Breaking Norms

Yara Hassoubah '23 and Wahbi Alabdaly '23

We are two Saudi study-abroad students, Yara and Wahbi, who live in Lugano, studying at Franklin University Switzerland. Our majors are in Communications and Media Studies, as well as Fashion Studies. As highly creative individuals, for our Summer Session II course, we enrolled in the Digital Video Production course taught by Professor Elettra Fiumi.

As our main project, we chose to create a video advertisement, sort of a branded content style that combines a documentary with an advertisement: we tapped into our backgrounds and outlook to explore our philosophy on the Saudi gender stereotypes and challenges regarding equality. Wahbi is on the Falcon's basketball team while Yara has experience with fashion, so together we came up with the concept of creating a collaboration between the university and the Franklin Falcons, presenting it as “Franklin Falcons x Franklin.” The title of this short video is “Breaking Norms.” 

Our process started with some background research on the topic of gender in Saudi culture. We planned to dive deep into the subject of gender equality and highlight how the stereotypes (women empowerment, unisex clothing,...) differ. 

According to a study on gender roles by students in Saudi Arabia, they mention that the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of post-unification Saudis, the young adults of today’s Saudi Arabia, are facing new challenges and struggles to make sense of their societal and personal identities in relation to changing gender roles. During the last few decades, demographic changes within Arab countries and globalizing trends around the world have contributed to new ways of thinking about society. The younger generation in Saudi Arabia will undoubtedly play a crucial role in accepting or rejecting changes to their society. Previous research indicates that regardless of level of religious practice or belief, Saudi young people, especially women, desire a more gender egalitarian society (Kucinskas, 2010). Women were only allowed to work in places where there is no mixing of genders and dress codes are strictly enforced, limiting the range of occupations available. Although, cultural standards in Saudi Arabia are changing and new fields are opening up to women such as retail, marketing, and industry to cater to a wide range of audiences. 

We started with the idea of creating an advertisement on basketball shoes which led us to an idea of a collaboration between Nike and Franklin Falcons, joining both fashion and basketball in one. As Saudis, we thought of bringing and sharing our story to a wider audience. Our initial goal was to contact Nike and get approval to use their brand in our advertisement, but we were short on time and couldn’t get an approval immediately. This led us to our main concept, which was to create a collaboration between Franklin Falcons and the university, connecting our heritage and story with the importance of sports and relating our cause by being part of Franklin. 

Here's our script: 

Let's move forward 

My power 

Your power 

Our power 

I'm a proud Saudi woman 

I’m a proud saudi man and we support equality 

Cultural standards are changing, new fields are opening to women… 

We are being heard. 

يقولو انك قوية (they say that you're strong

انو محد يقدر يوقفك (that nobody could stop you)

انك تقدري تحققي المستحيل (that you can achieve the impossible)

خلينا نكسر القواعد (let us break the norms)

This is our right…خلينا نكسر القواعد


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