Kazakhstan says to ban Russian presenter over Ukraine tirade

Kazakhstan's foreign ministry said comments made by Tigran Keosayan, Russian presenter, "poison the atmosphere of good neighbourly relations" between the two countries. (Shutterstock)
Short Url
Updated 28 April 2022

Kazakhstan says to ban Russian presenter over Ukraine tirade

  • A statement distributed by Kazakhstan's foreign ministry late Wednesday said comments made by Tigran Keosayan, Russian presenter, "poison the atmosphere of good neighbourly relations"
  • Keosayan made the comments in a video on his YouTube channel

NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan: Kazakhstan has admonished a pro-Kremlin television presenter after he unleashed a tirade against the ex-Soviet country over its perceived distancing from Moscow since Russian troops invaded Ukraine.
Central Asia’s richest country, Kazakhstan shares a land border with Russia, has a significant ethnic Russian minority and was forced to call in troops from a Russia-led bloc to quell unprecedented unrest in January.
But the country of 19 million has stayed neutral on Ukraine and is toning down commemorations of a holiday marking Soviet victory over Nazi Germany that holds strong symbolic importance for Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
A statement distributed by Kazakhstan’s foreign ministry late Wednesday said comments made by Tigran Keosayan, Russian presenter, film director and husband of Russia Today editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan, “poison the atmosphere of good neighborly relations” between the two countries.
“I believe he will be included in the list of persons undesirable for entry into Kazakhstan,” the statement quoted foreign ministry spokesman Aibek Smadiyarov as saying.
Keosayan made the comments in a video on his YouTube channel, where he questioned responses to the invasion of Ukraine among former Soviet countries, including ally Kazakhstan.
“Kazakhs, brothers. What is with the non-gratitude?” asked Keosayan regarding news that Kazakhstan had ruled out holding an annual military parade on the May 9 holiday.
“Look at Ukraine carefully, think seriously,” he said.
“If you think you can continue to be such sly asses and there won’t be any consequences, you are mistaken,” Keosayan said before adding: “the train is leaving. You can still get aboard. In the last carriage.”
Kazakhstan’s foreign ministry said the comments “play into the hands of the opponents of the strategic partnership” between Kazakhstan and Russia.
AFP was unable to reach the foreign ministry Thursday to confirm if Keosayan had already been blacklisted.
Keosayan’s intervention echoes comments by wife Margarita Simonyan, who questioned why Russia had “saved” Kazakhstan by agreeing to send what the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) described as “peacekeepers” during deadly nationwide political unrest in January.
Simonyan’s February 22 Facebook post was in response to Kazakh foreign minister Mukhtar Tleuberdi’s assertion that Kazakhstan was not considering following Moscow’s lead in recognizing the independence of two separatist-led entities in eastern Ukraine.
Moscow’s bloody invasion of Ukraine began two days later.

Riyadh’s Imam Mohammed Ibn Saud University launches bachelor’s degree in cinema and theater

Updated 04 October 2023

Riyadh’s Imam Mohammed Ibn Saud University launches bachelor’s degree in cinema and theater

  • Program to have ‘direct positive impact’ on creative industries in the Kingdom, says college dean
  • Restructure sees creation of cybersecurity, translation and psychiatry departments

LONDON: Imam Mohammed Ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh has launched a bachelor’s degree in cinema and theater as part of the creation of a new department.

The Department of Cinema and Theater is part of the university’s College of Media and Communication.

The bachelor’s degree will train students in the arts of filmmaking and theater, while also ensuring that the content they produce is consistent with Saudi customs and culture.

Though details of the program have yet to be announced, the college is expected to offer courses in directing, filming and scriptwriting taught by both Arab and international experts.

The new department is part of a comprehensive academic restructuring of the university, which also includes the creation of new departments in cybersecurity, early childhood education, industrial engineering, psychiatry, radiology and translation.

The university has also merged the Higher Institute for Da’wah and Ihtisab with the College of Fundamentals of Religion under the new name of the College of Fundamentals of Religion and Da’wah.

Last year, Prince Saad bin Saud bin Mohammed Al-Saud, dean of the College of Media and Communication, revealed the draft program in an interview with Arab News.

He said that the new degree would have a “direct positive impact” on the cinema and theater industry in the Kingdom through the training of a pool of skilled professionals.

The College of Media and Communication at IMSIU is one of the largest colleges in the Kingdom, and is the latest to cater to new specializations in the field.

A few years ago, the college launched a marketing advertising department, a graphics and multimedia department, in addition to departments covering journalism, radio and TV, and public relations.

Netflix plans to raise prices after actors’ strike ends

Updated 04 October 2023

Netflix plans to raise prices after actors’ strike ends

  • WSJ reported that price increase will occur in ‘several markets globally’

LONDON: Netflix is planning to raise the price of its ad-free service after the ongoing Hollywood actors’ strike ends, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, sending the streaming company’s shares up more than 3 percent.
Netflix is discussing raising prices in several markets globally, but will likely begin with the United States and Canada, the WSJ reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
It was not immediately clear how much Netflix will raise prices by or when exactly the new prices will take effect, according to the report.
Netflix declined to comment on the report.
Talks between the SAG-AFTRA actors’ union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents the studios, are ongoing, with their next meeting scheduled on Wednesday.
The writers’ union struck a tentative deal with the AMPTP last week after five months of failed negotiations.
Netflix cut prices of its subscription plans in some countries in February. In the same month, it laid out a plan to crack down on password sharing by subscribers that was rolled out in over 100 countries in May.

Social media platform X tests game streaming and live shopping features

Updated 03 October 2023

Social media platform X tests game streaming and live shopping features

  • Elon Musk posts video of himself playing Diablo IV
  • Move may be attempt to lure streamers to the platform

LONDON: Social media platform X has started to test game streaming and live shopping features.

Elon Musk, X’s owner, posted a video of himself playing Diablo IV on the platform, demonstrating the new features of the X video game streamer system.

Musk wrote: “Tested the X video game streamer system last night. It works! Will try to complete a Tier 100 Nightmare Dungeon tonight live on this platform.”

Musk streamed his gameplay of Nightmare Dungeon, and wrote: “Testing video game streaming on X.”

The X broadcast lasted 52 minutes, of which the first dozen were spent setting up the stream.

The event, which was not advertised by Musk, was watched by a total of 20,000 people, with a peak of 1,300 concurrent viewers.


Separately, X has announced a new partnership with Paris Hilton to experiment with live shopping features.

X’s Broadcast feature, which allows users to stream live video, is part of the company’s plan to transform from a short-message website into a more comprehensive social media platform that includes long-form video and other features.

Musk’s testing of the new game-streaming feature suggests that he is trying to compete with Twitch, the leading game-streaming platform owned by Amazon.

Musk is also offering paying subscribers a share of the advertising revenue from their posts, which could lure Twitch streamers who are unhappy with Twitch’s monetization policies.

The gaming and esports industry has experienced exponential growth in recent years, with the Middle East and North Africa region being the fastest-growing area due to demographic and consumption trends.

According to data and analytics streaming platform Streams Charts, Arabic streamers were watched for 120 million hours in 2022 on Twitch, the most popular streaming platform in the region.

Given X’s strong regional presence in MENA, its move to launch game streaming and live shopping features could be a game-changer for the industry and a significant boost for the $38 billion investment strategy unveiled by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2022.

However, the full-scale rollout of these features has not yet been announced, and experts have raised concerns about whether X’s infrastructure can handle the new live video features.

Musk last week attempted to stream from the US border with Mexico, but the video feed abruptly cut out after about four minutes due to technical issues.

Barajoun Studios partners with ORI Animation

Updated 03 October 2023

Barajoun Studios partners with ORI Animation

  • The alliance aims to enhance the quality of animation in Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: Barajoun Studios has announced a partnership with China’s ORI Animation at the Saudi Film Confex being held at the Riyadh Front Exhibition and Convention Center.

The co-production alliance aims to enhance the quality of animation in Saudi Arabia while also bolstering the growth of local talent.

Barajoun Studios, which specializes in animation and visual effects, covers all aspects of animation and CGI production, from concept design to final render output with a focus on storytelling.

The company is known for the animated feature film “Bilal: A New Breed of Hero,” with upcoming projects including “Little Heroes” and “Star Chaser.”

Last year, MBC Group’s streaming platform Shahid signed a partnership deal with Barajoun to produce five original, Arabic-language animations. These will stream exclusively under the Shahid Originals banner on Shahid VIP over the next three years.

“Aligning with ORI Animation is not just a business decision; it’s a melding of visions,” Ayman Jamal, CEO of Barajoun Studios, said. “Together, we aim to create narratives that are universal in appeal yet unique in delivery.”

China-based ORI Animation was founded in 2006 and has produced five animated feature films and 11 shows including “One Day,” “Sky Wings,” and “Franco Rabbit.”

In 2013, it launched its expansion strategy, which has seen the company form partnerships with 600 media and animation groups from 70 countries.

“Our collaboration with Barajoun Studios is a testament to the limitless possibilities when creativity and technology meet. We are set on a journey to explore and create stories that will be cherished for generations,” said Feng Qian, president of ORI Animation.

The Saudi Film Confex, hosted by the Saudi Film Commission, seeks to promote the social, cultural and economic value of cinema. Running until Oct. 4 after having started on Sunday, the event brings together industry experts, executives and investors from around the world.

Live Nation Middle East makes global push to promote Arabic music

Updated 03 October 2023

Live Nation Middle East makes global push to promote Arabic music

  • Newly appointed Amin T. Kabban to lead team promoting international tours for Arabic artists
  • Company is committed to growing regional talents, exporting Arabic music worldwide, Live Nation Middle East president said

LONDON: Live Nation Middle East, the regional arm of the entertainment giant, is making a global push to promote Arabic music.

The company has appointed Amin T. Kabbani to lead a newly formed team that will focus on booking and promoting international tours for Arabic artists.

“Expanding our operations to include international touring for Arabic talent is a natural progression for Live Nation Middle East,” said James Craven, president of Live Nation Middle East.

“While focusing on established names, Live Nation Middle East is equally dedicated to nurturing up-and-coming regional talent.”

As part of its initiative, the entertainment powerhouse will host events at some of the region’s iconic venues, such as Etihad Arena.

Craven said Live Nation is committed to nurturing up-and-coming Arabic talent and raising the profile of Arabic music around the world.

Kabbani, an industry leader with 15 years of experience, said that he is “truly honored and excited to join the Live Nation Middle East team on this incredible journey of transforming the Arabic touring market.”

He added that this is a “remarkable opportunity to not only shape the future of live entertainment but also to celebrate the rich Arabic culture through unforgettable performances.”

Live Nation Middle East will kick off its global touring business in early 2024 with an 18-stop tour headlined by an iconic Arab artist.