The extreme lengths young Emirati women go to in a bid to raise their shaylas – as well as a few eyebrows – was the focus of a tongue-in-cheek short film produced by three university friends titled Gamboo'a Revolution
Gamboo3as: literally big hair news
“One girl wore a yogurt cup under her hair and another wore a Nido milk can,” confides the student Shurouq Lashkri. “To be honest, I don’t know how they keep them in.”
The extreme lengths young Emirati women go to in a bid to raise their shaylas – as well as a few eyebrows – was the focus of a tongue-in-cheek short film produced by three university friends.
Gamboo3a Revolution, released in 2011 and inspired by the animation series Shabeyat Al Cartoon, revealed a few tricks of the trade in mocking women’s attempts to attract attention with their hair-raising antics.
Mohammed Swaidan recalled a female student in his university class fainting – and as she collapsed, a yogurt cup rolled out from under her shayla.
Other women featured in the film swore by using gamboo’as: flower-shaped hair clips which are pinned to the top of the head before the hair is combed over to add extra inches. The bigger the gamboo’a, the bigger the hair.
The film’s director, Abdulrahman Al Madani, 20, an applied communications student from Dubai Men’s College, says he came up with the subject matter while sitting on campus chatting to his friends and co-producers, Saeed Al Emadi and Saeed Al Salmeen. “We noticed how many women had big hairstyles under their shaylas, so I thought: ‘Why not make a documentary?’” he says. “Most people think it looks over the top. Maybe it is a way to break out of wearing the shayla or to become more westernised. They cannot completely remove the shayla because of tradition but perhaps this is their way of making a fashion statement.”
The film, the first directed by Al Madani, won awards at the Dubai International Film Festival and Gulf Film Festival and was recently screened at Arabian Film Days in Norway.
He has gone on to make a second short called Guilt, shown at this year’s Gulf Film Festival, with a mystery involving a young protagonist as its theme. Now in the final year of his degree, he has worked with the filmmaker Nayla Al Khaja on her movie Malal and hopes to become a film director when he graduates. “There are plenty of social themes I would like to focus on beside the gamboo’a,” he says. “As Emiratis, we have lots of stories to tell the world.”
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