In “Al Ghazi,” Khalid, Fahad’s young son, is forced to go home. The other boys, who are now old enough to start their own families, haven’t been taken away, but they are still sent home by a strict order from the family’s patriarch. Fearing that he is about to die, Khalid begs his mother to let him stay in the United States.
Those at home are bewildered at how the family has changed over the years. Khalid’s father, for example, is no longer a former member of Al Qaeda and is no longer committed to militant terrorist activities. His wife, meanwhile, had no idea that her husband was married to an American until he was detained in Dubai. And even the secretary of the household is a married Arab American with two children to think about.
So, Khalid, a man with no ties to terrorists, suddenly finds himself told that he has to get back home to Saudi Arabia, where his father lives, and his mother has died. It is as if something has flipped in his brain and he has completely forgotten what the world is like, or what his past was like. What is going on?
All is revealed, of course, and once again, Khalid struggles to understand the reasons behind his parents’ decision to return home. But it is only when he and his brother meet with a group of American girls who have been reunited after years of separation that he discovers the reason why he can leave the country and leave his mother for good. The girls are deeply moved by the young man they see and then they tell him. He then realizes that all he has to do is get out of the country so that he can get a better life.
The girls make it clear that when he moves to America, he will not be receiving any help from his wife, who has taken a new job in Dubai. He is also not going to be receiving any money from his father. He can find work, but only under very strict guidelines imposed by the government.
“Al Ghazi” shows that it is the educational background of those doing the shipping that matter, not only because one should understand the implications of who would be paying for the services, but because everyone should understand the difficulties that are involved with immigration laws. The legal consequences for those breaking the rules and the horror stories of those being held without any real evidence simply have no place in this film. But these are all things that can be learned from the experiences of those who lived through it.
Focusing on two main characters, the film illustrates the difficulties associated with the smuggling of goods, in both its local and international aspects, as well as its important role in maintaining family ties. It is an interesting film, one that I recommend, especially for those who have never seen a film that focuses on the effects of a whole industry upon the people who work in it. As an outsider, and as someone who has never lived in the Middle East, I found it fascinating to see the ways in which the makers of the film were able to visualize something so different in the minds of the people of the region.
The “Al Ghazi” film also serves as a lesson in cultural sensitivity, because it exposes the modern world to those whose family ties are built on tradition, rather than history. After all, in so far as that tradition is concerned, the people of the Middle East cannot live side-by-side with the cultures of the West without some kind of compromise. That is why they still value their culture and their traditions as much as they did in years gone by, because they believe in the importance of family ties and even older traditions that have been passed down since time immemorial.
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