The mesmerising new documentary Horizon on the streaming platform Netflix has given viewers a rare glimpse of Saudi Arabia’s natural splendour.
A production of the Konoz initiative, in collaboration with the Ministry of Media and the National Centre for Wildlife, the film also shows efforts by Saudi environment agencies to safeguard the Kingdom’s natural heritage.
This is a huge landscape. Almost nine times as big as the UK, this is the largest country in the Middle East and the fifth largest in Asia, covering a massive 2.15 million sq km (or 833,00 sq mi), with a wealth of biodiversity.
The cameras go underwater, exploring marine life in the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf, then climb the mountainous heights of the Aseer Province.
It vividly portrays local environments and the people who feel connected to nature's treasures and unique riches.
Creatures great and small
The film opens with a seemingly generic series of natural landscapes, but any sense of familiarity quickly gives way to the exciting promise of a unique, dramatic documentary.
It reflects a genuine portrayal of nature and its creatures, accompanied by biological and physical details, all of which are narrated.
As intense conflict between climate and wildlife is revealed. Scorching heat, sandstorms, droughts, and stretches of arid desert make this a challenge for wildlife, which has had to adapt to survive.
From the sea, the film looks at Saudi Arabia's coral reefs, capturing the most intricate details of marine life in areas safeguarded by UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB).
Viewers see how activists are working with Saudi institutions to give marine life a helping hand, which is so important after sea temperatures in 2023 broke records.
The camera's lens breathes life into every scene in a rhythmic mimicry of the dynamic maritime environment. Slow-motion visuals dance to a musical score that ebbs and flows like the waves.
The serenity of the depths and the accompanying music set a tranquil tone, which makes the switch to scenes of wide deserts and rugged mountains all the more dramatic.