Is a play written by a Saudi woman who grew up in America. It sounds really good..I hope she comes to the Eastern Province so that I can see it. The Saudi Gazette interviewed Maisah Sobaihi the writer of the play and she had a few pivotal points I’d like to share.
The family returned to Saudi Arabia when she was 15 and that meant completing her high school education at a Saudi school in Jeddah.
“Saudis weren’t allowed to go to the International schools. This was a blessing in disguise as I had to learn Arabic. It was very difficult at the time, but now I am very grateful for that because it made my Arabic much stronger, and I can read and write in the language.”
I’ve heard complaints about this in the past. Some people feel it is unfair for Saudi children to not be allowed to attend the International Schools in the Kindgom. I like that she viewed this, at least in her case, as a ‘blessing in disguise’.
Her play is about situations that women face in Saudi Arabia, and although she aims to entertain and make people laugh, she is reluctant to label her work as “comedy”. She categorizes it as being fun.
“I think it is fun and thoughtful and sensitive, and has no intention of offending anyone. There are no judgements. It is just saying that this is what is happening and is about our experiences as women that bring us together as women. Some people here have reservations about the word ‘comedy’ because they think that I am making fun of women in Saudi Arabia, or mocking them. I think ‘social commentary’ is probably a safe description, but I think comedy is a really good way to bring ideas across. Perhaps it should be called ‘social light comedy.’”
Sobaihi collects some of her material through research from local papers, but mainly from stories of other women that she knows. She talks to them about their experiences and interviews other women, and the play is based on this variety of true stories.
Sensitive and non-offensive when discussing issues Saudi women face. Who would have thunk!
Her play is written and delivered in English because: “I think in English! And I also want the English-speaking community, whether it is here in Jeddah, or in the USA or the UK, to hear a voice about Arab women from an Arab woman. I think it is time that Arab women gave voice to their experiences so that other women and men across the world understand us more, because there have been many misconceptions and misunderstandings when it comes to Arab-Muslim society.”
I’m glad she is doing this.
I asked her what sort of changes she would like to see for women in Saudi Arabia. “That is always the big question, isn’t it? I would like them to change in the way they want to change. I think I want them to feel and think for themselves, to understand what change is good for them. But for me personally – whether Saudi women, or Chinese women, from whatever place they are from – I would like to see justice for them, for whatever experience they are going through. Women and men. That way they can give society much more.”
This is what I’m talking about!
I would like to expose ‘Head over Heels’ to different communities, to see how they understand us, to create a dialogue between us…
Excellent. She’s well suited for the job. I really have a problem with Western Women coming here and automactically becoming experts on Saudi. Their views are usually extremely shallow and baised.
Does she have any plans to write anything else about Saudi Arabia? “Yes, I do. YES!” she said enthusiastically.
“I want all my writing to be about Saudi Arabia – this is my home, and I feel very connected to Saudi Arabia. I think there are a lot of positive things about Saudi Arabia and I think there is a lot of negative stuff too – there is no denying that. But that is just the world.”
Exactly, the world world has problems. Maybe not the same, but I will make a comparison about this with marriage. I’ve said it many times that I would never trade my husband in for any other man in the world. That is not to say he is perfect – we drive each other insane at times. However, another man means other issues – some I may not be able to deal with. This is how I see my living in Saudi. It’s not perefect, but there is no place else I’d rather be. If I go to another country because I am free to drive there or go to the movies, there will inevitably be other issues I face. There will always be issues. This is life. This is the world we live in.