Can You See the Rest of Us?

Janadriya festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. The King inaugurated yesterday the two-week cultural extravaganza at Janadriya village, 45 km north-east of the capital. The festival will offer a variety of cultural dances, a massive open-air operetta, plays, seminars and more. The festival is organized by the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG), and has claimed even more significance since King Abdullah ascended the throne. After all, SANG is King Abdullah’s institution.

Out of the many events that take place during Janadriya, the operetta attracts most of the media’s attention. The operetta features the country’s finest talents in poetry, music, and acting. The King takes a front seat at the show every year, and the event is transmitted live on television.

Tonight Dubai-based MBC will broadcast the operetta, entitled “The Unity of Nation,” and during last week the satellite channel has been showing this promo over and over again:

The official name of Janadriya festival is “The National Culture and Heritage Festival of Saudi Arabia.” Does this promo represent what this festival is all about? Does it really convey the message of this event? I don’t think so.

For starters, apparently no one at MBC has a problem with the mispronunciation of the national anthem’s lyrics. Like it or not, I think this is just plain wrong. Now coming to the desert theme. Not only it is cliche and overused, it’s also a misrepresentation of our country. How many Saudis ride horses these days anyway? I keep telling foreigners that there is much more about Saudi Arabia than desert and camels, and then MBC come and give me this?!

The operetta is entitled “The Unity of Nation,” but I’m afraid that MBC could not see anything in this nation except for Najd. Where are the mountains of Aseer? Where are the palm trees of Ahsa? Where are the beaches of Jeddah and Dammam? Where is Makkah and Madinah? Where is the rest of Saudi Arabia?

Dear MBC, why can’t you see the rest of us?

12 thoughts on “Can You See the Rest of Us?

  1. well the name don’t have to describe exactly what the the festival is about although it does.

    secondly it is about heritage. do you know anyone who used to ride cars like hundred years ago except for the King?

    yes I agree that we have clear our image in media. but you’ve taken it too far by asking to modernize the heritage event!

    I agree to your point about Najd. other areas of Saudi have heritage! ain’t it??

    I also strongly agree and i always mention that although MBC Group is Saudi owned and financed it has nothing to do with Saudi’s identity and as far as i know never worked for Saudi people’s best interest!

  2. U know, I never watched it… ever! I remember reruns of a song by Mohammad Abduh and the late Talal Maddah (RIP) but that is it… it was, and still is a local event, add national or international to the name (many local companies in Saudi and out do it because it adds “prestige and credibility”) something something, but it is still a local event.

    Now, if u excuse me, I will go ride my horse into the distance ;) where my tent and camels and goats are… the kids as u know go to international schools :)

  3. a9lan lamma gal “sari3ie lil majdi wal 3alya” =_= who the hell is 3alya?!
    and no, don’t say “y5rib bayt 3yoonik ya 3alya sho 7ilween” i’m pretty sure it’s not the same 3alya…
    it’s plain frustrating =_=”

  4. Interesting. The production values are high, but it looks as if it were targeted at the international audience no matter how local or regional it truly is. Sort of a “Ali of Arabia” to complement “Lawrence of Arabia”. It taps in to the same epic stylings and similar tropes.

    And now, I must make like Gertrude of Arabia (Gertrude Bell) and figure out what Asmaa said while practicing pronouncing a proper kh! LOL :)

    • there’s a part at the beginning of the national anthem when we say the word Alya’a, meaning higher values, morals and such, anything that isnt mundane.
      The person in the commercial pronounces it as Aliya (slang), like the female name which has the same meaning as Alya’a, but there just happens to be a famous lebanese song about how pretty Aliya is… not pretty sure it’s the same Aliya though…

  5. what about the rest of saui arabia??? good question , and if you dont mind ,id like to ask this Q in my blog , what about us Jeddawiees , or shall i say in other terms , “tarsh al ba7ar”.. we have our own heritage and ways , and what about the rest of the region , i recommend to all visiting” Mansojaat “, youlll be able to understand more of how saudi arabia was , and is , not how they portrait it …….i shall ponder further , thank you bro

  6. The whole event does represent Najd only in most of its aspects,So was the ad .. What’s worse is: it doesn’t even represent Najd fully !!

  7. “CAN YOU SEE ME?”should be the title of this post. (actually of all your posts)

    You’re just an ignorant arrogant prick with a very high opinion of yourself. What is your educational background to be so downright self-righteous when it comes to advertising and communication?!

    Why so much imbecility and non-sense? Why so much anti-Saudi if not often anti-Islamic rhetoric? Why so many mistakes and misunderstanding of the English language? (And I thought that the original goal of your blog was as you said in your own words: “an experiment to improve my English writing.”)

    No matter what you think of the desert culture and tradition or horseback riding. No matter how few people nowadays spend time in the desert or ride horses, IT IS part of the Saudi cultural heritage. And if I’m not mistaken the “official name of Janadriya festival is The National Culture and Heritage Festival of Saudi Arabia.”
    Get it? CULTURE and HERITAGE…no matter how few people are involved with desert and horses today!

    To “improve your English writing”:
    cul·ture (klchr): n. The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought.
    her·i·tage (hr-tj): n. Something that is passed down from preceding generations; a tradition.

    So to answer your question: yes this promo represent what this festival is all about. If not extensively and fully, at least partially.

    Sorry if MBC could not mention in a 60″ TV promo “the mountains of Aseer”, nor “the beaches of Jeddah and Dammam, nor “the rest of Saudi Arabia”, nor the MOST RESPECTED MIDDLE EASTERN SCHOLAR AND INTELLECTUAL: AHMED AL-OMRAN! (remember the guy who was once on CNN?…WoW!) It’s not a promo spot for tourism in Saudi Arabia you idiot! It’s for “The National Culture and Heritage Festival of Saudi Arabia.”

    But I’m sure with your degree in communication and advertising you would have come up with the best, most perfect promo spot on earth for the event, had those dump ignorant stupid people at MBC had the good taste and genius to ask you to!!

  8. Well, secularity was never a strong point in Saudi Arabia because that’s how the kingdom was founded, by a kind of abolition of the differences of the different tribes and regions of Saudi Arabia. King Abdul Aziz wanted everyone to be the same, feel the same and look the same, he basically wanted everybody to look and feel Najdi and that tradition still continues till this day.

  9. اذا كان ما فعلته الام بي سي يزعجك
    وانت تحب وطنك وتحب ان تراة دائما مترابط حتى في اعلان على قناة
    فلماذا تكتب تدوينتك بلغت غير لغتك
    يعني ….لمن تبث همومك ؟؟؟؟؟؟
    تعجبني كتاباتك لأنها دائما في الصميم
    ولكن ياليت تكتبها بالعربي فقط
    لكي لا تستغل ضدك وضد البلد كله
    اعرف انك حكيم وستتقبل نقدي بصدر رحب :)
    دمت متألقا

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