I have always been fascinated by films. Up until now I mainly enjoyed movies and films by going to cinemas quite frequently and I always appreciated good documentaries. My hobby was storytelling with photography.
My interest in history and politics had also been there from the beginning, my grandfather and uncle being notable Austrian politicians. That’s why I chose to study History, Law and Orientalism and became a political lawyer focusing on human rights, criminal law and environment. Mostly defending “small people” against “mighty people”, those without power against those who have it. Injustice has always been and still remains one of those things which may really upset me. A further main interest was acting as lawyer of civic groups. From the beginning I was an activist, official and lawyer with the Green movement and party.
Already in my teenage days the Orient world fascinated me, the “Cradle of Humankind and Civilization”, especially the Arabic-Islamic cultures. Many of the most notable advances in natural sciences and cultural developments date back to the Orient for more than 5000 years: the origins of writing, Bayt Al-Hikma – the “House of Wisdom” in 10th century Bagdad, the preservation of Greek knowledge and philosophy, which would be lost to the modern world without processing and transformation by Arabic science. The deserts, mountains and oases, cities and villages, merchants and craftsmen, traditions, political and cultural structures not-familiarly, not well known and strange by most of European people.
As a student I enjoyed the chance to live out this passion by travelling from Marrakesh to Cairo, Bagdad and Isfahan, as well as to Kabul and Kashmir; from Aleppo, Damascus to Sa’adah, Sana’a, Berbera, Juba and Khartoum. In later years my wife and children joined me travelling again to Syria, Yemen, Libya, Kashmir and Al-Andalus. Additionally, in collaboration with some friends from Syria, I founded the SARED Ltd, the Austrian-Syrian Real Estate Development Company back in 2009.
1979 I started my longest journey. For five months and with little money in my pocket I backpacked from Egypt via Yemen and Djibouti through Somalia and Kenia, and finally to Sudan. On my stay in Yemen I spent considerable time with Sudanese teachers and nurses which established contact with friends in Sudan. I was warmly welcomed and got my Arabic nickname “Al-Jemeni” (the one from Yemen).
With great interest I have been following the remarkable developments in Somaliland. I really wanted to travel again to whole Somaliland, not only to Hargeisa and Berbera. At the same time my old vision of creating a documentary film came back to me. Consequently, the final decision of travelling to Somaliland and getting things going with the documentary was only short time later and everything turned out just right. In Austria, Germany and Somaliland I found the sort of special and talented people for my project, without whom, the implementation of this project would not have been possible (see “Somaliland – documentary”).
Thus, founding Al-Jemeni film productions company was only a small, consequential step. The project of producing a political documentary film about Somaliland would not remain the single one film project. Near and Middle East are a tinder box. Millions of people, some of them for decades, suffer because of war, civil war, occupying forces and sanctions. Steps are set, that daily increase the risk and probability of war, which have not exists in this dimension since the 2nd World War
European news coverage is mostly one-sided, general knowledge about local circumstances scarce. In Western countries strongly simplifying anti-Islamic racism constantly growing, while at the same time militant Salafism and other cult-like Islamic movements gain worldwide influence due to immense monetary support.
Western enterprises make fortunes by producing and selling weapons, and those who buy them usually also use them. Saudi-Arabia’s military budget in 2016 was 25% higher than Russia’s, being on third place after the US and China. This calculated by person, is by far the biggest budget of all.
I’m convinced that Near and Middle East remains a political hotspot for long time. Interest and the need for not only west-centered approaches, critical reports remain big.
Documentaries and reports are therefore necessary and important instruments.