Scales [Sayidat Al Bahr] (2019)

Shahad Ameen
Scales [Sayidat Al Bahr] (still)
Digital video, black and white, sound
75 minutes
Produced by Image Nation Abu Dhabi
Image courtesy of Image Nation Abu Dhabi


Sharjah Art Foundation’s online screening series, organised in collaboration with the digital film archiving platform Habibi Collective, will conclude this Friday, 26 June 2020, at 8:30 pm (GMT +4)
with a screening of Image Nation Abu Dhabi’s award-winning feature film Scales (2019) from Saudi filmmaker Shahad Ameen. This is the first time the film will be screened for audiences ahead of its theatrical release later this year, as the film continues its successful festival run. The screening will be followed by a Q&A session with the director Ameen, and the Habibi Collective founder, Róisín Tapponi. 

Set in a dystopian landscape, the black-and-white film explores contemporary feminist issues through the story of Hayat, a strong-willed young girl who lives in a poor fishing village governed by a dark tradition. Every family must give one daughter to the sea creatures who inhabit the waters nearby. In turn, the sea creatures are hunted by the men of the village. Saved from this fate by her father, Hayat is considered a curse on the village and grows up an outcast. Nevertheless, she does not surrender to this fate and fights for a place within her village. After her mother gives birth to a baby boy, Hayat must accept the brutal custom of giving herself to the sea creatures or find a way to escape.

Described by The Hollywood Reporter as a ‘a timeless magical realist fable with a contemporary feminist message’, Scales had its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival Critics Week, where it was awarded the Verona Film Club Award for most innovative film. From there the film has screened at BFI London Film Festival, New Wave Film Festival in Los Angeles and selected to screen at SXSW. Scales picked up further accolades for Best Film and Best Director at Carthage Film Festival, Singapore International Festival and the Cairo International Film Festival in 2019.

This is the first feature film by Ameen, who obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Video Production and Film Studies from the University of West London, and also holds a degree in Screenwriting. Born and raised in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the writer-director is known for her acclaimed short films Our Own Musical (2009), Leila’s Window (2011) and Eye & Mermaid (2013) which were screened at festivals around the world and received various awards.

Screening Information

Scales [Sayidat Al Bahr] (2019)
Director: Shahad Ameen
UAE, Iraq, KSA
Narrative | 75 minutes
Arabic with English subtitles

The screening can be accessed at 8:30 pm through the Image Nation Abu Dhabi platform by registering on this link. After registration, audiences will receive a link to the screening. As the film cannot be streamed on demand, viewers who join the streaming at a later time will not be able to watch the film from the beginning. The screening will be followed by a live discussion and Q&A session with the director of the film, Ameen, and the Habibi Collective founder, Róisín Tapponi. 

In collaboration with

Presented by

About Image Nation Abu Dhabi

Image Nation Abu Dhabi is an award-winning film and entertainment company which has built its reputation on breaking boundaries and unleashing imagination. It creates films, TV series, documentaries, and entertainment for consumers throughout the world and is the first UAE company to have multiple productions stream globally on Netflix. Its success spans the globe - screening content at over 400 international film festivals and receiving the industry’s highest honors, including two Academy Awards, a BAFTA and an Emmy.

Image Nation has a strong track record of producing high-quality productions through a combination of local talent and international expertise. The company encourages original thought and curiosity while providing a platform for inspiration and practical training through its robust development program, Arab Film Studio.

Its mission is to help build the film and entertainment industry across the GCC and MENA - a pioneering ambition in line with Abu Dhabi’s vision to shape a competitive, sustainable and globally open economy. Image Nation enables all those who engage with it to become guardians of culture and ambassadors of change.

Image Nation Abu Dhabi is part of ADQ, one of the region’s largest holding companies with a diverse portfolio of major enterprises spanning key sectors of Abu Dhabi’s non-oil economy.

About Sharjah Art Foundation

Sharjah Art Foundation is an advocate, catalyst and producer of contemporary art within the Emirate of Sharjah and the surrounding region, in dialogue with the international arts community. Under the leadership of founder Hoor Al Qasimi, a curator and artist, the Foundation advances an experimental and wide-ranging programmatic model that supports the production and presentation of contemporary art, preserves and celebrates the distinct culture of the region and encourages a shared understanding of the transformational role of art. The Foundation’s core initiatives include the long-running Sharjah Biennial, featuring contemporary artists from around the world; the annual March Meeting, a convening of international arts professionals and artists; grants and residencies for artists, curators and cultural producers; ambitious and experimental commissions and a range of travelling exhibitions and scholarly publications.

Established in 2009 to expand programmes beyond the Sharjah Biennial, which launched in 1993, the Foundation is a critical resource for artists and cultural organisations in the Gulf and a conduit for local, regional and international developments in contemporary art. The Foundation’s deep commitment to developing and sustaining the cultural life and heritage of Sharjah is reflected through year-round exhibitions, performances, screenings and learning programmes in the city of Sharjah and across the Emirate, often hosted in historic buildings that have been repurposed as cultural and community centres. A growing collection reflects the Foundation’s support of contemporary artists in the realisation of new work and its recognition of the contributions made by pioneering modern artists from the region and around the world.

Sharjah Art Foundation is a legally independent public body established by Emiri Decree and supported by government funding, grants from national and international nonprofits and cultural organisations, corporate sponsors and individual patrons. All exhibitions are free and open to the public.

About Sharjah

Sharjah is the third largest of the seven United Arab Emirates and the only one bridging the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Reflecting the deep commitment to the arts, architectural preservation and cultural education embraced by its ruler, Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Sharjah is home to more than 20 museums and has long been known as the cultural hub of the United Arab Emirates. It was named UNESCO's Arab Capital of Culture in 1998 and the UNESCO World Book Capital in 2019.

Media Contact

Alyazeyah Al Reyaysa