King of the Sands

King of the Sands is a 2013 historical and biographical film, directed by Najdat Anzour, with the main characters starring Fabio Testi, Bill Fellows in the title roles.

King of the Sands
King of the Sands poster.jpeg
Promotional poster
Directed byNajdat Anzour
StarringFabio Testi, Bill Fellows and Marco Foschi
Release date
  • September 11, 2013 (2013-09-11) (London premiere)[1]


King of the Sands is a biopic of Ibn Saud, an emir of the central Arabian Al Saud clan and founder of the present-day kingdom of Saudi Arabia.[2]

King of the Sands is presented as a "landmark taboo-breaking film", depicting a "dichotomous" story. It presents an impoverished prince in exile who reconquers his ancestral lands (Najd), and continues to expand his dominion until he controls the better part of the Arabian Peninsula. This accomplishment demanded "single-minded ruthlessness". He exterminated the rivaling Emirs of Ha'il. He later massacred his own shock troops, the Ikhwan (an irregular militia recruited from the main nomadic tribes), when they became a liability in the late 1920s and early 1930s. They had threatened the king’s relations with the British in Jordan and Iraq. This film also depicts Western imperialism as impinging on the monarch's independence, foreshadowing the kingdom's future entanglement in world affairs once the oil started to flow.



The film is controversial.[citation needed] The founder of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia draws criticism by the Saudi royal family[3] and some of the family's allies in the western countries.[citation needed]

Najdat Anzour who directed the film[2] is the son of the Syrian pioneer of Arab cinema, Ismail Anzour. Although Najdat's reputation rest primarily on the production of epic TV series about important episodes in Islamic and Middle Eastern history, he is also known for controversial political topics. His latest, King of the Sands, falls into that category.[4]

At a press conference, on 18 April 2012, the director reported that he has already received threats of lawsuits by unidentified parties trying to prevent the film's release.[5]

Saudi Arabia’s authorities have reacted strongly to the film. Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, son of Abdul Azia al Saud and a senior member of the Saudi royal family, has described the film as a great disrespect to the kingdom’s founder. He said that “We have already made contacts with President Bashar al-Assad via a mutual friend to bring the screening of the movie to an end in the Arab country”. He also described Najdat Anzour as director of “Jihad al-Nikah” or “sexual jihad”.[5]

Death threatsEdit

Anzour said he has received death threats over the film.[4]

On December 20, 2013, Syrian movie director Najdat Anzour said he holds the Saudi government responsible for any harm that might come to him and his staff who joined him in the making of King of the Sands, a movie critical of Saudi Arabia.[6][5]

After the movie was screened in Damascus, a Saudi cleric, Adnan al-Ayed issued a fatwa authorizing the killing of Anzour as "condonable and necessary".[6] The preacher is said to have justified his fatwa by claiming that the director, Najdat Anzour, has insulted Islam by attacking the kingdom’s founder through his film.[5][4]

Forbidden movieEdit

Although cinema is a red line in the modern Saudi Arabia itself,[7][8] Saudi Royal authorities have attempted to ban the King of the Sands movie from screening in other countries. The film has been shown in Damascus, despite attempts from a Saudi officials to have it banned in Syria.[9] There is no report about public show of the movie in any other countries but a mixed reports about a private screening in London, Britain.[10]


  1. ^ "Reuters Archive Licensing". Reuters Archive Licensing. Retrieved 21 June 2020.
  2. ^ a b Nehad Ismail (16 September 2013). "King of the Sands". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  3. ^ "Wahhabi terrorism traced in 'King of the Sands': Director Anzour". Alalam. 17 December 2013. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  4. ^ a b c "Film taking aim at Saudi monarchy opens in Syria".
  5. ^ a b c d "".
  6. ^ a b "Najdat Anzour Holds Saudi Responsible for Any Harm to Him".
  7. ^ Mansour, Haifaa Al. "Why is cinema a red line issue in Saudi Arabia?". CNN.
  8. ^ Spencer, Richard (May 15, 2016). "Could Saudi Arabians soon be allowed to go to the cinema?" – via
  9. ^ "Syrian biopic angers Saudi royals". December 16, 2013 – via
  10. ^ "King of the Sands: If this isn't the worst film ever it's damn close". September 12, 2013.

External linksEdit