Curtain set to rise on new era for Saudi performing arts

Curtain set to rise on new era for Saudi performing arts
Performing arts has been a part of human culture down the ages and was even used as a way to inform people about the negative impact of social practices. A new Saudi body will provide an umbrella organization for performers. (Supplied)
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Updated 27 October 2021

Curtain set to rise on new era for Saudi performing arts

Curtain set to rise on new era for Saudi performing arts
  • The new body will provide an umbrella organization for performers while promoting new talent and expertise

JEDDAH: The curtain is set to rise on a new era for Saudi performing arts with the establishment of a dedicated theater association.

As part of the Kingdom’s cultural transformation, the new body will provide an umbrella organization for performers while also attracting and promoting new talent and expertise.

Saudi Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Ahmed Al-Rajhi said the association would bring together professionals from the worlds of theater, folk arts, circus, stand-up comedy, and dance.

Headed by Saudi actor Nasser Al-Qasabi, the association’s board of directors will include academic researcher Sami Al-Jamaan, actors Rashid Al-Shamrani, Sami Al-Zahrani, and Fatima Al-Banawi, director Khaled Al-Baz, actor and playwright Yasser Madkhali, writer Fahd Al-Hoshani, kinetic arts performer Roaa Al-Sahhaf, comedian Yasser Bakr, and Saudi ballerina Samira Alkhamis.

Performing arts has been a part of human culture down the ages and was even used as a way to inform people about the negative impact of social practices.

However, although well-represented in the West, only recently have theatrical shows and their performers been supported in the Kingdom by official bodies such as the Ministry of Culture’s Theater and Performing Arts Commission, set up under the National Strategy for Culture framework. 

In a tweet, association president, Al-Qasabi said: “I am honored to work with my colleagues in the new association to overcome difficulties and advance this lofty profession. In a few months, the work of the association will be launched, and we look forward to your participation in a new creative journey.”

Performing arts are considered to have benefits on a personal, social, and community level, with live theater helping to encourage social dialogue, highlight issues, and provide an outlet for society to find solutions to problems.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The Ministry of Culture has been behind a number of significant initiatives and organizational developments that have taken place in the Saudi theater sector this year.

• These have included the establishment of the National Theater, and subsequently the Theater and Performing Arts Commission, and partnership projects with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development to improve professionalism in the sector.

Mohammed Al-Subaih, director of the Jeddah-based Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts, described the establishment of the new association as “a most welcome move” that would offer a strong voice for performers in Saudi Arabia.

He told Arab News: “It will definitely contribute to the work of actors and performers and also bring up the level of work of Saudi theater.”

Saudi actor Abdullah Al-Sinani said: “(The association is) a wonderful step that reinforces our permanent ambition toward the status of Saudi theatrical superlatives. I wish the association and its members success in enriching the local theatrical movement.”

In a tweet, Wael Al-Harbi said: “I was honored to be chosen as a founding member of the first association for theater and performing arts.”

And Sultan Al-Bazie, chief executive officer of the Theater and Performing Arts Commission, said: “We expect the association to be an active element in the development of the sector.”

The Ministry of Culture has been behind a number of significant initiatives and organizational developments that have taken place in the Saudi theater sector this year.

These have included the establishment of the National Theater, and subsequently the Theater and Performing Arts Commission, and partnership projects with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development to improve professionalism in the sector.

In 2016, the General Entertainment Authority was formed, followed by the Literature, Publishing, and Translation Commission last year. The current registration of the Cinema Society will represent the first specialized civil body of its kind in the Kingdom concerned with the film industry.


VOX Cinemas bringing Saudi stories to film

A Saudi cinema-goer has her temperature taken as she wears a colored face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus,  at VOX Cinema hall in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, June 26, 2020. (AP)
A Saudi cinema-goer has her temperature taken as she wears a colored face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, at VOX Cinema hall in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, June 26, 2020. (AP)
Updated 08 December 2021

VOX Cinemas bringing Saudi stories to film

A Saudi cinema-goer has her temperature taken as she wears a colored face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus,  at VOX Cinema hall in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, June 26, 2020. (AP)
  • Majid Al Futtaim backing new wave of talent, KSA chief says

JEDDAH: With more than 130 films set to be screened at the Red Sea International Film Festival, VOX Cinemas are on a mission to support and promote local films the best way they can.

The Red Sea International Film Festival kicked off its festivities at Jeddah’s UNESCO World Heritage Site old town, Al-Balad, on Dec. 6. It will run until Dec. 15, in partnership with VOX Cinemas and others.

VOX Cinemas will screen 138 feature films and shorts from 67 countries in 34 languages. The content was produced by established and emerging talent, with fans, film enthusiasts, filmmakers and actors in attendance for many of the films.

A slate of new Saudi films — 27 from an exciting wave of Saudi filmmakers — will be shown alongside the best of contemporary international cinema.

“We’re very proud to be partners of this festival, especially since this has been the first international Red Sea Film Festival taking place in Jeddah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Toni El Massih, managing director of VOX Cinemas, told Arab News.

RSIFF is a significant breakthrough for the whole industry, exhibitors, distributors and producers, he said. “This platform will help future filmmakers and storytellers know that this country is so full and rich in culture and storytelling. This is the exact platform that is needed for the talent to come across and present their project,” he added.

HIGHLIGHT

VOX Cinemas will screen 138 feature films and shorts from 67 countries in 34 languages. The content was produced by established and emerging talent, with fans, film enthusiasts, filmmakers and actors in attendance for many of the films.

On tour to the main VOX Cinema sites in Al-Balad that have been constructed to screen RSIFF films, Arab News spoke to Mohamed Al-Hashemi, KSA chief of Majid Al Futtaim. He said: “The Red Sea Film Festival is a statement for the Kingdom. There were no cinemas prior to April 2018, however, customers enjoyed the set of experiences as soon as they opened.

“With life coming back to normal after the COVID-19 period, the Red Sea Film Festival is a statement from the Kingdom to the world that Saudi Arabia will be a major player when it comes to local content production, demand for international content, and most importantly, demand for exhibitions as well, when it comes to the best of the best that can be offered to consumers.”

With movie theaters in more than six cities across the Kingdom in over 15 locations, VOX Cinemas operates 154 screens in Saudi Arabia. “We are considered to be the largest cinema exhibitors in the Kingdom in terms of site numbers and screen counts,” Al-Hashemi said.

Why is the screen count so important?

“The screen basically is the only platform where people can showcase local content producers on the big screen. With more big screens, more local content will be produced for the local market and the regional market, and hopefully Saudi as well to the international market,” Al-Hashemi said.

“The RSIFF is where the Kingdom can act as a local content producer and where we can bring out the folded and untold stories of this beautiful company, to the customers within Saudi,” he added.

On Dec. 6. during the inaugural red-carpet event, VOX Cinemas announced an ambitious initiative that aims to foster homegrown talent and showcase untold stories on the big screen.

A plan was made to boost regional film production and develop 25 Arabic films in the next five years.

El Massih said that many of these films would be from Saudi Arabia, with Saudi talent working as directors, producers and actors. There will also be films coming out of the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

Speaking on the genres of the future films, he said: “The genre that we are focusing on and that has proven to work best is the comedy-drama. This is the sort of film that we’ll be working toward.”

As part of the initiative, VOX Cinemas will continue to support the next generation of homegrown content developers and provide resources for emerging filmmakers to bring their scripts to screen.

“This platform will search and scout for talent. It’ll be the same case later in the UAE and in other festivals that are taking place across the region.

“Accordingly, we’ll start putting a team together, building screening and writing rooms, getting stories from each of the different regions together, and then we’ll take that forward and then do the necessary films that we’ll see on the big screen,” El Massih said.

“Majid Al Futtaim has been very active in the region since 1999, starting off with exhibition, and then elevating our activities into film distribution, and recently in film production.”

Being a main contributor and partner of RSIFF is “huge,” he added, saying that such an opportunity will support emerging talent.

El Massih said: “This is the perfect platform for us to be participating and searching for the emerging talent and filmmakers that we can bring on board.”

 


Saudi Arabia condemns bomb attack in Basra

Saudi Arabia condemns bomb attack in Basra
Updated 08 December 2021

Saudi Arabia condemns bomb attack in Basra

Saudi Arabia condemns bomb attack in Basra
  • Kingdom pledged solidarity with the Iraqi people ‘against all manifestations of violence, terrorism and extremism’
  • Regional counties and organizations also strongly condemned the attack

RIYADH: Saudi authorities strongly condemned a “terrorist bombing” near a hospital in the city of Basra in southern Iraq.
At least four people were killed and four injured when a motorcycle rigged with explosives blew up in the center of the city. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which took place on Tuesday morning.
The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the Kingdom stands in solidarity with the Iraqi people “against all manifestations of violence, terrorism and extremism.”
The ministry offered its condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims, and to the leadership, government and people of Iraq, and wished the wounded a speedy recovery.
The Arab Parliament also condemned the attack and said: “These terrorist acts will not undermine the Iraqi government’s efforts to impose security and stability, and will only increase the Iraqi people’s determination to confront terrorist militias with all force.”
Nayef Al-Hajraf, the secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, said the organization rejects all forms of terrorism and extremism and is working to cut off sources of funding and support for such activity.
Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt and Jordan issued similar statements condemning the attack and stressing their solidarity with Iraq.


Saudi and US air forces begin joint drill

The live-fire ACE exercise was launched at King Faisal Air Base in the Northern Sector and King Fahd Air Base in the Western Sector. (SPA)
The live-fire ACE exercise was launched at King Faisal Air Base in the Northern Sector and King Fahd Air Base in the Western Sector. (SPA)
Updated 08 December 2021

Saudi and US air forces begin joint drill

The live-fire ACE exercise was launched at King Faisal Air Base in the Northern Sector and King Fahd Air Base in the Western Sector. (SPA)

RIYADH: The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) and the US Air Force launched a bilateral exercise, the Kingdom’s defense ministry said on Tuesday.
The live-fire ACE exercise was launched at King Faisal Air Base in the Northern Sector and King Fahd Air Base in the Western Sector.
The RSAF is participating with Typhoon and F-15 C/SA aircraft, and the US Air Force with F-16 fighter jets.
“The exercise aims to refine and develop the air and technical skills of the air crews, in addition to exchanging military expertise in the field of planning and implementing air operations, and raising the level of combat readiness,” the ministry said.
The exercise is part of a series of mixed exercises between the two sides, it added.


Saudi Arabia takes part in global work forum

(Photo: gfhsegypt)
(Photo: gfhsegypt)
Updated 08 December 2021

Saudi Arabia takes part in global work forum

(Photo: gfhsegypt)
  • The forum will explore ways to prepare youth to face the continuous changing demands of the labor market by adopting systems in higher education institutions

CAIRO: Saudi Arabia will take part in the second edition of the Global Forum for Higher Education and Scientific Research, which will focus on the global challenges facing the future of work.
The forum, which will take place from Dec. 8-10, is organized under the support of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
It will gather more than 1,000 global participants from fields including scientific research, innovation, higher education, philanthropy, government and international organizations.
The forum will also explore ways to prepare youth to face the continuous changing demands of the labor market by adopting systems in higher education institutions that will support the current and future demands of work.
As part of the event, a global perspective on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the job market will be presented, as well as proactive approaches taken by higher education and scientific research institutions to tackle the resulting challenges.
It will also focus on the importance of re-skilling and up-skilling to keep pace with the technological and digital transformation of the labor market. SPA Cairo
The forum will include an exhibition area for participants from higher education, scientific research and technology companies to demonstrate their organizations’ achievements in education.

 


Saudi anti-graft authority forum tackles public sector corruption

Nazaha fights corruption and increases transparency by prioritizing the exchange of knowledge and expertise. (SPA)
Nazaha fights corruption and increases transparency by prioritizing the exchange of knowledge and expertise. (SPA)
Updated 08 December 2021

Saudi anti-graft authority forum tackles public sector corruption

Nazaha fights corruption and increases transparency by prioritizing the exchange of knowledge and expertise. (SPA)
  • A number of anti-corruption experts from various public and private agencies within the Kingdom will speak during the event

RIYADH: The Saudi Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha) is hosting a conference in accordance with International Anti-Corruption Day, which takes place on Dec. 9.
The event, which will take place online on Thursday, aims to help digitize government services “to enhance integrity and transparency” in the Kingdom.
It will shed light on the best practices used locally and internationally for protecting integrity and transparency in areas of public expenditure.
The conference will also highlight and discuss ways to increase transparency by increasing the use of digitization in services provided by the public sector.
Nazaha fights corruption and increases transparency by prioritizing the exchange of knowledge and expertise, building international partnerships and working with the international community.
Thursday’s event will be the 10th conference organized by the authority aimed at building international partnerships and combating corruption in accordance with international law.
A number of anti-corruption experts from various public and private agencies within the Kingdom will speak during the event.