‘Arab world needs heroes like Salah and Malek,’ Bahrain workshop told

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MANAMA: The Arab world needs heroes, and football and the film industry can help provide them, the US-led “Peace to Prosperity” workshop in Bahrain was told.

In a plenary session at the event, titled “the power of sport and entertainment,” Thomas Barrack, an American financier and one of US President Donald Trump’s closest advisers, said: “We in the Arab world do not create our own heroes, we’ve done a bad job at creating role models for Arabs. But football and film have been roads to doing that in the rest of the world.”

Gianni Infantino, president of the international football governing body FIFA, told delegates at the gathering in the Bahraini capital Manama, that the game could help inspire youngsters, and singled out the Egyptian player Mohamed Salah as an example of a new hero in the Middle East.

“Half of the world watches the World Cup. We have got to give hope, dreams and a smile to the world,” he said.

Argentinian film producer Fernando Sulichin, responsible for several Hollywood blockbuster movies, highlighted the success of Oscar-winning “Bohemian Rhapsody” film star Rami Malek, of Egyptian descent, as an example of the kind of success Arab actors could enjoy.

On White House adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner’s plan to revive the economy of Palestine and surrounding regions, Sulichin said: “Here is this plan. It is a script. I’m a producer, so now let’s get it done.”

He also noted the recent “renaissance” in moviemaking in Saudi Arabia as an example of how film could complement positive social change.

The FIFA boss also called for a program to build more football pitches in Palestine, where he said there were only 25 playing areas for a population of 5 million people.

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