Saudi play gets an Italian twist to round off Italian Language Week

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The adapted version of ‘Head over Heels in Saudi Arabia’ was performed at the Italian Cultural Club on Tuesday. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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The adapted version of ‘Head over Heels in Saudi Arabia’ was performed at the Italian Cultural Club on Tuesday. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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The adapted version of ‘Head over Heels in Saudi Arabia’ was performed at the Italian Cultural Club on Tuesday. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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The adapted version of ‘Head over Heels in Saudi Arabia’ was performed at the Italian Cultural Club on Tuesday. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 24 October 2018
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Saudi play gets an Italian twist to round off Italian Language Week

  • The monologue was written and performed by Saudi playwright Dr. Maisah Sobaihi
  • Sobaihi explores in the play some of the complicated real-life situations that occur in the lives of married Saudi women

JEDDAH: Italian Language Week came to a close with an unforgettable, specially adapted performance of the play “Head over Heels in Saudi Arabia” at the Italian Cultural Club on Tuesday.

The monologue, written by and starring Dr. Maisah Sobaihi, a Saudi academic, playwright and performer who gives a contemporary voice to Arab women, tells the story of the complicated love lives of local women in an amusing and captivating way.

The evening began with a speech by the Consul General of Italy in Jeddah, Elisabetta Martini, to welcome the audience and introduce Sobaihi. The play was performed in English, with some Saudi cultural sayings, but was given an Italian twist for the occasion with the addition of some Italian words and phrases, which helped to make the whole audience feel connected to the story.

Marriage is a hot topic in Saudi Arabia and Sobaihi explored some of the complicated real-life situations that occur in the lives of married Saudi women. Even though the play is told from a female perspective, however, it is also a real eye-opener for men.

“These issues come up in every society,” Sobaihi told Arab News. “They are universal issues. It’s something we have to talk about and explore and then society comes together to provide different solutions.”

In a question-and-answer session after the play, Sobaihi expressed her pride in being a representative of, and voice for, modern Arab women.

“I’m always honored and happy to represent Arab women or to be a contemporary voice but I’m not sure exactly what that means,” she said. “What I can say is that I am an Arab woman and I have experiences that I’d like to share with the world, and sometimes I choose experiences from the Arab World. These experiences that I’ve shared with you here are particularly about Saudi women, so I choose experiences that are contemporary and I hope those voices come across.”

The audience certainly seemed to enjoy the performance and identify with the themes.

“I think she’s very talented,” said Saudi writer Ghada Aboud, author of the recently published novel “Bipolar.” “It’s extremely difficult to pull off an act such as this that depends on only one actress: the change of characters and how she was very capable of making the audience really connect with different controversial situations and really empathize and sympathize with the two different characters.”

Audience member Layal Turk said: “I loved it so much because it is purely talking about the situation in Saudi Arabia, especially from the women’s side. It was strange in the beginning because it is a one-women show butafter that I loved it. She’s really smart and a real artist.”

Consul General Martini said that blending cultures in such a theatrical way as Sobaihi had done was perfect for Italian Language Week.

“We really want to show how our cultures are similar,” she said. “Our cultures are similar in terms of content, but also when she was dropping some Italian words people could feel the meaning now. It was not like saying some words in a completely different language —she was keeping the attitude, even when speaking in Italian, so I really wanted to show that this, a theater performance performed in English and in Arabic, could even have Italian words and not lose the meaning. That was my main aim.

“Dr. Maisah is a great performer. She’s someone who can really speak to the heart of the people. and this Italian Language Week is dedicated to ‘networks.’ During the first part of the week, we discussed how the internet has changed our language, and in the case of Dr. Maisah we wanted to show how personal networks really can have an impact on the evolution of the language and the evolution of expression, how you express yourself.

“So we wanted to develop this Italian Language Week into two parts: how the internet and how personal networks can really make a language evolve.”


King Salman receives outgoing Brazilian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

King Salman receives outgoing Brazilian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Flavio Marega in Riyadh on Wednesday. SPA
Updated 24 January 2019
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King Salman receives outgoing Brazilian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

  • The reception at the Yamamah Palace in Riyadh was attended by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir

King Salman received on Wednesday outgoing Brazilian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Flavio Marega. 

The ambassador paid farewell to the king on the occasion of the end of his term as an ambassador of his country to the Kingdom.

The reception at the Yamamah Palace in Riyadh was attended by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir.

Later, King Salman received senior officials of the Ministry of Commerce and Investment, presidents of chambers of commerce, and a number of businessmen.

During the reception, the king stressed the important role of the private sector in achieving development goals in the Kingdom and raising the level of provided services.

The audience was attended by Minister of Commerce and Investment Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi and Governor of Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization Saad bin Othman Al-Qasabi.