The new Disney princess movie, Moana, was recently released and if you're an avid Disney fan like I am, you've probably seen it and have been listening to the soundtrack non-stop.
And while we've been singing the lyrics to "How Far I'll Go" (Moana's song) at the top of our lungs and singing declarations about how the sea calls you to discover it, I did notice a few things about the movie.
While it's not about an Arab princess - when has it been since 1992 - a lot of the Polynesian culture instilled in Moana reminded me of Arab culture, in a lot of ways.
1. Close-knit family relations
From the very beginning of the movie, you can tell that everyone who lives on the island of Motunui - the island Moana is from - is very close to one another.
They live in a close-knit community very close to the Arab one, where everyone helps one another. The "collectivist" society is more apparent than anything else.
Family values always come first. Just like us Arabs.
2. "And no one leaves"
The song "Where You Are" reinforces the importance of family. It also shows just how attached we are when it comes to home, making it a bigger struggle to leave.
In Arab culture, we tend to stay close to home, and not to stray too far from where we were born and raised.
The song starts with Moana as a child, always drawn to the sea where her father teaches her that is not the way. At two instances in the song, Moana and her father say the words "and no one leaves."
3. We don't ever throw anything out
Also in the song "Where You Are" we are taught that Polynesians do not waste anything (#ArabMom dust rags ring a bell?)
The chief says "consider the coconut" and that they use each part of the coconut on the island:
"We make our nets from the fibers
The water is sweet inside
We use the leaves to build fires
We cook up the meat inside"
Alternatively, Arabs could say to "consider the chickpea!"
4. Teta Tala knows everything about everybody
Arguably one of the most interesting characters in Moana is her grandmother, Gramma Tala, known as the village crazy lady.
I grew instantly attached to her, as she reminded me of my own grandmother. The story starts off with her telling the story to the children in the village, as my grandmother did to me.
And, as is the norm in little villages, the old ladies usually are in the know about everything, just like Gramma Tala, am I right?
Also, Tala is totally an Arab name.
5. Maui ... a.k.a. Jagal
Maui is Moana's partner who is also a demi-God. He is also the perfect representation of an Arab jagal.
This is the guy who is all about his "hair and bod" of course, making him jagal's doppelganger.
I mean, the song is called "You're Welcome" while he casually talks about his achievements, inserting the "you're welcomes" after every line.
6. The Sea
What do islands and peninsulas have in common? We are mostly surrounded by water.
In Moana, we learn that Polynesians are descendants of voyagers. While the Persian empire was not known for its navy, it was in very close relation to Phoenicians who's navy was very strong.