Reminiscing about Saudi Arabia as depicted in the film “Arabia 3D”
By Prince Turki Al-Faisal
Nestling among the sumptuous, multicolored 3-D images that make up the beautiful IMAX film “Arabia 3D” is a short sequence of flickering, black and white newsreel footage that is particularly dear to me. It shows my beloved grandfather King Abdul-Aziz “Ibn Saud,” the creator of modern Saudi Arabia, meeting with your President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the courageous victor of World War II.
It was February 1945. The war was almost over. Statesmen of vision were looking forward to resuming the work of peace, and these two great leaders met on board the USS Quincy in Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake to discuss how their nations could work together in the years ahead. Thus began the U.S.-Saudi “Special Relationship,” and ever since then our common understanding has been based on the strength of that initial personto-person meeting.
We have had our ups and downs, of course, as in all relationships, but we’ve helped each other when we could. In the 1960s and ’70s we fought the spread of communism together, particularly in Africa and Afghanistan. In 1990-91 we stood together to reverse Iraqi aggression in Kuwait. For more than six decades we were strong military allies, reliable energy partners and solid friends.
Everything changed on Sept. 11, 2001. That day, our relationship was plunged into crisis. Suddenly, there existed deep suspicion, mistrust and misperceptions between our people. Any questions we had about each other became concerns. Any uncertainty became high anxiety.
Nearly 10 years later, after much hard work on both sides, the trust between our nations and our peoples has been restored – and this striking film, the first movie ever to be shot entirely in Saudi Arabia – has played its part in that. For more than a year “Arabia 3D” has been playing to enthralled audiences in IMAX theaters around
America. Now it is Washington’s turn.
You will certainly enjoy and educate yourselves when you go to see “Arabia 3D”
I can assure you of that. But I would like to make an extra appeal as you walk out of the theater, uplifted by what you have learned about a country and a culture on the other side of the world – my country, a nation my grandfather did so much to create.
Diplomacy in the 21st century is not just for leaders – it involves everyday citizens. Each of us plays an increasingly important role in the process of international relations, for as we have recently seen, men and women everywhere feel empowered today as never before. Each of us has the chance to be diplomats in our own right. So, that is why we must all now take up the task of reaching out to each other across national
borders. What you learn about Saudi Arabia in this remarkable film can be a start.
“Arabia 3D” opened at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s Johnson Imax Theater on February 18th and will be shown several times daily through April. Click here for ticket information.