First Saudi international film festival begins in Jeddah

First-ever Saudi international film festival begins, three years after cinema prohibition lifted
2 min read
08 December, 2021
The Red Sea International Film Festival's team revealed high-profile actors, directors and other notables were to be at the festival's opening.
The festival is taking place in Jeddah [Getty]

The first-ever international film festival in Saudi history began in the Gulf kingdom on Monday.

The event's official account tweeted: "The inaugural session of the Red Sea International Film Festival started today from the historic city of Jeddah."

The Red Sea International Film Festival is taking place between 6 and 15 December. High-profile actors, directors and other notables from across the globe were at the festival's opening night.

"This is the moment we have been waiting for for a long time," event chief Mohammed Al-Turki told opening night attendees.

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There will be 138 films of all lengths from 67 countries showing at the festival.

Of these, 25 will be world premieres, 48 premieres for the Arab world, and 17 first screenings for the Gulf, festival organisers said.

The Red Sea event is a major milestone after Saudi Arabia finally allowed cinemas to begin operating in April 2018, following a prohibition of 35 years, according to Anadolu.

The country's de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, has been implementing his Vision 2030 scheme for the country's future.

This is widely seen as a bid by the crown prince to cement his control and gain international approval.

It has caused significant society-wide change and reforms in many areas, though critics argue these changes are surface level, pointing to continued abuses against women's rights activists and others.