Award-winning Saudi documentary sheds light on emotional cost of Gulf war

Poster from award-winning documentary, Memories from the North. (Supplied)
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Poster from award-winning documentary, Memories from the North. (Supplied)
Award-winning Saudi documentary sheds light on emotional cost of Gulf war
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Still from award-winning documentary, Memories from the North, by Abdulmohsen AlMutairi
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Updated 13 June 2022

Award-winning Saudi documentary sheds light on emotional cost of Gulf war

Poster from award-winning documentary, Memories from the North. (Supplied)
  • Abdulmohsen Al-Mutairi, an Arabic-language journalist, produced, wrote and directed the film
  • Interviewed for the work, actress Aixa Kay, who was 8 and living in Riyadh in 1991, recalled it as a traumatic time

DHAHRAN: It has taken more than three decades, but there is finally a documentary of the 1991 first Gulf war that provides an intense look at the emotional and mental cost of that conflict.

“Memories from the North,” which won the Best Short Documentary award at the recent Saudi Film Festival at Ithra, was produced, directed and written by Abdulmohsen Al-Mutairi, a gifted storyteller and Arabic-language journalist.

Al-Mutairi used vintage TV clips, archival family footage, independent interviews, and a soundtrack that included sirens to reproduce feelings of dread and confusion that marked the time for many living in the country.




Still from the award-winning documentary, Memories from the North.

“The documentary looks to me like a chapter in [a] book because both memories and the war look like chapters to us. To me, the war is a timeline, there is a beginning, middle and an end,” Al-Mutairi told Arab News.

Al-Mutairi’s work revived faded memories among those he interviewed.

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Abdulmohsen Al-Mutairi, an Arabic-language journalist, produced, wrote and directed the film.

Canadian-based Saudi actress Aixa Kay was an eight-year-old living in Riyadh when the war broke out.

When Al-Mutairi called her to be one of those interviewed, she realized that she had unknowingly skipped that time period completely in her mind, and in conversations.




Award-winning director of Memories from the North documentary, Abdulmohsen AlMutairi.

“I honestly do not remember ever talking about the Gulf War with my family. It was just like ‘there’ and done — and moving on. It’s very strange. As I said in the documentary, it is so strange how never, ever did it happen that we sat together and were like, ‘remember what happened in those days?’ Trauma does that. Trauma is all about blocking and I think that is an indication that it was really deep for us,” Kay told Arab News.

Al-Mutairi said he was honored that his work was recognized with the award and the SR30,000 prize money, which he considers a way to relook and reconsider history.

Al-Mutairi used books, popular television snippets, music, and personal photos to stir up nostalgia.




Aixa Kay as a youngster (Left) and Aixa Kay today (Right)

“I think the best thing about releasing this talk now is that we all — almost all of the participants — we are around the same age. We had our childhood during the war. We are more mature now and have the capacity to activate that memory of things that happened 32 years ago,” he said.

He said that he first thought of producing the documentary in 2013 or 2014, and had in fact completed a similar project in 2015.

While this short work has been critically acclaimed, he plans to continue to search for the “best” way to tell the story. This includes producing a feature film sometime in the future.

“A lot of war films are about the military aspect or the political aspect but the most awesome part, to me, is exploring the social aspect and the human side,” he said.




Still from the award-winning documentary, Memories from the North.

He said that it was challenging to gather all the archival footage and to curate the photos, and decide which stories to use that were the most truthful regarding the events that took place.

In many ways, he uses the war as a way to separate his own life into two main categories: Before and after the war. He was about eight or nine at the time, and that was the age at which he started to reflect more deeply on events happening around him. Today, he encourages viewers of the documentary to attempt the same with their own lives.

“I think my memory of this time has been really lurking in the shadows, like flashes of when the war happened. I think the war sparked my memory, and using this documentary is almost like a vehicle to take us on a journey to go beyond it,” he said.

The location of Dhahran for the screening at the Saudi Film Festival was particularly meaningful for him.

“The good thing about the screening at Ithra in Dhahran is that it’s the place that was hit multiple times during the war, actually. We are all (everyone viewing the movie) experiencing together these flashes of memories that were really happening in the same city that we are in. So I think this is a very important screening to me,” he said.


Dhu Al-Hijjah crescent sighted, Eid Al-Adha begins on July 9

Dhu Al-Hijjah crescent sighted, Eid Al-Adha begins on July 9
Updated 14 sec ago

Dhu Al-Hijjah crescent sighted, Eid Al-Adha begins on July 9

Dhu Al-Hijjah crescent sighted, Eid Al-Adha begins on July 9

RIYADH: The crescent moon of the month of Dhu Al-Hijjah was sighted on Wednesday evening, hence the Eid Al-Adha celebration will begin on July 9.

The five-day Eid Al-Adha celebration starts on the 10th of Dhu Al-Hijjah.

Eid Al-Adha is celebrated to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s devotion to Allah, who was willing to sacrifice his son, Ismail.

At the point of sacrifice, Allah replaced Ismail with a ram, which was to be sacrificed in place of his son.

The original command from Allah was a test of Prophet Ibrahim’s commitment to obey his Lord’s command, without question.

Therefore, Eid Al-Adha means the festival of sacrifice.

Dhu Al-Hijjah, which this year begins on June 30, is the month during which the Hajj pilgrimage takes place and is the last month of the Islamic calendar.

Hajj will start on Dhu Al-Hijjah 7 (July 6) and end on Dhu Al-Hijjah 11 (July 10). The day of Arafat will fall on Dul Hijjah 9, July 8.

Pilgrims’ tents at Arafat, as well as facilities in Mina and other areas where pilgrims will stay in Muzdalifah have all been inspected and fully prepared to receive the guests of God for this year's Hajj.

Earlier on June 4, Saudi Arabia welcomed foreign Hajj pilgrims to Islam’s second holiest city, the first since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country.

The pilgrims, who arrived at Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah from Indonesia, were presented flowers, dates and Zamzam water bottles upon arrival.


‘Exciting time’ for renewable energy collaboration between UK and Saudi Arabia, experts tell London forum

‘Exciting time’ for renewable energy collaboration between UK and Saudi Arabia, experts tell London forum
Updated 32 min 22 sec ago

‘Exciting time’ for renewable energy collaboration between UK and Saudi Arabia, experts tell London forum

‘Exciting time’ for renewable energy collaboration between UK and Saudi Arabia, experts tell London forum
  • UK-Saudi Renewable Energy Forum on June 28, organized by Saudi British Joint Business Council, brought together Saudi and UK investors and business leaders

LONDON: It is an “exciting time” to be working with Saudi Arabia and “exploring collaboration” in renewable energy, experts said at a joint UK-Saudi panel on Tuesday.

The UK-Saudi Renewable Energy Forum on June 28, organized by the Saudi British Joint Business Council, brought together Saudi and UK investors and business leaders to discuss clean energy programs in both countries and the finance available to support decarbonization and the energy transition.

Attended by a high-level Saudi official delegation, as well as a private sector delegation, the event built on the success of SBJBC’s Sustainable Investment Forum in July last year.

The event followed the recent launch of the Saudi Green and Middle East Green initiatives and the ongoing commitment from both the Saudi and British governments to invest in carbon capture, hydrogen and clean fuels in order to address climate change and meet net-zero emission targets.

“There’s been a strong regulatory evolution [in this field] across the GCC, so I think it’s a really exciting time to be getting involved in Saudi Arabia,” managing partner at Ashurst Middle East David Charlier said.

Orral Nadjari, founder and CEO at Britishvolt, agreed now was the time to be working closely with the Kingdom in the sector.

“We need to localize manufacturing and reinvent outdated supply chains, so we’re very interested in exploring collaboration with Saudi Arabia,” he said.

UK Minister for Investment Lord Grimstone was a key speaker at the event, and he said the global political will to enact change has been visible in recent years.

“We need to see more partnership between our countries. There’s a real desire for change,” he said.

“From hosting COP26 in Glasgow to welcoming key investors to the Global Investment Summit in London, the UK is deeply committed to tackling climate change at all levels.

“Investment is crucial to this, through nurturing technological developments and propelling our economy towards a cleaner, greener future.

“I’m looking forward to working with Saudi Arabia and countries the world over to commit to increasing cooperation in green technology and clean energy to work towards a more sustainable future for all,” he added.

Ahead of the forum, Lord Mayor of the City of London Vincent Keaveny said: “As we pass the halfway point between COP26 and COP27, this forum will be essential for driving progress towards global net-zero. As the world’s largest oil exporter, it’s vital that Saudi Arabia is part of the solution towards tackling climate change.”


‘Holodoctor’ service for Hajj pilgrims

‘Holodoctor’ service for Hajj pilgrims
Updated 29 June 2022

‘Holodoctor’ service for Hajj pilgrims

‘Holodoctor’ service for Hajj pilgrims
  • Consultations, diagnoses and medicine prescriptions to be done virtually
  • Health Ministry partners with Saudi telecoms firm and Seha Virtual Hospital

RIYADH: Saudi Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel has launched a “holodoctor” service, in partnership with the Saudi Telecommunications Co., that would allow medical practitioners to treat Hajj pilgrims virtually.

These services include “inspection, diagnosis, and disbursing medicines” through direct contact with the Kingdom’s first Seha Virtual Hospital in Riyadh, the Saudi Press Agency reported the minister as saying.

The minister thanked King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for continuing to provide the services and facilities needed by pilgrims to complete their Hajj in comfort and safety.

Al-Jalajel said the Ministry of Health has prepared meticulously for medical care at the holy sites, including several hospitals and health centers, which are equipped with ambulances under the supervision of experienced personnel.

He said Seha Virtual Hospital provides 24-hour access for x-rays, and can deal with strokes and other serious medical situations. Doctors can communicate directly with patients and check all biomarkers.

Those needing information on care can telephone the number 937, access the Sehhaty application, or check the ministry’s Twitter account.


No permit, no Hajj pilgrimage, Saudi authorities warn

No permit, no Hajj pilgrimage, Saudi authorities warn
Updated 29 June 2022

No permit, no Hajj pilgrimage, Saudi authorities warn

No permit, no Hajj pilgrimage, Saudi authorities warn
  • Hajj violators face 10,000 Saudi riyal fine

RIYADH: People attempting to perform the Hajj pilgrimage without a permit face a $2,666 fine, Saudi Arabia’s general security said in a statement on Wednesday.

The authority’s official spokesperson said pilgrims must obtain a Hajj permit from the relevant entities before attempting to perform the Muslim rituals. 

 

 

In the statement posted on Twitter, Brigadier Sami bin Mohammed Al-Shuwairkh urged pilgrims to strictly follow Hajj instructions, while stressing that security forces would “fulfill their duties” in securing routes leading to the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the rest of the holy premises to prevent any violations.

Saudi Arabia earlier said it permitted over one million pilgrims from overseas to perform Hajj this year for the first time in two years of COVID-19 restrictions, which limited the pilgrimage to residents of the Kingdom.


Makkah Health Cluster ready for Hajj with 10 hospitals and 82 health centers

Makkah Health Cluster ready for Hajj with 10 hospitals and 82 health centers
Updated 29 June 2022

Makkah Health Cluster ready for Hajj with 10 hospitals and 82 health centers

Makkah Health Cluster ready for Hajj with 10 hospitals and 82 health centers

RIYADH: The Makkah Healthcare Cluster announced its readiness for this year’s Hajj season by completing the operational plans for all hospitals and health centers affiliated to it, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 

It said 10 hospitals and 82 health centers have completed all preparations to implement operational plans prepared for the Hajj season.

Three emergency centers, as well as two more emergency hospitals will be operating inside and near the Grand mosque 24 hours a day to provide health care for pilgrims.