Girls of Riyadh

If you're Saudi, you most probably heard of the novel "Banat Al Riyadh", or "Girls of Riyadh". I read it. Quite interesting. However, does it really speaks about Riyadh's reality? Who cares?!

It really doesn't matter when Arabs read this novel, about four Saudi girls who live in Riyadh and each has her own adventures with boys and whatever. Sounds exciting, is it 100% true? Could it be?.. Yes. It could be, but transparent isn't like true. This novel might be true but not transparent, as it speaks about a certain type of girls in Riyadh, very specific.

What made me write this post is that I had an idea about a novel. I had this idea when I saw an English version of the recent best-seller "Girls of Riyadh". When it was just Arabic, I didn't care much, but now, English?

I know that she, Rajaa Alsane'a, the writer, might not realize that translating that book might give foreigners a wrong idea about Saudi Arabia. They might think that these girls represent Riyadh, and that Riyadh, being the capital of Saudi Arabia, represents Saudi, which is not true.

What I want to write about is the real truth. I want to put the right facts into a story; a novel. I want to make this novel as a response to Rajaa, and her translated novel. She should have thought twice before publishing that novel in other languages; being famous, writing a juicy story, and money shouldn't be the main goal of writing a novel. Writing a novel should be an expression of truth, or ideas. It should be the utilization of the talent in writing (which she might not be entitled to, considering that the Arabic version was written in slang).

If you're going to influence a large group of people by doing a certain act, you should look at the big picture. You should consider your values as well as the country's. You should think about basic concepts and values that you should not cross. You should simply be smart, not selfish.


Anonymous said...

GREAT Mayada .. this is so true ..
للأسف كثير من روايات اليوم صارت مهزلة ... الكتاب والكاتب لهم قيمة .. والرواية لها أبعاد .. مو كل أحد ينشر كتاب معناته كاتب حقيقي .. في روايات للأسف صارت تحكي فقط الجوانب السلبية في مجتمعناالسعودي وكأن المجتمعات الأخرى ماعندها سلبيات .. مثل هذه الكتب أنا لا اعتبره رواية .. ممكن الواحد ينقل مشاكل المجتمع في مقال أو برامج أخرى أو عبر رواية لكن عندما تنطبق عليها مقومات كتابة الرواية، وبالنسبة للترجمة .. يجب أن يُختار الكتاب الذي سوف يترجم بدقة حتى لا تكون مثل هذه الكتب الضعيفة سلاحاً قوي يواجهنا به من لا يعرفنا حق المعرفة ونكون هكذا مستضعفين أمام الجمهور الكبير (عالم خارج السعودية) زينب

Moodiez said...

yes.. I agree!! That's why I wanna write something a bit more transparent and something with more value..

Anonymous said...

I already book my own copy from now :D Always interested in knowing more about the reality there!

Danya A. said...

Nor should she steal the stories of her friends and write about them without their permission, even if she used fake names.
Stupid woman. Stupid book.

SouS said...

It is transparent, I must completely disagree with you, Saudi Arabia to many people is somewhere where girls aren't allowed to do anything, go anywhere. it is only recently that we do have the gutts to travel alone go about alone, do things alone, we form societies. clubs, associations run businesses. but till about 4 years ago it was almost unheard of, the book came out in late 05 and at that point in time, yes alot of the girls in Saudi arabia had that kind of life.. Raja'a Al Sanea spoke specifically about those four girls, but also showed that they traveled (sadeem went to England, read, was a tourist. and the half american Girl went to the Emirates, they also both ended up respecting what their families wished for them to do) By transelating the book Raja'a showed the world that Saudi Girls do what every other girl in the world does, has the same kind of interests... and even wants the same things. and is not bound to the house raising children, they have careers they seek and they aspire to fall in love (like the jiddawi sisters...) Raja'a also started the trend for many Saudi girls to set out and try to do something for themselves, make something of themselves

Moodiez said...

Well, Sous, here is where we disagree. I can travel, and I can work. I do whatever I want and I am happy. I think that outsiders have the wrong idea about me. BUT, when we wanna show them that we're like everyone else, we don't have to lose our values and who we are. Love, and slutiness is not what we are made of. She should have just published this is our society, because we are simply looking for pleasure and entertainment. When she published it to foreigners who don't know nothing, they would think that this is Saudi. These girls are very naive superficial girls who care about nothing but love and unimportant things. This is not Saudi, we have those kinda people but it is not what we want people to know about us. Why not show the great minds we find in schools and workplaces? Why don't we show that they're are the superficial, but then there are the wise? These girls in the novel made nothing out of themselves. They don't have their priorities straight. To me, they are nothing. Rajaa wasn't fair with Riyadh girls when she spoke about them in FOREIGN COUNTRIES..

SouS said...

THIS is Saudi ya habibaty, there is a HUGE generation gap between you and I, there is also a HUGE generation gap between you and Raja'a's age group. We are talking about girls who are born into rich families, and still own old Values. as an author she clarified the description as most she could, some of them studied and got a higher degree and some of them didn't. some of them became doctors and some of them became devorcee's. this is REALITY, this is our lives, not everyone gets what they want, not all of us have the will power to finish university, the group that she described were in themselves EXACTLY as they were.. they did not see what they wanted. but they each also showed potential they showed courage, they prioritized, they sacrificed for the happiness of others around them..
And of course, we can't judge it at all.. its a NOVEL, a novel is a work of art a work of fiction.. a work of imagination at its best.... it is not a biography of these girls!

Danya A. said...

Ummm. It actually is a biography, on some level. She wrote about her friends' stories. She used fake names, obviously, but still, the girls got really upset. Not necessarily because they did anything wrong, but because most of the people in their social circle knew exactly whom Raja'a was talking about. No nobody wants their privacy invaded like that.

Moodiez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
abdulaziz said...

she should've called it " Rajaa's friends " !

going after money or whatever by using others name or reputation is pethatic !

an author ??!! well , ha ha ha !

by the way .. have u heared about this paltalk guy in the newspapers ?? whos cursing and swears at people ??

well , he is popular too ! :)

Ghostwriter said...

When a writer writes, she doesn't necessarily go out there trying to represent an entire country or a culture - she writes because she has a story to tell, and that's what Rajaa did - she told a story. Yes, it can be perceived as critical of KSA or of Riyadh but she's entitled to her own opinions and to write about them should she wish. I agree that she could have given a more balanced portrayal - but maybe if she had, she wouldn't have been true to herself or her idea - why should she write something just because it's what people want her to write?!

I'm writing a book based on Dubai and I've made it very clear that it is not representing Emiratis, Arabs or Muslims - it's just a story that represents certain characters and that's it. I don't want to have people complaining that it may give the readers a bad impression of x, y or z. We have to assume that our readers are more intelligent than that, that they won't read 1 book and form an impression of an entire race of people based on that!

Moodiez said...

Actually, not a lot know about the middle east at all, especially that we don't have that many "exciting and attractive" books published or translated. This is why we should take a look at the very few books that get to "the other side." If there were millions or thousands of different types of stories, novels, and books published about how it's like here then I wouldn't say a word about the book. What I mean that in such a judgmental world we should be smarter and know what are the impacts of our stories that we tell and the actions we do.

I support you Ghostwriter bcz you obviously have your point clear. If it's for entertainment then so be it, as long as the idea that it doesn't represent a country is clear.

Ghostwriter said...

So why don't you write a book that shows the other side?

Moodiez said...

That's what I'm trying to find time for. I mentioned in my post what I want to write about ;)

Tanya said...

Hi Moodiez. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am a "foreigner", from the United States, and I read the book in English. I have to say that I appreciated the book, not because I believe that it presents a true picture of life for all young women in Saudi Arabia, but because it was an interesting glimpse through the lens of one person, on the lives (whether fictional or actual) of someone from her country. Honestly, there are many, many presentations of Americans in the movies, on television, and in books, which are not accurate representations of our people. Unfortunately, people from other countries could just as easily view or read those media, and assume that all Americans are like that. I would hope that anyone who would take the time to read the book Girls of Riyadh (in translation) would have enough presence of mind to realize that this book could not possibly represent all women in Saudi Arabia, or even in Riyadh, for that matter.
I don't know that it's realistic to assume that one author could present the full picture of any society. Most societies are too complex for that. Your sense of loyalty and commitment to your culture and people is beautiful. I
I would look forward to reading your presentation of both. Thank you for taking the time to read my response.

Moodiez said...

Awww thanks!!

Lol, I only wrote about two paragraphs :P it's gonna take me a while because of all the stuff I'm doing.. (I'm a senior, so yeah.. I have tons of tasks and so little time!!)..

I like how you think.. But at least Americans are presented in a lot of movies, some in a negative way, and some positive. I've been to the US last summer, and it's kinda similar to the idea I had about you Americans.. Because in movies I can tell whether something is real or not, and if it does sound real, I know that it is emphasized. However, Saudi is different from America. We don't have millions of movies that relate to Saudi like America does. (There is only one Saudi movie! and it is shallow, very shallow).. Since we have so few things that goes abroad, I fear that some might build an idea about Saudi based on whatever reaches them..

"I don't know that it's realistic to assume that one author could present the full picture of any society. Most societies are too complex for that." << That is true, but since not many ARE writing about my country, why write about it in a negative way?

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