JEDDAH: Celebrities in Jeddah for the Red Sea Film Festival, held from Dec. 1 to 10, expressed their delight to be exploring Saudi Arabia’s heritage and beauty.
American actress and entrepreneur Jessica Alba, who donned an Elie Saab design, described Saudi Arabia as “a really, really beautiful country,” and said: “The history here is insane, and the people are just warm and lovely.
“I’ve had a great time, and I hope to come back,” added the “Fantastic Four” star.
Actress Sharon Stone, who gave an impassioned speech about women’s empowerment during one of the festival’s talks, said that it’s “really great and smart” that Netflix was making a deal in Saudi Arabia.
“We need to see every aspect of the world — all of the world,” she explained, “so that other people do not get to tell us how the world is in their opinion, (so) that we actually get to see how the world is.”
In an interview on Sunday, filmmaker and screenwriter Oliver Stone, who said during the event’s opening ceremony that Saudi Arabia was misrepresented by Western media, emphasized the importance of keeping an open mind.
“If I close my mind, I would become as ignorant as many of our politicians are,” he said.
The three-time Oscar winner added: “The problem in the United States is that we have two oceans, and we are huge; we have everything we think we need, and we do not have much interest in going to other countries and living what they are living.
“I think, as a result, we become arrogant and aloof, and we tend to dictate orders. Because of the power that we think we have, we tend to tell other countries what to do, or lecture them on human rights and stuff like that, whereas, meanwhile, we are (punishing) people like Julian Assange…for revealing war crimes.”
Citing what he referred to as the “hypocrisy” of the US position internationally, he continued:
“The rest of the world…(doesn’t) buy the American ‘We are better than you; we are telling you how to live your lives.’ They don’t buy it, and a lot of people do not like America for that reason.”
In his speech during the Red Sea Film Festival opening ceremony on Thursday night, the director and producer pointed out that Saudi Arabia was “misunderstood in the present world” and said: “You see the changes that are coming here, the reforms. I think people who judge too harshly should come and visit this place and see for themselves.”