Empowerment policies have spurred Saudi women to excel in diverse cultural domains  

March 09, 2021

Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — Saudi women have registered a remarkable presence in the national cultural scene, thanks to the support of the Ministry of Culture’s policies that led to the empowerment of women in various sectors, through celebrating their artistic and literary creativity and by involving them in the management of creative projects.

These empowerment policies have led to the emergence of Saudi creative women in various cultural sectors, some of which are new or created by the Ministry of Culture, such as fashion, culinary arts, and museums, in addition to the well-known classical sectors in the fields of literature, films, and music.

In the recent past, the Saudi cultural scene has witnessed the continuation of the brilliance of Saudi female filmmakers who made their presence felt through their works in cinema halls or on digital platforms. The film “Lady of the Sea” by the young Saudi director Shahad Ameen that bagged Venice’s Verona Film Club Award comes on the top of the list. Her film “The Scales” won the nomination of the Film Authority under the Ministry of Culture to compete in the race for the Oscar nomination in the best international film category. Director Hana Alomair is the director of Netflix’s first Saudi thriller original series “Whispers,” which was shown on the global Netflix platform in June 2020, and her script for the film “Sheet” won a grant from the Red Sea Film Festival along with director Hind Al-Fahad.

The Ministry of Culture supported Saudi female filmmakers through the “Light” competition to support films organized by the Film Authority. Directors Dania Nassif, Afnan Bawian, Noura Abu Shusha, Reema Al-Majed, Maha Al-Saati, Dania Al-Hamrani and Mariam Khayyat received support to finance their long and short films.

At the level of international achievements in filmmaking, two films by two Saudi directors won international awards: The film “Who Burns the Night” by Sarah Misfer received a mention and a certificate of appreciation in the last session of the Cairo International Film Festival, and “Hajj to Disney” by Maha Al Saati has won the award for best screenplay at Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival.

The fashion sector, which was included by the Ministry of Culture within its cultural sectors, witnessed the most prominent presence of Saudi women in the “Saudi Cup” competition, in which the creative Saudi woman’s touch in fashion design was demonstrated, through the “Saudi Cup Dress” guide that includes dress rules and methods. The fashion expert Dr. Laila Al-Bassam and the painter Noura Al-Samhan participated in the event held under the supervision of the Fashion Authority. The guide played a role in the emergence of traditional Saudi costumes with a brilliant appearance in the great world race that was hosted in Riyadh in February this year.

In the sectors of literature, publishing, and translation, Saudi women have continued their distinguished presence in authorship and in the collection of literary prizes locally and internationally. The recent period has recorded steady growth in the contribution of Saudi women in writing and publishing novels, poetry, and intellectual studies, in addition to their competition for important prizes. They include Dr. Asma Al-Ahmadi, who was nominated for Sheikh Zayed Book Award for her critical study titled “The Problems of the Narrated Self in the Saudi Feminist Novel”, and the writer Latifa Al-Shalawi, who was nominated for the same award for her work “Hatsmaker” in the category of children’s literature.

Poet Haifa Al-Jabri won the Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Prize for Arabic Poetry within the Song of Poetry Track for her poem “Damascus”. The author Dr. Al-Reem Al-Fawaz bagged first place in the Rashid Bin Humaid Prize for Culture and Science for her critical study.

In the music sector, the brilliance of Saudi women has been recorded in recent years in the writing of lyrics by creative Saudi women poets, singers, and musicians. The Saudi female musicians shine in playing instruments as well as in pure musical composition, in a path that seems new to the Saudi music scene, thanks to their creativity. Their musical genre has become a constant presence in various musical events held in various cities across the Kingdom. The most prominent among them are pianists Dalin Al-Khaled, Nouf Tawfiq and Rawan Al-Drees, in addition to lute player Ghala, who also provides training courses in the art of playing the lute.

As for the visual arts sector, the most important presence is of the painting of Saudi artist Lulwah Al-Hamoud that is exhibited in the office of the Crown Prince last May, and that was described as a tribute to Saudi art, and an affirmation of the support and empowerment that Saudi artists receive under the umbrella of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which focused in its cultural aspects on supporting Saudi creativity and enabling it to express the Kingdom’s culture and translate its history, identity, and ancient culture.

The growing presence of Saudi women in cultural fields, in terms of quantity and quality, distinction, and achievement, reflects the development of the local cultural sectors, which provided women with a large social space. This has contributed to improving the Saudi creative investment and helping a woman express her voice, self, and creativity in a way translating the rich and varied cultural heritage, which is supervised by the Ministry of Culture in accordance with the Kingdom’s future vision.

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