AlRawabi School for Girls Review

When I was scrolling through YouTube one day, I came across a trailer for this new show on Netflix. It was approaching Labor Day weekend so I thought hey, I have time, let me give this show a try. A couple days later, I binge-watched all of the episodes and was just in shock by the plot twist at the finale. This show is more than about bullying, it addresses the topic of being a young girl in society. Of course, some will say in a society that has a majority Muslim population, but I think the experiences the characters have are pretty universal. Before I touch on some of the things that stood out to me, I want to say that there will be spoilers ahead and a trigger warning therefore, proceed with caution.


TRIGGER WARNING: Bullying, violence, sexual assault

The show starts off on a school bus with Mariam, a sweet girl who does not seem to care about what anyone thinks. We are introduced to her friend Dina, who is also very sweet and wants to be appreciated by the everyone in the school, especially the popular girls. Then we see two of the three popular girls, Layan, the main pretty girl who is the biggest bully and her sidekick, Rania. The school that they all attend is called AlRawabi School for Girls which I think is located in Jordan. I am assuming it is a majority Muslim school because 1) they have Muslim names 2) some of the girls wear hijab and/or 3) their mothers wear hijab. Anyways, Layan is being pretty disrespectful to the girls and later on hops off the bus to see her boyfriend. Because she is young, unmarried and Muslim, it is a big no-no to be with someone who is not your husband out in public, so she has to sneak off to do these things. At the school, we are introduced to the third popular mean girl, Ruqqaya, who is a hijabi. We are also introduced to Noaf, a new student who has a goth girl type of vibe. She has to be on good behavior because she was recently expelled from her previous school and does not want to cause stress to her mother.

Enough with the background story for me, watch the show if you want more details. I want to talk about 6 major moments that were relatable and/or shocking:

Top Left to Right: Mariam, Layan, Tima Shomali (the director), Dina, Noaf Bottom Left to Right: Ruqayya and Rania

1. Mariam nearly dying

Layan accused Mariam of the unthinkable, touching her inappropriately while changing after gym class. Everyone at the school was giving Mariam funny looks and making her feel bad. So Mariam decided to report to the headmaster that Layan was sneaking outside of the school to see her boyfriend. Instead of punishing Layan, the headmaster gave Layan a warning because she did not want her father, a very wealthy businessman, to get involved. After school, Layan and her crew found Mariam and starting beating her up severely. Layan ended up picking Mariam’s head, smashing it into the concrete and leaving her there unconscious.

When I saw this scene, I gasped in shock. I did not think there was anyone that cruel in a school setting to leave another student for dead. Like, they just left her there, blood gushing out of her head. It reminded me of a story of an 8-year-old boy who actually took his own life because of the severe bullying he was experiencing. This will have truly traumatic and lasting consequences physically, emotionally, and most importantly mentally. The fact that after Mariam returned from the hospital Layan was still able to accuse Mariam of harming her was just unbelievable to me. I do not think I could dislike a T.V. character as much as I disliked Layan.


Dina decides to try and become friends with the popular girls and pretty much does what they say. Mariam pushes her to the side and tells her that those girls are just making fun of her, that they do not appreciate her. Of course, Mariam was right when one of them put bright red nail polish on Dina’s white jeans to make it seem as it she bled through her pants and posted it on social media for everyone to see. As Mariam comforts a distraught Dina, Dina says something that truly resonated with me. She says that she already knew that those girls were always laughing at her but she just wanted to be accepted by them.

It hurt watching Dina realize how mean bullies could be to someone as open and kind as her. I also remember trying really hard to be accepted by certain group of people in middle school and even high school but deep down, I knew that they could care less about me. There’s something powerful about being surrounded by people you think are amazing and worthy of so much attention, but when they treat you like trash, is it really worth being around them? As I grow older, I try to be around people who accept me for who I am and who do not make me feel inferior. It gives me less stress and it honestly makes me a lot happier.


Ruqayya is one of the only main characters who is a hijabi-wearing student. It was really interesting to see how the show played on that dynamic. We realize that she feels left out of the popular mean-girl friend group because Layan and Rania have boyfriends while she does not. Her loneliness is what Mariam hatches on to get revenge. Mariam decides to create an anonymous account and act as a person who is interested in Ruqayya. As the plot goes on, you sort of start feeling bad for Ruqayya and realize just how desperate she is to fit in and be loved. At one point Mariam, as the anonymous boy, asks Ruqayya to take off her hijab and share a picture with her. Initially, Ruqayya denies but after Dina takes the computer from Mariam and sends a passionate message to her, Ruqayya decides to do it.

The aftermath was pretty tragic. Mariam and Noaf post Ruqayya’s hijab-less picture on her social media account for the whole world to see. There is a scene where Ruqayya walks around and starts having a panic attack, as everyone saw the intimate picture that she thought was just for her supposed lover.

This scene shocked and saddened me. I did not think Mariam would go to such lengths to ruin Ruqayya’s life. Ruqayya’s mom said a quote that many foreign mothers pass on to their own daughters which was, “Women are like glass. When they break, they can never be fixed.” Ruqayya was immediately withdrawn from the school by her mother and she was not allowed to interact with anyone or leave the house thereafter.

To be honest, I thought that their reaction to her taking off the hijab was a bit dramatic. More than 50% of the students at the school do not even wear it so it was not like she was bringing some sort of dishonor by taking it off. Also, Ruqayya is human, wearing hijab is not easy at all. What she did to Mariam was wrong and she did deserve some consequences for her actions but for her to be completely banished from society was too much for her to bear in my opinion.


This scene was one of the hardest, if not the hardest, scenes to watch in this series. The school arranges a field trip for the girls to a cabin-like area. Noaf decides to go relax in the hot tub area and Layan follows in pursuit. An older man notices Noaf and decides to swim over to her. He tries to start a general conversation with her and then he suddenly GRABS her and starts assaulting her 😳😳😳. My eyes were wide when I watched this like what is wrong with some people in this world? Noaf starts screaming loudly and tells him to stop. Layan notices what was happening and starts yelling at the old man to leave Noaf alone. She was able to separate Noaf from him and then Noaf starts to freak out. One of their teachers finds them both and demandingly asks them why they left the other students. Layan tells the teacher that Noaf got assaulted by the creepy old man and the teacher says “I am not surprised, look at the way she was dressed.” Nah, when the teacher said that I got really heated. No one deserves to be assaulted and I hate when women are blamed when they are the victims. “What was she wearing, was she drinking, etc?” Like…who cares? She was the victim! Why was the person assaulting her to begin with? Keep your hands to yourself.

That scene brought me PTSD because a similar situation happened to me and one of my older patients. It was a pretty traumatic experience and it gave me a perspective that sexual assault can happen to anyone. I wear hijab and tend to mind my business so people would not assume that I have experienced something like this but I did and it goes to show that you never know what people are going through. If you see someone who is being assaulted, please please please do something to de-escaluate the situation and get them out of harm’s way. Also, continuously remind them that IT IS NOT THEIR FAULT. It took me a couple years to heal from my experience (well you really do not heal from it, you just grow with it) and if it were not for supportive people in my life who reminded me that I am more than the object that that specific person made me feel like, therapy, and prayer, I do not think I could have grown from it.


In the last episode of the series, you see a stark contrast between Mariam’s character in the beginning and how we currently see her. She wants revenge and she is hungrier for it than wolves when they smell blood. She has gotten Ruquyya banished from the school, she has gotten Rania severely beaten by her father and now the last people on her list are Layan and the headmaster. Dina and Noaf notice that Mariam is going bananas and tell her that she needs to stop. She is getting out of hand. They even befriend Layan and Ruquyya which makes Mariam even angrier.

Mariam’s plan for Layan could be deadly. Layan is the only girl in her wealthy family and she lives with her insane brothers. They constantly check her phone to make sure she is not disrespecting the family and her oldest brother even owns a gun. They care about their family honor like crazy and if they even found out that Layan had a boyfriend, she might as well just dig her own grave. This is why Layan’s parents never get called when she sneaks out because they are rich and because her family dynamic is not stable. Mariam knows about this and gets Layan’s brother’s number. Dina and Noaf find out about her plan and Rania finds out what was going on the whole time. They all rush to Mariam and tell her to not expose Layan, who was with her boyfriend at the current moment, but Mariam does not care. Her life was ruined by those three girls, especially Layan, and she has no semblance of remorse. At the last possible second, she sends Layan’s brother Layan and her boyfriend’s location.

Honestly, I was not too surprised of how Mariam turned out. Bullying can really change people and make the victims do things they would not have likely done. With the whole school turning on Mariam and making her an outcast, she felt like she had nothing else to do except get back at the girls who put her in the situation in the first place. At the beginning of the series, Mariam was at the mercy of Layan and her crew and now the roles have reversed. It’s pretty scary how much Mariam has transformed and your heart starts racing when you wonder what will happen to Layan in the following scenes.


Layan’s brother speeds over to Layan’s boyfriend’s bachelor pad furious with his gun loaded. It’s a very intense scene and I was crouched up thinking Oh no, oh no, oh no 😳😳😳. He bangs on the door while Layan and her boyfriend are watching a movie and then somehow opens it. Next thing you know, he beats her boyfriend up and points a GUN TO HER FACE! What? What type of sibling love is this???!!! Layan begs her brother to put his gun down, that she and her boyfriend were not doing anything wrong. But with tears in his eyes, he still points the gun at her, smh. The next scene shows the outside of the bachelor pad and then a big BOOM from the gunshot is heard. Is Layan dead, is her boyfriend dead, is the brother dead? I guess we’ll never know unless a new season comes out. The last scene shows Mariam walking smugly in the school hallway, proud of her accomplishment of getting revenge while the other girls look at her with fear and sadness. We also find out that Layan’s boyfriend was the headmaster’s son, so Mariam did end up getting revenge on all the people that did her wrong.

Wow, what an ending. That was definitely unexpected. I cannot believe that Layan’s brother could potentially kill his sister to protect his family’s “honor”. What type of nonsense is that? Unfortunately, this is the reality for many women. In fact, there is a woman named Israa Gharib who was beaten to death by her father and siblings because she was seen as bringing “dishonor” to her family by getting food with her fiancé. There was even a woman whose father smashed with a rock because she was marrying someone he did not like. This is not Islamic at all and it is utterly abhorrent and immoral. Women are not cows that are just traded and sold to make the family happy. They are human. They can make you unhappy and they can make mistakes in their lives. But at the end of the day, they are your family and you should respect and love them.

Check out this opinion post about Israa Gharib:

I have definitely learned so much from the series and I felt so seen in some of the episodes. Overall, it was a 10/10. I loved how there were not any explicit scenes (like Elite, no offense) and that the series surrounded things that girls go through. I definitely hope that there is a second season. Please let me know what you all think and if there are any shows that you recommend I should check out!

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