The scene begins, and a car is in shot. The back doors open and five female figures, dressed in full Islamic veils, silently climb into the back seats. They adjust their headdresses, and wait for a second before a child – a small boy, aged just eight or nine-years-old – opens the front door and hops behind the steering wheel to “drive” the grown women. Because, in Saudi, they are distrusted to drive themselves. It’s the first take-down of Saudi laws which heavily discriminate against women, in a viral music video which is racing around the world and smashing Saudi stereotypes in its wake. This is “Hwyage”.
Based on an Arabic folk song, “Hwyage” – loosely translated as “concern” – is the funny feminist hit which has taken the internet by storm, and ruffled feathers among the men it criticises (who, incidentally, include Donald Trump). It shows the women riding skateboards, playing basketball, riding dogems to mock the driving ban, and singing lyrics like “If only God would rid us of men / If only men would go extinct”.
Women around the world have praised it for its brilliant defiance and said it was helping to empower women globally. A male Saudi citizen enlightened those women in response, tweeting that actually they are wrong. Instead it “offends women", he said
Another scene depicts Donald Trump, represented with a cardboard cut out of his face, in a mock-up of the White House press office. He is stood in front of a sign which reads “House of Men” in Arabic.
Women around the world have praised it for its brilliant defiance and said it was helping to empower women globally. A male Saudi citizen enlightened those women in response, tweeting that actually they are wrong. Instead it “offends women", he said. Other critics labelled the video “cheap and extremely inappropriate”.
Since it was uploaded late in December it now has 2.5 million views on YouTube. It forms part of a growing campaign protesting Saudi Arabia’s guardianship system, which strips women of basic rights – like being able to choose to marry or open a bank account – without the permission of a man, such as their husband, brother or father. Last week, a man was jailed for a year and fined after he started an internet campaign to stand up for women’s rights and the end of guardianship.