Saudi filmmaker Shahad Ameen offers insights into award-winning ‘Scales’ in virtual session

Her film won the Verona Award for “Most Innovative Film” at the 2019 Venice Film Festival. (Supplied)
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Updated 04 June 2020

Saudi filmmaker Shahad Ameen offers insights into award-winning ‘Scales’ in virtual session

ABU DHABI: The Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) has hosted Saudi filmmaker Shahad Ameen in its latest virtual session, during which the celebrated director talked about her cinematic works and her inspirations.

Read our full interview with Shahad Ameen here. 

The session was part of the ADIBF’s Virtual Session Series, launched by the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, where guests present their talks remotely, allowing viewers to watch from the safety of their own homes.




This is Ameen’s first full-length narrative film. (Supplied)

Ameen kicked off the session by analyzing her latest film “Scales” (Sayidat Al Bahr), which won the Verona Award for “Most Innovative Film” at the 2019 Venice Film Festival.

The fantasy film, made in the UAE, tells the story of Hayat, a young girl living in a fishing village with a tradition of sacrificing female children to mysterious sea-dwelling creatures in the surrounding ocean. When her time comes, she decides to break with tradition and forge her own path.




The film was shot in Oman. (Supplied)

The talk explored the mythological elements in the movie, which are largely inspired by the ancient Arab heritage.

During the discussion, she noted that her use of Arab mythology is meant to engage the audience and motivate them to reflect on these symbols.




A still from the film. (Supplied) 

Ameen also expressed her great hopes for the future of Arab cinema, after having seen so many distinctive Arabic screenplays that depict the reality of the Arab world with its rich culture and diverse traditions.

She further explained that the most vital element in producing a well-woven screenplay is the author’s confidence in their idea and its originality rather than attempts to recapture or imitate other cinematic works.


Art Dubai announces new format, appoints Hala Khayat as regional head

Updated 22 September 2020

Art Dubai announces new format, appoints Hala Khayat as regional head

DUBAI: In a year that has become known for its constant stream of cancellations, postponements and transformations, Art Dubai has just announced that its 14th fair, which will take place on March 17-21, 2021 will have a revised format in line with today’s ever shifting possibilities. The fair has also announced that Hala Khayat, a long-time modern and contemporary Middle Eastern art expert and a former specialist in Arab, Iranian and Turkish art at Christie’s Dubai, will be its new regional director. While at Christie’s, Khayat, who comes from Syria, set up an NGO titled SAFIR in 2014 that promotes the work of young Syrian artists.

Portrait of Hala Khayat. Supplied

“Art Dubai will take place next year with an adapted program that takes into account expected social-distancing measures,” Khayat told Arab News. “This will include an adapted fair layout, a more personalized experience orchestrated through a new app and more outdoor experiences provided by the wonderful weather in the UAE during March and the fair’s unique location by the beach.”

For the first time, the fair will take place across multiple venues across the UAE. In addition to its long-time home at Madinat Jumeirah, these include the Jameel Arts Center in Dubai, the Sharjah Art Foundation and Warehouse421 in Abu Dhabi, supported by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation.

By Mohammed Kazem. Supplied

“In addition, we are planning an exciting week-long program of events outside of the fair and throughout the UAE, leveraging on synergies between the fair and the UAE’s main cultural institutions in celebration of the UAE’s 50th anniversary,” she added.

This new way of expressing creative synergies with UAE-based institutions constitutes the silver-lining of this year’s tumultuous changes: It’s time to look outside the traditional setting of an art fair and expand the program locally. With the lack of international travel these days, fairs need to creatively adapt their programs to harness greater local interest.

By Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim. Supplied

On the digital front, Art Dubai has some new additions. These include the new online exhibitions program, Art Dubai Portrait Exhibitions, which will present leading artists from across the Global South in the lead-up to the fair. It will kick off with works by Timo Nasseri, to be followed by Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, Mohammed Kazem, Aya Haidar, Dia Azzawi and Abdul Rahman Katanani.

Abdul Rahman Katanani. Supplied

There will also be a viewing room for all participating galleries, a series of presentations and other digital events planned for the week of the fair.

“The present moment requires a deeper than ever sense of community and engagement,” Khayat said. “I look forward to playing my part in nurturing existing as well as new relationships and engaging in audiences in the region and the broader Global South.”