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)
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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 artist with a disability blows minds with his paintings

Ahmed Hakeem’s paintings were displayed at Markaz Al-Oun Bazaar. (Supplied)
Ahmed Hakeem’s paintings were displayed at Markaz Al-Oun Bazaar. (Supplied)
Updated 07 August 2022

Saudi artist with a disability blows minds with his paintings

Ahmed Hakeem’s paintings were displayed at Markaz Al-Oun Bazaar. (Supplied)
  • Ahmed Hakeem’s love of creativity helps him to forget the difficulties he faces to draw some amazing art pieces
  • Hakeem has not let his disability be an impediment to what he likes doing, which is painting

RIYADH: With joy, Ahmed Hakeem holds his brush, starts picking vibrant colors, and then he paints cubic and abstract shapes on an empty canvas.

Hakeem is a 34-year-old Saudi artist who has a mild intellectual disability. Individuals with mild ID are slower in all areas of conceptual development and social and daily living skills.

But Hakeem’s love of art helps him to forget the difficulties he faces as a person with a disability to draw some amazing art pieces. He has not let his disability be an impediment to what he likes doing, which is painting.

Not only that he is good at painting, but he is also an athlete. He is a good swimmer, he plays basketball, he loves running, he has won bronze and silver medals in sports.

He is also good at ping pong, padel, hiking, and loves animals.

During the pandemic, Hakeem unleashed his creative side and started to learn to paint. He enrolled in classes, and he started drawing abstract and cubic art.

FASTFACTS

• Hakeem is a 34-year- old Saudi artist who has a mild intellectual disability. Individuals with mild ID are slower in all areas of conceptual development and social and daily living skills.

• He has not let his disability be an impediment to what he likes doing, which is painting.

• He is also an athlete. He is a good swimmer, he plays basketball, he loves running, he has won bronze and silver medals in sports.

His paintings were displayed at Markaz Al-Oun Bazaar, which is a help center and non-profit organization that helps people with intellectual disabilities, and he wants to have his own gallery in the future.

Hakeem, who works at Juffali Heavy Equipment as an assistant, also talked about how hard it is for people with disabilities to find a good job.

“You need to know about the challenges that I am having with the community in general. Most people with disabilities are usually unemployed and don’t have access to powerful governmental aid, but their families have to enroll them in special clubs, and this can be financially stressful to the parents, so there is a lack of community and activities for us,” Hakeem told Arab News.

Nour Hakeem, his sister, said: “Because Hakeem looks normal and is not in a wheelchair, many places we go, they see him as a normal person, and every time we go out, I have to have proof that he is mentally challenged, which is very hard.”

“Even though the plane’s tickets are more expensive than the economy ticket and the discount they give us isn’t that much, so basically we book him a normal economy ticket but hopefully with time this is going to change soon because there is more attention by the authorities on people with disabilities,” she said.

According to APD, the official association of people with disabilities, the percentage of people with disabilities in the Kingdom is 7.1 percent, or 1,445,723 people out of a population 32.94 million. The association is set to organize its efforts and build an integrated institutional system to remove barriers to people with disabilities and empower them to live in society without discrimination.

 


King Fahd National Library exhibits rare Qur’ans

King Fahd National Library exhibits rare Qur’ans. (SPA)
King Fahd National Library exhibits rare Qur’ans. (SPA)
Updated 07 August 2022

King Fahd National Library exhibits rare Qur’ans

King Fahd National Library exhibits rare Qur’ans. (SPA)
  • The King Fahd National Library recently added to its collection Chinese books donated by the National Library of China

RIYADH: The King Fahd National Library has opened an exhibition of rare Arabic manuscripts, including medieval copies of the Qur’an, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The library’s Secretary-General Dr. Mansour bin Abdullah Al-Zamil launched the opening, which includes books printed prior to the Kingdom’s unification during the reign of King Abdulaziz.
Saleh Al-Aboudi, director of the library’s Anecdotes and Collections Department, gave a presentation explaining the exhibition’s contents, which boasts Qur’ans dating back to the third century AH as well as local manuscripts, miniatures, antiquities, inscriptions, and other Arab and Saudi publications.
The King Fahd National Library recently added to its collection Chinese books donated by the National Library of China.
The books — covering subjects including history, economy, tourism and culture — are distributed in Arabic and English. They include literature related to China, including books on the Chinese language and children’s books, which serve as an opportunity for Saudis to get to know the country and its culture.

 


Makkah governor receives US consul general in Jeddah

Makkah governor Prince Khaled Al-Faisal receives US Consul General Faris Asad in Jeddah. (Supplied)
Makkah governor Prince Khaled Al-Faisal receives US Consul General Faris Asad in Jeddah. (Supplied)
Updated 07 August 2022

Makkah governor receives US consul general in Jeddah

Makkah governor Prince Khaled Al-Faisal receives US Consul General Faris Asad in Jeddah. (Supplied)
  • Faris’ other past assignments include assistant information officer in Amman, Jordan, and public diplomacy officer with a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Mosul, Iraq

MAKKAH: Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal received US Consul General Faris Asad in Jeddah on Sunday.
They discussed topics of common interest. Asad also concurrently serves as the US representative to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, headquartered in Jeddah. He joined the US Department of State in 2004 as a foreign service officer.
Most recently, Faris served as political chief at the US Embassy in Dushanbe, Tajikistan from 2018-2020.
Faris’ other past assignments include assistant information officer in Amman, Jordan, and public diplomacy officer with a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Mosul, Iraq.

 


 


Saudi aid agency inaugurates 2nd phase of free eye surgery projects in Yemen

KSrelief inaugurates 2nd phase of free eye surgery projects in Yemen. (SPA)
KSrelief inaugurates 2nd phase of free eye surgery projects in Yemen. (SPA)
Updated 07 August 2022

Saudi aid agency inaugurates 2nd phase of free eye surgery projects in Yemen

KSrelief inaugurates 2nd phase of free eye surgery projects in Yemen. (SPA)
  • The Noor Saudi program aims to perform 6,000 specialized eye surgeries over the course of the year

ADEN: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center launched on Friday the second phase of its project to provide free eye surgeries, part of the Noor Saudi program, which will be implemented in the governorates of Aden and Mukalla, Yemen.
Director of the KSrelief office in Aden Saleh Al-Thibani said that the campaign aims to combat blindness and assist patients who cannot afford the costs of treatment.
The Noor Saudi program aims to perform 6,000 specialized eye surgeries over the course of the year, which will be implemented following a series of projects to cover as many patients in need of eye operations as possible.
Each project, Al-Thibani explained, consists of performing 400 operations, in addition to providing necessary medicines and eyeglasses.
Undersecretary of the Yemeni Ministry of Health Dr. Ahmed Al-Kamal expressed appreciation for the center’s continuous support of the Yemeni health sector and its humanitarian work in the country.
KSrelief concluded the volunteer training program in Mukalla on Sunday.  

Around 712 individuals benefitted from the program that focused on providing first aid for bicycle accident victims, common injuries, life  psychological first aid, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation training among others. 

 


2-year afforestation campaign launched in Saudi Arabia’s Asir

Saudi Arabia launches afforestation campaign in Asir. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia launches afforestation campaign in Asir. (SPA)
Updated 07 August 2022

2-year afforestation campaign launched in Saudi Arabia’s Asir

Saudi Arabia launches afforestation campaign in Asir. (SPA)
  • Saudi Arabia launched the Saudi Green and Middle East Green initiatives with the goal of planting 50 billion trees, reducing carbon emissions by more than 10 percent of global contributions

ABHA: The Saudi National Center for Vegetation Cover and Combating Desertification recently announced the launch of a two-year project aimed at rehabilitating fire-affected sites in the forests of Al-Jarrah Park in the Asir region.

The afforestation plan will see more than 160,000 trees and local plant species planted.

The project aims to boost the vegetation cover inside Al-Jarrah Park. The nature of the soil and geological features of the site will be tested in order to choose the most appropriate plan for rehabilitation.  

The center also aims to combat fire in different regions of the Kingdom and oversee the management of pasture lands, forests and national parks, which will boost sustainable development and enhance the quality of life.

Saudi Arabia launched the Saudi Green and Middle East Green initiatives with the goal of planting 50 billion trees, reducing carbon emissions by more than 10 percent of global contributions.

The initiatives are part of the Kingdom’s endeavors to strengthen regional and international partnerships with a view to overcoming environmental challenges, protecting the planet and combating climate change.