Carla DiBello’s new documentary ‘Electric Kingdom’ tracks major moments in Saudi Arabia

Carla DiBello, who was photographed at the Rixos Premium Dubai JBR, premiered a new documentary the tells the behind-the-scenes story of Saudi Arabia’s first Formula E. (Arab News)
Updated 08 December 2019

Carla DiBello’s new documentary ‘Electric Kingdom’ tracks major moments in Saudi Arabia

  • US producer Carla DiBello worked with a crew from Los Angeles to capture Saudi Arabia's first Formula E race
  • The documentary premiered at the Washington West Film Festival on Oct. 27

DUBAI: Set to be released early next year, new documentary “Electric Kingdom” tells the behind-the-scenes story of Saudi Arabia’s first Formula E electric car race in 2018 and explores the other firsts in the country, including the first mixed concert, the first female race car drivers hitting a national track and the moment visitors landed on government-issued tourist visas.

Arab News caught up with US producer Carla DiBello at the glitzy Rixos Premium Dubai, who worked with a crew from Los Angeles to capture these watershed moments on film in a project helmed by Oscar-nominated director David Darg.

For DiBello, it was all about showing the world the real face of her new home in the Gulf.

“This was a project that I was so passionate about and I really fought to make because it was so important that I wanted my peers in the US to really see what I experience living in the Middle East,” she told Arab News.

The documentary, which premiered at the Washington West Film Festival on Oct. 27, is particularly important because it portrays a series of firsts in the Kingdom.

“There were many firsts.  It was the first electric car race that was held in the Gulf, it was the first Western concert — Jason Derulo was the very first artist to step on a stage in front of a mixed crowd,” she said.




For the producer, it was all about showing the world the real face of her new home in the Gulf. (Supplied)

DiBello filmed the documentary with a crew from Los Angeles, who she says were surprised by what they found in Saudi Arabia.

“I think a lot of people, especially from my crew in Los Angeles, that came out to visit were just so blown away by the hospitality and the culture and how catering everyone is to everyone’s needs and they really saw a different side of Saudi Arabia that they imagined.”

And that’s one of the main points the former “Keeping up with the Kardashians” producer is keen to get across in her latest documentary.




The documentary was filmed with a crew from Los Angeles. (Supplied)

“I think my purpose in making this was to really be able to show people in America and all over the world what Saudi Arabia really is… it’s not just based on what you see in the media or what’s portrayed,” she said.

BiBello was impressed by the organizer’s ability to pull off the race, despite serious setbacks, including adverse weather conditions at the time.




A poster for the new documentary. (Supplied) 

“It was definitely a challenge waking up at five in the morning to go shoot the day of the race and the track being close to flooded.  So, there were a lot of fun experiences everyday — we woke up to something new or a new challenge. Nowhere else in the world can they pull something off in such a short time and execute it in such a positive way,” she said.


Rapper Nipsey Hussle wins two posthumous Grammys

Updated 11 min 17 sec ago

Rapper Nipsey Hussle wins two posthumous Grammys

  • ‘We all loved him, we all miss him. It is terrible that we had to lose him so early’
  • Long part of the underground rap circuit, Hussle struggled to find fame but began selling his own mixtapes

LOS ANGELES: The late rapper Nipsey Hussle on Sunday won two posthumous Grammys, on a night when his life was celebrated in a moving musical tribute led by singer John Legend.
Less than a year after his shock murder in broad daylight in Los Angeles, Hussle won awards for Best Rap Performance for “Racks in the Middle” along with Best Rap/Sung Performance for “Higher.”
“I want to thank all of you for supporting this and for lifting Nipsey’s name up,” said Legend, who along with DJ Khaled performed “Higher” and accepted the award.
“We all loved him, we all miss him. It is terrible that we had to lose him so early,” Legend continued.
“We thank his family for being here tonight with us. Thank you for allowing us to use his legacy and lift it up in song tonight.”
Hussle — an Eritrean-American who was born Ermias Asghedom — was shot dead last March, triggering an outpouring of grief in LA and among his superstar peers, who hailed both his musical talents and tireless community organizing.
Raised in LA’s Crenshaw district, Hussle had transformed the block he would hustle on into a retail, job-creating hub for his Marathon Clothing company.
He took his stage name from a play on the name of the comedian Nipsey Russell.
“Higher” opens with Hussle dressed all in blue — the color of the gang he belonged to, the Crips — rapping about his family’s history in the gritty Los Angeles neighborhood he called home as well as his father’s journey to the United States from Eritrea.
Long part of the underground rap circuit, Hussle struggled to find fame but began selling his own mixtapes.
Hip-hop royalty Jay-Z once bought 100 of them — for $100 each.
He was nominated last year for Best Rap Album for “Victory Lap,” his first formal album that finally dropped in February 2018 after six years of teasing, but lost out to Cardi B.
The tribute to Hussle took on heightened meaning as Los Angeles also mourned the loss of another favorite son, NBA icon Kobe Bryant, who died tragically Sunday in a helicopter crash.
The tribute performance for Hussle saw the images of both men projected on stage at the Staples Center, where Bryant led the Lakers team to several championships.
Family members accepted Hussle’s award for “Racks in the Middle,” which featured rappers Roddy Ricch and Hit-Boy.
The late star’s grandmother delivered an emotional elegy, thanking the audience for “sharing all the love that I have felt for him all of his life.”