A Saudi Arabian talent show contest is unlikely to produce the Middle East’s answer to Susan Boyle — seeing as women and children have been banned from entering.
Contestants in Buraydah’s Got Talent, based in the oasis conservative hub for the austere Wahhabism branch of Islam, are also prohibited from singing or dancing.
Millions across the region already follow Arabs Got Talent, the official spin-off of Simon Cowell’s popular format. It has seen 18-year-old Emirati singer Shamma Hamdan, who sparked outrage by appearing without a headscarf, rise to stardom. But she would not even be handed an audition in the Saudi version.
Pan-Arab daily Al Hayat says applicants must be male and can show off their talents in religious chanting, poetry and sporting feats.
Buraydah’s version will be notably more muted. “Do you have a talent, or a skill, or a beautiful voice?” the promotional material reads, before specifying that only men are eligible to join and musical accompaniment, singing and dancing is banned.
The Saudi version is being organised by the internet Buraydah Forum. It will take place in the open air before a jury comprising a poet, a television producer and presenters.
Saudi women urged to flout driving ban
Activists urged women to get behind the wheel for Sunday’s first anniversary of the Women2Drive campaign, which resulted in the arrest of people defying Saudi Arabia’s ban on women drivers.
“The key to ending the ban imposed on women driving in Saudi Arabia starts with women themselves,” said a statement from the Women2Drive initiative.
It urged “women who hold driving licences [from abroad] to drive on the anniversary day, June 17, and document their acts.
” It also urged men to get in the passenger seat and support their wives, mothers, or sisters who decide to flout the ban in the act of protest.