King’s Academy welcomed on Sunday the creators and several cast members of Al Rawabi School for Girls, a new Jordanian series on Netflix.
Organized by the school’s counseling office, a panel discussion took place in the Abdul Majeed Shoman Auditorium with the series’ director and writer Tima Shomali, co-writer Shirin Kamal, and actresses Noor Taher and King’s very own Yara Mustafa ’20. Leading the discussion alongside school counselors Mays Ghaith and Qais Rahhal was King’s performing arts teacher Jana Zeineddine who was also a cast member in Al Rawabi School for Girls.
The six-episode drama miniseries, which is only the second original Jordanian show to be picked up by Netflix, is streamed in 190 countries and has been translated from the original Arabic into 32 languages. In the show “the bullied outcasts at Al Rawabi School for Girls plot a series of risky takedowns to get back at their tormentors,” according to Netflix. As such, the series touches on issues including bullying, violence against women, and social stigmas surrounding mental health. The series also touched on issues often perceived as problematic in Arab society, such as prevailing patriarchal culture and honor crimes.
According to Shomali, she had always wanted to create a story with women, about women, through the eyes of women. Al Rawabi School for Girls, with its mostly female cast and plotline about teenage Arab girls at an all-girls school, fulfilled that goal. The stories told through the series, says Shomali, were the result of years of thinking about the stories she wanted to tell.
Students had the opportunity to ask the creators and cast members a variety of questions, such as advice for those looking to pursue a career in the field, about the writing process, production challenges — particularly filming during the pandemic, actresses’ best and worst experiences, inspiration for the plotline and series’ name, and how they responded to negative commentary about the show.
According to Shomali and Kamal, the series assisted in creating a conversation about issues such as bullying, sexual harassment and honor crimes, which need to be talked about more openly by Jordanian and Arab society.
“Many women have reached out to me to tell me that this is a show they can finally relate to,” says Shomali. “I’m glad this show broke the barrier of having these conversations, and hope that we reach a point where art can play a role in influencing policy.”