April 14, 2010

The Next Saudi Arabian Idol?

In Saudi Arabia, there is a hit show on national television that looks just like the top US show, "American Idol". It has a flashy set, dramatic lighting, intense music. The only difference is that instead of songs, the Saudi idols recite poetry. That's right....poetry. On television.

The show is called "Millions' Poet" and is taped in Abu Dubai. Each week a new round of men stand at the center of a stage that has all the glitzy trapping's of an "Idol" set and they recite their own personally penned poetry about subjects like family life and the desert. But what's even more remarkable is that during last week's finale, one of the five finalists was a woman.

Hissa Hillal, a 43 year old mother draped in a niquab, defied convention by reciting poetry critical of consersvative Muslims. For taking such a brave and daring step, Ms. Hillal did not win the top prize which was expected. But, even in third place, she took home more than 600K....which is more than most US poets have ever made in a lifetime. However, what she really gained was worldwide recognition, including being named ABC News' Person Of The Week (I've posted the story below). It's a fascinating look at a remarkable woman and well worth watching. But I still can't get over the idea of a poetry contest on television. That's something even PBS wouldn't dare try in this country!

1 comment:

  1. when i heard about this i thought it was absurd. and then i saw it and found it - and her - very moving. fyi, i read your blog all the time. -paul