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Saudi film should not win an Oscar


Last updated: Thursday, September 19, 2013 12:09 AM

Khalaf Al-Harbi


IN a surprising turn of events, a Saudi movie has been nominated for the Oscar award.

Of course, in a country where there are no cinemas and where people travel to neighboring countries to watch movies, the mere thought of anything Saudi being considered for an Oscar is beyond imagination.

But this is exactly what Saudi female director Haifaa  Al-Mansour has done. Her movie has been nominated for the Oscar in the best foreign film category.

She shot her film, Wajda, in Riyadh overcoming many hurdles and difficulties that can mar the filming of a movie in this country. This in itself is a reflection of the magnitude of the cinematic and cultural achievement. With due respect and appreciation to the spectacular efforts exerted by Haifaa  Al-Mansour and her team, I believe that it is not in our general interest the Wajda win an Oscar award.

Firstly, a Saudi film winning an Oscar award while we do not have cinemas will not be good for the country and for the prize. This will open the door wide for heated discussions, creating headaches for many of us.

People will wonder why we do not have cinemas under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture and Information when we can watch uncensored films on satellite channels.

We cannot find a single convincing reason why we do not have cinemas except that we do not want them. This is enough reason. The cinema is not our biggest problem, so why we care about it? We have many other more important problems to fix.

Secondly, the film is featuring a 10-year-old Saudi girl, named Wajda, who tries to buy a bicycle to ride it along our streets without knowing that in the Kingdom, riding bicycles is an exclusive privilege of the boys. This means that the winning an Oscar award will open discussion about the tribulations of the Saudi woman and her forced seclusion. We do not want such idle talk.

The Saudi woman is a precious jewel which is to be tightly guarded. She should not at all think of riding a bicycle. If the circumstances obliges her to ride a bicycle as a means of transport, she can recruit an Asian driver to do the job. Why do we make a problem out of nothing? The Saudi woman will never drive a car in this country so why do we keep repeating this trivial talk? Have all the problems of the Saudi woman been summarized in preventing her from driving? We have bigger problems.

Thirdly, we are facing a situation that includes three elements: the woman, the cinema and we. There are a million reasons that make us hope that the Saudi movie would never win an Oscar.

We also have a million reasons that make us wish the Saudi efforts to organize the Asian Soccer Cup will never succeed because it will bring female fans to our country. We also have many reasons that make us wish a woman poet would not be born in our country to recite her poetry at Souk Okaz.

The best thing in this case is to get rid of all Saudi women. If we do that we may win 14 Oscar awards and reach the World Cup finals more than three times.

I have an idea which may please everyone. The other day, Jeddah got rid of its landmark bicycle that was erected right in the center of the Bicycle Roundabout on King Fahd Street. This bicycle was registered in the Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest bicycle in the world.

The bicycle was made about 30 years ago from the debris of the first marble factory in the Kingdom. It will go to the warehouses along with 76 other monuments and sculptures that were adorning Jeddah's squares. Each one of these monuments was a piece of art made by renowned international artists.

What would you say if we present the makers of Wajda the biggest bicycle in the world in exchange for Haifaa Al-Mansour withdrawing her nomination for the Oscar?

Note: Local Viewpoints are translated from the Arabic press to bring current mainstream opinions published in Saudi media to a worldwide audience. The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Saudi Gazette or of its team.
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