Saudi movie industry looking bright but still needs push from government

Oscar-winning producer Andres Gomez speaks during a session at the Saudi Media Forum in Riyadh on Monday. (AN photo)
Updated 03 December 2019

Saudi movie industry looking bright but still needs push from government

  • There is no lack of enthusiasm for filmmaking in the Kingdom, says Oscar-winning producer

RIYADH: World-renowned, Oscar-winning producer Andres Gomez spoke at the Saudi Media Forum over the weekend, where he spoke about his latest film, “Born a King,” and his upcoming movie “Champions,” which will start shooting in Jeddah in early 2020.

“One of the exciting things about working here is that we are not just making movies — we are creating an industry,” he said, adding there was no lack of enthusiasm for filmmaking in the Kingdom, but a lack of a strong infrastructure to facilitate it.

“Saudi Arabia has great potential to have its own content production industry — and it is in the hands of the government to help it,” he told the forum.

“The government needs to give a framework — there must be legislation, tax rebates, subsidies. There must be regulations in terms of what foreign films can come in and what foreign films cannot.

One of the exciting things about working here is that we are not just making movies — we are creating an industry.

Andres Gomez, Film producer

“Saudi culture must be promoted and protected, and foreign films and their themes should be limited. I’m very interested in helping and developing an industry here.”

Gomez said he was optimistic about the country producing its own content. “Saudi Arabia is a strong country that can create its own content and film industry. 

“Saudi Arabia has the financial means; however, it needs to produce more movies and TV content. The moment you produce 50-60 movies a year you will be in the market and (international film) festivals.

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Andres Gomez’s upcoming film will be shot in Jeddah with an all-Saudi crew and cast.

“This is why I made a call to the Saudi government to help young people to create this industry. It does depend totally on the government.”

As for the talents he worked with, he said: “We have collaborated with 100 Saudis on ‘Born a King.” I know there is interest from many in becoming directors, producers, and actors.”

His upcoming film, “Champions,” is a remake of a Spanish film, and shooting will begin in Jeddah by January, with an all-Saudi crew and cast. 

“We hope to open the film by September next year,” Gomez added.


Walid bin Abdullah Bukhari, Saudi ambassador to Lebanon

Updated 09 August 2020

Walid bin Abdullah Bukhari, Saudi ambassador to Lebanon

Saudi Arabia has stepped up its relief efforts in Lebanon following the deadly explosions in Beirut.

Saudi Ambassador Walid bin Abdullah Bukhari said the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center began organizing emergency aid immediately after the incident.

Bukhari has been the Saudi envoy to Lebanon since December 2018. He previously served as charge d’affaires at the embassy from March 2018 until his current appointment.

Bukhari obtained a bachelor’s degree in political science with distinction at the King Abdul Aziz University in 1995.

He obtained a higher diploma in diplomatic studies at the Institute of Diplomatic Studies in Riyadh in 2000, and a master’s in international politics from California State University, Fullerton.

He joined the Saudi diplomatic corps in 1996. In 1999, he was appointed deputy head of the mission of the Kingdom’s embassy in Niger.

Bukhari served as the consul general in Los Angeles from 2002 to 2006. In 2007, he was appointed to the office of the undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He became director of total quality management in 2009.

In 2013, he was assigned a role at the Saudi Embassy in Berlin. He was appointed assistant director general of planning and development at the ministry in 2016. He also served as the director general of diplomatic affairs and protocol and deputy undersecretary for protocol affairs in 2017.