The first European Film Festival in Saudi Arabia promotes cultural exchange

The first European Film Festival in Saudi Arabia promotes cultural exchange
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The event was planned and developed locally by Arabia Pictures in collaboration with the EU, the Saudi Film Commission. (Supplied)
The first European Film Festival in Saudi Arabia promotes cultural exchange
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(Supplied)
The first European Film Festival in Saudi Arabia promotes cultural exchange
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(Supplied)
The first European Film Festival in Saudi Arabia promotes cultural exchange
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(Supplied)
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Updated 16 June 2022

The first European Film Festival in Saudi Arabia promotes cultural exchange

The first European Film Festival in Saudi Arabia promotes cultural exchange
  • The festival kicked off with the screening of the French film “Perfumes” by Gregory Magne, preceding the screening of 13 other selected European films

The Esplanade’s VOX Cinema buzzed as crowds of international filmmakers, Saudi creators, and ambassadors alike joined together in the first-of-its-kind European Film Festival in Riyadh last night.

The festival kicked off with the screening of the French film “Perfumes” by Gregory Magne, preceding the screening of 13 other selected European films.

The event was planned and developed locally by Arabia Pictures in collaboration with the EU, the Saudi Film Commission, and supported by the Goethe Institute, Peugeot, Alliance Française, and EU-member state embassies including Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and Sweden.

“Tonight we also celebrate friendship between Europe and Saudi Arabia. We are all extremely excited to witness the booming cultural scene of the Kingdom and the impressive push by the Vision 2030 to bring culture and entertainment to the largest part of the Saudi population,” said EU Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Patrick Simonnet in his opening remarks. “We are proud to contribute through our own events and initiatives.”

The festival’s goal is to bridge cultures, expose Saudi filmmakers and audiences to international creations, and create a global discourse. “Our industry is very new and just starting out, so we have a lot of areas that are a green field that we need to learn from,” Roua Almadani, CEO of Arabia Pictures, told Arab News. “For example, on-ground production, lighting, location design, or even simple techniques related to directing or producing.”




Roua Almadani, CEO of Arabia Pictures. (Supplied)

Abdullah Al-Eyaf, the CEO of the Saudi Film Commission, told Arab News: “I believe that having festivals like this is very important and is at the core of what we aspire to do at the Film Commission.

“It allows the audience to view different films than what’s commercially in the market. It gives a chance for European filmmakers, or others at different festivals, to meet with new audiences and hear from them and create spaces for dialogue and discussions. It also creates opportunities for distribution,” he said.

“A relationship that centers on cultural exchange and learning between the Kingdom and international regions could be beneficial to growing the young Saudi film industry. It’s an opportunity to bring in experts in film production, create training programs, internships, co-productions, and even learn from a financial management standpoint,” he added.




Abdullah Al-Eyaf, the CEO of the Saudi Film Commission. (Supplied)

While the selection of films represent some of the finest in Europe, one can wonder how receptive a Saudi audience will be. “I believe that there will be a large acceptance for European films for one reason: The Saudi community is thirsty for art — they want to see it. They have a big curiosity for learning and seeing, so I think there will be a demand. Another thing is that it’s great to have something in cinemas that’s different from what they’re used to,” said Almadani.

American producer Todd Nims sees it as an opportunity for Saudi Arabia to develop its own identity as an industry. “There’s a lot to learn about (developing) a brand … in Europe you get that too, like French films. There could be that for Saudi … I think Saudi film has the potential to be really niche with this cool blend that’s commercial, but not in a bad way. It’s their own thing,” he told Arab News.

The filmmaker, like many others in the room, has just returned from attending the Saudi Film Festival in Dammam. Nims has been in the Kingdom for the past 15 years developing films and entertainment.

“This is kind of historical for me,” he added.

Filmmaker Omar Alomeirat, who also attended the Saudi Film Festival, noted the overwhelming change these sorts of festivals present. “It’s not just Saudi (anymore), it’s the world,” he told Arab News. “Seeing international films would give us another perspective and perception of how they see the world, and that gives us insight on how to picture our world here in Saudi.”

Saudi writer, actress, and director Sarah Taibah expressed her excitement about the diversity brought to Saudi film screens. “We always have access to Hollywood … but to me, European cinema has a totally different flavor,” she told Arab News.

Reactions to the first screening, Magne’s “Parfums,” were mixed, though. “There’s a lot to like about the movie, but as an opening movie, I don’t know. It could have been a lot better,” Saudi filmmaker Talha B. told Arab News.

His brother, fellow filmmaker Maan B., chimed in: “It’s good to watch foreign films. I’ve been watching a lot of Hollywood movies, so this is a refreshment … (The movie) was in a way beat by beat, but I enjoyed it. It was funny, it was relatable.”

The upcoming European film screenings will include “Little Joe” by Jessica Hausner, “Campeones” by Javier Fesser, “I am Greta” by Nathan Grossman, and many others.

“Next year we’re aiming for newer movies and a better program, but what I can say is that this year’s films are really great,” Almadani said.

The European Film Festival will be screening films through to June 22 at The Esplanade’s VOX Cinema.


Saudi forum to explore future of philosophy, science

Saudi forum to explore future of philosophy, science
Updated 13 sec ago

Saudi forum to explore future of philosophy, science

Saudi forum to explore future of philosophy, science
  • The three-day conference is themed “Knowledge and Exploration: Space, time and humanity”
  • Abdullah Al-Mutairi, president of the Saudi Philosophy Association, told Arab News: “The equation of philosophy with other sciences is as old as humanity”

RIYADH: The second Riyadh International Philosophy Conference opens on Thursday, bringing together philosophers, scientists, authors and contemporary thinkers from around the world to explore philosophy and its modern applications.
The three-day conference, organized by the Ministry of Culture’s Saudi Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission, is themed “Knowledge and Exploration: Space, time and humanity.”
The forum, which will be open to public, will shed light on the state of contemporary science, space diplomacy, climate change, cognitive justice, ethics in exploration, and artificial intelligence quandaries to assess the possibility of these topics in defining humanity’s future.
On the sidelines of the conference, a series of lectures, panel discussions and workshops will also be held, in addition to a children’s philosophical pavilion.
Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission Executive Director Mohammed Alwan said: “The success of the last edition of the conference led to the reinforcement of the Kingdom’s international role in philosophy and reinforced its status as a regional center for philosophical discussion.”
Abdullah Al-Mutairi, president of the Saudi Philosophy Association, told Arab News: “The equation of philosophy with other sciences is as old as humanity. Natural sciences give us important and fundamental reports on reality, while philosophy is concerned with asking about the meaning, value and connotation that result from those reports provided by natural sciences or experimental sciences in general.
“This equation is both possible and necessary, on which we rely as modern technology evolves, as well as the ethical, cognitive, and existential concerns raised by man’s experience with all of these developments.”
He said that the society of philosophy is a community-based institution that seeks to highlight the significance of philosophical thought in human renaissance and societal advancement.
“It depends on active engagement of society, as we have seen in the past two years when the society began its work.”
Al-Mutairi, who is also an associate professor of education at King Saud University, said that community interaction took place at different levels of attendance, participation in events, lectures, seminars, philosophical writing and publishing as well as volunteering and collaborative initiatives.
 


Young Saudi gymnast wins 1st place at inaugural GCC competition

Young Saudi gymnast wins 1st place at inaugural GCC competition
Updated 53 sec ago

Young Saudi gymnast wins 1st place at inaugural GCC competition

Young Saudi gymnast wins 1st place at inaugural GCC competition
  • Elena Habhab: I was overjoyed to win first place in the Gulf’s first international competition
  • During the summer, Habhab trained for eight hours each day, and when school started, four hours

RIYADH: Young Saudi gymnast Elena Habhab bagged first place at the inaugural GCC Grand Series Rhythmic Gymnastics Championship, staged in the UAE.

The event, held at Al Nasr Sports Hall in Dubai on Nov. 26 and 27, involved its female participants moving gracefully to music while holding props such as ribbons, or a ball.

More than 300 gymnasts from five Gulf Cooperation Council nations — the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and Saudi Arabia — took part and were judged on agility and the difficulty of movements.

Six-year-old Habhab, who competed in the baby junior category, told Arab News: “I was overjoyed to win first place in the Gulf’s first international competition. I wanted to take part and proudly carry the flag of my nation.”

During the summer, the youngster trained for eight hours each day, and when school started, four hours. She also had private ballet lessons.

She won seven medals in her first year of competition in Moscow, where she receives professional training, and she hopes to participate in similar contests in Saudi Arabia.

Habhab said: “I hope that these competitions will take place in Saudi Arabia and that I will have the opportunity to compete for Saudi Arabia at the Olympics.”

Her mother, Rima Wannous, said: “We are Elena’s family, her biggest supporters and fans, and we are ready to give her everything we have so that she can continue her dream of reaching the Olympics.

“As a mother, I was very nervous before the tournament and could not sleep, but when the result was announced, I felt very happy and proud.

“Of course, my six-year-old daughter was able to prove herself and achieve the result that she has worked so hard for, and now she has eight medals.”

Next week, Habhab will participate in Dubai in an international tournament, before competing in an open club event in Moscow at the end of December, and then an international tournament in India in January.


Saudi authorities thwart bid to smuggle 2m amphetamine tablets

Saudi authorities thwart bid to smuggle 2m amphetamine tablets
Updated 25 min 41 sec ago

Saudi authorities thwart bid to smuggle 2m amphetamine tablets

Saudi authorities thwart bid to smuggle 2m amphetamine tablets
  • Officials seized 2,035,200 pills found hidden in shipment of kitchen wood planks

RIYADH: Saudi authorities in Riyadh have thwarted an attempt to smuggle millions of amphetamine tablets, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

Spokesman for the General Directorate of Narcotics Control, Maj. Mohammed Al-Nujaidi, said that during a security follow-up operation on drug smuggling and distribution networks targeting the Kingdom, officials seized 2,035,200 amphetamine pills that had been hidden among a shipment of kitchen wood planks.

Four people found in possession of drugs were arrested in Riyadh and have been referred to the Public Prosecution.

Al-Nujaidi said the Interior Ministry, through its various security agencies and in coordination with the Zakat, Tax, and Customs Authority, would continue to deal firmly with any individuals caught trying to sneak drugs into the country.

 


Misk Tour discusses youth empowerment in Madinah

Misk Tour discusses youth empowerment in Madinah
Updated 30 November 2022

Misk Tour discusses youth empowerment in Madinah

Misk Tour discusses youth empowerment in Madinah
  • Chief of Programs at Misk Foundation Omar Al-Najjar said that Misk had played its part in the past decade in creating exceptional people qualified to help in the transformation of the Kingdom
  • Omar Al-Najjar said that Misk created opportunities for young people, invested in their latent energies, and supported young entrepreneurs and their startups

RIYADH: The Prince Mohammed bin Salman Foundation, which is also known as the Misk Foundation, held an activities event on Wednesday at the King Salman International Convention Center in Madinah.

The Misk Tour takes place over two days under the patronage of Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman, and his deputy Prince Saud bin Khaled Al-Faisal.

Omar Al-Najjar, chief of programs at the foundation, said that Misk had played its part in the past decade in creating exceptional people qualified to help in the transformation of the Kingdom.

He added that 180 leaders out of more than 20,000 applicants had graduated from the foundation.

He added that Misk created opportunities for young people, invested in their latent energies, and supported young entrepreneurs and their startups.

The Misk Tour saw the registration of more than 2,000 participants. It includes five dialogue sessions covering a number of topics, most notably the impact of empowering youth, and the concept of identity between individuals and institutions. 

The event also offers workshops in a number of diverse fields, including the art of smartphone photography and personal branding, an introduction to the art of decoupage, and professional work in the non-profit sector.

Prince Saud was present at the closing debate of the Youth Voice Program, which discussed motivating and developing young people to become proficient in the skills of speaking, debating and critical thinking.

The deputy governor also honored members of the winning team in the debate.


Saudi Arabia announces mechanism for obtaining ‘personal visit’ visa

Saudi Arabia announces mechanism for obtaining ‘personal visit’ visa
Updated 30 November 2022

Saudi Arabia announces mechanism for obtaining ‘personal visit’ visa

Saudi Arabia announces mechanism for obtaining ‘personal visit’ visa
  • Saudi citizens can invite friends to visit Saudi Arabia and perform Umrah by submitting a request for a personal visit on the visa platform

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced a mechanism for obtaining a “personal visit” visa, which enables visitors to enter the Kingdom to visit friends or acquaintances who are Saudi citizens.

The visa also allows individuals to travel between the Kingdom’s regions and cities, perform Umrah rituals, visit Makkah and Madinah and other religious and historical sites, and attend cultural events.

The ministry said that people can apply for the visa through easy and convenient electronic steps on the visa platform website: https://visa.mofa.gov.sa.

Saudi citizens can invite friends to visit Saudi Arabia and perform Umrah by submitting a request for a personal visit on the visa platform and applying for a “visit” request, by logging in through the unified national access platform, and filling out the data for the invitees. The request will then be processed and a “personal visit visa document” issued, whose data can be viewed through the “invitation request” query service.

The ministry added that invitees can pay the fees and medical insurance after filling out the “entry visa application” form in the visa platform, and then submitting the application and passport to the Saudi embassy or consulate in the country where the guest resides, or through the centers or offices accredited to the embassy or consulate. They will then receive their passport after the entry visa has been issued and can enter the Kingdom through all air, land and sea ports.

This move aims to increase the number of foreign visits, in line with the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, the ministry said.

Inquiries about the submitted applications can be made by entering the visa platform, selecting the “inquiry” icon, filling in the required data, then clicking on “inquiry” to review the previously submitted applications.