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Advice for Saudi Arabia’s Rockers

posted by Paul O'Donnell

accoladepic.jpgWhen rock goes up against religion, why does it always start with heavy metal? The New York Times recently reported on an all-girl rock band in Saudi Arabia that has a hit with their song “Pinocchio,” a wail about love gone wrong. They aren’t Muslim rockers, per se, but in the Middle East’s most conservative Islamic nation just using the words “girl,” “rock,” and “band,” represents a pushback against the Saudi culture’s stiffly enforced moral codes, based in Wahhabist Islam and enforced by government.
Like early Christian rockers Resurrection Band, the taboo-defying teens of The AccoLade and other bands mentioned in the Times piece rock hard. Wouldn’t it be easier to start off with a little Muslim Amy Grant?


While the band, The AccoLade, only performs for closed audiences, and doesn’t dare record an album, the Times attributes the band’s existence to a liberalizing trend in Saudi Arabia, especially in the country’s commercial capital and The AccoLade’s home, Jidda. As recently as 1995, a rock concert could invite arrest; now the Times cites “dozens of bands,” including several metal groups and, of course, hip-hoppers. Obviously, kids in a repressive society are bound to rage against the machine, and revolution is all very well. But if it’s a record industry they want, the Saudi headbangers had better first come up with an Islamic folkie.



  • Keystone

    They are not the first (or last) Saudi rock band, and they are not the
    first Saudi all-girl band either. Chicks Behind Walls
    are Saudi’s first all-girl rock band.
    A fellow Saudi band who is also struggling is Sandstoned; three of the
    band members, including the vocalist, are Saudi nationals. Regardless
    of gender, all rock artists in Saudi Arabia struggle to find live
    venues; the laws in the Kingdom are gender-blind when it comes to such
    matters of propriety.

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