Love on Saudi Arabia’s silver screens

Love on Saudi Arabia’s silver screens
Mahmoud Sabbagh’s “Barakah Yoqabil Barakah”
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Updated 13 February 2020

Love on Saudi Arabia’s silver screens

Love on Saudi Arabia’s silver screens
  • The genre, previously frowned upon, is going mainstream among Saudi directors, and audiences are embracing it

JEDDAH: The love story is a relatively new concept in Saudi movies, but filmmakers and actors are finding they are increasingly able to portray this aspect of life from the Kingdom’s perspective.

“Roll’em” was one of the first such Saudi films to appear in cinemas. It centers on an aspiring filmmaker who wants to showcase his city, Jeddah, and realizes how much it means to him when he meets an underrated cinematographer living in a country without cinema. 

The film is a love story between characters Lina Najjar, played by Sara Taibah and Omar Nizar, played by Khaled Yeslam.

The director of the film, Abdulelah Al-Qurashi, told Arab News that Saudi audiences were positive about the story, and the film received great reviews.

“I think it (the love story) worked out more than other scenes. There was a scene where Omar sees his ex-girlfriend by chance in the supermarket and his reaction grabs the attention of the audience. I felt that they were able to relate to this because I think this is the first time such a scene appears on screen, but is quite common in reality,” he said.




A film poster for “Roll’em,” by Abdulelah Al-Qurashi

The story of “Roll’em” is from one perspective — Omar’s. “When I’m talking about someone’s journey, how is there a journey without love? It’s a universal human trait. I felt that this was necessary to show,” Al-Qurashi said.

He previously played the father in the short film “Zaina’s Cake,” directed by Nada Al-Mojadidi.

Zaina, played by Sarah Taibah, is a young college graduate in Jeddah struggling to start a baking business without her father’s consent. She meets Ma’an, the delivery boy who helps her, and over time she realizes that her new life could force her to choose between her father and a young man.

“Zaina comes from a very strict lower-middle-class Saudi family,” Taibah said. “Her father is very strict and doesn’t want her to work in a mixed-gender environment. She falls in love with the delivery boy, and then her father finds out. It had a happy ending; he lets her pursue what she wants in the end. It was such a simple love story.”

“It was refreshing for most people because we’re not used to seeing ourselves in these love stories,” Al-Mojadidi explained. “We’re used to seeing them in Western films. It’s refreshing because everyone goes through their own story but you don’t get to share that story as our culture doesn’t really embrace it — it’s the same issue we have in our society, not just our cinema. It was refreshing to see people accept it. It’s such a typical Saudi story.”

“Roll’em” has a different type of love story that’s more modern and relevant nowadays — “a genuine love is seen in the film, guys and girls being friends — no one (in the audience) was attacking the idea,” Taibah said. “It’s a combination that everything is changing and that the love is very relatable and genuine. It’s not crossing the uncomfortable Saudi line.”

Taibah said Saudi audiences wanted to see such stories, as films offer a more genuine sense of emotion that many relate to on a deeper level. “People are hungry just to relate,” she said.

“As an artist, not only as a writer and actress, performer or illustrator, I always look for love, heartbreak and intimacy as themes for my work, so I make sure that comes across,” she added.

Taibah described the relationship between her character Lina in “Roll’em” and Khaled Yeslam’s character Omar as one that the audience could relate to.

“It is an open ending, we don’t know if they are still together or not. All we know is that she’s always going to be there for him. Even when the characters are going through difficult times and are kind of broken up, she shows up and helps him to make the screening of his film he’s been working on. It’s a relationship we know; we’ve either lived it or we know someone who did.”

“It’s that type of relationship that’s so doomed but always going because of the familiarization, companionship and acceptance than that flame in the beginning of a relationship,” she said. “You can sense the emotions of my characters; you see how these two were so in love, with glimpses of the good moments they had, but overall she’s exhausted, she feels like she’s becoming his mother not his lover.”

The role of cinema and any art is to touch on human nature, Al-Mojadidi said. “That’s the job of this art form. This is why it exists, it’s like a mirror that shows you everything. A mirror doesn’t show you just how good you look, it shows you how you look.”




“Zaina’s Cake,” by Nada Al-Mujadidi


Hundreds of volunteers serve worshippers at Makkah’s Grand Mosque as Ramadan nears end

Hundreds of volunteers serve worshippers at Makkah’s Grand Mosque as Ramadan nears end
Updated 27 min 25 sec ago

Hundreds of volunteers serve worshippers at Makkah’s Grand Mosque as Ramadan nears end

Hundreds of volunteers serve worshippers at Makkah’s Grand Mosque as Ramadan nears end

JEDDAH: The culture of volunteer work is an important part of Muslim society throughout the year but especially during Ramadan. This is a time of deep faith during which positive behavior and selfless acts are encouraged.

Nowhere is this more evident during the holy month than in the halls of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, where volunteers from the public and private sectors and charities work tirelessly to maintain it and serve pilgrims from around the world.

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, represented by the General Administration for the Coordination of Voluntary Work, said it has been working to recruit these volunteers and provide them and staff at the mosque with the training they need to ensure that their work is carried out in accordance with all the precautions that are in place protect the health and safety of pilgrims.

It has made efforts to spread the culture of volunteer work, improve its effectiveness and increase volunteer opportunities by adopting the latest methods and best supportive practices. By the beginning of Ramadan, 132 volunteers were working at the mosque each day.

The presidency said that some of the most important volunteer activities include helping elderly and disabled people to move through the mosque, organizing prayer rooms and corridors, monitoring security cameras at the entrances, and ensuring that social distancing rules are followed.

The Saudi Red Crescent Authority has also stepped up its voluntary activities during Ramadan, and has deployed throughout the mosque medical and emergency teams equipped with the latest medical equipment and supplies.

The authority revealed that 500 of its volunteers are working at the mosque during Ramadan, and added that during the last 10 days of the holy month it aims to increase the number of hours of voluntary work. It also provides buses to transport volunteers from Jeddah and within Makkah to the Grand Mosque.


PM Imran Khan on Saudi-Pakistan ties: ‘Our relationship is marked by close cooperation in all fields’

PM Imran Khan on Saudi-Pakistan ties: ‘Our relationship is marked by close cooperation in all fields’
Updated 53 min 41 sec ago

PM Imran Khan on Saudi-Pakistan ties: ‘Our relationship is marked by close cooperation in all fields’

PM Imran Khan on Saudi-Pakistan ties: ‘Our relationship is marked by close cooperation in all fields’
  • We share a history of cordial relations with Saudi Arabia: Imran Khan

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have long-standing and historic fraternal relations, rooted deep in common faith, shared history and mutual support.
The people of Pakistan hold the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques in the highest esteem. Our relationship is marked by close cooperation in all fields and we look forward to further strengthen this equation especially our economic ties for our mutual benefit.
Being home to the two holiest cities for the Muslims across the world, Saudi Arabia has a key role in unifying the Muslim Ummah.
Pakistan highly values this role that Saudi Arabia has consistently been playing. One of the key challenges faced by Muslims today is Islamophobia.
It is imperative that the Muslim world takes a united stance against the rising tide of Islamophobia and we all make concerted efforts to sensitize the West about our deep respect for our Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and our sensitivities about our religion being linked with terrorism.
I take this opportunity to appreciate various landmark initiatives taken by the visionary leadership of Saudi Arabia. One that requires a special mention is One that requires a special mention is “Saudi Green Initiative” and “Green Middle East Initiative.”
The threat that climate change poses to this planet and our region is real and it is high time for action. Pakistan has already initiated “Clean and Green Pakistan” and “Ten Billion Tree Tsunami.”
We believe that our priorities and goals in this regard are aligned and we can therefore learn a lot by sharing experiences. Pakistan will extend every possible support toward the success of the Green Initiative.
I look forward to my visit to Saudi Arabia and hope my interaction with the Saudi leadership will further strengthen our bilateral relations and will open further avenues for building a strong economic partnership as well as promoting people to people contacts.
I take this opportunity to pay my best regards to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the royal family and the great people of Saudi Arabia.
Long live Pak-Saudi friendship!

• Imran Khan is the prime minister of Pakistan.


The ancient caravan route between Taif and Makkah

The ancient caravan route between Taif and Makkah
Updated 07 May 2021

The ancient caravan route between Taif and Makkah

The ancient caravan route between Taif and Makkah
  • Hussein bin Salameh ordered the construction of two paths — one for camels and one for pedestrians — to facilitate the exchange and trade of goods in the Kingdom.

JEDDAH: The ancient stone road known as the “caravan route” linking Taif and Makkah is a cultural legacy of great historical value. It was constructed more than 1,000 years ago and was used regularly by pedestrians up to the 1960s.

At the time the road was built, movement between Taif and Makkah was restricted by Al-Qarah Mountain, researcher Hammad Al-Salimi explained. So Hussein bin Salameh ordered the construction of two paths — one for camels and one for pedestrians — to facilitate the exchange and trade of goods in the Kingdom.

The winding road made it possible to cross the mountain and was a remarkable feat of engineering, considering the limited technology available at the time of its creation.

“The roads were paved with stones, which made them resemble staircases winding between the top of the mountain in Al-Hada, the Karr below Al-Qarah Mountain, Shaddad and then Wadi Noman,” Al-Salimi said, adding that a third road, for cars, was built in the mid-1960s, during the reign of King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud.

Al-Salimi said that the two original paths are “important monuments, which should be preserved and maintained because they are part of the Al-Qarah Mountain system and complement the beautiful image of this mountain.”

Historian and writer Saleh Al-Judi explained that — before cars were common in the Kingdom — people would use the route to travel between the two cities, a journey taking around three days. The passage through the mountain, he said, is around six kilometers. In the middle of the route, he added, is a well-known site called Al-Rukb.

He said the route is mentioned in histories from the fifth Hijri century (1009-1106 CE), which say that it had room for pedestrians and animals alike. Al-Qathami stressed the importance of preserving the road as an historical landmark, as it is an important artery linking Taif and Makkah.


Saudi leaders send condolences to Algerian president over flood victims

Saudi leaders send condolences to Algerian president over flood victims
Updated 06 May 2021

Saudi leaders send condolences to Algerian president over flood victims

Saudi leaders send condolences to Algerian president over flood victims

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Thursday sent a cable of condolences and sympathy to Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune for those killed in torrential rains and floods that hit several Algerian states.
The king said: “We learned of the news of the torrential rains and floods in several Algerian states, and the resulting deaths, and we send to Your Excellency, the families of the deceased, and the Algerian people our warmest condolences and the most sincere sympathy,” Saudi Press Agency reported.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also sent a similar cable to the Algerian president.RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Thursday sent a cable of condolences and sympathy to Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune for those killed in torrential rains and floods that hit several Algerian states.
The king said: “We learned of the news of the torrential rains and floods in several Algerian states, and the resulting deaths, and we send to Your Excellency, the families of the deceased, and the Algerian people our warmest condolences and the most sincere sympathy,” Saudi Press Agency reported.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also sent a similar cable to the Algerian president.


KSrelief chief meets Beninese envoy to Saudi Arabia

KSrelief chief meets Beninese envoy to Saudi Arabia
Updated 06 May 2021

KSrelief chief meets Beninese envoy to Saudi Arabia

KSrelief chief meets Beninese envoy to Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, met the ambassador of Benin to the Kingdom, Mataero Fadel, in Riyadh on Thursday.

The meeting discussed the development of projects implemented in Benin, and ways to enhance them.

Fadel praised the professional excellence of KSrelief and its service to the needy around the world, especially to groups in Benin, pointing out that the center is a milestone in the field of humanitarian work.

This Ramadan, KSrelief distributed 164 tons of food baskets to thousands of families in Benin, as part of the humanitarian aid provided by the Kingdom, through KSrelief, to friendly countries during the holy month.