Museum of Science to Present New England Premiere of Arabia in the Mugar Omni Theater

January 22, 2010

—Giant-screen documentary film is a kaleidoscopic portrait spanning 2,000 years of Arabian history, as told by three modern-day Arabian citizens—

Museum will celebrate film opening with evening premiere event, February 11, 2010

BOSTON—January 20, 2010—The Museum of Science is proud to present the New England premiere of Arabia, a new giant-screen documentary opening to the public in the Museum's Mugar Omni Theater, Friday, February 12, 2010. On Thursday, February 11, 2010, the Museum will celebrate the film debut with an evening premiere event, which will feature food, drink, presentations, and entertainment inspired by the film. At this exclusive premiere, guests can meet 24-year-old Saudi-Arabian filmmaker, Hamzah Jamjoom, who will share his experience as a key figure in the film. Limited tickets are available to the public. Shot over the course of two years at more than twenty locations across Saudi Arabia, Arabia is the first major film about Arabia to be filmed entirely in Saudi Arabia.

The Museum's newest Omni presentation is a kaleidoscopic portrait of Arabia that delves into its storied past and oncoming future through a mix of contemporary images of modern-day life, epic historical recreations of ancient civilizations, and digital visual effects. Through the magic of New England's only IMAX® dome theater, audiences can ride across the dunes with a camel caravan, dive into the treasure-laden Red Sea, explore the ruins of a towering lost city, journey back in time to the Islamic golden age of invention, and join three million Muslims on the Hajj pilgrimage—the largest gathering on Earth. Narrated by three modern-day Arabians, the film will introduce audiences to the young Arabians transforming tomorrow's world.

For many people, Arabia will be a first chance to experience life in a part of the world usually glimpsed only in news clips. The film presents a surprising and illuminating journey that can serve as a bridge between two cultures that have long misunderstood one another.

Arabia is sponsored by The MathWorks. Admission to the Mugar Omni Theater is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors (60 +) and $7 for children (3-11). For more information or to purchase tickets in advance, the public can call 617/723-2500, (TTY) 617/589-0417, or visit mos.org

Arabia Premiere—Special Event

Thursday, February 11, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. (6:30 p.m. reception; 8 p.m. screening)

$25 for non-members; $20 for members

Be the first to see the Museum's newest giant-screen film at its New England premiere! Escape the cold and travel to the exotic and fascinating land of Arabia where you'll discover an extraordinary culture in the midst of monumental change. Join us for an exclusive reception featuring food, drink, and entertainment inspired by the film, including belly dancing and henna art demonstrations presented by the Boston Center for Adult Education. Meet 24-year-old Saudi-Arabian filmmaker, Hamzah Jamjoom, who will share his experience as a central figure in the film. Arabia follows the story of Jamjoom, as he returns home from Chicago's De Paul University to make a film about his native culture. Explore the ancient tombs of a lost city; dive through the reefs of the Red Sea; and experience the Hajj—the largest gathering of people on Earth. Tickets on sale now; call 617/723-2500 or visit mos.org.

Film Synopsis:

The story of Arabia spans 2,000 years of history but is told by three vibrant, modern-day Arabian citizens, each invested in learning more about their history and culture. The film's real-life guides are Hamzah Jamjoom, a Saudi Arabian film student at Chicago's De Paul University who returns home to make a film about his heritage; Nimah Nawwab, a writer, poet, and photographer who provides a young woman's perspective on Arabia; and leading Arabian archaeologist Dr. Daifallah Al-Talhi, who is digging into his people's incredible past in the lost Nabataean city of Madain Saleh.

The journey begins with Hamzah's trek from his urbane home city of Jeddah into the remote desert to explore his tribal roots among the Bedouins, the famously generous nomadic people who live in tent camps with their families and animals. After riding on camels, hunting with falcons, and encountering desert baboons, he heads to the coast where he will literally dive into another unseen realm of Arabia: the uniquely salty Red Sea. Under Arabia's waters, Hamzah will explore a different world of dazzling coral reefs, distinctive marine life, and ancient shipwrecks with stories to tell.

To better understand his people's past, Hamzah meets up with archeologist Dr. Al-Talhi at the lost city of Madain Saleh, where soaring stone tombs cut into the cliffs and the ruins of a sophisticated oasis city have much to reveal about the origins of Arabian culture and its emphasis on trade and education. Here, in an age of enlightenment, the mysterious Nabataeans built a global center of learning, literacy, art, invention, and commerce with the wealth they amassed from trading frankincense and spices with the vast Roman Empire. Largely unseen by the world and full of intriguing riddles, these ruins come to life for the first time on the IMAX® dome screen.

Filmgoers will continue through Arabian history as the film delves into a second enlightened age of Arabia, the Islamic Golden Age, which began in the Middles Ages after the founding of the Islamic religion. Three-dimensional CGI allows the audience to time-travel back to an extraordinary period when a vast Islamic empire made mathematical, medical, engineering and philosophical discoveries that rocked the world—and paved the way for modern science and technology.

For a glimpse into current times, writer Nimah Nawab takes up the narration, as she makes a deeply personal pilgrimage to the Hajj. The pilgrimage is one of the most spiritually-charged events on the planet, when three million Muslim pilgrims make their way to the holy city of Makkah (Mecca) to reaffirm their faith. This profound experience, rarely seen by outsiders, is witnessed in all its emotions and stark humanity by IMAX® cameras.

As the unforgettable journey of Arabia comes to a close, a question lingers: is Arabia now in the midst of another prosperous period of transformation, a third golden age? While the future remains unwritten, Hamzah, Nimah and Dr. Al-Talhi leave audiences with much to ponder about how the desert carved the Arabian soul—and how Arabian souls are reconciling with the modern world.

Arabia is produced and distributed by MacGillivray Freeman Films. The film is directed by Greg MacGillivray and produced by MacGillivray and Mark Krenzien from a screenplay by Jack Stephens.

About the Museum of Science:

The Museum takes a hands-on approach to science, engineering and technology, attracting about 1.5 million visitors a year via its programs and 700 interactive exhibits. Founded in 1830, the Museum was first to embrace all the sciences under one roof. Highlights include the Thomson Theater of Electricity, Charles Hayden Planetarium, Mugar Omni Theater, Gordon Current Science & Technology Center, 3-D Digital Cinema and Butterfly Garden. The Museum is the first science and technology center to be approved as a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Reaching 25,000 teens a year worldwide via the Intel Computer Clubhouse Network, the Museum also leads a multi-museum, $20 million National Science Foundation-funded nanotechnology education initiative. The Museum's "Science Is an Activity" exhibit plan has been awarded many NSF grants and influenced science centers worldwide. Its National Center for Technological Literacy® aims to enhance knowledge of engineering and technology for people of all ages and inspire the next generation of engineers, inventors, and scientists. The Museum is ranked #3 by Parents Magazine in its list of the country's "Ten Best Science Centers." For more information visit mos.org.

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Press Contacts

Sofiya Cabalquinto: 617.589.0251, scabalquinto@mos.org or Lauren Crowne: 617.589.0250, lcrowne@mos.org