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What’s the message of Gulf art?

Muna Al-Fuzai

Muna Al-Fuzai

Art is of several types including comedy, drama, etc and seeks to connect with the world. But what is the message of Gulf art today? We all know that Turkish art, for example, has clear objectives for the promotion of tourism and history. It has been something visible and successful for a while now.

Why can’t we do the same here? I was in a discussion with some colleagues last night on the goals of art in the Gulf and specifically about the serials broadcast in Ramadan and repeated throughout the year on various channels. Their messages vary between reality, fantasy and a little courage, especially the controversial series called “Selfie” by Saudi artiste Nasser Al-Qasabi. This drama confronted violence in its first episode and increased its intensity in the second episode to attack and criticize the militants of IS and their role in terrorism and murder.

The series provoked a large number of militants to insult and undermine the dignity of the actor and promised to kill him. It is unfortunate that calls are made for the assassination of an individual because his ideas are not appealing to a group. This is becoming a familiar scene in our world today, especially in the Arab world. I wonder why. I’m not a singer or an actress, but as a citizen of the Gulf region, we are bombarded with TV programs and serials that are broadcast to the world on behalf of the Arabian Gulf, whether Kuwaiti, Saudi or Emirati programs - these represent Gulf art and reflect the aspirations and concerns of its people.

The problem here is when art is misinterpreted and swings between freedom of expression in the current radical religious climate that does not recognize, appreciate or approve the right of expression of an individual within the tools available in the local society, including the media and art.

We are living in a world of cultural change and globalization and we can’t keep ourselves distant from others, because we are part of the GCC media and we have an important role that we must adopt to protect society from extremism and global terrorism that is tearing apart most of the countries of the Arab world. In order to do so, we should hold a Gulf conference to bring together everyone from both the government and private sectors at the same table to set a draft of the goals of art in the Gulf region.

Programs, serials and talk shows should make raising awareness of the danger of terrorism and the rejection of religious extremism among their priorities and promote the ideas of freedom of expression and justice to ensure the protection of society, since conservatives do not understand or respect the principle of freedom in any form. This is a way to protect and secure art.

Moreover, the privacy of the Gulf society must be taken into account. It is unfortunate that some local productions on behalf of Kuwait seem offensive to the country and are far from reality, portraying individual cases as national phenomena. For example, most serials tackle the subject of drugs, which is good, but do not show how to combat this evil or how to undergo treatment. Also, not all Kuwaitis are wealthy and live in palaces, as it seems in most of the local series. It is clear that we lack positive criticism of TV soaps despite the huge number of drama series produced annually, and most of the impressions and opinions that we find are by easy access to social media sites that are often lacking in scientific, systematic and objective criticism, governed by capricious opinion that lacks clear analysis and understanding of art appreciation.

It’s time to set up a specialized college as a private technical university offering the subjects of art criticism and playwriting. Kuwait will be its appropriate home. Gulf art needs more support to send its message without restriction and away from extremist pressure, with a lot of appreciation.

By Muna Al-Fuzai

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This article was published on 20/06/2015