March 24, 2022

Saudi independent feature film Within Sand begins shooting in NEOM

  • Written and directed by Saudi filmmaker Moe Alatawi
  • Produced by Alsarid Films in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • First Saudi feature to be filmed in NEOM

NEOM, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, March 24, 2022 – The independent feature Within Sand has begun shooting in NEOM, becoming the first Saudi film to be supported by NEOM’s Media Industries sector.

Selected and supported by the Saudi Film Commission in a nationwide Daw’ film competition, Within Sand is being produced by Riyadh-based Alsarid Films and will be distributed by Saudi-based CineWaves films. The script has been selected and developed by Torino Lab, which was part of the Red Sea International Film Festival programs. The film will be submitted to prestigious film festivals worldwide and global film markets. Within Sand is written and directed by Saudi filmmaker Moe Alatawi and features an impressive cast of rising Saudi talents.

In order to stay true to the director’s mission to tell authentic Saudi stories, Within Sand is inspired by true events, and lead actor Ra'ed Alshammari was recruited from the area in which the film takes place in the north of Saudi Arabia.

With filming taking place on location until mid-April, NEOM Media Industries is also supporting talent development, with five Saudi interns attached to Within Sand for the duration of the production gaining invaluable skills and experience.

Director Moe Alatawi said, “Choosing the locations was a huge step during the development phase of this film. NEOM’s unique and untouched landscapes provide the perfect backdrop for Within Sand. Saudi Arabian history and culture possess an invaluable treasure hidden within the sands, and we explore its many interpretations through this film. Whereas the desert is often depicted as a harsh and lifeless environment, Within Sand will show the Arabian desert through an ethereal lens that captures its true magic and mysterious beauty.”

Abdullah Al-Eyaf, CEO of the Saudi Film Commission, said, “Our initiatives seek to increase the quantity and quality of local film production while capitalizing on existing economic and creative synergies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The film commission is working to establish an effective content foundation and provide sales channels on a national, regional and worldwide scale. We are supporting the team of Within Sand to recruit and encourage Saudi talent to participate in the film business, as well as to enable and empower creative storytelling locally and globally.”

Faisal Baltyuor, Producer of Within Sand, said, “When I first read the Within Sand script, I felt a wonderful mixture of the thrill to tell the story and a great responsibility to do it justice.

We’ve made great efforts to avoid stereotypical or prejudicial clichés and to cast powerful roles throughout. It’s been a long journey from the start, and we are pleased by the great support of the Saudi Film Commission and NEOM.”

Reem Alatawi, Producer of Within Sand, said, “As Saudi Arabia continues to make progress toward the achievement of Vision 2030, our stories are a vital tool for connecting with people around the world. The film focuses on Saudi cultural history. It manages to tell a story with a global perspective that will interest viewers from different cultures around the world. We aim to produce a film that will launch a new era of artistic expression in the Kingdom, allowing us to tell our stories to the world.”

Wayne Borg, Managing Director of Media, Entertainment and Culture at NEOM, said, “The Saudi film industry is making great strides in its development and growth. NEOM is focused on supporting and catalyzing the national industry to be part of the global industry as NEOM becomes the true regional epicenter of content creation and the media industries. We have enjoyed great momentum attracting major world-class productions, including most recently Desert Warrior. We are excited and proud to be supporting our first Saudi feature, Within Sand.

Film Synopsis

Snam, a 23-year-old tobacco merchant, is ambushed by thieves in the desert, leaving him with only a dagger. He encounters a lone wolf on his desperate search for a way home, while his wife, Halla, confronts her fears of raising her child alone.

Within Sand also explores the beauty of the desert, as well as the concept of fatherhood as being not only a relationship to another individual, but also a journey of self-discovery and maturity into becoming a role model for those around you.

With filming underway in the Badjdah area of NEOM, Within Sand is scheduled for release in November 2022.