57°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Arabia: Not Just Camels and Oil

Arabia: Not Just Camels and Oil

On Monday Hilary Clinton headed into Saudi Arabia on an extremely important diplomatic assignment. In an effort to spark peace talks in what is increasingly becoming a Middle Eastern cluster fuck and trying to lock up another ally in the confrontation with Iran,  it’s pretty clear that this is a nation with some serious consequence, a country that we should know something about. Still, it seems that the US has the collective mentality that ends at, if it ain’t us we don’t care. So the question is, in a nation as culturally egocentric as the US; who the hell knows anything about Saudi Arabia? They don’t let women drive or vote, they’re sitting on a ton of oil and they all ride camels; that sums it up right? Wrong.”First of all, we don’t all ride camels anymore,” half-joked Hamzah Jamjoom as he half-blew my naïve American mind by clearing up some misconceptions about Saudi Arabia and its people during his visit to Boston’s Museum of Science last Thursday night. Jamjoom, the twenty four year old film student from De Paul University was in town for the premier of the IMAX presentation Arabia, which featured him as its primary narratorThe film, produced and distributed by MacFillvray Freeman Films, provides an eye opening account of almost 2,000 years of Arabian history in under an hour, a feat as impressive as the camel revelation. Including a look into the history, geography, and culture of the nation, the film concludes a look into the new direction of Saudi Arabia, including progressive new educational reforms and exquisite cityscapes that look a little like LA in August.As Arabia’s story unfolds it’s clear that the US should be paying attention to Saudi Arabia for more than just foreign affairs benefits. This is a nation with some serious historical significance. Aside from the groundbreaking discoveries in math and science, philosophy and medical engineering, during Arabia’s two periods of enlightenment referred to as Golden Ages, the film also gives a firsthand portrayal of the Hajj, the Islamic pilgrimage that constitutes the greatest annual gathering of people on the planet. The magnitude of this spiritually unparalleled event, that includes over 3 million members of the Islamic faith, cannot be described in words, but the visuals captured by the film put great perspective on this monumental migration to the city of Mecca.Although the overview of the Hajj and the explanation of the origin of Algebra are interesting themselves, the dome theatre provides a spectacular look at the fortune of landscapes that the country has to offer; no it isn’t just desert. The dazzling visual experience takes you deep into Arabia’s waters, exploring ancient shipwrecks, back into the desert to adventure through Nabataean the lost city of Madain Saleh and through the city streets of modern day Saudi Arabia. The audience is also introduced to the Bedouins, a nomadic tribal community who live deep in the desert and hunt with falcons- badass.As the conclusion of the film arrives, it takes us back to modern day Saudi Arabia, a nation full of urban energy and expansive progress, where education is a paramount concern (Jamjoom receives a stipend for attending De Paul and women now attend studies with their male peers). There is no doubt that this is a nation balancing new ways with old, tradition still dictates that women must to ask permission of males before they travel, and they still can’t drive, but progress is a slow moving vehicle and the nation seems to be on the right road.So we wish Hilary a good trip to Saudi Arabia and hope that her diplomatic attempts prove fruitful. As for the rest of us, and maybe even moreover for Miss Clinton herself, it could absolutely serve to check out this flick and get a little more educated on an exceptionally powerful, yet still up and coming, nation in the Middle East. History didn’t begin with Columbus, and there’s a lot more to Saudi Arabia then camels and oil.  Be sure to check out Hamzah Jajoom in Arabia showing everyday at 1:00am  1:00  4:00  7:00pmAt The Boston Museum of Science’s Mugar Omni Theatre1 Science Park, Boston, MA 02114