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BBC trending - Saudis defiance gone digital

When Ashley Choukeir and I were approached by BBC to do these animations, we were deeply touched by the true stories of these three Saudi men.

“When it comes to freedoms, human rights organizations will tell you Saudi Arabia doesn’t have the best track record.” In a country where resistance is almost impossible, where freedom of faith, sexual orientation, even freedom of expression are denied, some people are seeking virtual freedom. These three animation videos are about three courageous Saudi men whose defiance has gone digital.

Check the animations on BBC’s website here

Direction & Art Direction: Hanane Kai, Ashley Choukeir
Animation: Ashley Choukeir
Illustration: Hanane Kai
Production: BBC, Mai Noman and Hind Suleiman



20-year-old "Youssef" tells of the perils of being a transsexual in Saudi Arabia.




"Mazen" lost his eyesight when he was seven. Here he tells how this changed his world and introduced him to freedom of faith.



"Hussein" tells of what life is like for a religious minority in the kingdom.




Artistic challenge

The biggest challenge in that project was to illustrate visually such delicate issues without being too literal, or too harsh. Which is why Ashley and I chose an abstract style for the illustrations and animations using patterns and symbols, all while getting across the emotions and ideas behind the stories told.

Here below are a few of my favorite snapshots from the animations.

Saudis denied their human rights, freedom of faith, sexual orientation, expression
Being an atheist in Saudi Arabia
Saudis denied their human rights
Saudis denied their freedom of expression
Saudi Arabia sexual orientation freedom LGBT right
Saudi LGBT rights
Saudi LGBT rights