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The Saudi Women Making The Cut

Haifaa Al Mansour

As 2018 approaches its mid mark, Saudi Arabia continues to work diligently on advancing its entertainment sector following the rescinding of a decades-old ban on public cinemas and the loosening of restrictions across the Kingdom. As everyone gears up to witness the opening of the Kingdom’s first cinema in 35 years and with tourist visas in the works, it has just been announced that three women, including Saudi Arabia’s first female director, have been appointed to a new key board.

According to Emirates Woman, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Culture and Information, Dr. Awwad Bin Saleh Al-Awwad, has appointed a new board of directors for the General Authority for Culture. The board is made up of made up of 13 members, three who are women, including artists, filmmakers and government officials, according to state news agency SPA.

The official body, which is responsible for all cultural activities in Saudi Arabia, was established by royal decree two years ago with the aim of developing arts and culture within the Kingdom, bringing the sector to a “competitive level.” This new board, which will facilitate this new phase in the Kingdom’s evolution, now counts Haifaa Al Mansour, Saudi Arabia’s first female director, among its ranks.

Known as Saudi Arabia’s first female filmmaker, Al Mansour’s feature debut “Wadjda” is an award-winning film and the first full-length to be shot entirely in Saudi Arabia. Her 2017 Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) entry, “Mary Shelley,” is about life of the famous British author who wrote “Frankenstein,” and was screened in Toronto International Film Festival a month ago.

The Wadjda star, who is in post-production on her third feature “Nappily Ever After,” will join the two other female board members, Mona Khazandar, the first woman and first Saudi to be appointed Director General of Paris’ Institut du Monde Arabe, and playwright Maysa Al-Sobehy.

The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Bin Salman, has been on a tour of various countries over the past weeks, including the United States. During his official cross-country visit of the US, the Crown Prince engaged in investment agreements and signed deals that will greatly impact the Saudi Arabia. Part of his tour also included meeting with key figures in Hollywood, at a time when studios and small productions companies are looking to the reforming Kingdom to help finance projects, according to Forbes.

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