Saudi film to premiere in Vox cinemas for first time

Saudi film to premiere in Vox cinemas for first time
‘Roll’em, a film by an all-Saudi crew, is being shot in Jeddah. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 11 March 2019

Saudi film to premiere in Vox cinemas for first time

Saudi film to premiere in Vox cinemas for first time
  • The forecast was based on a projected 2030 population of 39.5 million, and 6.6 screens per 100,000 people
  • Cinemas were banned in the country for decades until the first one opened last April in Riyadh

JEDDAH: A Saudi film to the core, “Roll’em” was developed, written and produced over three years with an all-Saudi crew, from the actors to the sound director.
Vox cinema will have a private screening on Wednesday and a public one on Thursday. “Roll’em” is directed and produced by Abdulelah Al-Qurashi and co-produced by Abdulrahman Khoja.
The film follows the story of Saudi filmmaker Omar Nizar who, while on a journey to discover Jeddah, realizes that he does not know his beloved city as well as he thought he did.
He meets a retired cinematographer whose glory days were in the 1970s as he divided his time between France and Cairo.
Screenwriter Yasser Hammad said “Roll’em” is a co-production with Saudi film production company Cinepoetics, owned by Khoja.
“It’s a Jeddawi film to the core. The post-production was in Egypt. The areas where we don’t have expertise in we had to outsource, but everything that had to do with the creative work is purely Saudi,” Hammad told Arab News.
“The idea (for the characters) came up from a joke actually. I was pretending to be an old cinematographer and using Hejazi words and the accent. It inspired me to create a character,” he said.
“We had our inspiration from actual film directors from the 1970s in Saudi Arabia that no one knows about. They tried to pursue the same dreams we had, but failed because of their circumstances,” he added.
“The idea is someone has a dream and wants to achieve it, but the circumstances aren’t allowing him to. The difference between the two generations makes the difference. Why can we make films today, and why couldn’t we make them back then?”
Hammad said having the film screened in Jeddah “is like a dream come true,” adding: “Without this city, I wouldn’t be able to create art.”
Naif Al-Daferi, who plays Mohannad in the film, told Arab News: “The audience will see a different image of Jeddah … To add to that, the story talks about someone who’s struggling in the field of filmmaking in capturing Jeddah.”
He said: “There’s entertainment value, the characters are diverse and the cast is incredible.” Al-Qurashi “is a true filmmaker,” Al-Daferi added.
Jeddah’s first cinema opened its doors to the public in January, and an industry expert said he expected up to 35 million people in the Kingdom to go to the movies every year.
Cinemas were banned in the country for decades until the first one opened last April in Riyadh.
Cameron Mitchell, CEO of the regional cinema chain Majid Al Futtaim, said Saudi Arabia had the capacity for high audience numbers. He was speaking at the opening ceremony for Vox Cinemas in Jeddah‘s Red Sea Mall.
“If you look at Dubai we have some 15 million customers there per annum. On the short-term goal in Saudi Arabia we are expecting the market to reach about 30 million customers,” he said.
Research from PwC Middle East in November estimated that total cinema revenue in Saudi Arabia would reach $1.5 billion by 2030. The forecast was based on a projected 2030 population of 39.5 million, and 6.6 screens per 100,000 people.
Last year, Vox Cinemas said it would be investing $533 million to open 600 theaters in the next five years.
“Some 95 percent of our employees here are from Saudi Arabia,” Mitchell said.
“We expect the cinemas in the Red Sea Mall to be showing a mix of films, probably about 300 films per year with at least six new movies every single week. It will take a while for us to have enough cinemas for everyone to get to go to the cinema whenever they want to.
“In my opinion, the cinema is a good place for families to spend time together in a social environment, especially in hot summer days, when outdoor activities are limited.”
There will be cinemas in Tabuk by the end of this year or by early 2020 and the Saudi government has been very helpful, he said, adding: “We got the license last April and we were keen to do the required steps and follow the regulations, and that went smoothly.”


Saudi school principal gets into Guinness for largest mural using water bottle caps

The Green Leaves Playgroup principal broke last year’s record with a 250 sq. meter map of the world. The previous record belonged to Caroline Chaptini, who created a 196.94 sq. meter crescent mosaic. Inset: (Khulood Al-Fadli Supplied)
The Green Leaves Playgroup principal broke last year’s record with a 250 sq. meter map of the world. The previous record belonged to Caroline Chaptini, who created a 196.94 sq. meter crescent mosaic. Inset: (Khulood Al-Fadli Supplied)
Updated 03 August 2021

Saudi school principal gets into Guinness for largest mural using water bottle caps

The Green Leaves Playgroup principal broke last year’s record with a 250 sq. meter map of the world. The previous record belonged to Caroline Chaptini, who created a 196.94 sq. meter crescent mosaic. Inset: (Khulood Al-Fadli Supplied)
  • With determination and consistency, Khulood Al-Fadli continued her work ‘and never gave up’

JEDDAH: Khulood Al-Fadli, a school principal in Jeddah, has joined the ranks of Guinness World Records holders by creating the planet’s largest mosaic using plastic bottle caps.

The Green Leaves Playgroup principal broke last year’s record with a 250-square-meter map of the world using 350,000 plastic bottle caps. The previous record belonged to Caroline Chaptini, who created a 196.94-square- meter crescent mosaic in Miziara, Lebanon.
“I feel beyond the moon. I really felt my work had paid off,” Al-Fadli told Arab News.
“The image doesn’t matter as the size determines if I’m breaking a record and Guinness World Records had so many requirements to break a record or set a new record,” she said.
Meeting the requirements to break the record proved especially difficult due to turbulent weather conditions affecting her outdoor mosaic.
“I went through difficult days of the wind blowing all my water caps away, which delayed the project for a week. But with determination, consistency and with the help of my volunteers and most of all my family and husband, I continued my work and never gave up,” she said.
The project was aimed at shedding light on three events; World Environment Day — collecting plastic and recycling — World Oceans Day — not throwing plastics into oceans or the sea because of its negative effects on the environment — and United Nations Public Service Day — the importance of community volunteering. Al-Fadli said that all three world days met Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and its sustainable goals.

HIGHLIGHT

The project was aimed at shedding light on three events; World Environment Day — collecting plastic and recycling — World Oceans Day — not throwing plastics into oceans or the sea because of its negative effects on the environment — and United Nations Public Service Day — the importance of community volunteering.

She said that her target volunteers were children, “since they are the future generation.” Al-Fadli was first inspired by student responses after she introduced the topic of global warming and recycling to children at the school.
Al-Fadli said that one pupil had asked: “’Does that mean our earth will die?’ She continued: “He questioned angrily, almost saying how dare people do this to our only planet.”
She told him that people could start change with themselves and a simple step to save the earth was to “collect plastics and make a humane project out of it.”
With the help of her students, family and friends, and the growing number of plastic bottle cap donors, “within 40 days of work, the news kept spreading and people from all over Jeddah, Makkah, Madinah and Taif came to donate.”
She said that the donors were eager to see the outcome, with even the youngest of volunteers excited to see the end result. “They were amazed by how lovely and huge the map is, they promised to save plastics and reuse them or donate it to me for the sake of the Earth.”
Al-Fadli said that creating art out of recyclables was a fulfilling experience — and that she had always had an affinity for maps while growing up.
“Since I was a child, I used to love drawing maps. I don’t know why but it feels like I’m flying. Seeing a huge map was like a dream,” she said.


‘Social isolation’ after Aug. 1 changes will boost jab uptake, says Saudi official

Almost all of the Saudi population are soon expected to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19. (SPA)
Almost all of the Saudi population are soon expected to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19. (SPA)
Updated 03 August 2021

‘Social isolation’ after Aug. 1 changes will boost jab uptake, says Saudi official

Almost all of the Saudi population are soon expected to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19. (SPA)
  • Ban on unvaccinated people entering events, businesses is latest policy to end pandemic

JEDDAH: People in Saudi Arabia who refuse to receive a COVID-19 vaccine will be left “socially isolated” following the Aug. 1 ban, a health official has said, urging Saudis and residents to take immediate action and receive a jab.

Dr. Naser Tawfiq, assistant professor of anesthetics and ICU, warned that as a result of the policy, no one would be allowed to enter any governmental institution without being vaccinated.
“This decision will certainly reduce any negative attitude that disdains the vaccine. One who tries to avoid getting the vaccine will be socially isolated. Their isolation is good for us because all of society wants to get back to normal life, and the only safe solution is to get the vaccine,” Tawfiq said.
He added that by receiving a vaccine and complying with precautionary measures, people can live “almost a normal life” at this stage of the pandemic.
Residents of the Kingdom are required to receive at least one jab or have recovered from COVID-19 to attend social, cultural, sports and entertainment gatherings, and enter private, government or commercial establishments.
Health authorities have called on residents to register for the vaccine, and centers across the Kingdom have been urged to provide more time slots to accommodate the growing numbers of applicants.
Meanwhile, almost all of the Saudi population are soon expected to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to the workplace, Abdulmohsin Al-Huwaidi, a human resources specialist, told Al-Ekhbariya TV channel, adding that the majority of people in the Kingdom have now received a vaccine.

FASTFACTS

• Saudi Arabia reported 1,063 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday.

• The death toll rose to 8,259 after 10 more virus-related deaths were recorded.

“This can clearly show the good quality of work in these health organizations and the high level of awareness in society,” Al-Huwaidi said.
So far, 27,638,716 people in the Kingdom have received a jab against COVID-19, including 1,481,272 elderly people.
Al-Huwaidi added that the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development has approved a variety of options to deal with the unvaccinated workers.
“This gradual plan of dealing with unvaccinated employees begins with directing them to work remotely, and this is an option for the organizations in which job tasks can be done remotely,” he said.
He added: “I think we will see the whole community — both citizens and residents — fully vaccinated in the near future.” However, he noted that people who are excluded from taking the vaccine could continue to work from their homes.
In another move to curb the spread of coronavirus, the Saudi Public Prosecution office has warned that it will impose fines of up to SR500,000 ($133,323) on passengers breaching travel ban restrictions by boarding flights to countries hit by severe COVID-19 outbreaks. Similar penalties will also apply to operators or owners of the means of transportation, the authority said.
In a recent tweet, officials added that severe punitive measures would be taken against travelers who failed to disclose that they had visited any countries listed on the Kingdom’s COVID-19 travel ban list.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia on Monday reported 10 more COVID-19-related deaths, taking the death toll over the course of the pandemic to 8,259.
There were 1,063 new cases, meaning that 527,877 people in the country have now contracted the disease. A total of 10,624 cases remained active, of which 1,434 patients were in critical condition.
Of the newly recorded cases, 244 were in the Makkah region, 217 in the Riyadh region, 152 in the Eastern Province, and 70 in the Madinah region.
The Ministry of Health said that 1,620 patients recovered from the disease, increasing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 508,994.
Saudi Arabia has so far conducted 25,226,779 PCR tests, with 98,862 completed 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, while 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 either service can be made via the ministry’s Sehhaty app.


Saudi students honored for innovation award wins

Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal. (SPA)
Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal. (SPA)
Updated 03 August 2021

Saudi students honored for innovation award wins

Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal. (SPA)
  • Among students honored by the governor was Amjad Al-Baqami for his “Your Stick Guides You” project for blind people

MAKKAH: Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal congratulated students from Umm Al-Qura University following their awards success at the international Geneva Inventions Fair 2021.
Passing on his best wishes to the students for the future, the prince also commended university president, Dr. Mudi Al-Qahtani.
Among students honored by the governor was Amjad Al-Baqami for his “Your Stick Guides You” project for blind people, which incorporates a GPS feature and can be used with sensors or headphones.
The prince also praised Ziad Al-Mateen for his project “The wonderful glove,” which translates sign language into audio language transmitted through an external speaker in the glove, to improve communication with people with hearing disabilities.
And Dalia Abu Raya won Prince Khalid’s approval for her “Medical Self-Service” project device for dispensing painkillers.
He also honored Jihad Felimban and Khalil Mijaan for their “Mobile Sunstroke Unit” project, which is a bag that helps provide emergency medical care to treat sunstroke and avoid dangerous complications. SPA Makkah
The bag contains a foldable stretcher, which is easy to use to protect the patient from heat strokes, and water sprays that help cool and hydrate the body to avoid complications. 


Saudi gaming developers level up in growing market

The team behind Hakawati, a studio focused on developing games for children. (Supplied)
The team behind Hakawati, a studio focused on developing games for children. (Supplied)
Updated 03 August 2021

Saudi gaming developers level up in growing market

The team behind Hakawati, a studio focused on developing games for children. (Supplied)
  • Saudi Arabia home to 21.2 million gamers, has seen its gaming industry jump 4.1 percent this year, making it the world’s 19th-largest market

JEDDAH: Out of the many growing industries in Saudi Arabia, the gaming industry is accelerating at an unprecedented pace, with developers taking standards to the next level in an exciting new territory.
In 2020, the Saudi gaming market was estimated to be worth SR2.6 billion ($690 million), with various platforms being launched to give confidence to developers, entrepreneurs and investors so they can continue building the industry.
The Kingdom, home to 21.2 million gamers, has seen its gaming industry jump 4.1 percent this year, making it the world’s 19th-largest market.
Mohammad Waleed Hashim, a 30-year-old indie game developer, is currently producing a game the revolves around a player who needs to find his way through the deserts of Saudi Arabia, training herds of camels, befriending desert folk, fighting off predators and navigating the mysteries of the desert, just like his grandfather once did.
“The Shepherd” is set to be released soon on the Steam platform for $10 with no additional in-game purchases, a plan he says will allow gamers to enjoy it more.
Indie games are made by a small group of people, or in Hashim’s case, a single developer.
Apart from occasionally hiring freelancers for the art and design, Hashim said: “The game focuses more on the mechanics and the story and less on the graphical aspects.”
The developer said that the game was meant to be a small hobby, but it rolled into a bigger project and became the detailed product it is today. “The Arab touches were very important to me because I wanted something the players could relate to,” he said, adding: “I found a picture of my grandfather wearing traditional clothes and that’s where the inspiration for the character design started.”
Abdullah Bamashmoos, founder of Jeddah-based game development studio Hakawati, said games that allow children to build their own in-game worlds — such as Minecraft and Roblox — can influence young children to jump on the bandwagon.
“That opens the possibility of one day creating their own games in Saudi Arabia, the generation that grew up playing the games that enhanced their creativity are now learning to develop actual games,” said Bamashmoos.
The 31-year-old developer said that there were a small number of gaming studios a few years ago, so he could not pursue his passion for developing games right away. He faced opposition from his community when he started investing his time and money into development.
“What kept me going is that all crazy ideas start somewhere and although things like augmented reality were once believed to be science fiction stories, it became a profitable reality years later. So, I figured that the technology here in Saudi Arabia will advance far enough and I was able to foresee a future in what I was investing in.”
Bamashmoos said that his journey was one of trial and error: “I would create files, scavenge the internet for solutions to some of the software issues, delete files, and start from scratch.”
According to the developers, it is not just the software skills that aspiring developers need to work on, Bamashmoos said that they also need to work on their team-building abilities and finding efficient developers who are willing to work hard throughout the development stage of their games.
“Another thing that Saudi developers need to do is keep practising and learning additional talents so they can gradually progress in the industry.”
When the two developers started on their journeys over 10 years ago, the internet was not as rich with information as it is now, which has been a game-changer for developers.
They can now find a treasure trove of information for free or very low prices, which Bamashmoos said could ease the production pipeline.
“Developers in the country are also helpful since the community is small, the ones who are interested can get help from the professionals easily.”
Despite Hashim’s struggle with the industry, he is hoping to build a small gaming studio.
“I have so many ideas for more games after this one, seven to be precise. I look forward to hiring people who can work with me.”


Saudi Arabia and France discuss digital transformation, space cooperation

Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha met the French Ambassador for Digital Affairs Henri Verdier. (SPA)
Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha met the French Ambassador for Digital Affairs Henri Verdier. (SPA)
Updated 02 August 2021

Saudi Arabia and France discuss digital transformation, space cooperation

Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha met the French Ambassador for Digital Affairs Henri Verdier. (SPA)
  • Al-Swaha met COO of French National Center for Space Studies to discuss potential for partnerships in the research and scientific fields

RIYADH: Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah bin Amer Al-Swaha met the French Ambassador for Digital Affairs Henri Verdier in Paris on Monday.
Acting CEO of the Saudi Space Commission Dr. Mohammed Al-Tamimi and President of King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) Dr. Munir bin Mahmoud El-Desouki also attended the meeting, along with a number of Saudi and French officials.
The two parties spoke about enhancing bilateral cooperation between the Kingdom and France in technical and digital transformation, space and innovation.
The meeting outlined stimulating the growth of the digital economy and the innovation system. It discussed accelerating the adoption of modern technologies in the Middle East and North Africa by relying on the digital and logistical platform provided by the Kingdom as a hub connecting continents, in addition to the Saudi Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), which was recently inaugurated in Riyadh.
Al-Swaha, also the chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Space Commission, met Lionel Suchet, the chief operating officer of the French National Center for Space Studies, in Paris.
They discussed cooperation in the space sector and its technologies, including the potential for partnerships in the research and scientific fields.
They also talked about technical cooperation and ways to stimulate innovation and investment in the space sector, which is experiencing significant growth globally, along with the development of human capital and capacity building.
This meeting took place during a tour by Al-Swaha that includes visits to institutions and companies involved in the space sector in the UK and France. It aims to enhance the work of the Saudi Space Authority and its cooperation with international bodies specializing in space and its technologies.