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Celebrating Michael Jackson

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Hard to believe that five years have already passed since we lost Michael Jackson. When Thriller was released in 1982, music lovers around the world rushed to record stores to get the highly-anticipated new album from Michael Jackson. His deliciously catchy lyrics and melodies poured out from radio stations everywhere. Well, almost everywhere. 


In 1982, my family was living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. There were no music stations. In fact, there was very little music anywhere. We lived in a city where music, dance and any public expression of joy were taboo. Asian countries are always early adopters of new technology, so CDs were available in Saudi Arabia long before they were in the West. Somehow, my parents got me bootlegged copies of Michael Jackson’s music videos, and the Thriller CD. It was my first CD. And Michael became my first love.


Little girls in Jeddah didn’t go outside and play. In a conservative culture like that of Saudi Arabia, little girls stayed indoor most of the time. But I didn’t mind—I had Michael. I spent countless hours watching Michael’s videos, trying to simulate those unearthly dance moves. The only drawback was that I had nobody to practice with, because Saudi kids didn’t mix with non-Saudi kids. So I danced alone in our living room in front of the television, with my worn-out VHS compendium of videos like Billie Jean and Beat It.


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