Ghada Abdel Aal

December 17th, 2010 in Archive by 0 Comments

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Last month Davia sat down to talk with Ghada Abdel Aal while she was visiting San Francisco. Ghada, who describes herself as a pharmacist, blogger, writer, and screenwriter, was recently in town during her participation in the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. The author of the popular book “I Want To Get Married” (عايزة أتجوز) is an Egyptian pharmacist from Mahalla who started a blog called “wanna b a bride” in 2006 about the subjects of relationship and marriage pressures that face current generations of Egyptian women.

Her interest in reading and literature began at an early age. She rercalls how her mother and father would bring a book for her every week, and she would spend the rest of the week reading them. Growing up and till this day, she talks about her community’s lack of cultural centers, bookstores, and libraries. But she’s now trying to do something about it by starting a used book festival in her town, pushing for more recreation spaces, and creating a bookstore in her pharmacy.

Ghada began blogging as a way to express her views on dating and marriage in Egypt. It was an outlet for her to place her thoughts down and hear opinions and suggestions from the online community. Her blog gained a huge following across Egypt and the Arab world. It was turned into a book in 2008 and a television series, which premiered this past Ramadan. She became a script writer for the show, which stars the Tunisian actress, Hend Sabri, as the main character Ola. The blog, book, and television series provide a satirical reflection of the author’s encounters with Egypt’s dating culture  as well as the similar experiences of many women who face the stigmas behind being unmarried after the age of 30 – or as Ghada says, when they pass their “expiration date.”

At the end of the conversation, Ghada sang for Davia part of “Ya Habibi Taala” by Asmahan in which the author translates the lyrics about “a woman who is calling her lover to come and see her right now, because she is suffering without him.” But these days, it appears Ghada is doing just fine without him as she embarks on the new opportunities ahead of her. If you are interested in further music, check out the artists from the story below as well as the CD Women of Egypt 1924-1931: Pioneers of Stardom and Fame.

Music From The Story

“Ya Habibi Taala” sung by Ghada Abdel Aal
“Taqsim H’sine” by Salim Fergani on Bashraf Kabir
“Fantasie for Oud & String Quartet” by Simon Shaheen & Qantara on Blue Flame
“Ya Habibi Taala” by Asmahan on Le coeur a ses raisons (1935-1944)
unknown track by The Visitors

Ghada’s book has been translated into Italian, German, Dutch, and English. The English version was recently published in October 2010 by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Texas at Austin. To watch the television series click here to visit the episode steam on YouTube. Her story on NPR was also featured on our previous blog post.

This story was produced by Patty Fung who has been interning with the Kitchen Sisters for the past seven months. She has been a contributing blogger for the Hidden World of Girls series and has produced multimedia work for the Kitchen Sisters on various projects. Much thanks to Jim McKee for mixing the piece and Davia Nelson for her support and guidance.

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