Cool thobes again, Aysha al-Kusayer interview

  • I have previously written about the cool thobes. BBC has done a short video piece about one of the designers behind the new trend.
  • Carol Fleming aka American Bedu has an interview with Saudi screenwriter Aysha al-Kusayer. Both are good friends of mine, and this interview is certainly worth reading.

Pop culture, funny lawyer, summer festivals

  • Saudi Dawn aka the Eternal Philosopher thinks Saudis are brainwashed with a certain pop culture that “is filled with half-truths and out of context religious information that is promoted to control the masses.” I agree.
  • Lawyer Ahmad Al-Rashid said he will sue Riyadh’s summary court after it refused to consider his lawsuit against MBC for what he called “encouraging deviant behavior in Saudi society.” The court told him to contact the Ministry of Culture and Information’s media violations committee, but he said he won’t. Funny. As a lawyer he should be well aware of this. Citing the example of Mazen Abdul Jawad case doesn’t make much sense here. That case was against Abdul Jawad not LBC, although the channel later got punished for operating without a permission (which is also funny because none of the other non-Saudi channels working in the Kingdom have such permission).
  • Lou K has another good post. This time about so-called Saudi tourism and its so-called summer festivals. “Basically, our summer festivals are nothing but shopping festivals.. There’s nothing more to it..” he says. There is a lot of truth in what he says, but there are also exceptions. The local summer festival here in Al-Ahsa, known as Hasana Falla, tries to mix culture (folklore, arts, traditional crafts, etc.) with entertainment and some shopping. I made a short visit last night to the event, ironically to meet some American visitors, and I thought it was okay. In the words of a Hassawi girl on Twitter, it’s “not half-bad, but nothing much to do.”

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?

The End is Nigh?

Saudi Arabia’s top judiciary official has issued a religious decree saying it is permissible to kill the owners of satellite TV networks that broadcast immoral content. The 79-year-old Sheik Saleh al-Lihedan said Thursday that satellite channels cause the “deviance of thousands of people.”

He did not name any particular channel, but many of the top Arab TV networks like Rotana and MBC are owned by members of the royal family or people closely connected to them. Is this the end to al-Lihedan reign at the top of the judiciary system, especially with the upcoming reforms proposed by the king last year? It is about time.

UPDATE: Al-Lihedan says he was misunderstood and that his statement has been taken out of context. Yeah, right. Whatever!