Putting the migrants in the picture: a surprising take on the Ramadan soap

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Jul 12 2014

In addition to being the holiest month of the Muslim year, Ramadan is also peak season for TV dramas. Millions of viewers across the Gulf tune into popular soaps and talk show after their iftaar meal.

Kuwaiti visual artist Monira al Qadiri noticed that migrant domestic workers - who play a huge role in maintaining daily life in Gulf households - were often entirely absent from soaps and dramas, despite the fact that most homes in the region employ at least one foreign worker.

The villas in soap operas are spotlessly clean and largely empty, and protagonists appear to cook and drive for themselves. There is no suggestion of the army of workers who ensure that homes remain pristine and that guests are kept supplied with tea and snacks.

In her new work, 'Soap', a short film, Qadiri decides to put migrant domestic workers back in the picture. The film  (which you can view here) super-imposes house maids, drivers and office boys on to a montage of clips from popular soaps in a bid to call attention to the invisibility of the migrant in Gulf society.

Interestingly, a migrant worker with a tea trolley makes repeated (and deliberate) appearances in a short surrealist film, Mendeel Um A7mad (NxIxSxM), made by Monira's sister, Fatima al Qadiri, and visual artist Khalid al Gharaballi 

You can watch the clip here.


Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East