Saudi Arabic and US slang make for a rising YouTube star

Shannon Munyan
Updated 19 May 2017
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Saudi Arabic and US slang make for a rising YouTube star

JEDDAH: “Learning Arabic is so difficult!” It is an oft-repeated phrase heard from expats who are trying to master the language.
What is even more daunting, however, is the fact that there are myriad dialects of the language. So just when you think you have learned Arabic in Saudi Arabia, you will discover that the Emirati, Bahraini or Syrian variations are substantially different.
If you resort to learning classical Arabic — the lingua franca of choice in most language schools — you will stand out as a foreigner in no time.
In fact, dialects are key in creating a sense of comfort and intimacy in conversations. Using the dialect of the person with whom you are speaking eases the flow of conversation and builds trust.
That is precisely why 29-year-old American Shannon Elizabeth has garnered a massive fan following on YouTube — her Hijazi Arabic, or Western Saudi Arabian Arabic, is almost flawless.
Entirely self-taught, she surprises her Arab acquaintances, many of whom do not expect an American to speak with such a spot-on accent.
Known regionally as “Al-A’ameeya Al-Amrekeeya ma’a Shannon,” the Internet sensation teaches native Arabic speakers some English, with a particular focus on idioms and slang.

 

The burning #question #wharton #upenn #valedictorian #arabic #اللغة_العربية

A post shared by شانن (حصة العتيبي)Shannon (@anisaamrekeeya) on


As is perhaps expected for a rising YouTube celebrity, it is marriage proposals galore for Elizabeth.
“I get a fair number of ‘how much is your dowry’ and ‘where does your father live so I can ask for your hand in marriage’ type of questions,” Elizabethtold Arab News.
The rising star grew up in Virginia, in the US, and did her bachelor’s degree in economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She has been based in Los Angeles and she was working for Saudi media company MBC back in 2014 based in Dubai.
Learning Arabic was a goal of Elizabith's since she moved to the Middle East but it was an unexpected stint in acting that kicked off her love affair with the language.
At MBC, she sought to score a role in a Ramadan comedy show called “WiFi” which tackles issues in Gulf society. The director told her she would need to speak Khaleeji or Hijazi Arabic in order to fit in with the rest of the cast. Elizabeth's soon mastered the language and embellished her spoken Arabic with a littering of Hijazi words and phrases.

 

Repost @mbc1 ・・・ أمريكية تسأل .. ايش اسوي بــ 8 ساعات في #السعودية ؟ #واي_فاي #mbc1

A post shared by شانن (حصة العتيبي)Shannon (@anisaamrekeeya) on


“At the time, I had no idea what Hijazi was, but I quickly found out and started searching for an instructor,” she said.
“When my teacher moved away in 2013, my lessons came to a halt but I practiced Arabic with my friends and on social media. I’m lucky to have great people around me.”
To the native ear, Elizabeth’s Arabic is not perfect but, to be fair, it is not her mother tongue.
Difficulty arises when it comes to the pronunciation of certain words but then again, who uses the phrase “tayer men alfar ha’a’” (I am flying with happiness) — from a Saudi song — to express happiness? Only a Hijazi.
Fans flock to her YouTube channel to hear her opinions and learn English slang.
“My YouTube channel started out of my love for education and entertainment,” she said. “I wanted to make a YouTube show that was fun, interesting and educational. The show ‘American Slang’ was born out of my desire to act more and also practice editing and translation.”


She also found time to publish her first book, “Al-A’ameeya Al-Amrekeeya” (American slang) which was published by the Dubai-based Madarek Publishing House, and maintains her Arabic blog, Lahjaty.


“I had been getting a lot of questions about the same phrases over and over so I realized that it would be useful to create a sort of database of information that people could not get anywhere else,” she said.
Elizabeth also created an educational app, Al-A’ameeya Al-Amrekeeya, that is primarily in Arabic and provides more than 1,000 English expressions translated into Arabic.

“We are so humbled and grateful for the response to our app,” she said. “It was ranked second in the top paid apps for Saudi Arabia during its release week and with the update coming out, we hope it will continue to do even better.”

She also revealed plans for future digital ventures.
“We are working on a framework that will allow English learners to test their slang and get answers to their questions more quickly than by booking lessons with me on our website, which is currently the default route for people who need more personalized help,” she said.
“Honestly, when I came to Dubai seven years ago, I knew nothing about the Gulf or Arabic language, culture and traditions,” she said. “I will say that I am grateful to know amazing people from many different countries.”

 


Saudi Arabia witnesses unprecedented achievements one year after MBS became crown prince

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has become the government’s face of reform, modernization and change. (SPA)
Updated 22 June 2018
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Saudi Arabia witnesses unprecedented achievements one year after MBS became crown prince

  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is the architect of a wide-ranging plan for social and economic reforms known as Saudi Vision 2030
  • Vision 2030 seeks to make Saudi Arabia non-oil based economy and the large developments at the Red Sea, Qiddiya and, NEOM, are part of the efforts to lure in investors and promote tourism sector.

JEDDAH: June 21 marked one year of Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince of Saudi Arabia.Since assuming the role, the crown prince, fondly known as MBS, has been working for the socioeconomic transformation of the Kingdom.
He is the architect of a wide-ranging plan for social and economic reforms known as Saudi Vision 2030, which aims to diversify the economy of the Kingdom and reduce its dependence on oil income.
Among the reforms envisaged in the Vision 2030 plan are the reopening of cinemas and allowing both sexes to attend concerts.
Another major development is the lifting of a ban on women driving. From June 24, women in Saudi Arabia will be able to take the wheel. The crown prince’s Vision 2030 reform plan seeks to elevate women to nearly one-third of the workforce, up from the current 22 percent.
In a statement issued to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that as the architect of Saudi Vision 2030, the crown prince was inspiring the country’s youth and introducing structural changes to the Saudi economy and society.
Al-Othaimeen said that in one year he had taken many important initiatives at the national and international level and reinforced Saudi Arabia’s leading role in defending and supporting issues related to the wider Muslim world.
In this area, the OIC chief said, the most notable achievement was the creation of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition.
Vision 2030 seeks to boost the Saudi non-oil based economy, and the large developments at the Red Sea, Qiddiya and NEOM, the futuristic mega city, are part of efforts to attract investors and promote the Kingdom’s tourism sector.
Saudi Minister of Telecommunications and IT Abdullah bin Amer Al-Sawaha said that the Kingdom is geared up to achieve the goals of socioeconomic transformation as envisaged in Vision 2030. He said that during the last year Saudi Arabia had achieved great success in this ambition.
Civil Services Minister Sulaiman bin Abdullah Al-Hamdan said that last year was characterized by many achievements. The Kingdom, he said, witnessed the continuation of the successful implementation of the crown prince’s Vision 2030, which covers all aspects of life.
Saudi Education Minister Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Issa said: “Our country is looking forward to a bright future in line with an ambitious vision. It is standing at the threshold of great transformation.”
Saudi Arabia has also witnessed several unprecedented developments since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began implementing his reform plans. In a bid to ensure transparency in the financial system to promote international investments, the Kingdom launched a drive to root out corruption from society without discrimination.
Saudi Justice Minister Dr. Waleed bin Mohammed Al-Samaani, who is also president of the Supreme Judicial Council, said that the crown prince is a leader whose impact has surpassed local and regional levels. He has emerged as one of the most influential figures at the global level, he said.
Islamic Affairs Minister Dr. Abdulatif bin Abdul Aziz Al-Ashiekh said: “The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 is a comprehensive national development program that seeks to achieve prosperity for the country. The crown prince has worked very hard to achieve many goals in record time.
“The Ministry of Islamic Affairs has received a great deal of support and attention from the crown prince to help fight extremist and deviant ideologies.”
The minister said that these efforts come within the framework of Vision 2030 to eradicate all sources of corruption.
MBS’s history of philanthropic initiatives has earned him many awards. In 2011, he established the Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Foundation (Misk), which enables young Saudis to learn, develop and progress in the fields of business, literature, culture, science and technology, and sociology.
“The crown prince’s initiatives in relief and humanitarian work have been admired and praised by the UN and its related organizations,” said Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief) and an adviser to the royal court.
Al-Rabeeah said that the crown prince had allocated $66.7 million to fight the cholera epidemic in Yemen, in addition to his efforts to help the needy throughout the world without discrimination.
He said that the crown prince had worked hard to build a new phase of progress and prosperity for the country with the help of the youth who are the core of the Kingdom’s future.
In recent years, the crown prince has become the government’s face of reform, modernization and change. In a country where about 60 percent of the population is under 30, the young crown prince is widely seen as an icon in the push toward socioeconomic reforms.
The crown prince also heads the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, which aims to establish a seamless mechanism to achieve Vision 2030 goals.