Sunday, May 04, 2008

Has The Saudi Worm Turned?

Ever wonder what the term ‘the worm turned’ means? I looked it up. Here’s the meaning.

Quote: THE WORM TURNS - "Someone previously downtrodden gets his revenge; an unfavorable situation is reversed. The saying represents an evolution of the old proverb, 'Tread on a worm and it will turn.' The meaning was that even the most humble creature tries to counteract rough treatment.

The ‘most humble creature’, huh. Well, if there is no other humble creature than a woman in Saudi Arabia, I know of no other.

But even there, the Saudi worm may just be turning.

It's probably as revolutionary and groundbreaking as Mozart gets these days. A German-based quartet staged Saudi Arabia's first-ever performance of European classical music in a public venue before a mixed gender audience.

The concert, held at a government-run cultural center, broke many taboos in a country where public music is banned and the sexes are segregated even in lines at fast food outlets.

The Friday night performance could be yet another indication that this strict Muslim kingdom is looking to open up to the rest of the world.

Hmmm…Could Churches and synagogues be next in Saudi Arabia?

A few weeks ago, King Abdullah made an unprecedented call for interfaith dialogue with Christians and Jews -- the first such proposal from a nation that forbids non-Muslim religious services and symbols.

Will pigs fly in Saudi Arabia?

Public concerts are practically unheard of in the kingdom. Foreign embassies and consulates regularly bring musical groups, but they perform on embassy grounds or in expatriates' residential compounds, and the shows are not open to the public.

In the past couple of months, however, there has been a quiet, yet marked increase in cultural activities in Saudi Arabia. Lectures and a couple of segregated folk music performances were held on the sidelines of Riyadh's book fair. And Jiddah's annual Economic Forum opened with a surprise this February -- a performance of Arab and Western music.

"For half an hour, we did not quite know whether we had stumbled into an unknown Jiddah nightclub or whether it was some amazing mistake that would suddenly stop," wrote Michel Cousins in the English-language daily Arab News, describing the 30-minute show.

Pigs may not be flying yet in Saudi Arabia, but the worm may be having its day.

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