TheFace: For Rana Al-Kadi, documenting architectural heritage is a passion worth living for

Rana Al-Kadi and her father. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 05 July 2019

TheFace: For Rana Al-Kadi, documenting architectural heritage is a passion worth living for

  • "My passion for heritage is a reflection of the authenticity and originality of my family," Rana Al-Kadi says

I have had an attachment to the stories of the “old days” since childhood. Although I lived away from my hometown, my family were very connected with Madinah traditions and made sure to transfer its culture to our daily life. For this reason, I always felt different from my friends at the KFUPM schools in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, as its culture was different from the western region. 

We are a family of seven; I am the youngest girl and the most spoiled by my dad. (He used to pack my dress whenever he traveled, to smell it whenever he missed me; a habit that he has continued to this day). 

One of my family’s favorite games is called “Memory.” My father used to demonstrate some pictures of Madinah old town, and then ask us about the name of the places. I have pictured Madinah mosques, buildings and valleys in my mind since childhood. Although the purpose was to win the game, when I grew up it became a task to preserve the heritage of the city and its culture.  

The pride of my dad and mom being from the Prophet’s land has made me always feel responsible for my behavior. My passion for heritage is a reflection of the authenticity and originality of my family.

Dad was my biggest source of inspiration. He believed that education is key to society’s development.

Educating about our architectural heritage is a responsibility as it creates relations and bonding to historic sites, the environment and societies. Heritage describes our origins and informs our understanding of who we are today. 

Architectural heritage was not a subject that young females use to study — or take on the obligation and responsibility to spread awareness about it or to educate worldwide. But, “as you start to walk on the way, the way appears.” Simple words always nail a way of living. 

My passion for documenting architectural heritage developed while I was living in Spain. Working and studying was a changing point in my life. I noticed that preserving a monument is not a project or a way to make tourism flourish, but most importantly it is to preserve the identity of the land and people.

This work experience and knowledge built a greater responsibility inside me to preserve the heritage of the Kingdom. Heritage is the story of the historical, political and social relations and events in one land.  

In the end, there is the day you are born and the day when you find out the reason for living. Follow your passion as there are no standards or regulations for the best way of living; your experience is your story.


VOX Cinemas picks up Saudi animated film

Updated 1 min 26 sec ago

VOX Cinemas picks up Saudi animated film

  • The animation work was done in both Riyadh and Tokyo

JEDDAH: “The Journey,” an animated film co-produced by Saudi company Manga Productions and Japan’s Toei Animation, is coming to the big screen courtesy of Dubai-based VOX Cinemas, which is bringing it to the Middle East and North Africa.

T-Joy, a subsidiary of Toei Animation, has taken rights for the film in Japan. “The Journey” will initially be released in Arabic and Japanese, with the possibility of an English dub to follow.

“It was an honor and also a great responsibility for the Japanese to create a feature-length animation based on the ancient history of the Arabian Peninsula, with different cultures, lifestyles and customs than ours,” Toei Animation Chairman Shinji Shimizu said in a statement, according to Variety magazine.

“It is a collaborative movie that Japanese animation professionals and young Saudi Arabian talents created side-by-side, a cultural exchange I am proud of.”

Manga Productions CEO Essam Bukhary said the film is “a milestone project” for his company “as it validates our efforts to become the regional leader and a global pioneer in the animation and values-driven content space.”

The film, he told Arab News, revolves around an old civilization in the Arabian Peninsula where the people come together to stand up to “a strong enemy.”

The hero, Aws, has a mysterious backstory that plays an important role in the destiny of the city, said Bukhary.

Historical advisors have been involved with the project to ensure authenticity, and as part of it being a collaborate exchange of cultures, a Japanese team visited Saudi Arabia to get a feel for the setting designs.

The animation work was done in both Riyadh and Tokyo. A team of 12 Saudis worked on story development and character design. The entire production team amounted to 330 people.

The film’s character designer is Tatsuro Iwamoto, who has worked on character illustration for both the game and animation series of “Ace Attorney.”

Kaoru Wada is the film’s music composer. He was behind the musical scores for popular anime shows such as “D.Gray-man” and “Inuyasha.”

Manga Productions, which falls under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s MiSK Foundation, signed the agreement with Toei Animation in 2017.

The film will be screened at the Cannes Film Market in May to allocate prospective buyers for the feature.

Meanwhile, the first co-production between Manga Productions and Toei Animation, a 13-episode animated series called “Future’s Folktales,” has been airing on MBC 1 and Shahid, a subsidiary streaming platform of the group, since January.

Its first two episodes have gained more than 12 million views, according to Manga Productions.

Set in 2050, a Saudi family residing in a futuristic Riyadh huddle together to listen to tales of the Kingdom’s past by their grandmother.