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Many people who lived in Egypt in the years leading up to the Arab Spring, when the Internet was catalyzing social debate and the Egyptian dialect found a new self-confidence in written form, will be familiar with the title Ayza Atgawez – عايزة أتجوز (I want to get married).
Now there’s a Netflix series that shows us what happened to the main character and the challenges she’s struggling with now, ten years later. The series is called Finding Ola (البحث عن عُلا).
Finding Ola continues the story of pharmacist Ola Abd elSabour (علا عبد الصبور) from the TV comedy series Ayza Atgawez – عايزة أتجوز (I Want To Get Married) which was launched in 2010. The main character is now forty years old, belongs to the 1% rich people in Egypt, and faces life-changing events. The story follows the quest of a recently divorced housewife and mother of two to start all over in the search for a new purpose and self-discovery.
What is the story of Ayza Atgawez?
In 2006, Ayza Atgawez started out as a blog: https://wanna-b-a-bride.blogspot.com
The author, Ghada Abdel Aal (غادة محمد عبد الرازق), a pharmacist, wrote about her quest to find a good and suitable husband – in Egyptian Arabic.
I represent about 15 million girls between the ages of 25 and 35 years, whom society is chasing and insulting to get married. أمثل 15 مليون بنت من سن 25 إلى سن 35 و اللي بيضغط عليهم المجتمع كل يوم عشان يتجوزواGhada Abdel Aal on her blog profile at the time
Blogs where a big thing back then in Egypt, and the writer touched many topics of unmarried Egyptian women. As the blog became popular, she was approached by a publishing house, Dar El Shorouk, to convert her writings to a book. The book became a bestseller; however, it was just a collection of small scenes that first appeared on the blog.
How to buy the original book
The book is written in colloquial Egyptian Arabic. There are English, German, Italian and Dutch translations.
In fact, I used it back then as a study tool, reading the Egyptian Arabic original with an Egyptian friend who explained me vocab and cultural background. The Egyptian Arabic is quite challenging if you want to properly understand it.
You can still get the original as well as the translations on amazon:
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The original musalsal from 2010
The Netflix Series Finding Ola
Netflix is currently having great success with stories based on popular series from the past, starring the same actors. Kind of like “What happened to…?” A good example is Cobra Kai.
In Finding Ola, the Cairo-based Tunisian actress, Hend Sabry (هند صبري), 42, revives her popular character of Ola Abdel-Sabour in the 2010 musalsal Ayza Atgawez (I want to get married). Ghada Abdel-Aal, the original author of the blog, was a co-author of the Netflix story.
In the original series, Ola was under societal pressure to get married before her 30th birthday and explored many options. Ten years later, she is divorced and juggling her duties as a mother, daughter, her job as a pharmacist and her attempts to find love.
The six-episode series casts Egyptian actress Sawsan Badr – in the same role of Ola’s’ mother as in the original series – as well as Hani Adel (هاني عادل), Nada Mousa (ندى موسى), Mahmoud El-Leithy (محمود الليثي), and Dalia Shawky.
Every episode features guest appearances of well-known actors such as Yousra (يسرا), Sherine Reda (شيرين رضا) and Khaled El-Nabawy (خالد محمد النبوي).
According to Netflix, Finding Ola is available in 190 countries, subtitled in 32 languages and dubbed to four languages.
About the main actress Hend Sabri
Hend Sabri’s first appearance in Egyptian cinema was in the 2002 production A Teenager’s Diary (Muzakirat Murahiqua). Her later roles include starring in films such as A Citizen, a Detective, and a Thief (Mowaten we Mokhber we Haramy) in 2002, Downtown Girls (Banat West El-Balad) in 2005, and Ibrahim El-Abyad in 2009.
She also appeared in The Yacoubian Building (Oumaret Yacoubian, 2006). Her portrayal of an HIV positive woman in Asmaa (2011) brought her several awards.
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