‘No woman, no drive:’ Saudi satire with a Bob Marley twist

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The recent campaign by women in Saudi Arabia to be allowed to drive and society’s divided reaction has led a group of Saudi satirists to resort to a famous Bob Marley song to explain the situation. The resulting YouTube video has gone viral with over one million views in less than 24 hours and has been featured on international media outlets such as EuroNews and CNN.

With a unique twist on the popular reggae song “No Woman No Cry,” comedian and social activist Hisham Fageeh, along with Saudi YouTube sensation Fahad Albutairi and Iranian, Riyadh born-bred musician Alaa Wardi , sang a cheeky a capella version titled “No Woman No Drive.”


In the four-minute video Fageeh is seen clapping, whistling and singing his way through the altered lyrics which say: “Ova-ovaries all safe and well”- instead of “Oba, ob-serving the hypocrites”-making fun of a recent statement by a Saudi cleric who claimed that driving affects woman ovaries.

The video was released on Saturday in line with the “October 26 driving” campaign, which urged Saudis to put its logo on their cars and called upon women with international driving licenses to get behind the wheel in the kingdom on that day.

A well-known stand-up comedian who studied in New York, Fageeh started performing in 2011 and came together with the other comedians about a year and a half ago to collaborate on projects to be aired on Telfaz11.tv, a website which showcases comedy videos.

Inspired by the driving campaign and the debate on social media, Fageeh and his fellow comedians couldn’t help but “do Bob Marley some justice” with their own version of the song.

“There are a lot of elements of satire in the video but we just wanted to do something that was fun and funny and I just had the best theme in the world and that sort of came together brilliantly,” Fageeh told Al Arabiya News.

The comedian jokingly starts off his video by talking about a “song by this Jamaican guy” that caught his attention while he attended university in the United States.

A graduate of New York’s Columbia University, Fageeh said: “I wanted the intro to be similar to MTV unplugged acoustic version of the song, or [use] this idea sitting with a high culture artist.”

Abdullah Hamidaddin, a Saudi author and columnist, says the video comes at the right time.

“It is definitely very timely and the production has so many layers, it is very sophisticated ,” Hamidaddin told Al Arabiya News.

“He summarized in a very satirical way the contradictions” in Saudi society, added Hamidaddin.

The lyric: “queens don’t drive, but you can cook me dinner that I will share with you,” is a good example of that, according to Hamidaddin.

“Your feet is your only carriage but only inside the house and when I say it I mean it,” is another funny line, states the Saudi commentator.

“it is not going to have any policy implications or change the opinion of those who are against women driving but it does help a lot. It speaks a lot to minds and maybe the feelings of so many people and that is very, very, important. It is one of the best thing comedy does,” concludes Hamidaddin.

“Our job is to make people laugh,” Fageeh told Al Arabiya News, “we are not political analysts or anything.

“We don’t really care to have agenda we want to be neutral and entertain people. ”

With a YouTube million views and counting, they are almost certainly doing just that.

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