Since the song video “Hwages” was uploaded online in December, it has crossed over two million views online. The video was directed by Majed al-Esa of the Saudi production company 8ies Studios. It features a group of women in bright-coloured attire and black abayas skateboarding, playing basketball, driving bumper cars and doing all the things we as outsiders feel Saudi women are not allowed to do.
The video has sparked a debate in the middle-eastern country. The song is quite a peppy number, sung in Arabic. Hwages, which means ‘concerns’, is based on an older folk song, which features lyrics such as “May all men sink into oblivion”. In 2014, the same video song made waves online which showed women dancing in a silly manner, as reported by The Washington Post.
However, the current video is a political message and is done aesthetically so as to get the right message across. It shows women getting together in front of an SUV while a young lad drives it. It is a concern in Saudi Arabia where in most parts women are not allowed to drive cars.
“Hwages has become quite popular in some parts of the country’s bureaucracy. Right after the video was released, Amera al-Taweel, the 33-year-old ex-wife of prominent Saudi prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, shared the video from her Twitter account. Later, one of the oldest newspapers in the country, Al-Bilad, also wrote about the video and praised it, noting that “the new generation of women is different from the past”.
The video has helped send the message across not just in the Saudi world but also globally. People are watching and praising the guts of the women performing in the video. It really shows that while Saudi women are expected to be coy, they also have all sorts of dreams and aspirations and that they can take on their own fight against oppression.