The music video for the song “Hwages” premiered last month and has since taken pop culture in Saudi Arabia by storm — not only because of its catchiness, but because it shows women skateboarding, playing basketball and driving bumper cars, among partaking in other activities, all while wearing traditional women’s dress. Peeking out from beneath the niqabs, the women are seen wearing vividly colored dresses, socks and sneakers. The video, created by director Majed al-Esa of the Saudi production company 8ies Studios, has racked up a staggering 2.5 million views as of this writing and become a topic of debate as well as celebration in the ultra-conservative kingdom.
Based on an older folk song, “Hwages” (which roughly translates to “concerns”) has a somewhat subversive political message, with lyrics as “may all men sink into oblivion.” The video references the fact that women are mostly unable to drive in the country and takes shots at the hypocrisy of Saudi men. The video has even been heralded by some in the establishment, with newspaper Al-Bilad saying the video shows that “the new generation of women is different from the past,” while many people on social media (including Amera al-Taweel, the 33-year-old ex-wife of prominent Saudi prince Al-Waleed bin Talal) shared and praised the song.
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