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.


Kanye West announces 2020 presidential run

Updated 05 July 2020

Kanye West announces 2020 presidential run

WASHINGTON: Kanye West, the entertainment mogul, announced on Saturday he is challenging Donald Trump for the US presidency in 2020.

“We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States! #2020VISION,” the rapper tweeted as Americans marked Independence Day.

He offered no further details on his campaign, four months before the November election.

West long ago broke ranks with most of the left-leaning entertainment industry to loudly voice his support for Trump.

In 2018, they met in the Oval Office – a surreal tete-a-tete that included a hug from the rapper as well as an on-camera rant featuring an expletive not often repeated for the White House press corps.

That year, West also delivered a lengthy soliloquy to a president who many deem racist, telling him he loved him – to the dismay of many Democrats and fellow artists.

But in 2019, during an interview with Zane Lowe of Apple Music’s Beats 1 show, he said his support for Trump had been a way to razz Democrats – and announced his own presidential ambitions.

“There will be a time when I will be the president of the US, and I will remember... any founder that didn't have the capacity to understand culturally what we were doing.”

The announcement came days after West  released a new song, “Wash Us In the Blood,” along with an accompanying video including imagery from recent anti-racism protests.

Since 2018, his wife, reality star Kim Kardashian West, has formed her own contacts with the White House as she champions criminal justice reform: she has successfully lobbied Trump to pardon a sexagenarian woman for a non-violent drug offense.

For weeks now Trump, criticized for his response both to the coronavirus pandemic and to anti-racism protests, has been lagging in the polls behind his Democratic rival, Joe Biden.

There was no immediate response to West’s announcement from either candidate Saturday.