I watched recently the MTV episode “Resist the Power! Saudi Arabia.” The episode represents an inside story of young Saudi: Fatima who fights to change the traditional clothing of Saudi women, Ahmed who fights for women rights, Aziz who wants to date and see his girlfriend with no fear, and finally the music’s group who want the freedom to play their music and songs in public.
My thoughts of the episode:
- First of all, the episode is more for an entertainment than for a documentary purpose.
- I think the young Saudi in the episode represent their individual perceptions and observations of Saudi society which is open for a discussion and debate.
- It is impossible to make a realistic judgment about any society or religion based on small selective groups of people, or blogs or news.
- There is no diversity in the participants of the episode. They are all from Jeddah. They are all against the tradition or the society.
- I think there is a mixed understanding between what is religious and what is traditional in Saudi society. I think the presenters themselves weren’t sure about where to drew the line between religion and tradition.
- I think it is very good and healthy to have people showing their opposition or agreement on social and cultural issues especially in Saudi Arabia.
My opinion on Fatima part:
- Her story was very interesting. I thought she did a good a job in presenting her own observation of the Saudi society.
- I don’t think she represent a large number of Saudi women. She is from rich family. She has her own driver which many Saudi women don’t. She can uncover her face outside while many saudi women get in trouble for uncovering part of their face in many cities of Saudi.
- I really like her colorful abaya’s business. I really wish that these beautiful colorful Abaya will replace the black ones in KSA.
My opinion on Ahmed role:
- I really like his part the most. He was very confidence in speaking about his thoughts and ideas. He stated clearly his vision of change in Saudi society.
- I think his story possibly represent a specific group of young Saudi who are well-educated and concerned about women rights along with the civil issues of Saudi society.
- I think he did a good job overall.
My opinion on Aziz role:
- I thought he was so funny.
- His story is very common among Saudi teenagers, talking and having fun with girls in the chat rooms or in the messengers then, falling in love and then arrange for a meeting and then one of them may not show up, or maybe both of them show up but they end up getting in trouble or maybe they decide to get married but then their family will oppose the whole thing! You know, happy ending are rarely predicted on this type of stories :)
My opinion on the devil music group*:
- I think the guys were confusing. I have never heard or saw music group similar to theirs in Saudi Arabia before. It was very interesting for me to watch and listen to their stories.
- Their music and their clothes are unaccepted by the majority of Saudi society.
How do Saudi viewers react to the episode:
Many Saudi (men and women) felt upset and offended by this episode for many reasons. Some think that the episode focuses only on the negative sides of Saudi society and ignore all the positive sides. Many Saudi don’t like to see any criticism on their culture exposed to the outsiders. Part of that comes from the old belief that the west are conspiring against Saudi culture or that some religions will try to destroy Islam by presenting a bad picture of muslim society.
Other Saudi think that it is perfectly fine to let people share their individual understanding and observation to the world even if it disagree with our observation. In the time of internet, the world has become a very small village and things can’t be hidden anymore.
I personally think that it is better that we become open and honest about our problems. The mask strategy is no longer practical and Saudi should appear to the world with no makeup. We aren’t the best country in the world and certainly not the worst. There are many Saudi who view life and society differently. I think everyone of them should have the right to speak up his/her mind. We may agree or disagree with what they say and think, we may think that they are completely right or wrong but none of us can deny their right to share their own observation about the world around them.
* Clarification: I am not referring to the music group as the devil. I am referring to how the music group is called and perceived in Saudi society. In the episode summary, they made the same reference as to explain why Saudi society oppose such type of music. Thanks for Hammad for asking me to clarify this point.