As Arabs, we only have one Disney princess to sort of look up to, and that's Jasmine from "Aladdin." Other than her iconic line:
She really doesn't do it for those of us who want more princesses to look up to. So as one does, we will rewrite them ourselves. Here are some princess we've changed to fit our more Arab lifestyle.
Which do you relate to most?
1. Belle becomes Jamilah
The opening song would have to include some "sabah el ful" and "kif el ahl?" But Belle is really more than just her beauty. She's actually what many of us will refer to as "bint halal".
In her spare time, she loves to read (mostly Naguib Mahfouz and Edward Said). When she feels like giving her intellectual side a break, she'll make a mean meal, namely mansaf, kabsah wara enab and of course luqaimats!
2. Rapunzel becomes Rabab
Rabab quintessentially overprotective Arab parents keep her locked away in a tower far away (they're extremely superstitious of the evil eye, hasad), until she's old enough to be betrothed to ibn el halal. Rabab longs to leave the palace to unravel life and culture in all its aspects.
This all comes into play when she meets a thief named Farid (he climbed up the wrong tower).
Farid (we call him that because he's like no other) makes a deal to get her out of the tower. The genius plan? He approaches her parents in a tolbeh-like fashion with a band of "men of the family" (aka jaha ) to ask for her hand.
3. Sleeping Beauty Aurora becomes Ruweida
Ruweida has had a terrible spell cast on her by the evil Malaya (Maleficent). This fact is revealed to her in a Turkish coffee reading session with her neighbor. As a result, three fairies swear to protect her and escort her away from the kingdom.
The fairies then change Ruweida's name to Wardah, where she learns to live like an ordinary girl. She is unaware of her fate or her reigning power, but things change when she meets a prince named Pierre in the woods.
There are some minor concerns about the inter-religious marriage, but it's nothing true love can't conquer.
4. Cinderella becomes Sandrella
After both her mother and father die, Sandrella is left with her step-mother, who never really loved her, and treats her like her personal slave. Her step-sisters, Aida and Dana, treat her poorly as well.
All is lost until an a violent incident proves to be a blessing in disguise (la takrahu shay2an la'allahu khayran laka, we hear Sandrella say). Aida and Dana have ripped her favorite dress apart, driving her into the arms of her neighborhood khayata (seamstress), who has always been nice to her. She fixes her dress up, but is told by the khayata that the quick fix will only last for so long.
Carpe Diem. She decides to make the most of the dress while it lasts and parties like its 1999. She meets Prince Sahir at a ball, and she loses her sandal when running away from him at midnight, afraid he might see her for the modest girl that she is.
Somehow Prince Sahir forgets what Sandrella looks like (#ArabDatingProblems) but at least he knows her shoe size. He tracks her foot down and they dance off into happily ever after.
5. Pocahontas becomes Parandis
Parandis's father is the chief of a secret Phoenician tribe. She longs to go on a grand adventure. But, Arab tradition (cough...we mean Phoenician tradition) demands that she marry a warrior named Batnoam (who's actually her father's cousin).
Her father won't have it any other way, but Parandis defies his wishes. She instead meets a French mandate soldier named Jean, who wants to "teach" Parandis about modern civilization. She quickly gets bored and decides Phoenician civilization is much more interesting.
After a misunderstanding, Batnoam is murdered by a French man from Jean's landing party. Consumed with vengeance, Parandis' father vows to kill Jean at dawn. Both the French and the Phoenicians are poised for war when Parandis throws her body over Jean's, shielding him. She has not only saved her man but prevented a war from breaking out.
6. Anna & Elsa become Alia & Elsie
Princesses Elsie and Alia are two sisters who love each other very much, regardless of the fact that Elsie has magical icy powers while Alia does not.
It's the day of Elsie's coronation. Alia, who is a social butterfly, enjoys the day of the coronation very much, loving all the people around and acting like the perfect Arab hostess. She even finds a man she considers to be her true love, named Hassan. He asks her to marry him on the spot, and while this is not unusual, Elsie doesn't give her blessing. After Alia's outburst, Elsie feels pressured and in a panic shows her powers that she's never learned to control.
She ends up freezing the entire Arabian peninsula while running away from the castle, leaving many to panic as they never learned to cope with snow (ahem, the Gulf).