Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts


Dean's Office Qatar

First Advisor

Giovanni Innella

Second Advisor

Rab McClure

Third Advisor

Jörg Matthias Determann


Syria has witnessed what is known as al-fawra al-drameya, an eruption of drama since 2000. Every year, especially during Ramadan, dozens of Syrian soap operas are aired across the Arab world and beyond, depicting Syrians’ historical struggles as they fought for liberation from the French mandate at the beginning of the 20th century. Although women of those days were a vital part of that liberation movement and had prominent societal roles, these historical fiction soap operas chose to portray only the demure and dismissive female figures and not mention the women who were independent, courageous, and active members of the liberation movement. This one-dimensional portrayal reinforces the stereotypical image of the weak and submissive Arab woman.

Based on research, survey findings, and interviews conducted among real Syrian women across generations, this thesis challenges these erroneous TV stereotypes. Inspired by these real-life counter-narratives, my work takes the form of three dowry chests, wooden boxes that usually contain a collection of preparatory gifts given to a bride before her wedding. Instead, each chest is inscribed with Arabic adjectives such as “strong” and “able,” traits typically seen as positive in Arab men but not women. Thus, I reclaim these qualities as symbols of female empowerment while challenging media-propagated gender-biased falsehoods.


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