Arab stand-up comedians star in new Netflix series

Rawsan Hallak from Jordan aid that she feels proud to represent Arab and hijab-wearing women in comedy. (Supplied)
Updated 17 December 2018
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Arab stand-up comedians star in new Netflix series

  • Comedians of the World will be the first of its kind to feature Arab comedians
  • Four comedians from the Middle East made the cut

DUBAI: Netflix has announced a new show that features stand-up comedians from the Arab world.

“Comedians of the World” – expected to debut on Jan. 1 – will be the first of its kind to feature Arab comedians, according to Netflix.

The series brought together 47 comedians from 13 regions around the world and was filmed in eight languages. Four comedians from the Middle East made the cut — Moayad Al-Nefaie and Ibraheem Al-Khairallah from Saudi Arabia, Adi Khalefa from Palestine and Rawsan Hallak from Jordan. Each of the talents will have a 30-minute stand-up special dedicated to them.

Adi Khalefa

“After 12 years of doing stand-up comedy, this was like a big reward for me and I hope this is just the first step,” Khalefa told Arab News.

From Nazareth — commonly known as “the Arab capital of Israel” — Khalefa has performed in multiple comedy festivals around the world and his latest show, “Billiat-Show” — inspired by his personal, social and political experiences — sold out more than eight times.

For Al-Khairallah, being part of a platform that showcases internationally acclaimed comedians such as US funnyman Dave Chappelle is an honor.

“I love Dave Chappelle so much, so when I go on Netflix and see a show I am featured in right next to a show of Dave Chapelle, I feel blessed,” he said.

Before stand-up comedy, Al-Khairallah worked in banking in Saudi Arabia and only took his act to the stage as a hobby.

Ibraheem Al-Khairallah

Meanwhile, Hallak said that she feels proud to represent Arab and hijab-wearing women in comedy.

“It’s not easy to be an Arab female comedian, but it sends a strong message, because generally speaking, we don’t have the confidence to put ourselves out there and share our thoughts and opinions, but so far the response from my audiences has been good,” she said.

Hallak explained that viewers should expect her material to be based on lighthearted subjects that affect women.

“I like to focus on stories and issues that involve women, such as the latest fashion trends,” she said.

Rawsan Hallak

Meanwhile, Khalefa said he likes to talk about his feelings and anything that he finds funny — but if viewers expect comedy with a moral message, it just isn’t his style.

“Mr. Bean, who is a comedic genius, makes comedy about nothing and he is extremely respected. So, it is not necessary to have a message in your stand-up. But I like to vary my style too, so whatever I find funny, really,” he said.

For the stand-up stars, the Netflix show has given them an opportunity to take their brand of comedy to a global audience.

“Netflix has so many viewers worldwide, taking us from a local level to an international one,” Hallak said.


Saudi Arabia’s East Coast Festival lines up top-class cultural activities

Updated 25 March 2019
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Saudi Arabia’s East Coast Festival lines up top-class cultural activities

  • Dammam Corniche event celebrates Saudi heritage; more ‘seasons’ to come
  • The festival is being held at the waterfront of King Abdullah Park, and access to the 10-day event is free

DAMMAM: People in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province have had no shortage of things to do during the Sharqiah Season. From pop concerts featuring international artists to massive sporting events, there is something for everyone among the 83 different events planned.

However, it would be remiss not to celebrate the heritage and culture of the country itself. The Enter East Coast Festival, an open-air marketplace with plenty of activities for locals and tourists to enjoy.

The festival is being held along the Dammam Corniche, at the waterfront of King Abdullah Park, and access to the 10-day event is free.

It features stalls with craftsmen beavering away. At one, a potter is bent over a wheel as he makes vases, lanterns and small toys. At another, carpenters fashion chairs and tables out of planks of wood. A weaver hums as he plaits together palm fronds to form baskets and fans.

The vendors are mostly from Saudi Arabia, but there are other countries showcasing their work too. 

Fishermen and sailors from Oman display pearls still in their shells, delicate replicas of traditional fishing boats, and stretches of fishing net. The stalls from Kuwait feature items from the past and vendors from Bahrain offer local sweets, handmade items and clothing.

There are Saudi dances and musical performances too. One stage, resembling a ship, features performers dressed as sailors singing traditional sea shanties. Another stage has drummers and a singer. A huge area in the middle of the space is allotted to dancers, flag-bearers, and even armed officers participating in a traditional Ardah, or Saudi dance.

Those looking to eat something can chow down on Saudi offerings including jareesh, margoog, or qursan. There are food trucks selling Western fare such as burgers and tacos. 

The festival runs until March 30, when the Sharqiah Season ends. 

The season is a collaborative effort between the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, the General Entertainment Authority, the General Culture Authority and the General Sports Authority. It is the first of 11 scheduled festivals planned across the country for 2019.

Future seasons will focus on different areas of Saudi Arabia, with different entertainment options for each city, and different parts of the year, such as Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.

Decoder

What is Sharqiah Season?

The festival features more than 80 events in Eastern Province cities, including Dammam, Dhahran, Alkhobar, Al-Ahsa and Jubail. Future seasons will focus on different areas of Saudi Arabia, with different entertainment options for each city. Upcoming seasons will focus on different areas, and also different parts of the year, such as Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha. Read our reports on the Sharqiah Season festival here: http://www.arabnews.com/tags/sharqiah-season