Saudis are natural-born storytellers, says Saudi Film Commission CEO

Saudi Film Commission CEO Abdullah Al-Eyaf held several discussions with international industry professionals during the 75th Cannes Film Festival. (Supplied)
Saudi Film Commission CEO Abdullah Al-Eyaf held several discussions with international industry professionals during the 75th Cannes Film Festival. (Supplied)
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Updated 22 May 2022

Saudis are natural-born storytellers, says Saudi Film Commission CEO

Saudi Film Commission CEO Abdullah Al-Eyaf held several discussions with international industry professionals. (Supplied)
  • Abdullah Al-Eyaf discusses the importance of Saudi talent during the 75th Cannes Film Festival

CANNES: Abdullah Al-Eyaf, the CEO of the Saudi Film Commission, aims to drive the Saudi film industry by fostering an environment for young Saudi filmmakers to develop their passions and talents.

During a panel discussion hosted on Sunday in the March du Film pavilion in Cannes, Al-Eyaf expressed his vision for Saudi youth filmmakers and the important role they play in the industry.

“We in the commission strongly believe in the filmmakers in Saudi, actually they are the reason behind all that we do,” Al-Eyaf said.

The Kingdom’s film industry is bursting with talent and passion from Saudi filmmakers, writers, and artisans. What is needed now is the strong support from an entity to facilitate that growth. This is where the Saudi Film Commission plans to come into play.

The Saudi Film Commission, under the Ministry of Culture, has conducted numerous outreach and education programs to help Saudi filmmakers in the industry through masterclasses, workshops and training.

According to the CEO, Saudis play a pivotal role in the industry’s growth on a global and local level.

“These young filmmakers started before the commission was established and they will continue with or without the film commission that’s why we think the industry will not be built in Saudi without these filmmakers,” Al-Eyaf said.

HIGHLIGHT

With many blockbusters films showing an interest in shooting in the Kingdom, doors are opening for Saudi production teams, special effects artists, actors and many more talents to contribute to the industry.

Therefore the commission is striving to establish a wider creative opportunity for Saudi talent through partnerships and representation in global film festivals such as the Cannes festival.

Through the organizations and initiatives of the Saudi Film Commission, the Saudi presence during the Cannes Film Festival has only grown stronger since the 74th Cannes film festival held in 2021.

It is known that Saudi Arabia has a wealth of locations through its 13 diverse provinces. During the initial days of the festival, this is what attracted many producers and filmmakers to the Saudi pavilion to learn more.

With many blockbusters films showing an interest in shooting in the Kingdom, doors are opening for Saudi production teams, special effects artists, actors and many more talents to contribute to the industry.

Al-Eyaf said that Saudis are natural-born storytellers; what is needed now is to support and empower them throughout the film sector.

“We really appreciate what they are doing and our only role is to support them and to have Saudi Arabia as a friendly environment for filmmakers to create their films and tell their stories to the world and to Saudi,” Al-Eyaf said.

The Saudi Film Commission aims to expand and strengthen the Saudi film industry on a local and global level through partnerships, investment and educational empowerment.

During the 75th Cannes Film Festival, the Saudi pavilion welcomed some of the biggest global names in the film industry — producers, directors and actors — to partner on Saudi film projects.

The commission’s role isn’t only to support Saudi talents but it’s also to foster a community where directors explore collaborative initiatives from filming in Saudi to creating films with some of the many Saudi talents in the sector.

In January the commission launched the third phase of the “Film Makers” program that took students through sets of comprehensive training workshops that were spread throughout the Kingdom.

“We have already contacted hundreds (of Saudi filmmakers) via either training programs, grants or the fund that we launched a couple of years ago,” the CEO said.

The commission has developed an incentive package for local and international filmmakers to establish the Kingdom as a global hub for film, creative production and industry talent.


Saudi Arabia expands Umrah with visa allowance

Saudi Arabia expands Umrah with visa allowance
Updated 11 sec ago

Saudi Arabia expands Umrah with visa allowance

Saudi Arabia expands Umrah with visa allowance
  • The Visit Saudi platform provides e-services, including the issuance of electronic visas and purchasing of Umrah bundles. The service is available at visitsaudi.com/ar.
  • Move targets Vision 2030 goal of 30m pilgrims per year

JEDDAH: All Saudi visa holders are now permitted to perform Umrah in the wake of a decision by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.

The move aims to ease bureaucracy and open the pilgrimage to more visitors — a target of Vision 2030.

It comes in conjunction with the start of this year’s Umrah season and as part of efforts to facilitate rituals, provide high-quality services and enrich the religious experiences of pilgrims.

The Maqam platform connects pilgrims with authorized tourism companies and agencies. Users from outside the Kingdom can also apply for an Umrah visa, as well as choose service bundles. The platform is available at maqam.gds.haj.gov.sa.

The Visit Saudi platform provides e-services, including the issuance of electronic visas and purchasing of Umrah bundles. The service is available at visitsaudi.com/ar.

Holders of on-arrival visas, among countries eligible for electronic visas, as well as US, UK and Schengen visa holders, can carry out Umrah rituals with ease, provided that the visas are used for one time only and carry the issuing country’s seal.

Family visit and personal visit visa holders can also perform the pilgrimage by booking an appointment through the Eatmarna application during their visits to relatives and friends in the Kingdom, and by applying to the Unified National Visa Platform.

To carry out Umrah rituals, visitors must have comprehensive medical insurance that covers — among other things — the treatment costs of COVID-19, personal incidents resulting in death and disability, and flight delays or cancellations.


Saudi tour guides shine at NEOM’s The Line exhibition

Saudi tour guides shine at NEOM’s The Line exhibition
Updated 18 min 27 sec ago

Saudi tour guides shine at NEOM’s The Line exhibition

Saudi tour guides shine at NEOM’s The Line exhibition
  • Details of NEOM project on full display at the exhibition
  • About 49 tours are organised per day, allowing visitors to grasp the scope and complexity of the project’s designs

JEDDAH: An exhibition exploring Saudi Arabia’s ambitious The Line project is leaving visitors enthralled thanks to the work of specialist tour guides.

The details of the NEOM project are on full display at the exhibition, hosted at the Jeddah Superdome. Visitors of all age groups will get first-hand insights with the help of the Saudi tour guides, who explain visual displays in both Arabic and English.

The guides are bringing the exhibition to life with about 49 tours per day, allowing visitors to grasp the scope and complexity of the project’s designs, architectural concepts and engineering capabilities.  

Speaking to Arab News, several tour guides expressed their enthusiasm at taking part in the exhibition and playing a small but important role in NEOM. 

One of the guides, Ragad Seit, said: “The experience is beyond wonderful. I love the excitement on the people’s faces while we explain the details of The Line. It is amazing to see the excitement they have for this revolutionary project and watching that makes me feel that it’s worth being a part of this exhibition. I am sure this will be a great movement for the future and we can’t wait to see the completion of The Line.”

Another young guide, Ghalya Faisal Alsahhaf, said: “My job here is to explain the unique and rare NEOM flora that will be grown in The Line. The experience is definitely one of a kind where I get to educate people on the vegetation aspect.

“The look on the people when they learn about the different kinds of flora is incredible. Also, I get to meet people from different cultures and backgrounds where I interact with them about the exhibition, and have discussions. The enthusiasm of the visitors is unimaginable.”

Abdulaziz Salmin said: “Although I am here as a tour guide, I am very proud to be a part of NEOM and work on this project.

“I work on sections one and two where I explain to the people what The Line is all about. The thrill and anticipation that the public show is very similar to my excitement. I am eagerly waiting to see how the city will turn out, especially after learning a lot more about it through this exhibition,” Salmin added.

Apart from tour guides, NEOM officials are also present at the exhibition to assist those looking for in-depth answers. 

The Jeddah exhibition opens its doors from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. until Aug. 14, before moving to the Eastern Province and then staying in Riyadh.

“I learned about the project for the first time on social media and I was so excited to get my own first impression of the revolutionary model of The Line. I’m so excited to see this in reality,” Mohammad Ali, a visitor, said.

“Besides, we now understand more about the project with the help of the tour guides. It’s true that they can take the visitors on a whole different journey,” he added.

Another visitor, Raees Ali, said: “The tour guide turned my experience into a most pleasurable one by answering my questions and providing the information available in a clear and simple way.

“The project definitely looks futuristic and promising. After the tour, I did have many technical questions in my mind, but I am certain that they will be answered in the coming days. Hopefully, I would really like to relocate to this dreamy place.”

Saed H. was awestruck at The Line’s designs on display at the exhibition and is excited to see how the city will look after construction. 

“It is definitely a good idea to have a guide who gives some interesting details. I was surprised to learn about the football stadium in the city which will be embedded in a way where the city itself will turn towards the stadium and become the venue. All these details are so mind-blowing that the visitors were awe-inspired by this dreamy world. We really look forward to seeing it come to life,” said Saed.

Divided into different sections, the displays at the exhibition detail urban living plans being implemented in the city. The Line follows a human-first approach with health and well-being prioritized over transportation and infrastructure.

Free tickets can be booked through the Hala Yalla application for events.


Terrorist detonates suicide vest as Saudi security forces try to make arrest 

Terrorist detonates suicide vest as Saudi security forces try to make arrest 
Updated 12 August 2022

Terrorist detonates suicide vest as Saudi security forces try to make arrest 

Terrorist detonates suicide vest as Saudi security forces try to make arrest 
  • Abdullah bin Zayed Abdulrahman Al-Bakri Al-Shehri was listed as a wanted person by Saudi authorities

JEDDAH: The list of the nine wanted individuals involved in a terrorist operation that targeted a mosque for Saudi Arabia’s special emergency forces in the southwestern Asir region in 2015 has been reduced, after the Presidency of State Security announced the killing of Abdullah Al-Shehri, who has been number four on a wanted list.
The man detonated a suicide vest he was wearing when security forces attempted to arrest him in Jeddah on Friday.
The spokesman for the Presidency of State Security said that in addition to the statement issued in February 2016 regarding the announcement of a list of the nine wanted persons for the security authorities, and as an extension of the existing security follow-up, the authority was able to track down the number four on the wanted list, Abdullah bin Zayed Abdulrahman Al-Bakri Al-Shehri, during a security operation.
He had been approached by security personnel at 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday in the Al-Samer neighborhood in Jeddah. He died at the scene and a Pakistani resident and three security men with various injuries were taken to hospital to receive the necessary treatment.
Al-Shehri has been listed as a wanted person by authorities in the Kingdom for the past seven years, according to the statement. 
Security forces had tracked down the location of the terrorist and launched an operation to arrest him when he set off his suicide vest. 

With this announcement, only one wanted person remained from the announced list, Majid bin Zayed Al-Bakri Al-Shehri, who has been in hiding so far. The list included:
1. Saeed Aaidh Al-Dair Al-Shahrani, who was killed during a raid in Makkah in May 2016.
2. Taya Salem Eslam Al-Saiari was killed in a raid on his house in the Al-Yasmeen neighborhood in Riyadh in 2017.
3. Mutee Salem Islaam Al-Saiari was killed by a terrorist organization and it is believed that Taya’s sister beheaded him in a house in Al-Harazat neighborhood in Jeddah following orders from Daesh leaders after they doubted his intention to surrender to the security authorities in November 2016.
4. Abdulaziz Ahmed Mohammed Al-Bakri Al-Shehri was killed during a siege with another wanted man in the Barah area in Bisha governorate in April 2016.
5. Aqab Moajab Fazaan Al-Otaibi, who was arrested in Bisha in May 2016.
6. Mohammed Suleiman Rahyan Al-Saqri Al-Anzi was killed in a raid in Wadi Numan in Makkah in May 2016.
7. Mubarak Abdullah Fahad Al-Dosari was killed in a raid in Wadi Numan in Makkah in May 2016
8. Majid bin Zayed Al-Bakri Al-Shehri is still in hiding.
The nine terrorists affiliated with Daesh were involved in a terrorist attack that targeted worshipers at the Special Emergency Forces Command Mosque in Asir on Aug. 6, which killed 11 security officials and four Bangladeshi workers on the site, while 33 other people were injured.
The Presidency of State Security said the operation confirms the Kingdom’s determination to crack down on terrorists and ensure the safety of all citizens and residents. 


Racer Falah Al-Jarba talks to ‘Mayman Show’ about personal journey, Saudi strides in motorsports

Racer Falah Al-Jarba talks to ‘Mayman Show’ about personal journey, Saudi strides in motorsports
Updated 12 August 2022

Racer Falah Al-Jarba talks to ‘Mayman Show’ about personal journey, Saudi strides in motorsports

Racer Falah Al-Jarba talks to ‘Mayman Show’ about personal journey, Saudi strides in motorsports

Riyadh: Saudi motorsports star Falah Al-Jarba said Saudi Arabia is holding events for motorsports on a scale that has never been seen before. Al-Jarba, the latest guest on the “Mayman Show,” said: “We’re now working on a big motor festival. You’ve seen the changes in Saudi, and now Saudi is having more than one international motorsports [event] in the same season, which didn’t happen anywhere else.”

The professional racer explained that changes to the Kingdom’s motorsports scene were years in the making, before 2018, when Formula E was held in Diriyah.

 

“People think that 2018 was the first change where we got Formula. But you know that this had to be cooked for two years, three years, minimum to have it.”

It all started with the Formula E event, he explained. Then came the Dakar Rally, which is the longest international rally — famous for also being the most difficult — and has now exclusively been held in Saudi Arabia for 10 years.

Al-Jarba and his team have worked on various aspects in motorsports, from racing to influencing the sport at the grassroots level. He began as a racer, expanding to team owner and further broadening his experience as a championship organizer.

 

Addressing the difficulties in securing sponsors, he talked about the public misconception that sponsors line up to knock at racers’ doors if they win a race. 

“Corporates would never go just for the winner if you couldn’t fulfill their [key performance indicators] at the end…It always comes back to numbers,” he said.

 

Regarding the Kingdom’s strides in the field, Al-Jarba said that Saudi Arabia was now in a “golden age” for motorsports.

“The first electric rally…started in early NEOM. This is the first rally to be ever held in the world that started from Saudi,” he said.

 


Where We Are Going Today: Plant Cafe in Saudi Arabia’s Abu Arish

Where We Are Going Today: Plant Cafe in Saudi Arabia’s Abu Arish
Updated 12 August 2022

Where We Are Going Today: Plant Cafe in Saudi Arabia’s Abu Arish

Where We Are Going Today: Plant Cafe in Saudi Arabia’s Abu Arish
  • Plant Cafe opened its doors to Jazan residents seven months ago

The sleepy southwestern city of Abu Arish in Jazan province is known for producing and exporting salt and, more recently, for a cafe that combines the perfect blend of salty and sweet.

Seven months ago, Plant Cafe opened its doors to residents of the area, and Jazan city should take notice.

One recent evening, Plant Cafe was full of coffee enthusiasts, sipping cold drinks on the velvety green chairs and scrolling their phones at the terrazzo-patterned tables.

With strategically-placed full-length mirrors spread along the pathway to the seating areas, the photogenic cafe offers a variety of spots for the perfect mirror selfie.

In the back, colorful portraits of famous figures are hung on a wall. The wooden spiral stairs— with green plants draped along them — lead to the second floor seating area.

Limited seating is also available outdoors for those who dare to sit and sip in the searing heat.

With the sound of the steaming espresso machine and soft music piped into the space, the cute coffee cups illustrated with farmers gathering flowers and plants are always being filled.

The must-try items include the cold lemon strawberry trifle in a jar. With bits of rich cheesecake, a drizzling of tart strawberry sauce, smooth cream and a bit of fresh lemon on top, it is layered decadence to be enjoyed with a spoon, and conveniently offered in a sealed portable jar — the perfect portion for a late-night sweet tooth craving or afternoon pick-me-up.

The cafe opens bright and early until late night six days of the week, from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m. On Fridays, it is open from 4:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.