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Saudi Arabia and the film industry. The government wants to spend $ 64 billion

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Saudi Arabia is slowly becoming a target for filmmakers following the lifting of the cinema ban in 2018. He also has Hollywood ambitions and intends to invest $ 64 billion in the emerging entertainment industry in the desert. Saudi Arabia intends to create the most important film center in the Middle East as part of its strategy of weaning the economy from oil, writes Bloomberg.

Saudi Arabia and the dream of your Hollywood

The action movie “Desert Warrior,” starring Anthony Mackie (Marvel’s new Captain America), is shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, and Gerard Butler’s newest thriller “Kandahar” will begin shooting in the Al-Ula region.

– We started from scratch, nobody was here before and we have big ambitions. We want to make Al-Ula an international target for filmmakers, says Stephen Strachan, film commissioner for the region, quoted by Bloomberg.

“This is a remarkable turnaround for Saudi Arabia, where as recently as a few years ago women were banned from driving, restaurants were gender categorized, and most forms of entertainment – from music concerts to film screenings – were banned as non-Islamic. Prince Mohammed bin Salman has loosened social constraints, “reports Bloomberg.

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Shooting a movie in Saudi Arabia

The portal points out that “there is the other side of the transformation”. “Prince Mohammed has imprisoned dissidents, silenced critics, and was charged by the US with ordering the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi – which Saudi Arabia denies,” writes Bloomberg.

– I think people sometimes have bad ideas about Saudis. Hollywood wants to see what happens with the movie “Kandahar”. People are interested in the cultural changes in Saudi Arabia, says Strachan.

Kandahar is co-sponsored by Saudi TV giant MBC along with Thunder Road from Santa Monica, California. Gerard Butler will appear in the film as an undercover CIA agent working in Afghanistan. “I liked the script and Gerard Butler is a famous name,” Peter Smith, head of MBC Studios, explains to Bloomberg. Smith was previously president of NBC Universal International and moved to MBC in 2018.

Competition for Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia faces fierce competition, according to the portal. Morocco and Jordan have long been used by the film industry as desert locations. Jordan’s Wadi Rum valley “starred” as Mars in the science fiction movie “The Martian” from 2015 and extraterrestrial landscapes in “Star Wars: Skywalker. Rebirth” – we read on Bloomberg.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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