In a post-apocalyptic Saudi kingdom, girls ride motorcycles, fight mutants and have limitless gender freedoms. At least that's how Saudi Prince Fahad al-Saud envisions it.
He brought his vision to life with a video game and comic universe called Saudi Girls Revolution (SGR), which depicts the rise of heroines in post-apocalyptic Saudi Arabia.
Prince Fahad al-Saud, whose grandfather is the Saudi Arabian king's brother, is the creator of the video game/comic book. It was developed by Na3am, an Arab youth-driven digital content company.
The world has now been let in on this universe with the release of the first comic in the series . More comics will tell the protagonists' unique backstories and are expected to follow in the lead-up to the game's launch.
The story takes place 100 years into the future in the post-apocalyptic version of Saudi Arabia. A world war - brought on by depleting natural resources - causes most of the human population to perish.
Saudi women are placed in concentration camps. The story's heroines escape and battle "genetically enhanced carnivorous baboons, rampaging cyborgs and deadly fire dancers" on their way to the capital, Riyadh.
They're a group of heavily armed young women from Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries. SGR highlights the diversity (and strength) of Saudi and Arab women through a colorful cast of characters, including a women's rights activist, an openly gay woman, twins who fight religious sectarianism and a woman from the overthrown upper-class.
They go by the name of 'Mu'tazilah', which is Arabic for “those who break away”. "Why? Because they chose to separate themselves from mainstream society by going against what is an unjust political system," the creators explain .
"These young women symbolize female resilience and empowerment. They’re not constrained by any religious or political status quo. Simply put, they create their own."
'Mu'tazila' is also the name of a group of Muslim scholars who, in the early days of Islam, called for the explanation of religious texts based on sound logic, arguing that any text or doctrine that does not comply with reason ought to be rejected.
The very first comic in the series "Latifa- I am not Latifa" was unveiled at the New York Comic Con earlier this month, featuring an SGR heroine whose name means "nice" in Arabic. In an AJ+ video, Prince Fahad says Latifa is one of his favorite characters.
She was orphaned during a mutant invasion and is now seeking revenge.
SGR aims at creating a new narrative for Saudi and Arab women. According to Polygon, the prince says SGR showcases "Arab women in a powerful, empowering role where they are actually relatable, and most importantly, not oversexualized".
"Not because of censorship but because I don't think that's a true representation of women."
He explained to AJ+ that he seeks an "intellectual revolution" that reshapes how the world views Saudi and Arab women and how these women view themselves. He acknowledges the "180 degree shift" women have already made and says he is trying to support "what's already happening" by stimulating people's minds.
Saudi women have already begun to effect change on many fronts, from social media to the art scene . They have pushed the kingdom to amend a number of laws, including opening municipal elections to female candidates, making women’s verbal consent to marriage mandatory and giving women a right to obtain a passport without male permission.
Prince Fahad al-Saud
Known as a "technology evangelist, philanthropist and entrepreneur", the prince brings a progressive twist to typical Saudi royalty. He graduated from Stanford University with a degree in mechanical engineering and worked at Facebook for two years. Since then, made a name for himself in the tech world, helping to found several tech startups, including Na3am and Appiphany .