Historical Saudi drama ‘Born a King’ opens in cinemas to rave reviews

The cast of ‘Born a King’ includes a number of Saudi actors and crew, with filming taking place between the Kingdom and the UK. (Social media photo)
Updated 27 September 2019

Historical Saudi drama ‘Born a King’ opens in cinemas to rave reviews

  • Jeddah’s Vox Cinema was packed with viewers of all ages eager to see Saudi history brought to life on silver screen

JEDDAH: Saudi film fans were on Thursday left thirsting for more after the long-awaited release of the historical drama “Born a King” finally hit the Kingdom’s cinema screens.

“I felt proud to be from Saudi Arabia,” said moviegoer Asayl Al-Zahrani after watching the remarkable true story of a 13-year-old Saudi prince dispatched to Britain on a high-stakes diplomatic mission to secure the formation of his country.

Jeddah’s Vox Cinema was packed with viewers of all ages eager to see Saudi history brought to life on the silver screen.

Set in 1919, the film was partly shot in Riyadh and Diriyah, and sees a teenage Faisal, later to become king of Saudi Arabia, as the young hero sent by his father to lead negotiations in London with the fate of his nation resting on his shoulders.

The theater audience watched in amazement as the movie recounted how Prince Faisal (played by Abdullah Ali) negotiated with some of the pre-eminent figures of the age, including Lord Curzon (Kenneth Cranham) and Winston Churchill (Celyn Jones), while forming a friendship with Princess Mary (Hermione Corfield) who helped guide him through the corridors of power.

Enamored with the character of Prince Faisal, viewers laughed and even shouted out in anger in reaction to the prince’s clever responses to those ridiculing Arabs or one scene when his attaché was kicked out of their hotel.

The movie was amazing. I never expected it to be that good. There were clips where I felt extremely proud of my country and the kings of Saudi Arabia.

Asayl Al-Zahrani, Moviegoer

The film’s cast included hundreds of Saudis, and Al-Zahrani, 23, told Arab News she was impressed by the scale of the production. 

“The movie was amazing. I never expected it to be that good. There were clips where I felt extremely proud of my country and the kings of Saudi Arabia.”

She said that the scenes portraying Prince Faisal’s wisdom were the ones she liked the most and added: “Another part that I enjoyed was when Prince Faisal returned to Najd and his father, then Prince Abdul Aziz, expressed how proud he was of his son. The movie affected me so much that whenever the British looked down on the prince or his acquaintances, I felt angry.”

Another cinema fan, Abdullah Al-Halawani, also lauded director Agusti Villaronga’s flick. “The production of the movie was better than expected. The scenery they chose, and the locations painted a picture of how the environment must have been in the past.

“I would love to watch more movies about the history of our country, because when my mother and grandmother tell me stories about events that happened in their past, films like ‘Born a King’ will aid my imagination and help me picture things better,” said Al-Halawani.

He added that big-screen versions of such tales were better than reading about them in a book.

Lina Baja’afar said: “I thought it was pretty good on the whole, but I felt that the story dragged on a little bit. It would’ve been nice to see more events and the progression of King Faisal’s life than having a film solely concentrated on this trip.”

She added that the acting was excellent and was impressed with how the actors toned down their accents and spoke in broken English to fit the times.

“Born a King,” which also stars Ed Skrein and Rubén Ochandiano, is now showing in cinemas throughout the Kingdom.


Bandar Allaf, chairman of the Saudi Arabia Smart Grid Conference

Updated 15 min 29 sec ago

Bandar Allaf, chairman of the Saudi Arabia Smart Grid Conference

  • Allaf is the CEO of Juffali Energy and Utilities
  • He went to the US for higher studies and did his master’s at New York University from 2008 to 2009

The 9th Saudi Arabia Smart Grid Conference (SASG 2019) began in Jeddah on Tuesday. It offers experts in the field of science and technology a unique platform to share their views on emerging technologies and discuss sustainable solutions to mankind’s ever-increasing energy needs.

Bandar Allaf is the chairman of SASG. Speaking at the opening ceremony of the conference, he said that more than 204 scientific papers from around 25 countries of the world have been submitted at the conference this year.

Allaf is the CEO of Juffali Energy and Utilities.  An engineer by profession, he received his bachelor’s from King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah in 1999. After his graduation, he joined the Saudi Electric Co. as a senior transmission engineer. During his 12-year tenure at the utility company, he served in several key positions until 2011.

He went to the US for higher studies and did his master’s at New York University from 2008 to 2009.

In October 2011, he joined the ACWA Power International as a senior manager for business development. ACWA is a developer of independent water and power projects. Subsequently, Allaf joined Juffali Solar as CEO. He worked in this capacity until March 2015. He has been the CEO of Juffali Energy and Utilities for the last six years.

Allaf also served as the chairman of the Saudi Council of Engineers for two terms — 2013 to 2019. 

SASG is considered an important event that focuses on smart solutions to energy issues. Leading companies also get a chance to showcase their latest products and technology to stakeholders.