Thu Sep 12, 2013 10:16PM
A movie about the founder of Saudi Arabia has made its debut in London. The film, called “King of the Sands,” portrays King Abdul Aziz ibn Al Saud has caused controversy amid reports that its director has been threatened with lawsuits.
Prominent members of London’s Arab community and other VIPs walk down the red carpet before attending one of the most controversial films of the year - the world premiere of a movie which has got the Saudi Arabian authorities hopping mad. King of the Sands is directed by the famous Syrian director Najdat Aznour who’s renowned for his historical epics in Arabic which have a wide audience in the Arab world. And his latest project couldn’t be more controversial - the life story of the founder of Saudi Arabia - King Abdul Aziz al Saud. King of the Sands tells the story of the rise of Ibn Saud from an obscure tribal leader in Kuwait to the undisputed ruler of the Arabian peninsula. The film depicts Ibn Saud as an unscrupulous, bloodthirsty womaniser who was a pawn of the British. Probably the first time the former Saudi King has been depicted this way in an English language feature film in a country - the UK - which is a staunch Saudi ally. The film’s director told me his intention was to expose the religious fanaticism that Ibn Saud promoted which - he says - is behind much modern day terrorism. Reaction to the film after the premiere was mixed. Some felt that it was crude political propaganda and that the acting and production were poor. But others felt that wasn’t the point. A major taboo had been broken in that the very foundations of the Saudi kingdom had been challenged.