our children. The values that our teachers share — providing the best quality education to students — are unwavering and that is our key strength,” he said.
Ma’arif is also assisting families with fee deferrals during the pandemic by offering waivers to those in direst need.