Meet the Taylor Swift-loved Saudi VFX producer behind her hit videos

19/09/20

 

 

LOS ANGELES: Jumanah Shaheen is one of the first Saudi women to work in visual effects in Hollywood. Her most recent project was the music video to Taylor Swift’s new single “Cardigan.”

 

This marks Shaheen’s second time working with the artist, the first being the 2017 hit “Look What You Made Me Do.”

“What I thought was amazing about this project is that Taylor Swift actually directed this video,” Shaheen told Arab News. “It was great to see her in that role and see how she was able to take her knowledge and put that into the video.”

As a woman succeeding in the film industry, Shaheen is proud of her work and is looking to provide opportunities to other women facing the challenges she faced.

At the same time, she is proud and excited to be Saudi in a time when the Saudi film industry is taking off.

“Now we’re getting to hear a lot more stories that come from Saudi, that come from my culture, from our traditions,” she said. “It’s amazing to see all these amazingly talented people – writers, directors, producers (and) artists – all having this ability and opportunity to share their stories.”

Shaheen said she is glad to be a role model for Saudis and women that share her dream of working in the film industry. She encourages them not to simply imitate people like her, but to recognize the positive qualities of others and use them to be the best version of yourself.

“What I’m hoping with my experience here and be able to kind of provide those services for these new upcoming directors and artists to find that outlet with them,” the post production producer said. “So if you have an independent film I’m hoping that I can be your right hand in being able to make your vision come to life.”

 

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi rights body empowers women, youth through partnerships, workshops

Time: 09 September 2020

The two organizations will work to promote human rights through the empowerment of women. (SPA)
  • People with special needs, along with women and children, will be supported in accordance with international agreements and standards

JEDDAH: The Saudi Human Rights Commission (HRC) and the charitable group Alwaleed Philanthropies will work to promote human rights through the empowerment of women and youth following a partnership agreement between the two organizations.

Under the memorandum of cooperation (MoC) signed by Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad, head of the HRC, and Princess Lamia bint Majid, secretary-general of Alwaleed Philanthropies, people with special needs, along with women and children, will be supported in accordance with international agreements and standards.

Support will also be directed at women who have suffered psychologically, socially or economically in the Kingdom as part of the foundations’ initiative, which also includes training lawyers of the Waeya program in partnership with the UN.

Al-Awwad said that the commission hopes to have partnerships with all agencies involved in protecting human rights, and praised the Alwaleed Philanthropies’ efforts in humanitarian services.

“This MoC is one of the bases of the foundation regarding the empowerment of women and youth and the development of societies. We need to work together to support the empowerment of women in the Kingdom, and to address all the challenges they face in economic and social development, as well as reduce violence and the oppression of young and special-need people’s rights,” said Princess Lamia.

Meanwhile, the HRC has highlighted the important role that civil society institutions have in protecting human rights by expanding their capacity to deal with international UN human rights’ mechanisms in line with the sustainable development goals, the Saudi Vision 2030 and their role during the Kingdom’s presidency of the G20.

This came during Al-Awwad’s inauguration of a training workshop, titled “Promoting the capacities of the civil society institutions in dealing with UN international human rights mechanisms,” held by HRC as part of a technical cooperation program with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The workshop’s first day of sessions will focus on the international human rights system and the role of civil society institutions in protecting and promoting human rights. An overview of the recommendations and remarks elaborated by UN mechanisms to the Kingdom will also be offered.

On the second day, sessions will discuss the role of civil society during the Kingdom’s G20 presidency and the activation of its role in the human rights work in line with the sustainable development goals and the Saudi Vision 2030.

Al-Awwad said that protecting human rights is a religious and national duty, and efforts should be combined in order to develop and encourage those rights and respect fundamental freedoms.

Cooperating with the relevant authorities is a central pillar for work in the area of human rights, he added.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Empowerment and inclusion of Saudi women ‘essential for economic growth’

09/07/20

The panelists presented and discussed a number of recommendations for government entities designed to facilitate the professional development and empowerment of women in the economy, technology and entrepreneurship. (Photo/Supplied)

JEDDAH: The empowerment and economic inclusion of Saudi women are necessary steps for the creation of a more productive society that supports improved economic growth. This was the conclusion of a discussion on Wednesday hosted by the G20’s women’s engagement group, W20.

The virtual meeting of the group, which is organized and presided over by Saudi non-profit Al-Nahda Philanthropic Society for Women, concluded the national dialogues on Saudi women’s economic participation. The panelists presented and discussed a number of recommendations for government entities designed to facilitate the professional development and empowerment of women in the economy, technology and entrepreneurship.

“These dialogues highlighted the Kingdom’s efforts to empower women economically, and what was (previously) discussed in (a) closed session on Tuesday confirms that we still have a lot of work to do,” said Princess Moudi Bint Khalid, chair of Al-Nahda Society’s board of directors. “We hope that these sessions will have a significant impact on the development of policies and programs aimed at empowering women, and activate monitoring and follow-up systems.”

The recommendations focused on four areas: financial inclusion, digital inclusion, labor inclusion and inclusive decision-making, with women’s entrepreneurship a common thread running through them all.

The participants highlighted the crucial importance of financial inclusion as a key driver of financial independence and capacity building for women, which builds confidence and effective participation in their country’s economy.

“The current crisis has raised awareness of the need to improve production and increase productivity to a higher level, meaning (there is) a crucial need to involve women more in the market,” said Saudi entrepreneur Lateefa Al-Walan.

She presented the group’s initial recommendations for the empowerment of women in the field of entrepreneurship, which included: offering support through the increased inclusion of women in professional groups, societies and networks; more training in financial literacy and investment; and the establishment of a minimum quota for the number of places for women on organization’s governing boards.

“Entrepreneurship is the largest sustainable resource for any country, and especially so during the current crisis,” said Al-Walan. “Growing businesses also help in diversifying sources of income and raising domestic product. By supporting them, we enable the country’s biggest goals relating to the empowerment of the private sector.”

She added that sustained high-level engagement by, and commitment of, women are essential to challenging the stereotypes about their abilities.

Most of panelists agreed that social behaviors and legal restrictions are among the greatest obstacles to the advancement and empowerment of women in Saudi Arabia. While many of the legal obstacles are being removed as a result of the ongoing reforms in the Kingdom, it can be more difficult and take longer to alter deep-rooted social behavior and challenge stereotypes.

“Changing women’s perceptions about themselves is essential for success in entrepreneurship because working in this field is risky and needs courage and confidence,” added Al-Walan.

Shahd Attar, executive director of the technology and communications department at the Ministry of Investment presented recommendations for digital inclusion. She stressed the necessity of considering the needs of all sections of society when designing and creating technical tools, so that the final product does not have any in-built bias.

“Our main recommendation is to promote the equal participation of women in the design and development of technology, and that they must be at the heart of the creation of the technical solution and not only as consumers of technology,” Attar said.

She agreed with Al-Walan that stereotypes can create uncertainty or lack of confidence in women about pursuing a career or developing their abilities in technical fields.

Mounirah Al-Qahtani, a public policy consultant at Saudi Aramco, said that changes to the law are the main driver of social change.

She presented recommendations designed to improve the inclusion of women in the workforce. These mainly focused on the removal of discriminatory, gender-based labor laws and the promotion of equal rights for women and men, including paternity leave and improved child care services, to increase the sense or responsibility among Saudi families.

Salma Al-Rashed, director of Al-Nahda Society’s development program, said the organization will work with governmental institutions to encourage the adoption of W20 recommendations.

Saudi Arabia holds the presidency of the G20 this year and the group’s annual summit is due to be held in Riyadh in November. The W20 if one of several independent engagement groups, led by organizations from the host country, that focus on different sections and sectors of society and develop policy recommendations for consideration by G20 leaders.

This article was first published in Arab News

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