The documentary has been translated into various languages, encompassing French, Russian, Turkish, and English.
The acclaimed documentary ‘Journey to Mecca: In the Footsteps of Ibn Battuta’, directed by Bruce Neibaur, has finally made its premiere in Riyadh at Almakan Mall, after captivating audiences worldwide since its debut in 2009. The documentary, partly filmed in Saudi Arabia, offers a profound exploration of the life and travels of the Moroccan scholar as he embarked on his pilgrimage to Mecca.
This 45-minute documentary, a creation under the supervision of the King Faisal Public Library (KAPL) and the King Faisal Centre for Islamic Studies and Research, saw collaborative efforts from various government agencies in the kingdom. The film, featuring 6,000 photographs, captures key locations such as the ports of arrival at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, the Grand Mosque in Makkah, and other sacred sites. Additionally, segments of the film were shot in Morocco, retracing Ibn Battuta’s historic journey. Employing unique techniques, the documentary provides a portrayal of the Hajj rituals.
Having been screened in major capital cities worldwide, including Paris, London, Singapore, New York, Jakarta, and Dubai, the documentary has earned international acclaim, receiving awards at prestigious film festivals in Houston, Boston, and Paris. Its recent premiere in Riyadh marked the first time the film was screened in cinemas within the capital of the Kingdom.
The documentary, translated into multiple languages, including French, Russian, Turkish, and English, continues to bridge cultural gaps and share the inspiring narrative of Ibn Battuta’s pilgrimage on an international scale.
Narrated by Ben Kingsley, the film, framed by scenes from the contemporary Muslim pilgrimage, recounts the initial 18-month leg of Ibn Battuta’s odyssey towards Mecca.
During his solitary horseback journey to Mecca, Ibn Battuta faced peril when accosted by bandits who robbed and nearly killed him. However, upon discovering his status as a pilgrim, the bandit leader, overcome with shame, offered to escort Ibn Battuta to Egypt for a fee. The challenging camel trek across the desert was compounded by fierce sandstorms, forcing them to navigate the Nile by boat upon reaching Egypt. Presenting a letter from a friend to a Sheikh, Ibn Battuta, guided by a Hadith from Prophet Muhammad, was advised to “seek knowledge to China,” thus propelling him into further extensive travels.
Originally planning a sea route to Mecca via the Red Sea port of ‘Aydhab, Ibn Battuta altered his course due to war-related dangers. Opting for a land route through Damascus, he joined a 10,000-strong caravan of fellow pilgrims. Remaining with them throughout the arduous journey, they finally reached their destination, Mecca.