First Published: 2009-02-01

Saudi female poetess resists pressure to quit

Millions' Poet TV show paves the way for women's empowerment in the Arab world.


Middle East Online

I got the power

ABU DHABI - Recent media attention has surrounded female poetess Aydah Al Aarawi Al Jahani, who competed for the second time last week and who is the first poetess to make it this far in the Millions' poet TV show on Abu Dhabi TV.

Al Jahani has received mounting pressure from family and tribe members, in Saudi Arabia, to resign from the competition due to the fact that she is female. The poetess who has competed fiercely alongside her fellow male competitors, has succeeded in avoiding elimination from the competition thanks to the Public's votes.

This week Al Jahani made it through to round three of the competition with 59% of the audience votes stating "I am very proud to be the first female poet to make it to this stage of the competition, I am now just afraid of loosing".

Despite the pressure from family and tribe members, Al Jihani is strongly supported by her husband who attends to watch her perform in the theatre along with millions of viewers around the world who have tuned in to watch her.

The 59% of the votes can be translated into millions of SMS votes received in favour of the poetess. Al Jihani is one of three female poets to compete in the competition with Siham Al Bayan Al Adwan and Haneen Al Samarneh Al Aajarma both from Jordan being eliminated in the first round of the competition.

Al Jihani's poems have so far concentrated on the struggles of women as poets and focuses on striving to empower her fellow female poets to succeed in becoming the best they can be in an art form dominated by men.

Al Jihani will now compete against 11 other poets in round three beginning 19th February as she moves one step closer to becoming the first female Millions' Poet. The past two winners of season 1 and 2, Mohamed bin Fteis and Khalil Al Tamimi Al Shibrimi, have both been from Qatar winning 1 million Dirhams each, however this season the stakes have risen as well as the prize money with first prize now being raised to 5 million Dirhams (approximately $1.3 million).

Al Jihani has become a role model for women all over the region with her strength and motivation to continue in the competition and program makers expect this to encourage more women to audition for next season's show.

Nashwa Al Ruwaini, the show's Executive Producer and also a well-known media personality in the Middle East quoted, "I am very proud of Aydah and hopes she continues in the competition and doesn't throw in the towel before her time. She is a true example to women all over the region proving that women too have their place in the arts and should endeavor to overcome the obstacles they face in life against their gender."

There are currently 6 weeks left of the competition being broadcast live on Abu Dhabi TV every Thursday night at 22:30, and viewers can attend the live show at Al Raha Beach Theatre in Abu Dhabi for free each week.

The Millions' Poet TV show was launched by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage and is produced by Pyramedia, and has grown to become one of the highest rated TV shows in the region with millions of viewers tuning in each week.

Its aim has been to bring the region's youth back to its roots by taking the traditions of the Bedouins from the Gulf into the 21st Century by fusing an ancient heritage with modern media tools. This season's live competition sees 48 poets battle it out through various stages to impress their audiences with their poetry and win the prestigious title of the 'Millions' Poet'.

Viewers can see what the poets get up to during the week by tuning into the recap show to watch behind the scenes footage and interviews on Monday at 19:00 on Abu Dhabi TV.

Repeats of the show and also extra exclusive behind the scenes footage can also be viewed around the clock on the dedicated Million's Poet Channel.


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