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Exporting Saudi Arabian culture through film

The new movie industry in Saudi is mostly driven by younger generations weaned on American entertainment and who are self-taught or study filmmaking abroad, find actors and crew on social media, and distribute their films largely on YouTube.

The newly opened King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture is promoting this community through Saudi Film Days.

"We’re building their character and turning them into a global citizens. We’re also positioning the center to attract performances from other countries," says director Tareg Al-Ghamdi, adding that the center is already doing exhibit exchanges with American art museums. "But our major interest is to grow the film industry in Saudi Arabia."

An initiative of Saudi Aramco oil company, the Dhahran-based center, is an 860,000 square-foot megacomplex of museums, galleries, and classes in multimedia, STEM learning, and the arts. Its goal is to empower society through knowledge, and move away from relying on a single-source (oil) economy. It also hopes the films will offer a glimpse into Saudi life.

"The movies are open for every interpretation," says Al-Ghamdi. "These young people brought societal issues that they wanted to engage in."


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