Saudi filmmaker Haifaa al-Mansour discusses portrayal of women at Davos

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Saudi Arabian filmmaker, Haifaa al-Mansour, said her aim is to portray Arab women as strong and “sassy.”

Speaking during a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday, al-Mansour said: “Whether it’s coming from the region, or internationally, I really enjoy portraying strong female protagonists, women who don’t see themselves as victims,” al-Mansour said.

“In all the scripts I get, Muslim and Arab women are all victims and sad, and things are happening to them — and it’s like no, we’re very sassy. We’re very strong. Don’t take us for granted.”

She added that it was a stereotype to portray Arab women as weak, and although she did not deny the hardships that some Arab women face, she said, “that is a huge misconception, we are way more than who they think we are as women.”

Al-Mansour was honored with the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award, which celebrates the achievements of leading artists and cultural figures whose leadership inspires inclusive and sustainable change.

Saudi Arabia has witnessed waves of reforms as part of the Saudi Vision 2030, which intends to diversify the Saudi economy and liberalize Saudi society. These new changes introduced the opening of cinema theatres in the Kingdom, whereas in the past movie theatres did not exist.

Al-Mansour lauded the reforms and the focus on arts and entertainment in the Kingdom, “Saudi Arabia is building its arts and culture industry, and that’s where we should put our energy.”

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