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.”


Major boost for Al-Jouf as Saudi king set to announce new city

King Salman arrived in Al-Jouf on Tuesday. (SPA)
Updated 21 November 2018
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Major boost for Al-Jouf as Saudi king set to announce new city

  • The king will launch Waad Al-Shamaal, a new city aimed at boosting the country’s mining infrastructure

JEDDAH: Projects worth several billion riyals are to be unveiled by Saudi Arabia’s king this week as he continues his tour of the country’s regions.
King Salman arrived in the province of Al-Jouf on Tuesday night where he will announce the construction of a new city, bolstering the local economy and creating thousands of jobs in Saudi Arabia’s most northern region.
On Thursday, the king will launch Waad Al-Shamaal, a new city aimed at boosting the country’s mining infrastructure, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 
He will lay the foundation stone for the first phase of the SR85 billion ($22 billion) city in Toriaf province — worth SR55 billion —  and is also set to inaugurate the projects and facilities of the second phase — worth SR30 billion.
In the past two months the king has visited a number of major cities, announcing projects and initiatives to develop the Kingdom inline with Vision 2030 — a broad strategic plan to diversify the economy and end dependence on oil revenues.
Before arriving in Al-Jouf, King Salman visited Tabuk, where several projects worth more than SR11 billion were launched.
He also met the team heading Amaala, the ultra-luxurious tourist destination that was unveiled in September and dubbed the “Riviera of the Middle East,” and was briefed on plans for the new attraction.
King Salman praised Amaala’s objectives to contribute to promoting economic diversification, creating investment opportunities for the private sector, and developing the tourism sector in Saudi Arabia while preserving the cultural and environmental heritage.
Meanwhile, the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced yet another major project in western Saudi Arabia.
Wadi Al-Disah Development Project, which is expected to become one of the Kingdom’s most environmentally diverse tourist attractions, adds to a number of already launched ventures on western coastal regions.
PIF will establish a company to develop Wadi Al-Disah in accordance with international best practices regarding environmental conservation and sustainable development.
In addition to this week’s tour, the king has so far visited Madinah, Qassim and Hail.