‘Early Women Explorers in Arabia’ exhibition on show in London

‘Early Women Explorers in Arabia’ exhibition on show in London
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Updated 20 February 2023

‘Early Women Explorers in Arabia’ exhibition on show in London

‘Early Women Explorers in Arabia’ exhibition on show in London
  • Exhibition, which will run until March 5, is hosted by the Saudi Embassy in the UK
  • Launch featured discussions with British and Saudi women explorers from today

LONDON: An exhibition in London, hosted by the Saudi Embassy in the UK, is celebrating the late 19th and early 20th century expeditions of British women in the Arabian Peninsula.

The “Early Women Explorers in Arabia” exhibition kicked off on Feb. 8 with a screening of a short film about English Princess Alice’s adventures as the first European royal to visit Arabia.

The film featured archival footage of her visit to Saudi Arabia in 1938 after receiving an impromptu invitation from Crown Prince Saud at the Ascot Racecourse.

The princess, who was the only European royal to meet King Abdulaziz, traveled the hills around Taif, through the desert to Riyadh, and east to Hofuf before arriving on the coast at Damman where oil had just been discovered in commercial quantities.

The exhibition launch also included a presentation by Dr. Elisabeth Kendall, explorer and mistress of Girton College Cambridge.

Kendall talked about her time in the field, specifically in war-torn Yemen, where she researched the use of soft culture, such as poetry, by militant jihad groups to recruit members and garner acceptance in the community. 

“I think exploration is the best way to discover for yourself that stereotypes are just that — stereotypes,” Kendall told Arab News.

“My own experiences traveling around the Arabian Peninsula were that I’ve never felt so welcome in such a hospitable place with people who were so warm and so giving,” she added.

Kendall was later joined on stage by Saudi explorer Reem Philby to discuss her recent 1,300-km expedition across Saudi Arabia. The journey sought to raise awareness of the Kingdom’s historical relationship with Britain, following in the footsteps of her grandfather, the legendary British explorer Abdullah Philby.

Reem explained that her main drive to begin exploring around 15 years ago was to be a Saudi who knows her own country.

She also hoped that the “Heart of Arabia” expedition would promote the idea of “journeying with purpose and stepping away from the electronics we’re surrounding ourselves with.”

She said: “Carrying out this recent journey made me aware of the challenges both my grandfather and these Victorian women faced — the harsh cold of the desert at night, the physical challenges of very different terrains, and the fear of the unknown. Our route was mapped and safe. Theirs very often wasn’t.”

The exhibition features several Victorian British women who had a strong influence in the region during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including Lady Anne Blunt, who traveled in the region as far as Hail in the 1880s to 1890s, and Gertrude Bell, one of the most influential Western women in Arabia, known for archaeological explorations and for political influence as the only female agent in the region during and after the First World War.

Lady Zainab Cobbold, the first British-born Muslim woman to carry out the Hajj, and Freya Stark, a historian and writer who went to some of the most dangerous corners of Hadhramaut, were also notable.

“I think the exhibition is going to be really inspiring. What it says to everyone, but particularly to women, is that you can go to places and do things that you perhaps would only dream of,” Kendall said.

“If they can do it, so can we,” she added.

Saudi Ambassador to the UK Prince Khalid bin Bandar, who attended the exhibition launch, told Arab News: “We had an amazing turnout to celebrate five amazing women from history and two amazing women tonight, both of whom showed the best of what Britain is and what Saudi Arabia is.

“Exploration is an underplayed field, and we need more of it. Saudi Arabia is a huge country with a lot to see, and it was our pleasure to show people here tonight what they’re missing by not being there.”

The “Early Women Explorers in Arabia” exhibition will run until March 5 at the Royal Geographical Society.


Saudi Film Confex opens in Riyadh

Saudi Film Confex opens in Riyadh
Updated 01 October 2023

Saudi Film Confex opens in Riyadh

Saudi Film Confex opens in Riyadh
  • Experts discuss how industry can help boost national economy

RIYADH: The Saudi Film Confex opened on Sunday at the Riyadh Front Exhibition and Convention Center.

The four-day event, hosted by the Saudi Film Commission, seeks to promote the social, cultural and economic value of cinema and brings together industry experts, executives and investors from around the world.

During a discussion titled “Film as a Catalyst for National Economic Growth: Aspects and Features,” the panel explored ways to extend the influence of the film industry on other economic sectors, such as tourism, entertainment, technology and innovation.

Jason Cloth, the founder of film and TV financing company Creative Wealth Media, said the movie industry underwent significant changes during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people increasingly turned to streaming platforms.

“The pandemic changed people’s viewing habits,” he said. “We see box office numbers dropping a bit and transactional numbers increasing quite a bit. The bigger issue with the studio releases is the budget sizes.”

If box office numbers failed to improve, it would be difficult to release some large-budget films, he said.

Tariq Bin Ammar, a Tunisian-French film producer and founder of Quinta Communications, was also on the panel.

“For Tunisia, I spent a billion dollars in foreign currency with never any local finance, because we knew we didn’t have the money,” he said.

“As for Saudi Arabia, it does not need foreign consultants anymore. With all due respect for our American and English friends, Saudi Arabia is capable, and in a very few years it will be totally independent.”

He added: “When Italian, French, English or American producers and directors make movies they make them for themselves, for their people.”

In contrast, Saudi Arabia produced films for both local and international audiences, he said.

Nabeel Koshak, CEO of Saudi Venture Capital Co., said: “I would say the filmmaking movement in Saudi Arabia definitely has funding as a crucial component of this ecosystem.”

Over the past five years, the government had provided $2 billion in funding for the industry, he said.

Netflix set to release new collection of Saudi short films

Netflix set to release new collection of Saudi short films
Updated 01 October 2023

Netflix set to release new collection of Saudi short films

Netflix set to release new collection of Saudi short films
  • Offering includes productions shown at Red Sea International Film Festival

RIYADH: Netflix’s second volume of its “New Saudi Voices” film collection will be released on Friday.

The collection comprises 14 short films that featured at the Red Sea International Film Festival, including the winners of the 48-hour Filmmaking Challenge.

These include the dramas “Old Phone Number” by Ali Saeed and “Zabarjad” by Hussain Almutliq, which explore the themes of character growth while clinging to one’s past.

“Last Chance to Fall in Love” by award-winning writer Faisal Buhaishi follows the story of an old man reuniting with his first love after 50 years.

Movies from the fantasy genre include “A Swing” by Raneem and Dana Almohandes, which follows a 10-year-old girl’s journey through the woods to find a magical swing her father used to tell her about.

“Lucky You’re Mine” by Nora Abu Shusha reveals the unspoken challenges of married life, while “Tea Leaf” by Mohammed Baqer looks at the pain and regret that come with failed relationships.

Other films in the collection include “Requiem for Silence” by Majed Z. Samman, “Forward” by Fahad Alotaibi and “Othman” by Khaled Zeidan.

“The second volume is not just a collection of short films, it is a celebration of untold stories and a testament to the creative prowess of the emerging filmmakers,” said Nuha El-Tayeb, Netflix’s content director for Turkey, the Middle East and Africa.

The films “transcend borders and allow viewers to experience the beauty and dynamism of Saudi culture. We believe great stories can come from anywhere and be loved by anyone,” she said.

Saudi Arabia celebrates International Coffee Day 

In Saudi Arabia, local coffee shops can be found in every neighborhood, catering to the high demand for the drink.
In Saudi Arabia, local coffee shops can be found in every neighborhood, catering to the high demand for the drink.
Updated 01 October 2023

Saudi Arabia celebrates International Coffee Day 

In Saudi Arabia, local coffee shops can be found in every neighborhood, catering to the high demand for the drink.
  • The Saudi Coffee Festival 2023 provides visitors with a cultural experience showcasing the growth of the coffee industry in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Oct. 1 is International Coffee Day, a celebration aimed at promoting awareness and support for coffee lovers and farmers, particularly highlighting the quality and passion behind this beloved beverage.

In Saudi Arabia, local coffee shops can be found in every neighborhood, catering to the high demand for the drink in all its variations, from V60 to traditional Saudi coffee.

Badr Khashogji, the owner of the local coffee shop Mariam, said that International Coffee Day was a special occasion to appreciate the cultural significance of coffee.

He said that it brought together coffee enthusiasts from around the world to acknowledge the importance of the beverage.

Khashogji said: “International Coffee Day offers a platform to showcase the rich history, diverse flavors and social impact of coffee. Whether you prefer an espresso, cappuccino or a simple black coffee, this day is a perfect opportunity to savor and celebrate the magical essence of coffee. So, grab your favorite mug, take a moment to indulge in the aroma and taste of coffee, and join the worldwide celebration of International Coffee Day.”

The Saudi Coffee Festival 2023, organized by the Culinary Arts Commission in Riyadh since Sept. 28, provides visitors with a cultural experience showcasing the growth of the coffee industry in Saudi Arabia. It highlights the beverage’s deep-rooted significance in Saudi culture as a symbol of hospitality, warmth and authentic traditions.

Mohammed Al-Amer, a Saudi coffee server, frequently travels worldwide with Saudi businesses hosting events to emphasize the significance of serving Saudi coffee on Saudi occasions.

“I travel to several countries, such as the UK, China, India and more, for work, and one of my responsibilities is serving Saudi coffee and dates to the guests,” Al-Amer told Arab News.

“Saudi coffee is an essential part of our tradition, and we have unique standards for making it.”

According to local farmer Ahmed Al-Malki, the techniques for cultivating and harvesting coffee have been passed down from generation to generation in Jazan for more than 800 years.

“The ancient tradition of transferring knowledge from one generation to another has preserved the legacy of Arabica coffee within our Kingdom. We deeply appreciate this knowledge and are committed to preserving its value as we strive to establish the Kingdom as a global leader in Arabica coffee production,” Al-Malki said.

On International Coffee Day, coffee companies in Saudi Arabia, including Starbucks, Tim Hortons, Urth Cafe, Krispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts, Overdose and LEFT cafe, offered promotions to encourage coffee purchases. These included free coffee at select locations and discounts of up to 50 percent. LEFT cafe offered coffee for SR1.

Saudi Arabia, one of the top coffee-consuming countries, is focused on increasing coffee cultivation to achieve self-sufficiency and boost the domestic economy. The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture is working toward this goal in alignment with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.


A Cup of Gahwa
The taste and traditions of Saudi coffee


Riyadh to host security, fire safety expo

Riyadh to host security, fire safety expo
Updated 01 October 2023

Riyadh to host security, fire safety expo

Riyadh to host security, fire safety expo
  • Event will feature industry experts showcasing innovations in cybersecurity, fire safety, surveillance, emergency response

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s leading event for security, fire protection and safety will get underway on Tuesday in Riyadh.

The fifth edition of the Intersec Saudi Arabia 2023 International Exhibition will be staged at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

Held over three days, the event will feature industry experts from 25 countries showcasing the latest products, services, and technology in cybersecurity, fire safety, surveillance, and emergency response.

Representatives from government agencies and organizations in the fire, emergency, security, and safety industry, will also be present.

‘Marvel Universe Live!’ brings ‘mind-blowing’ superhero show to Jeddah

‘Marvel Universe Live!’ brings ‘mind-blowing’ superhero show to Jeddah
Updated 01 October 2023

‘Marvel Universe Live!’ brings ‘mind-blowing’ superhero show to Jeddah

‘Marvel Universe Live!’ brings ‘mind-blowing’ superhero show to Jeddah
  • Featuring all-star lineup of Marvel superheroes, the show’s tour manager gives insight into behind-the-scenes efforts

JEDDAH: Saudi fans of the Marvel superheroes will soon be able to see some of their favorite characters up close and in action in Jeddah.

As part of the Jeddah Events Calendar, “Marvel Universe Live!” shows are being staged until Oct. 20 at King Abdullah Sports City Hall, one of the stops on the production’s world tour.

Visitors can look forward to witnessing their favorite superheroes come to life on stage, accompanied by captivating audio effects and stunning visual displays.

The show boasts an all-star lineup of iconic characters, including Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, Star-Lord, Rocket, Gamora and Groot. Audiences can enjoy an extraordinary spectacle as these mighty heroes showcase their remarkable powers and abilities, uniting in a heroic battle against formidable villains.

Adrian Baez, the tour manager for “Marvel Universe Live!,” spoke to Arab News and shared insights about the creation of this live-action experience featuring Marvel superheroes.

When asked about the inspiration behind the show, Baez said: “Seeing how much of an impact the Marvel characters have on people worldwide and the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in creating emotionally engaging storylines, Feld Entertainment wanted to take it a step further. We aimed to bring these beloved characters to life in an original, action-packed story that stays true to the comic books.

“Feld Entertainment is a leading producer of family entertainment and has a great relationship with the parent company of Disney. Taking on this endeavor just made sense so we can bring more entertainment opportunities to more audience members,” he added.

To ensure an authentic portrayal of the Marvel characters, Baez revealed the extensive training and preparation the performers undergo.

“The performer athletes go through an extensive training workshop where they become conditioned to perform various stunts such as stage combat fighting, swordsmanship, fire handling, and aerial work,” he explained.

“Additionally, they receive character development opportunities to personify the Marvel superheroes and villains that fans recognize from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, animated shows, and comic books. This year, we had rehearsals for a total of about 15 weeks. We had our initial rehearsals from April to July in the US and then continued our rehearsals at the beginning of September leading up to our grand re-opening in Jeddah.”

The production incorporates special effects, stunts, and choreography to create an immersive experience for the audience. Baez noted: “From the moment audiences enter the venue, we immerse them into the world of ‘Marvel Universe Live!’ Our goal is to transport guests and evoke their childhood memories. Everything featured in our production stays true to the character storylines, incorporating elements such as motorcycle riding, fire handling, aerial silk performance, lasers, and indoor pyrotechnics.”

Coordinating such a large-scale production comes with its challenges: “Staffing the management team and technical stagehands to relaunch this enormous production was a task. Fortunately, with the support of an amazing team, we have been able to tackle these challenges as they arise,” he added.

Baez further highlighted the magnitude of the production, with over 40 performers, 41 stagehands, and numerous equipment containers that require meticulous loading and unloading.

Speaking on his excitement about the opportunity to present the show in Saudi Arabia, Baez expressed gratitude for the Kingdom’s vision in welcoming more entertainment opportunities. “We all have enjoyed our time thus far and have been overwhelmed by the hospitality and warm welcome that we have received. It has been a unique experience, especially visiting places like Old Jeddah,” he said.

Baez hopes that the audience takes away a sense of excitement and cherished memories from their “Marvel Universe Live!” experience.

“This show brings nostalgia and childhood memories back to the surface. I hope audiences appreciate seeing their favorite Marvel superheroes or villains live and in person,” he said.

Baez added that he hopes to hold similar shows in the Kingdom, considering the success of “Marvel Universe Live!” in Saudi Arabia.

“Feld Entertainment looks forward to bringing more productions here in the future,” he said.

Yousuf and Hamza, two enthusiastic young attendees of “Marvel Universe Live!,” could not contain their excitement after the show. Yousuf exclaimed: “Wow! It was like all my favorite superheroes came to life right before my eyes! The stunts and special effects were mind-blowing. I felt like I was part of the action!”

Hamza added: “I loved seeing Spider-Man swing through the air and Captain America’s epic shield throws. This show was the best thing ever! We want to see it again!”

Another thrilled attendee, Hanouf Fahad, shared her excitement: “Attending ‘Marvel Universe Live!’ was an absolute blast! The action-packed performances, stunning special effects, and incredible stunts made me feel like I was a part of the Marvel world. The smooth transitions during the show made it feel like I was watching an international and professional live production. Moreover, it brought back childhood memories.”

As “Marvel Universe Live!” continues to captivate Jeddah’s audiences until Oct. 20, this action-packed production promises an unforgettable experience for fans of all ages. Book your tickets through the Saudi Events app and share your experience using the hashtag #MarvelUniverseLive.