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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Saudi Arabia faces criticism for hosting all-Israeli cast filming ‘Biblical epic’


Saudi Arabia is one of the two location settings for the Israeli-produced film.

Ahead of the controversial Abraham Accords last year, Saudi Arabia opened its doors to an all-Israeli production crew filming Ballads of the Exodus.

This marked the first time a Biblical epic with an entirely Israeli cast and crew was shot in the Saudi kingdom.

The film is a recreation of the “Book of Exodus” and details the life of Moses, and its filming in Saudi Arabia was only made possible due to steps taken by other Arab states towards signing the Abraham Accords, in which the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and later, Sudan formalised ties with Israel.

Saudi Arabia has withheld following suit due to the potential backlash it could face.

However, Twitter users described the presence of the Israeli cast and crew in Saudi Arabia as “the beginning of unmasking the false enmity” between the two states.

“Everything will be revealed,” one tweet read.

A PR Newswire report said most of the footage was shot around Jebel al-Lawz, “the mountain in northwest Saudi Arabia believed by many to be the real Mount Sinai”, though this has been disputed.

“Among the various candidates considered by archeologists, Jebel-al-Lawz is the only mountain with an unbroken ancient Jewish, Christian, and Muslim tradition that identifies it as the historical Mount Sinai,” the report said.

According to the press release, the movie was shot and produced in the same location where many of the events from the original book are believed to have taken place. 

In 2019, just weeks after Saudi Arabia opened up its doors to international tourism and in the lead up to the Abraham Accords, the crew became the first group to enter the kingdom.

Since then, Saudi Arabia and the UAE in particular have come under fire for hosting Israeli officials, businesses men and influencers on their lands despite global outrage and and opposition from Palestinian factions.

This week, the UAE faced a barrage of criticism for officially inaugurating its first Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi, especially as Israeli forces engaged in the illegal demolition of Palestinian homes and structures in Jerusalem.

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