A pop song that hilariously depicts the many ways women are oppressed in Saudi Arabia has racked up more than 2.5 million views on YouTube and angered hardliners in the kingdom.
Hwages, created by producer Majed Al Esa of the Saudi production company 8ies Studio, features a group of young women – covered from head-to-toe and their faces hidden behind black veils – engaging in activities such as skateboarding, riding scooters, shooting hoops and dancing that would not be tolerated by hardliners.
Against a catchy back beat, the women sing in Arabic about the problems caused by men. They express the hope that men will “go extinct” because they seem to be “possessed” and cause “mental illnesses” for women.
Watch | Music video Hwages by producer Majed Al Esa
The song Hwages, which can be roughly translated as “concerns”, is based on an old Arabic folk song.
At the start of the video, the women pile into a car that appears to be driven by a young boy – a subtle poke at the Saudi Arabian laws that bar women from driving. The women are watched disapprovingly by two men in a large car.
The song also mocks Donald Trump, who appears as a cardboard cutout as the leader of the “House of Men”.
Since the song was posted on YouTube on December 23 and released as a digital download, it has garnered praise and ridicule in equal measure in Saudi Arabia.
The Arabic newspaper Al-Bilad, said in a report that the video had got tens of thousands of views “because of the unique way” it introduced the subject and the director had pointed out that the “the new generation of women is different from the past”.
The video also “demonstrated the negative side of the Saudi man” who is always trying to extend his influence and control women, the report said.
Majed Al Esa is no stranger to controversy – his song Barbs (translated as “messy”) and its video triggered a dance craze last year. But two soldiers in the United Arab Emirates were arrested last year after they uploaded a video that showed them dancing to the song while in uniform.
Some Saudi Arabians on Twitter, however, described the song as “vulgar” and said Al Esa had painted an offensive portrait of Saudi women.