Lights, camera, action: Movie production safety tops agenda at first Saudi film industry leaders' meeting – Arab News
JEDDAH: Leading figures from Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning film industry recently met in Jeddah to discuss key issues related to movie production.
The session, organized by Studio Production Training, was the first of a series of roundtable meetings planned for the Kingdom’s producers, filmmakers, senior executives, production and rental house representatives, and art production staff under the title “Together We Grow, Safety on Set.”
Topping the agenda at the gathering, held at the Angelina restaurant in Jeddah, was talks on ways to improve on-set safety and best practices throughout the sector.
The training and accountability of film crews and field producers for safety were considered a priority matter.
Saudi executive producer and chief executive officer of Studio Production Training, Hajjar Alnaim, said: “Our main aim is to support the growth and development of below-the-line production talent in Saudi Arabia in line with Vision 2030.
“A unified local production industry is the key to a strong future for our talent, crews, and producers. Hence, our discussions not only revolved around safety issues but also looked at ways in which all entities could coordinate with each other in developing a unified standard for safety.”
With the region’s fledgling film industry often forced to operate on low budgets, safety could sometimes be compromised. But the roundtable sessions are aimed at making improvements in working conditions for production teams.
“We want to create guidelines and best practices that fit our industry in Saudi Arabia by redrafting and developing with local partners such as Netflix to reach the best rules.
“The outcome of the first session’s discussions was to share safety guidelines on production workflows designed not to affect crews financially and logistically, and then take feedback. Based on the feedback, we will sign agreements to ensure rules can be applied on set,” Alnaim added.
Studio Production Training announced at the meeting plans to launch e-learning training videos in Arabic to highlight on-set safety. Crew members passing an online test on the subject would receive an industry-recognized certificate of awareness.
The session ended with Studio Production Training signing consultation and skills training agreements with Riyadh audiovisual equipment rental firm EQEW, film rental house CineCrew, and Saudi movie production companies Nebras Films, and Millimeter.
Ahmed Baageel, production designer and CEO of Riyadh video production service Makzn7, said: “We are trying our best to bring the change ourselves in terms of industry safety issues, instead of waiting for a governmental change or for rules to come from above.
“This workshop helped us to discuss the awareness of safety issues and encouraged the industry leaders to take responsibility in adopting a unified safety standard.”
RIYADH: As one of 22 collaborating galleries of the Misk Art Week, Lakum Art Space’s “Performing Bodies” exhibition brings six female regional artists together to experiment with various folkcraft techniques, bringing the region’s rich history to life.
“Not only does Misk Art Week give artists exposure but it gives them a chance to tell their story and that’s what is important. It also allows artists to connect and have this one week of a year to converse and tell their own story whether that’s through a group exhibition or a residency,” 26-year-old exhibiting artist Hana Almilli told Arab News.
“It fosters an environment for us all to be in one platform — collaborating galleries and collaborating artists,” Almilli added.
Held from Dec. 5-10, Misk Art Week aims to create opportunities for artists to gather and work together in workshops, exhibitions and forums to cultivate creativity and further engage with the community.
The “Performing Bodies” exhibition looks into the themes of memory and ritual to explore tactile art techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation, highlighting the ancestral relationship and practice of rituals.
The artists featured in the exhibition are from different parts of the region and include Afshan Daneshvar (Iran), Dina Haddadin (Jordan), Ghizlane Sahli (Morocco), Hadeyeh Badri (UAE), Hana Almilli (Saudi Arabia) and Nojoud Al-Sudairi (Saudi Arabia). The art techniques featured in the exhibition bring the creative minds of artists together in a vital role of unity that highlights the cultural and social identity of the region.
“We’re very proud to be an all-female-led team and to work with these six female artists on producing an exhibition that is so rich in history and tradition, but also reflects the contemporary aesthetic and techniques in textile arts,” Neama A. Al-Sudairi, founding director of Lakum Artspace, said.
The crafts depicted in the exhibition were historically developed by women and are linked to a sense of bonding where techniques and rituals would be passed down through generations.
The artists use weaving, knitting, folding, stitching, embroidering and crocheting to examine the rich culture and social identity of the Middle East.
“Within the flourishing contemporary art and design disciplines in the Middle East, we see an attempt to reconcile ruptures between past and present in the form of an intergenerational investigation into practices that link the human body with craft,” Ran Beiruti, the exhibition curator, said.
Almilli was a part of a group art show in Lakum Art Space collaborating gallery of Misk Art Week. She has two art exhibitions, titled “If the voice has a memory” and “The echoes of my alienation.”
She told Arab News: “I felt proud to be a part of such an esteemed event two years in a row in a different way this time, surrounded by artists that I love in this group show.”
The artists featured in the exhibition are from different parts of the region and include Afshan Daneshvar (Iran), Dina Haddadin (Jordan), Ghizlane Sahli (Morocco), Hadeyeh Badri (UAE), Hana Almilli (Saudi Arabia) and Nojoud Al-Sudairi (Saudi Arabia).
The art techniques featured in the exhibition bring the creative minds of artists together in a vital role of unity that highlights the cultural and social identity of the region.
Almilli said that all of her artwork is inspired by themes of nostalgia and heritage.
“Being quarter Kurdish, Turkish, Saudi and Syrian I have always wanted to express and learn about my own background. Textiles and incremental making was my way of exploring my identity,” she said.
Her work “If the voice has a memory” explores avenues such as touch, sound and more to engulf visitors in her memories.
“The woven piece is woven with natural dyes from all the different countries I come from. The sounds are also from those different countries,” she said.
Her second piece, “The echoes of my alienation,” is a series of embroidered self-portrait photographs printed on silk that explore the use of embroidery to tackle alienation — something relevant to Almilli’s own life.
“Through embroidering I was able to find myself pondering, expressing and escaping two different sides of alienation. The collection was an acceptance of that feeling with the positives and negatives,” she said.
Almilli added that this year’s Misk Art Week creates an opportunity for collaboration between diverse artists, whether they are veterans or just beginning their careers.
“Misk Art Week this year accumulates all different avenues to showcase works of younger artists to even more established artists. Putting them in one platform causes an exposure for younger artists and now that they are even collaborating with galleries, it’s so beautiful to see galleries collaborating,” she said.
Almilli took part in Misk Art Week in 2021 in the Masaha Residency and has also collaborated with Misk Art Institute and Berlin Art Institute in a Berlin show titled “Next Wave.”
She left a message to aspiring artists, saying: “Never give up, although it sounds cliche. Always keep experimenting and making it through ups and downs; this is what makes great art.”
JEDDAH: A major conference to help identify and develop gifted young Saudis in the key areas of science and technology was launched on Saturday in Jeddah.
On behalf of King Salman, Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal got the second Global Conference for Giftedness and Creativity underway. It will run until Dec. 14.
The event, organized by the King Abdulaziz and His Companions’ Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity, also known as Mawhiba, is being held in the Saudi coastal city under the theme “Journey Toward the New Future.”
Mawhiba Secretary-General Amal Al-Hazzaa said the participants are connected by their motivation, passion and thirst for knowledge. She emphasized that Saudi Arabia continued to play a leading role worldwide to support and nurture talented youth.
Mawhiba Secretary-General Amal Al-Hazzaa said the participants are connected by their motivation, passion and thirst for knowledge. She emphasized that Saudi Arabia continued to play a leading role worldwide to support and nurture talented youth.
Al-Hazzaa thanked for their assistance the Saudi Ministry of Education, Saudi Aramco, Saudi Basic Industries Corp., NEOM, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu, the Education and Training Evaluation Commission, and the Royal Commission for AlUla.
“Science, on its own, cannot provide food to those feeling or showing the need for it. Moreover, science can neither heal those suffering from illnesses, nor can it support them to build a prosperous society … (so) science and technology should be applied so that we can achieve the desired results,” said Al-Hazzaa.
She said a global talent platform would be launched during the conference that would see the participation of some of the world’s most promising young people.
The gathering opened with a group of young people performing a show to highlight the solutions humanity can find through the application of advanced technology. Prince Khaled then launched the event with praise for those organizations and companies backing the initiative.
The scientific committee of the conference met later to participate in the “Ideathon” sessions to find the winning ideas that could be developed further.
RIYADH: Local and international visitors attended renowned fashion designer Zac Posen’s live masterclass on gown draping techniques, intricacies of the fashion industry, and the process of starting a luxury brand at Diriyah’s Jax District in Riyadh.
The two hour masterclass also addressed the practical side of design. As he began dressing a mannequin in vibrant red fabric, using only scissors and pins, beginning his technique from the neck, Posen took questions from the audience.
“It’s all about purpose … Even if (a gown) is about exaggeration or glamor, for me, as big as it is, it has to be able to be worn,” he said.
“You can always keep going into a piece. Sometimes time runs out, and that’s the answer … There’s that moment when you kind of impromptu know that it’s ready. You’ll feel it.”
I think my journey and purpose is really to show everybody else that they can express through their creativity.
Zac Posen
Posen, known for creating iconic red carpet looks for A-list celebrities, is the son of American painter Stephen Posen, so artistry runs in the family.
His journey began when Posen found his calling for fashion backstage during numerous hours at the costume shop in high school.
“I think my journey and purpose is really to show everybody else that they can express through their creativity,” he said during the masterclass.
Surrounded by British models in the New York fashion scene in 1996, with the likes of Karen Elson, Erin O’Connor, and Jade Parfitt, Posen described it as a formative period.
“There was a new breath of air into fashion. I think the craft of fashion, especially in France and in Europe, was at a very high point and creativity, expression, and a new Romantic Movement had come into fashion,” the designer said.
Interning at the Costume Institute aged 16, the “life-changing” experience was the first time he had really understood the intricacies of clothing design on a deeper level and its historical significance.
“I grew up in a house where art is not about decoration. Art is about experience. Art is not about monetary value, it is about expression, experience, emotion, and storytelling. But I kind of started to understand that and take that on,” he said.
After spending the summer at Parsons New School for Design and within the bustling vibrancy of New York’s Garment District, he began developing his own design style, experimenting by making evening wear for his female friends.
In full immersion into the expressive underground drag queen culture of the city in the late 1990s, he shipped off to London to attend Central Saint Martins art school, which was a challenging but impressionable time for the designer.
“With high competition, you could not leave your clothing or anything you’re working on (at) a table. It would disappear, be chopped up, in the trash. You had to lock it up or take it home,” he said.
It was during his early days in London when Posen met Italian actress and style icon Anita Pallenberg, who took him under her wing and provided an opportunity to model in a campaign with John Malkovich for designer Bella Freud.
Two years into fashion school, the Posen buzz started around his designs and established a clientele base in London.
One of his designs had caught the eye of prominent model Naomi Campbell, who was determined to meet the designer, after she saw a dress worn by Posen’s friend on the Eurostar.
“She was incredibly kind and nurturing and wanted me to make her clothing, gave me money to buy fabric. We took her measurements … I started making her clothing and the buzz was building and then (a) New York Times writer called and said ‘I want to write an article about seeing this dress, and you, and the journey of this dress.’
“I knew that it could go either way, and I thought that opportunity is not a lengthy visitor, let’s try this,” he said.
The interview paid off, prompting notable attention from Barney’s, Fashion TV, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, which now showcases a multitude of his designs as part of its permanent collection.
He was then lured back to New York where he started his atelier in his parents’ living room, investing his $10,000 savings into the brand.
He then went on to produce a capsule collection for GenArt as part of their “Fresh Faces in Fashion New York 2001” show.
He is known for feminine designs that highlight the architecture of the body in a way that reflects the fluidity and softness of movement.
One of his biggest moments, Posen said, was when actress Natalie Portman wore one of his designs at the premier of “Star Wars: Episode I” following his first fashion show.
When the tragic events of 9/11 engulfed the residents of New York City, he felt that his hometown needed him through the tough times.
“Creativity, expression is what will bring back the city. It needs it. I felt it really strongly (that) I wasn’t going back to London, that wasn’t going to happen, this resilient force that I needed to be there,” he said.  
Other highlight of his designing career incudes dressing up prominent figures and actresses such as Princess Eugenie of York, Uma Thurman, and Claire Danes.  
“It’s not going to be necessarily the easiest road, being a creator, but it can be a very fulfilling role. You can make people feel very beautiful, and empowered, and happy, and really bring joy. And sometimes, those moments can add to a cultural narrative,” he said.
In the age of media and digital evolution, the designer believes that fashion is now evolving quicker than ever, and can become a tool in crossing cultural boundaries.
LONDON: Pilgrims staying at the Makkah Clock Royal Tower will be able to take advantage of child care facilities from Ramadan 2023, says the hotel’s CEO.
The Fairmont hotel will house a nursery to look after the children of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims, Abdulaziz Almosa told Arab News.
The first phase will be launched next year, with the hotel having the capacity to look after 150 children.
Almosa added: “The second phase will be launched around the middle of 2024 when capacity will increase to between 300 to 500 children.”
He said the initiative was needed as it would allow pilgrims to take part in Hajj and Umrah secure in the knowledge that their children were being looked after.
He added it would also give children an insight into the holy city of Makkah and Islamic rituals at a young age, providing their religious foundation.
The children would be taken care of and entertained, but would also be educated about the rituals their parents were performing.  

Almosa said high-tech bracelets would allow parents to locate their offspring, and cameras would monitor the child care facilities.
The CEO said that the current average length of stay at the hotel for international visitors was five days, but that the establishment was working to increase that period.
He added it was doing that by “improving the quality of stay, creating religious entertainment venues, improving food and beverage venues, and increasing opportunities for pilgrims to take part in trips and cultural experiences.”
Salem Al-Shahrani, the managing director of the hotel and three other establishments in the King Abdulaziz Endowment, said that Fairmont Makkah will soon be opening two new food outlets as part of the drive to improve the quality of stay for pilgrims.
He said an outlet serving Asian cuisine is due to open by the end of the year, and a sushi restaurant during the first quarter of 2023.
Almosa added: “Our efforts and ambition are part of a larger and noble vision: Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.
“One of the vision’s objectives is to enable the largest number of Muslims possible to visit Makkah and to conduct their Umrah and Hajj seamlessly, smoothly, and safely.”
RIYADH: Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq Al-Rabiah announced that all COVID-19 procedures and vaccination requirements for pilgrims coming from Turkey have been canceled, within the framework of new measures to facilitate the arrival of Umrah performers.
This came during a joint press conference between Al-Rabiah and Turkey’s Head of Religious Affairs Ali Erbas in the presence of other key officials from the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, the Saudi Embassy in Ankara and the Consulate General in Istanbul.
Al-Rabiah stated that Turkish pilgrims are excluded from any requirements, stressing that the Kingdom’s government and people welcome all pilgrims without limit to the number of arrivals while making it possible to perform Umrah for those who have all types of visas from all countries of the world, within the framework of the continuous support and attention Saudi Arabia provides to serve Islam and Muslims, and facilitate their arrival to perform their rituals easily and smoothly.
During the conference, Al-Rabiah expressed his appreciation for the warm welcome that he and his delegation received, noting the distinguished ties between the two countries under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
He also referred to the rapid developments the Two Holy Mosques and the holy sites underwent in terms of infrastructure and organization to receive the expected increases in the numbers of pilgrims, Umrah performers, and visitors, and to provide them with the finest services, through digital transformation, and various options and solutions to enable Muslims from all over the world to perform Umrah.
Al-Rabiah further touched on the development of electronic services provided by the platform to ease obtaining Umrah and visit visas and book all services instantly through smart devices to facilitate access to the Two Holy Mosques, and enrich the experiences of visitors.


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