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30 July, 2005

The romance of Arabia

Rummaging for holiday reading at a second-hand bookshop in Sydney turned up Lynne Graham's fascinatingly bad novel The Arabian Mistress. In it, "Sheikh Tariq Shazad ibn Zachir" romances a naive and pathetic British girl called Faye. Bizarrely, Sheikh Tariq rules an "oil rich Gulf state", yet turns out to be Berber.

Even more bizarrely, this novel turns out to be part of an entire literary subculture of "Sheikhs and Desert Love", presumably read by paleface western ladies fairly deluded about Middle Eastern people and their customs. According to the FAQ:

"In most cases, the heroines of these stories are women who hail from progressive countries, such as the United States, Canada, Australia or Great Britain. The majority are slender, with long fair hair."

Unsurprisingly, the men are without exception dark, macho, and as rich as Croesus. In the case of the abovementioned Tariq:

"In the sunlight he was a golden feast of vibrant masculinity. His luxuriant black hair shone. His tawny skin glowed with health and his stunning bronze eyes gleamed like precious metal, both brilliant and unreadable. Indeed, he was quite staggeringly beautiful..."

Tariq fits into a category described as "Abducted by the Enemy". Other themes include "Angry Sheikhs", "Kidnapped by a Handsome Sheikh" and "Sheikhs Fearing Commitment."

The number one novel, according to the editors, is Nan Ryan's "Burning Love":

"Temple DuPlessis Longworth is ravishing, impulsive, and far too wealthy and independent for any gentleman to claim. Seeking adventure, she travels to the Arabian Desert and ends up captured and imprisoned in the lush oasis that belongs to Sheik Sharif Aziz Hamid, also known as El Siif, The Sword."

Labels:

10 Comments:

Anonymous Balushi said...

Hey secy,

where can i find this book "Sheikh and the beauty"

I am waiting your reply!

The white chicks look beautiful Being hugged by men is dasdaha! awesome...

Let me know where i can find this!!!!

Great topic!

nice nice

30 July, 2005 23:05  
Anonymous Pasha said...

"...presumably read by paleface western ladies fairly deluded about Middle Eastern people and their customs."

Hahaha! I think ppl who read romance novels are deluded about a great many things, least of all "Middle Eastern people and their customs".

But then again, isn't that their escapist appeal? (Actually I read an interesting article the other day about how, counterintuitively, it is the intelligent women who are the greatest consumers of romance novels.)

In some twisted way, I'm glad the "Arabian sheikh" has become accepted by the (somewhat) mainstream as a sex symbol.

At least this way, us Arabs living in America have a better chance in competing with the "Highland princes" and "Aussie surfer dudes who can't be tamed" when it comes to meeting women!

Welcome back, btw.

30 July, 2005 23:55  
Blogger ReginaFilangee said...

Welcome back SD! got my daily fix again!

31 July, 2005 10:06  
Blogger cncz said...

appalling, do I laugh or cry.

well i laughed. the stereotype kills me, and romance novels always make me laugh.

31 July, 2005 18:20  
Anonymous Abby said...

Just a thought: I wonder how we Arabs would react if these literary genres construed Arab women rather than men as embodied sexuality ... ??

However, regardless of this little gender issue, it is appalling that sexuality and etnicity continues to be linked. It reminds me of the sick depiction of Africans during the colonial era.

Abby

01 August, 2005 10:47  
Anonymous pasha said...

Re: abby

Eh, no. Arab women ARE sexualized. Belly dancer, exotic whore etc...
That's precisely my cause for amusement, in that it reverses the stereotype to men.

Ethnicity will continue to be linked to different traits, and it just so happens that with the sex-obsessed/starved West (in particular the US), sexuality is a common theme. Hell, I didn't even know asian women could be sexualized before I got to America, as this is certainly not the case in the UAE!

And while the sexualization of ethnicity is not the healthiest thing, it is at worst a very- shitty-situation; yet it doesn't come near the plight of colonial Africans.

02 August, 2005 15:40  
Blogger phoenix said...

hi....

The novel reminds me of those cheap paper back novels one would get in the railway stations....

But those novels what we classify as time killers....

03 August, 2005 21:36  
Blogger prin said...

Hi, I'm a college student in the US, and I am researching a speech dealing with American women's fascination with Sheikh romance novels. I would like to see what Arab women are thinking about this, how the books portray the men, and if this effects them in any way. Are these novels giving American women accurate portrayals of these Arab men, or is it just plain fiction? Do Arab women fantasize about white men? Thank you for your responses!!

Jessica

29 July, 2007 00:19  
Blogger prin said...

Hello!

I am a student in the US, and am writing a paper American women's fascination with Sheik romance novels. I also wanted to get the perspective of Arab women. How do you feel about these novels? Do they portray Arab men accurately, or far off base? Do you enjoy reading these novels? Researching, I found that women like to read this particular series, because with Sheik men they are powerful and forceful, a sense of danger. Do you find that enticing? Do Arab women have coordinating feelings about white men, as some women do middle-eastern? Thank you for your responses, they will definitely help me understand some of the underlying feelings about this genre of romance novels.

Jessica

29 July, 2007 00:25  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Firstly I am not Arab, so I can't really answer your question.

Secondly, this is a two year old thread so it is unlikely that other readers will find your question. Also, even if they did, I am not sure how they could respond to you since you don't even have your Blogger profile enabled ;)

You could try an Arab community forum. Also see this post on Aqoul.com which is also old (so probably won't get replies) but has information that may be useful to you.

29 July, 2007 00:37  

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