‘Barakah Meets Barakah’ stars say cinema move will help bring Saudi stories to world

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Hisham Fageeh and Fatima Al-Banawi are well-known for their roles in successful Saudi comedy Barakah Meets Barakah. (Courtesy: El-Housh Productions)
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Hisham Fageeh and Fatima Al-Banawi. (AN Photo)
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Hisham Fageeh and Fatima Al-Banawi. (AN Photo)
Updated 23 February 2018

‘Barakah Meets Barakah’ stars say cinema move will help bring Saudi stories to world

LONDON: Saudi film stars Hisham Fageeh and Fatima Al-Banawi said the arrival of cinema in the Kingdom will help open up society and “share our narrative’’ with the world.
The pair — who are well-known for their roles in successful Saudi comedy “Barakah Meets Barakah,” an Oscar submission for 2016’s Best Foreign Language Film — were speaking during a gathering at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, hosted by the Saudi British Society.
Set in Jeddah, the production was the first award-winning romantic comedy to come out of the Kingdom and became Saudi Arabia’s first film on Netflix.
Al-Banawi, who recently co-starred in the OSN series “Bashar,” emphasized the scope of cinema to “break stereotypes’’ by telling the stories of real people.
“We’re such a private society,” she said. “It’s important to share our narratives.’’
Fageeh, an actor and producer-director who made a name as a stand-up comedian on YouTube, said people in Saudi Arabia were hungry to tell their own stories.
He said many are interested in “taking back our narrative’’ and not having Western institutions dictate the direction of Saudi Arabia’s evolving film landscape, which he described as a “gorilla industry” at this stage.
“In Saudi Arabia, if you want somebody who’s a lighting guy, you get an electrician. You want an actor, you go ask somebody who’s got liberal parents,” he said.
“The more sophisticated our art will be, the more sophisticated the viewer can become.”
Opening the discussion, Alistair Burt, the UK minister for international development and the Middle East, described Saudi Arabia’s recent move to lift the ban on cinemas as “another exciting development in the Kingdom.’’
Praising the success of “Barakah Meets Barakah,” and confessing a preference for romantic comedies including “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail,” the minister said that such films “tell us something very special about a society.’’
“Changing perceptions of the Islamic world is important,” he added. “Anything that helps build our relationships is very welcome.”


What We Are Reading Today: Presidents of War by Michael Beschloss

Updated 07 December 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Presidents of War by Michael Beschloss

  • It said the book “chronicles the wars of the US from the war of 1812 to the Vietnam War

Author Michael Beschloss has spent nearly 10 years in preparing Presidents of War for publication by reviewing diaries and declassified documents, which is quite apparent in the historical sweep and scope of the book. 

This historical narrative begins in 1807 with the assault on the USS Chesapeake and the measures taken by former President Thomas Jefferson to avoid war through the Bush administration and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

“This was a magnificent book that captured, not only history, but the humanity and struggles of our war presidents,” said a review in goodreads.com.

Presidents of War “is an extraordinary work, so extraordinary that it should be required reading for anyone seeking the presidency, vice presidency, a Senate seat, a congressional seat or any Cabinet positions in the US government,” said the review.

It said the book “chronicles the wars of the US from the war of 1812 to the Vietnam War. The author explores the reasons for the wars and often what the leaders did to circumvent Congress to enter the war without congressional approval.”