If I were ever to pick an ambassador to the Arab world; someone to represent us and show the world who we really are, it would be none other than Lebanese pop sensation Jad Shwery.
Leave it to Shwery to stun audiences with jaw-dropping productions. You’ve got to hand it to him, if girls bathing in bathtubs of milk weren’t enough (remember Maria’s “El’ab (Play)), Shwery boasts on his own website that he is the first male artist to ever kiss a girl in an Arabic music video.
That’s the kind of feat that just fills my Arab heart with pride.
His latest mission? Fighting stereotypes the West has of Arabs. His weapon of choice? Music.
Shwery co-directs and stars in his latest video “Funky Arabs, which, as the title suggests, artistically tries to prove to the world that Arabs are . well, funky.
Shwery even sings in English to make sure the message doesn’t get lost in translation.
The video opens with a statement declaring that “every individual who participated in this video is an Arab, followed by a shot of a few “funky Arabs getting out of fancy cars, strolling down a red carpet and walking through a metal detector.
Their attire and demeanor sends a loud and clear message to the West; we dress like you, we sing and dance just like you. Now won’t you please accept us?
And should we go through an airport scan, what will it reveal? Not guns or homemade bombs, that’s for sure. Whips, handcuffs and cat eye masks are all we carry.
“We’re not what you see on CNN or BBC, the lyrics eloquently read.
We’re not bombers, Shwery tries to convince the West, we just have sadistic sexual tendencies. That’s harmless enough.
The chorus is where Shwery makes a strong case for us Arabs. “We’ve got sexy girls . We’ve got loaded guys, won’t you please “let the funky Arabs turn you on?
We’re all about “sea, sex and sun, the chorus concludes.
Such powerful lyrics are coupled with equally powerful images of girls, which he promises are Arab, in glittery skimpy outfits dancing in oversized champagne glasses, while straddling a champagne bottle.
According to a statement by Melody Productions, the video slyly takes stabs at some of the stereotypes too. This is presented in tongue-in-cheek references to camels, what appears to be a video message from a suicide bomber and Botox.
This is where the video gets confusing for me: when women are shown injecting themselves with Botox in a bathroom mirror. Is this another stereotype Shwery is trying to break? Is he trying to tell the world that we also refuse to age? Are the women supposed to make you cringe or turn you on?
Whatever the case may be, Shwery aims to shock, and shock us he did.
To our delight, a rap verse ensues, with rhymes that fluently state that Arabs are “fly and cool for coats in the summer, those coats being Louis Vuitton and Gucci of course. Your poverty lines mean nothing to us.
The video concludes with a shot of (literally) shiny, happy, funky Arabs dancing on what appears to be a beach, because everyone was in their bathing suits, on cars, motorbikes and, wait for it, tanks. Very sneaky, Jad. Another sly reference.
One can only hope that Shwery’s spot-on representation of life in the Arab world and open invitation to the West to let us “turn you on reaches western audiences.
Shwery has worked day and night for a year and a half, according to Melody, to produce an English-language album, and we’d hate to waste this funky Arab’s efforts.
He took it upon himself to try and improve our image, and for that, I say to Jad Shwery; thanks, but no thanks.