Saudi movie industry looking bright but still needs push from government

Oscar-winning producer Andres Gomez speaks during a session at the Saudi Media Forum in Riyadh on Monday. (AN photo)
Updated 03 December 2019

Saudi movie industry looking bright but still needs push from government

  • There is no lack of enthusiasm for filmmaking in the Kingdom, says Oscar-winning producer

RIYADH: World-renowned, Oscar-winning producer Andres Gomez spoke at the Saudi Media Forum over the weekend, where he spoke about his latest film, “Born a King,” and his upcoming movie “Champions,” which will start shooting in Jeddah in early 2020.

“One of the exciting things about working here is that we are not just making movies — we are creating an industry,” he said, adding there was no lack of enthusiasm for filmmaking in the Kingdom, but a lack of a strong infrastructure to facilitate it.

“Saudi Arabia has great potential to have its own content production industry — and it is in the hands of the government to help it,” he told the forum.

“The government needs to give a framework — there must be legislation, tax rebates, subsidies. There must be regulations in terms of what foreign films can come in and what foreign films cannot.

One of the exciting things about working here is that we are not just making movies — we are creating an industry.

Andres Gomez, Film producer

“Saudi culture must be promoted and protected, and foreign films and their themes should be limited. I’m very interested in helping and developing an industry here.”

Gomez said he was optimistic about the country producing its own content. “Saudi Arabia is a strong country that can create its own content and film industry. 

“Saudi Arabia has the financial means; however, it needs to produce more movies and TV content. The moment you produce 50-60 movies a year you will be in the market and (international film) festivals.

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Andres Gomez’s upcoming film will be shot in Jeddah with an all-Saudi crew and cast.

“This is why I made a call to the Saudi government to help young people to create this industry. It does depend totally on the government.”

As for the talents he worked with, he said: “We have collaborated with 100 Saudis on ‘Born a King.” I know there is interest from many in becoming directors, producers, and actors.”

His upcoming film, “Champions,” is a remake of a Spanish film, and shooting will begin in Jeddah by January, with an all-Saudi crew and cast. 

“We hope to open the film by September next year,” Gomez added.


Doors to manual: Domestic flights ready to resume in Saudi Arabia

Updated 57 min 25 sec ago

Doors to manual: Domestic flights ready to resume in Saudi Arabia

  • Passengers urged to follow preventative measures

JEDDAH: The coronavirus pandemic 'nearly paralyzed’ the global transport sector, a Saudi government minister said Saturday, as the Kingdom prepared for domestic flights to resume on Sunday morning.

Around 100 flights are due to take off and things will soon be back to normal despite the disruption of the past few months, the Minister of Transport Eng. Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser said.

“The pandemic has nearly paralyzed the transport sector, except for the few repatriation flights that were ordered to bring some citizens from abroad and the flights that carried some expats to their countries,” the minister told Arab News as he reflected on the economic losses and sharp decline in movement due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The minister, who was inspecting the readiness of Terminal 1 at King Abdulaziz International Airport to welcome travelers, is also chairman of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA). 

He said that the ministry was in close contact with other authorities - including airlines and the GACA - regarding updates about the coronavirus situation and providing all possible assistance to airline operators.

The minister was accompanied by GACA president, Abdul-Hadi bin Ahmed Al-Mansouri, and reviewed the precautionary measures in place to maintain the safety of people at all airports.

GACA has called on all travelers to follow the precautionary and preventive measures at airports and to follow health guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus. These include buying flights electronically and limiting airport entry to passengers only, with the exception of people accompanying the elderly or disabled.

GACA requires all travelers to go through thermal checkpoints before entering the terminal. Only passengers whose temperature is less than 38 degrees Celsius will be allowed on planes. The authority has also urged all passengers to wear face masks when entering airports and during flights, emphasizing that nobody will be allowed to board a plane without one.

It wants passengers to maintain a distance of two meters from others and to stand on guidance stickers placed on the terminal floor.

Passengers must arrive at the airport's departure hall two hours before the flight's departure time. They must sterilize their hands when entering the terminal and safely dispose of their face masks when leaving the terminal.

The authority has encouraged people to use electronic payment methods and says that passengers should not stow more than one piece of luggage in the aircraft’s overhead cabins.

It has requested passengers to report any suspected case of coronavirus.