‘Saudi film is ready to do great things,’ says Egyptian star Laila Eloui

(AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Updated 10 December 2021
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‘Saudi film is ready to do great things,’ says Egyptian star Laila Eloui

  • Screen idol urges Kingdom’s new generation of filmmakers to ‘step up and take center stage’

JEDDAH: Egyptian film and television stars have long been a source of inspiration for Saudis, but none more so than Laila Eloui, the award-winning actress who has made more than 70 movies in a career stretching back decades.

With her dramatic fashion sense, good looks and striking blonde curls, Eloui was a favorite among an emerging generation who rarely missed a chance to watch their idols on small box screens while growing up in the 1980s and 1990s.

After making her screen debut in the 1970s, the actress co-starred in films, comedies and dramas alongside some of the greatest names in Egyptian entertainment history, including Ahmed Zaki, Farooq Al-Fishawi, Adel Imam, Kamal Al-Shinawi, Hussain Fahmi, Laila Siddqi, Mervat Amin and Isaad Younis.

Eloui’s performances made her a household name, and brought a string of Egyptian and international festival awards.

Now, speaking on the fourth day of the Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah, Eloui has inspired a new generation of Saudi filmmakers to step up and take their turn in the limelight.

“Everyone can sense the change that’s happening here,” she said. “It’s a change for the better, it’s a change for more innovation, and I believe that there will be great things coming from the younger generation of directors, actors and actresses and more.”

She added: “You must grasp your opportunity because you will be the makers of change in the Arab and Saudi film industry.”

Eloui was speaking as part of a series of masterclass sessions featuring talks and question-and-answer discussions with film industry leaders.

The Egyptian actress took center stage on Thursday, and with an infectious smile told how proud and happy she was to see the Saudi community’s engagement with the festival, as well as the popularity of films, talks and workshops.

Eloui discussed the challenges she has faced throughout her career, and described acting as one of the most demanding professions “as it requires great skill to control one’s actions and reactions, and play a character different to your own.”

She offered insights into some of her most important film roles, and said that even after 40 years in the industry her love of acting remains strong.

Speaking of the challenges facing up-and-coming actors, especially when it comes to screenplays, Eloui said that reading a script differed from one decade to the next.

“I grew more knowledgeable, understood the scenarios better, and visualized the scenes clearly over time. It needs to be gained through patience and learning.”

When she first started, it was a struggle, “but I learned how to love each character. You learn to love each work that comes your way and you embrace the story and your role in it.”

Eloui added: “My role as an actress is to complete the film. Breaking into character will come easier if you understand your role, and therein lies the true magic of a writer and director. Once the message is clear, you won’t need to make any additions to it as an actress.”

She added that “it doesn’t hurt to improvise sometimes and add your two cents to the character you’re playing,” adding that “it works best if you have a good understanding of the story and a good relationship with the director.”

“It’s a working relationship and we complete each other. That’s how success is made.”

Eloui recalled her role in the 2001 television drama “Hadith Al-Sabah Wal Masaa” (“Morning and Evening Talk”) with Abla Kamel, Dalal Abdul Aziz and Khaled Al-Nabawi. The drama was based on a novel by Nobel prizewinner Naguib Mahfouz and followed the lives of an Egyptian family through generations.

The script was impeccably written, and is still widely appreciated by fans and industry professionals, she said.

“When a drama is written clearly and in the best form, you can’t help but ensure its perfection in every way. From the actors to production to the set, the lighting and costumes, all these components complete one another — it’s a full circle.”

Eloui stressed the importance of listening to a director. “Actors are actors and have their vision; but they must show their skills, and accept instructions and a director’s guidance,” she said.

“The more cooperation there is between artists in a film, the better the outcome.”


Saudi Arabia jails expat for five years for harassing a woman

Updated 18 April 2024
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Saudi Arabia jails expat for five years for harassing a woman

RIYADH: An expatriate living in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to five years in prison for harassing a woman.

Saudi Arabia’s Public Prosecution’s Morality wing completed its investigations into the issue, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday, and after being referred to the relevant court, tried and found guilty, he was jailed and also fined SR150,000 ($39,986).

The Public Prosecution affirmed its keenness and determination to protect public morals, adding that any violation of this requires criminal accountability.


Saudi FM receives Montenegrin counterpart in Riyadh

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with his Montenegrin counterpart Filip Ivanovic in Riyadh on Thursday. SPA
Updated 18 April 2024
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Saudi FM receives Montenegrin counterpart in Riyadh

  • During the meeting, the two officials reviewed cooperation between their countries and ways to enhance and develop it in various fields

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received his Montenegrin counterpart Filip Ivanovic in Riyadh on Thursday.

During the meeting, the two officials reviewed cooperation between their countries and ways to enhance and develop it in various fields.

They also discussed regional and international developments and efforts made in this regard.


Governor of Taif meets with Saudi cultural director

Updated 18 April 2024
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Governor of Taif meets with Saudi cultural director

  • Prince Saud bin Nahar was briefed on SASCA’s strategy and initiatives aimed at fostering and empowering talent in the cultural and artistic fields
  • A cooperation agreement was signed between SASCA and Taif University

RIYADH: Governor of Taif Prince Saud bin Nahar bin Saud met Princess Haifa bint Abdulmohsen, the director of development and partnerships at the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts, at the governorate’s headquarters on Thursday.

The governor was briefed on SASCA’s strategy and initiatives aimed at fostering and empowering talent in the cultural and artistic fields, in line with the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

The parties were also present at the signing of a cooperation agreement between SASCA in Taif and Taif University.


Saudi FM holds phone calls with Belgian, Spanish counterparts

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan spoke with Belgian FM Hadja Lahbib and Spanish FM Jose Manuel Albares Thursday.
Updated 18 April 2024
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Saudi FM holds phone calls with Belgian, Spanish counterparts

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received a phone call from his Belgian counterpart Hadja Lahbib on Thursday.

During the phone call, the two officials discussed  developments in the region, particularly developments in the Gaza Strip and efforts made in this regard.

Prince Faisal also made a phone call to Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union, and Cooperation Jose Manuel Albares to discuss regional issues and the conflict in Gaza, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said.


ilmi, PNU launch museum studies program

Updated 18 April 2024
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ilmi, PNU launch museum studies program

  • New micro-credential courses open to all high-school graduates, undergraduates
  • Program includes Arabic, English, in-person, remote, long and short-term courses

RIYADH: A new museum studies program in Saudi Arabia has opened for registration, offering micro-credential and long-term courses.

It is the result of a partnership between ilmi, a center for science, technology, reading, engineering, arts and mathematics learning, and Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University.

ilmi — meaning “my knowledge” in Arabic — is a science and innovation center that aims to empower young people in Saudi Arabia.

A philanthropic NGO initiative created by Princess Sara bint Mashour bin Abdulaziz, wife of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, ilmi is incubated, supported and funded by the Mohammed bin Salman Foundation, Misk, as a subsidiary, and operates in partnership with Mohammed bin Salman Nonprofit City.

The museum studies program includes micro-credential, diploma, minor and elective courses.

It is open to recent high-school graduates and university undergraduates keen to secure entry-level positions in museums, as well as professionals seeking new skill sets and career paths.

Created by ilmi and PNU experts from Saudi Arabia and around the world, the program offers a blend of online and in-person learning, alongside Arabic and English tuition options.

Micro-credential courses will blend online and in-person learning, and are available to applicants over the age of 18.

Courses include museum impact studies, museum education and awareness, an introduction to museum technologies, fundamentals of museum management and integrating digital technology.

Courses on offer for PNU students include an introduction to museums elective and specialist minors in museums and digital technology, exhibit design and content development.

A two-year diploma in museum management will also be available for both PNU students and recent high-school graduates.

Registration has opened for the first online micro-credential course starting this month: Fundamentals of museum management.

All further micro-credential courses will take place in May and June, with the diploma, minor and elective programs starting in September at the beginning of the academic year 2024/25.

Program graduates can also apply to work alongside ilmi experts as they design and launch unique, informal learning programs across the Kingdom.

For more information and registration, click here.