The Gulf is known for many things but a sense of humour hasn’t traditionally been on the list, even less so self-deprecating humour. With the advent of social media, in particular YouTube, both the Gulf’s residents and nationals have started to develop content like there’s no tomorrow. The best is currently coming from Saudi Arabia. One example is La Yekthar, one of the most popular comedy shows on the net. The team regularly tackles and takes on stereotypes of Saudis, and one of their latest clips was a fantastic set-up of how Saudis are often perceived by foreigners. The video, which is below, also sends a not-so-subtle message to Saudis that this type of image, of arrogance and violence, isn’t the right thing to do.
Bahrain has also followed suit with a number of send-ups of the typical Bahraini stereotypes. The clips, which are common on the video-sharing site Keek, focus on a variety of stereotypes which are mainly based on geography (for example, Al-Riffa and Muharraq). I’m going to have to search for these but I’m going to upload as soon as I can.
Even Qatar is getting in on the act. The only local Qatari comedian I know, Hamad Al-Amari, routinely does stand-up routines poking fun at Qatari stereotypes before switching effortlessly into an Irish accent (he spent part of his childhood in Ireland). Have a look at one of his sets below.
And then there’s the UAE. While there are a number of local comedians here including the likes of Ali Al Sayed the country has arrested those, even nationals, who have poked fun at the country’s stereotypes. Emirati Salim Dahman and a group of young males who made a spoof YouTube video named the ‘The Deadly Satwa Gs’ were arrested after uploading the clip. No reason seems to have been given for their arrest, but the assumption would be that they’ve been detained for insulting national sensitivities.
To quote from 7Days, which featured the story yesterday, ‘The Deadly Satwa Gs’ video is a spoof of young people who try to act tough. At the martial arts school, the recruits learn how to throw a shoe and call for back-up on their mobile phones. When they graduate from the school, they are all given Barcelona football jerseys, supposedly matching a style worn by young men in Dubai.
The video, which is still available online, is hardly groundbreaking satire and is fairly tame when compared to the content coming out of the Magic Kingdom. However, comedy isn’t always a laughing matter depending on where you are in the Gulf.
PS If you want to know why I haven’t mentioned Kuwait ask any Gulf Arab about Kuwaitis and humour.