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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Film Studies Thrive in Saudi Arabia, Promising Jobs and Cultural Change

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“The film sector has economic importance; it is linked economically to other sectors,” Alomair said. An increase in film production creates many new job opportunities, she said. “We suffer from the lack of enough professional workers in this field.”

Fahd Al-Asta’, a Saudi film critic, believes that the lack of a local pool of professional talent necessary to develop the film industry is natural, as it is a new industry. “In the past, studying this art was not available locally,” he said. “Today opening the field for studying it locally will gradually solve this problem.”

Nevertheless, the kingdom’s film industry in faces many obstacles, chief among them the lack of funding. According to the British Council’s report, 43 percent of respondents said that lack of funding is one of the biggest obstacles, while 13 percent indicated a shortage of staff, and 11 percent indicated lack of access to training and film education.

Alomair noted that the film industry receives financial and artistic support from three government-backed institutions—the King Abdulaziz Center for World Cultures, a new Film Commission overseen by the Saudi Ministry of Culture, and the Red Sea Film Festival.

Still, “we aspire for more,” she said. “We are still talking about government support only and investors have not entered into real action in film industry.” She added that the increase in the number of cinemas should contribute to encouraging investment in this sector.

Al-Asta’ says that the continuation of government support is essential to ensure the continued establishment and development of this field.

“We need more official support and encouragement to establish this art in education and the labor market,” he said.

Meanwhile, young graduates of the School of Cinematic Arts at Effat University are moving ahead with their dreams.

Abu Redaif intends to open her own company, while bin Mahfoudh is awaiting admission to an American university to pursue her master’s degree. “The future of cinema in Saudi Arabia is full of hope,” she said. “I will get a master’s degree and return to work here.”

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