Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Egyptian Screenwriter and Actress Address Drug Addiction

By Nouran Ibrahim, Monica Ayad and Christina Magdy

On Sunday, November 8, the Cairo International Model Arab League (CIMAL) hosted “The Message” in Moataz El Alfi Hall at The American University in Cairo (AUC). The event featured young actress Jamila Awad and screenwriter Mariam Naoum. The event revolved around the topic of addiction, an issue that was addressed in their hit Ramadan Series ‘Taht el Saytara’.
After anxiously waiting for an hour, the event commenced with a screening of the hit series ‘Taht el Saytara’s trailer for a hall packed with AUC  students. The guests, Naoum and Awad, made their entrance as the trailer came to an end. AUC CIMAL graduate advisor May Seoud then started the discussion with the two guests.

Addiction in Egypt is a phenomenon that is rapidly increasing at an alarming rate. According to the Health Committee in the Egyptian Assembly, 15% of drug addicts in Egypt are university students. Such a figure is what led AUC CIMAL member Omar Sadek to host and organize such an event at AUC.

Although such an issue has been addressed previously, what made ‘Taht el Saytara’ stand out was Naoum’s excessive research done through meeting and studying drug addicts and visiting rehab centers in Egypt. This led to a realistic depiction evident in ‘Taht el Saytara’.

In an interview we conducted with actress Jamila Awad, she stated that “it was challenging depicting the life of a drug addict, you have to feel what they’re going through without judging them.”
The guests also highlighted the different types of addiction. Screenwriter Mariam Naoum clarified that “when we talk about addiction it doesn’t necessarily mean that we mean drug addiction, the notion of addiction can be associated with people or even objects.”

Emphasizing the role of parents in guiding their children and making them aware of such a topic, Naoum stated that “it is the parents duties to become close friends with their children.”  

A Q&A session followed the discussion The questions asked included inquiries about certain scenes featured in the TV series along with comments AUC students had about  addiction leaving them with a reshaped perception regarding addiction. According to AUC student and attendee Zeina El Dakhakhni, “the event was informative and beneficial.” As the event came to an end, Naoum briefly mentioned that she will continue addressing controversial issues in her upcoming screenplays.  


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