“The banning of the new Hollywood movie “The Kingdom” by Bahrain and Kuwait this week was deemed counterproductive and largely symbolic by a cross-section of experts interviewed by Arab News. Saudi Arabia has not yet announced a ban on the movie. While the Kingdom has no movie theaters, DVD films (both licensed and pirated copies) are widely available. A ban would mean the film would only be available as pirated copies sold on the street.
But one Kuwaiti blogger who saw the movie and who blogs under the handle “This Lady Says”, said she was not surprised that the film was banned; it depicts the Americans as the heroes that come in and rescue the bungling Saudis, she pointed out.
“The supposedly ‘Saudi’ characters speak in dialects more related to Bilad Al-Sham,” wrote the blogger, referring to the accent of Syrian Arabic. “They portray a Saudi prince, as well as Saudi figures, such as generals in the army, as ignorant or just plain dumb. They made many sarcastic jokes about them, and portrayed the American FBI agents as the heroes who go to Saudi Arabia to bring freedom and stop terrorists.”
Yet Al-Ibrahim insists that the original script that he read was far worse, and that by being on the set throughout the filming of the movie he was able to change many negative portrayals of Saudis into positive ones. “I asked for many changes and I tried my best to get the accents right, but it was hard to teach (the actors) a Najdi accent,” said the consultant.
“By banning the film it fuels illegal downloading and pirated copies, which I guarantee we’ll see on Kuwaiti streets during the Eid holidays,” wrote Kuwaiti blogger Amer on his blog Hilaliya.
Burgess agrees. “Telling people that they cannot have something, for no apparently good reason, always tempts them to try and get it through one means or another,” he said. “Illegal downloads, copying, bringing DVDs across the border are sure to result.” Michael Saba, an American businessman and executive director of the Friends of Saudi Arabia group in Washington, D.C., said he felt viewing audiences should decide for themselves whether they should watch it or not. “Viewers should be able to make their own judgments and should have the chance to see it,” said Saba.