Dammam, Asharq Al-Awsat- In a step considered the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia, the King Saud University in Riyadh will launch a drama course next year.
It will be the first Saudi university to offer such a specialized course, which will teach male and female students about the dramatic arts. The course will be launched in the academic year of 2009/2010, an official university source told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The source underlined that the Drama course will work in favour of young Saudi cinematic production and said that ‘through the course, we will support cinema.’
Head of the Mass Media Department at King Saud University Dr. Fahd Alkhereiji told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Drama course will be an alternative to the department’s Theatrical Art unit. He clarified that the shift towards Drama aims to achieve academic development as it will cover different types of television, theatrical and cinematic arts. He added that the Theatrical Arts unit was restricted by the fact that it has not been received well by the students; so this step was inevitable. He stated, “Drama is more comprehensive than theatre.”
Al Khereiji stressed the need for qualifying Saudi technical cadres that have begun to turn towards film production in recent times, indicating that to offer opportunities for academic study is to back Saudi film production. He cited large academic corporations in Western countries that undertake intense training programs to produce efficient cadres. He confirmed that studying Drama will cover different fields such as cinema and televised and radio drama and others.
Asked whether women will be allowed to join the Drama course, al Khereiji said, “What applies to the male students applies to the female students.”
Al Khereiji revealed that the department recently admitted 25 female students to the course and said “within a few years, we will see media representatives with Masters degrees from King Saud University but in a different way,” highlighting the department’s plans to offer all it can to promote the standard of the media cadre.
Such an unprecedented step by the Mass Media Department in King Saud University coincided with the film premiere of ‘Manahi’ at the King Fahd Cultural Center in Riyadh recently. The premiere was attended by large audiences of different ages, and was screened by Rotana. Proceedings went to cancer patients via Sanad Children’s Cancer Support Society and the Saudi Cancer Society.
The first group of Saudi students studying Drama are expected to graduate in 2014. Alkhereiji highlighted that the Mass Media department, which is the first media studies department in the Gulf and the Arab peninsula, still has several plans to promote and develop media cadres. He further highlighted the endeavour to benefit from new forms of media and to enable students to study modern fields such as electronic journalism.
The Mass Media department at the university launched its own channels on Youtube earlier this year to where it can upload students’ work. The channel includes ‘Weekly Report,’ which is a summary of weekly events and the university’s activities. The ‘Train Journey’ documentary that relates the history of the media department and talks about former students who went on to assume important media roles can also be viewed as well as ‘History and Path Finding,’ which highlights the department, and its specialisations, its activities and history.