By BENJAMIN JOFFE-WALT / THE MEDIA LINE
The protagonist, a young urban man in a leather jacket, sings of the seduction and dangers of suicide over a light R&B beat: "Everybody makes mistakes, but it's no reason to lose your faith... It's never too late to make a change, it's never too late to make a difference, it's never too late to find your way..."
The video takes on an entirely new meaning, however, when the viewer realizes the family name of the singer: Al Saud.
In a country in which music and dancing are forbidden, the public screening of any film results in a strict crackdown and suicide is the most taboo subject imaginable, it would be difficult for Prince Faisal Bin Mansour bin Thunayan Al Saud to have transgressed more cultural fault lines than by making an MTV-style rap video.
Faisal is a man of many hats.
A singer, professional body builder, designer and professional motorcyclist, the 33-year-old is most noticeably the grandson of Saudi King Abdullah's brother and, therefore, a member of the Saudi royal family.
What makes the bodybuilding prince unique is that in a country in which the royal family is a symbol of stability, he decided to do among the most controversial things a person in his position could: make a music video about suicide.
"This was the first time in history for a Saudi prince to sing and perform and suicide is very taboo in Islam," Silvio Saadi, CEO of Silver Grey Picture & Sound and producer of the video told The Media Line. "He was very scared at the very beginning."
The public response to Faisal's video was electric.
"You don't know what this video did!" Saadi said. "He received 4000-5000 YouTube hits each day and MTV Arabia was airing the video 70-80 times a week."
But then suddenly everything stopped.
The YouTube video, which had been viewed by well over 100,000 people, disappeared. Most public references to the Saudi prince could no longer be found online, along with most references to Faisal's music.
Saudi analysts speculated that the royal family had 'settled' the matter, making it clear to Prince Faisal that he was expected to stop his public singing career.
"It's hard to know what happened," Wajiha Al-Huwaidar, a Saudi rights campaigner told The Media Line. "Young royal family members have been warned to get permission to do everything because people are watching them very carefully, so they usually do their things privately. Also, music in this country is kind of forbidden and nobody studies music, so to see a prince singing was shocking for many and people are waiting for more."
"There has never been someone from the Saudi royal family do such a thing," Al-Huwaidar added. "The younger generations were proud of him."
Eman Al Nafjan, a Saudi female blogger, surmised that Faisal has been thrown in jail.
"The royal family don't want someone going around with the Al-Saud name making videos and it's not acceptable for an Al-Saud to be seen singing or dancing," she told The Media Line. "They're very strict and even just singing about love would be enough to get him thrown in jail, so when you have someone who comes in and makes a video about suicide, well I think they probably tried to make an example out of him."
"It might relate to the princess, the granddaughter of the king," Al Nafjan added. "She was a little wild and had her photo taken without a head-covering. She was a typical rebellious teenager, got in a lot of trouble and shot herself last year."
"There are lots of stories about suicide among royals," she said. "They are not regular civilians but they are not really full on royalty so it's a confusing life for them."
Another influential Saudi critic, who asked to remain anonymous, said he doubted the prince had gotten in any serious trouble.
"Several members of the royal family are involved in the entertainment business, either as poets or they own production companies, so it's not totally out of the ordinary," he told The Media Line. "I guess it's more unique for a royal family member to make a music video but you have to remember the royal family is very big and not all it's members fall under the same restrictions when it comes to what they can and can't do."
"He also wasn't calling for suicide in the video," the blogger added. "He was warning against it so supposedly the message was good."
Prince Faisal refused to discuss the matter with The Media Line.
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