EXCLUSIVE: Saudi singer-songwriter Tamtam releases music video ahead of historic end to driving ban

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LA-based singer Tamtam takes the wheel of a Ford Mustang convertible for her “Drive” video. (Photo by Taylor Lacayo, courtesy of Tamtam.)
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LA-based singer Tamtam takes the wheel of a Ford Mustang convertible for her “Drive” video. (Photo by Taylor Lacayo, courtesy of Tamtam.)
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LA-based singer Tamtam takes the wheel of a Ford Mustang convertible for her “Drive” video. (Photo by Taylor Lacayo, courtesy of Tamtam.)
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Tamtam and her friends. (Photo by Taylor Lacayo, courtesy of Tamtam.)
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Tamtam and her friends. (Photo by Taylor Lacayo, courtesy of Tamtam.)
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Tamtam. (Courtesy of Tamtam)
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Tamtam. (Courtesy of Tamtam)
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Updated 22 June 2018
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EXCLUSIVE: Saudi singer-songwriter Tamtam releases music video ahead of historic end to driving ban

  • Singer-songwriter Tamtam has released a music video to coincide with the day her fellow countrywomen make history
  • In an exclusive interview with Arab News, the LA-based musician said she hopes the song inspires women to see that with patience and perseverance anything can happen. 

JEDDAH: With the long-awaited day when Saudi women can finally drive drawing near, a Saudi singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles has written a song to mark the historic occasion.

Called simply “Drive,” Tamtam’s take on the breakthrough reform covers a range of emotions: Happiness, pride and even surprise.

Millions around the world shared the news that Saudi women would be allowed to drive when it was announced last fall, and with all the preparations taking place, the singer wanted to take part in the best way she could. So she wrote the lyrics to a song that mirrored the exciting events ahead.

Tamtam’s release focuses on the themes of freedom, equality and empowerment that she has explored in her music since the start of her career in 2012.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, the LA-based musician said she hopes the song inspires women to see that with patience and perseverance anything can happen. 

“If I had to use one word to describe the feeling, it would be hope. Women in Saudi are ready to have a bigger voice and become more independent.

“This is a huge step forward for all of us. The country is showing us that they know we are ready, and they are here to support us and help launch us forward,” said Tamtam. 

Her song’s lyrics include the words: “We know what we want, we know it’s our time, let go of past perceptions, tomorrow is mine, we got drive” — suggesting that it’s time to look forward and stop looking back at what once was.

The verse mirrors the narrative many Saudis are sharing with the world, empowered by the dramatic changes Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is accomplishing with Vision 2030 and beyond. 

Tamtam, inspired by the late Michael Jackson, started singing aged 15. She wrote her first single, “Little Girl,” while attending high school in California after her family moved to the US from Riyadh. Her singing and songwriting have been influenced by events around her, always related to current issues with a twist of optimism. 

Whether it’s her strong vocals or hauntingly beautiful voice, Tamtam’s music transcends expectations. This young Saudi is singing and making a name for herself in the City of Angels, and her positive energy is reflected in her music.

As Saudis embrace a host of reforms, Tamtam believes many Westerners are shocked by the news. Yet people forget that Saudi is a relatively young country and more good changes will come, she said. 

“With hope comes more aspirations, dreams, new achievements and positive energy.”

The “Drive” video is uplifting, with playful, artistic imagery, and soulful and empowering vocals. The singer and her friends wear white, representing peace and femininity, and drive a yellow Ford Mustang convertible (Tamtam’s dream car). 

“Whenever I’m in a car, especially if there is traffic or it’s a long drive, I always turn on music to put me in a better mood. Driving is so much more enjoyable with music,” said Tamtam. “I hope that this song will be blasting through car speakers everywhere.” 

So the question is: Will Tamtam get her Saudi license, too?

“Yes, I can’t wait,” is the answer, obviously.

 



Housing expo opens doors for first-time buyers in Saudi Arabia

Updated 11 min 35 sec ago
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Housing expo opens doors for first-time buyers in Saudi Arabia

  • Sakani Expo, which will be held until Nov. 23, aims to facilitate real estate loans and help beneficiaries buy their first home
  • Through the Mortgage Loan program, Sakani Expo offers financing solutions and products to suit all beneficiary groups

JEDDAH: Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar inaugurated the Sakani Expo residential exhibition at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center on Thursday.
The ceremony was attended by Housing Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al-Huqail.
Sakani Expo, which will be held until Nov. 23, aims to facilitate real estate loans and help beneficiaries buy their first home by bringing together developers, real estate professionals, contractors, government agencies and financing institutions — providing all housing and financing solutions in one place.
Prince Faisal said: “This exhibition promotes the development taking place in the Kingdom and provides citizens with many options as well as information, all of which have the care and support of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“Saudi Arabia has always been full of good and enlightened thinking, through which citizens can lead good lives and own suitable houses,” he said.
Through the Mortgage Loan program, Sakani Expo offers financing solutions and products to suit all beneficiary groups, including retirees, entrepreneurs, private-sector employees and many who were previously unable to get a mortgage.
The Ministry of Housing and the Real Estate Development Fund (REDF) organized the exhibition to provide financing solutions to beneficiaries of the Mortgage Loan program, driving the housing sector forward and offering maximum benefit to citizens.
The initiative will also shorten a waiting list of an estimated 48,000 beneficiaries, all of whom will be served by the end of 2020.
REDF approved 85,000 beneficiaries’ requests last year and aims to grant more than 100,000 approvals during 2018 to achieve the goal of the National Transformation Program 2020 to increase the percentage of Saudis owning their homes to 60 percent. That figure is expected to reach 70 percent by 2030.
Sakani Expo will allow beneficiaries to meet with a real estate adviser who will offer residential and financing solutions to suit their needs and capabilities.
A Military Home Loans initiative to be launched during the expo by the Local Content and Private Sector Development Unit aims to make it easier for members of the military their own house by offering an additional loan up to SR140,000 ($37,300), in addition to covering up to SR500,000 of the profits of the financing provided by financiers through the Mortgage Loan program.
The loan will be repaid after repayment of the basic financing — 15-25 years — with premiums scheduled according to monthly income.
The Military Home Loans initiative targets members of the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of National Guard, Saudi Arabian Royal Guard, Presidency of the State Security and the General Intelligence Presidency.
In order to benefit from the initiative, members of the military are encouraged to register or update their data in the “Housing Support” program through the Ministry of Housing or the REDF.