Tamer Hosni in Saudi Arabia

By Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Tue 27 February / Feb 2018. 01:00 AM - آخر تعديل في Wed 28 February / Feb 2018. 04:13 AM
  • Fahed Khitan

Saudi Arabia is really stepping up entertainment. Whoever though this sudden and swift development could so happen overnight!

The regional entertainment industry is in shock.

Rapid shifts are happening in the sector, leaving the conservative powers in Saudi breathless, trying hopelessly to keep up, unable to disrupt the underway change.

Personally, I think the most significant event is Saudi Arabia is not the ‘Ritz’ campaign, or the princes and businessmen charged with corruption.

Alternatively, it is the quick and shocking jabs and blows the conservatives are taking in the social and cultural field.

In just a few months, Saudi Arabia has seen a sequence of events and steps the conservatives would otherwise be unable to accept over years, let alone weeks.

Music festivals, opera shows, cinemas and last but not least, Tamer Hosni’s concert, one of the youths’ most demanded entertainers.

Not long ago, the government allowed women to drive cars. They also allowed them to attend football matches.

Prior to these changes taking place on the topmost levels of Saudi political leaderships, researchers and experts strongly suggested that the Saudi society will not be able to break the long decades of isolation. Especially since, they have been under the Wahhabi conservatives’ control for so long.

To everybody’s surprise, the wall went down crumbling, or so it seems, in the face of these sudden and shocking changes.

In any other case, it would be naïve to assume that Saudi will not see resistance to music concerts, arts and cinemas. Many Saudi conservatives and clergy oppose this culture, as well as the entertainment committee fostering it.

However, the committee’s support on the topmost levels has empowered it over the conservatives, who now have to hold their tongues. This is especially true as so many Saudi youths welcome these changes with arms wide open, not mention the general acceptance.

The Saudis indulgence in modern life overseas through schools in the West as well as through tourism, both east and west, and their engagement in the world cultural scene via social media, has pillared and supported the leadership’s shift in cultural, social policy.

Controversy over these policies will continue for years through the transition among Saudis.

Nonetheless, it is difficult to undo what has been done now, even if political change, or even regression, comes about. Eventually, change is unfolding in Saudi Arabia, and society will come to open up to the world and embrace modernity as the new status-quo. Even the conservatives and their traditional populace will come to accept this particular eventuality.

Saudi youth stands to benefit the most out of these changes, as they have long dreamt of modernity in their own home, long ruled by an autocracy that gags people and sucks culture out of life.

Regionally, however, these shifts may threaten the profits of other cultural, entertainment centres in the region, like Dubai, the Levant and Egypt, as the Saudis have contributed so much to these industries.

For instance, the Saudi plan is to domesticize around 50 per cent of the entertainment industry, which is estimated at nearly USD22 billion.

There are blueprints for the construction of massive entertainment cities along the red sea, in addition to theatres and platforms for entertainment, arts and culture festivals in major Saudi cities.

Such investments will surely draw a significant portion of the income Saudis brought to other cultural and entertainment hubs in the region.

Saudi Arabia is changing, internally.

Whoever though youth-admired Tamer Hosni will ever perform in Saudi?!

This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.