Aside from its stunning sandy landscapes, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is also known for its pristine waters, long tradition of fishing, and for its tranquil and remarkable marine lifestyle. In fact, that is the subject of the short film by Saleh Bukhamseen, "The Whaler," which documents the lifestyle of fishermen in Yanbu and presents it to a global audience, a film that nabbed the Science Award at the 2022 Nice International Film Festival.
The film was named after the word "hawata," which translates as "whaler," which is a term given to fishermen in Yanbu. It focuses on telling the stories of the past and present through a local elder, Abu Hilal. "I wanted to capture the spirit of the people who make their livelihood from marine life, and showcase their determination," Bukhamseen said about his film in a recent article by Arab News.
Bukhamseen is a self-taught underwater cinematographer combining his love for diving and filmmaking. In fact, he has tried his hands on making documentaries and filmmaking for over eight years, resulting in projects such as "Plastic Inferno" and "In the Presence of Palm," some of which had been uploaded onto YouTube.
Currently, Bukhamseen works closely with Saudi authorities in producing promotions and short documentaries. This includes his current position as an underwater filmmaker for the National Center for Wildlife (NCW), which was set up to address important aspects of the environment sector. This includes the protecting and developing both terrestrial and marine wildlife, the ecosystems, and the coral reefs.
As an underwater filmmaker, Bukhamseen captures the beauty of the sea, and its marine wildlife with the lens of his camera. In fact, he has been diving into the sea several years prior to his current position, and also shared stunning photos and videos both on Instagram and YouTube. This newly found passion would be what inspired him to make "The Whaler."