Arab Movie Night

Our Movie Night on 29 April was organized in partnership with the second edition of the International Arab Film Festival (IAFFZ), presenting two evocative films of women in Saudi Arabia and Morocco.

In Sanctity, Ahd Kamel portrays a young woman who, after her husband dies, finds herself entirely abandoned by a society that offers her neither financial help nor personal protection. Camera/Woman is a documentary by filmmaker Karima Zoubir which tells the story of Khadija, an extraordinary woman from Morocco, who supports herself and indeed her whole family by working as a camerawoman at weddings. Through the film we experience close-up the kind of resistance Khadija is up against, particularly from her family. Although she happens to be the only person in the family who has a job, they, and especially her brother, cannot accept that her job involves working at night.

The President of the Swiss Arab Network (SAN), Mounir Khouzami, warmly welcomed a group of select guests in the Restaurant Luv Drink & Dine below the Julius Bär building at the Bahnhofstrasse / Münzplatz where they were treated to some drinks, a wonderful buffet and the performance of the band Tinted Moon.

Thanks to its partnership with the International Arab Film Festival (IAFFZ) and the film night, SAN has succeeded in creating a bridge between the Arab world and Switzerland. Mounirs achievements over the last six months and briefly described planned events. Aida Schläpfer, who is a film director in her own right as well as the President of IAFFZ, also welcomed the guests and gave them an insight into what goes on behind the scenes of the Festival. The Festival, which is showing twenty two films, makes an important contribution to our understanding of the Arab world. Where daily news broadcasts tend to focus almost exclusively on the negative headlines, films provide a medium through which to portray Arab culture and the lives of peoples from many diverse perspectives. Despite all the differences, the films always expose the spirit of optimism that characterizes contemporary social, political and cultural life in the Arab countries.

This statement served as the introduction to the panel discussion in which also Omar Lahyani and Jacqueline Erb participated. Jacqueline, who lived and worked for a number of years in various Arab countries, emphasized the strength of women and their influence in society. Omar, for his part, concentrated more on the economic aspects of both countries. Morocco is one of the few north African countries that did not suffer too much of a negative impact from the Arab Spring and has become a preferred travel destination attracting more than ten million tourists in 2013, a new record in Africa. Saudi Arabia also continued to be stable and represents almost 50% of the market potential of the Middle East. With various changes in society and an increasing openness towards business, it should be one of the focus markets for any European company considering expanding into the Middle East.

Finally, we should like to express our thanks to the Neue Züricher Zeitung for sponsoring the magazine “Frauenwelten”.