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The heresy called cinema

Cinema in Saudi Arabia over the years has had critics, investors as well as consumers

Turki Aldakhil

Published: Updated:

Some call the talk of cinema in Saudi Arabia as strange as it is impossible for them to imagine the presence of this form of art in our country.

However, history actually contradicts this perception. Dr Abdullah al-Madni tells us a lot in his memoirs of cinema. He narrates them in an article – “This is my experience with Saudi cinema.”

Al-Madni wrote about the residential neighborhoods of middle class Saudis and Arab bachelors in Dhahran, Abqaiq, Ras Tanura and other modern oil-driven cities. He also talks about the air base in Dharan, which included a cinema for entertainment purposes.

If by cinema they mean watching a movie on television, then eastern province may have been luckier than other parts of the kingdom due to Aramco TV, which started broadcasting in Dhahran on September 16, 1957

Turki Aldakhil

Cinema on television

If by cinema they mean watching a movie on television, then eastern province may have been luckier than other parts of the kingdom due to Aramco TV which started broadcasting in Dhahran on September 16, 1957.

This was the first television channel in the Arabian Gulf and the second in the Middle East after Baghdad TV, which had begun broadcasting few months earlier.

Cinema has been part of the Saudi history of recent decades. The medium has had critics, investors as well as consumers. They don’t see anything wrong with that.

Their contribution to Arab cinema has led to visual evolution of this mode of entertainment and spread of joy in life. This is just a small part of the story.

This article was first published in Okaz on Jan 30, 2017.
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Turki Aldakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and Alarabiya.net, the news channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies. He tweets @TurkiAldakhil.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.