American Bedu received this email from a Saudi who asked that this message be shared on the blog. I think it is important for views and perspectives to be exchanged so we can continue to learn from one another, especially when cultures and religion may be very different. I think one of the most important points made in this email is the statement that ‘Saudis are not Islam.’
I thank the Saudi individual for taking the time to write this message.
Saudi Arabia is not another plant, it’s just like any other country. You’ll meet bad and good people, and as is always the case goods out wight the bads.
If you want to have a good relationship with Saudis, please understand the following things.
1- Religion, Islam, is a red line for the majority of them. They’re willing to discuss many matters with you regarding their religion, but once they feel you are insulting it, they’ll get defensive. So, it’s O.K to ask why do you do this or that? but they will not accept saying or implying that this wrong( you could say I disagree). Also, you may have some people who will attack your belief to defend theirs, but again those are rare.
2-Saudis are generous in general. They are raised to be like this as many other Arabs( Being generous is encouraged in the Arabic culture pre-Islam, and Islam has enforced this concept). So, please, when you see us act like this, don’t think that we are fools or that we have more money than we need.
3-The majority of Saudi men respects women, and the majority of women doesn’t feel oppressed by men. Of course, there are some cases. When men and women in Saudi Arabia discuss the right of women, the majority of them are just trying to have the maximum freedom that the religion has given them. What I am saying is that the standard and the idea of women right is totally different than that of western civilization. As a result, you may use the same term in English ” women rights’, but the meaning and ramifications are totally different. I again emphasis that Saudi usually judge these matters by their understanding of religion, which could vary from a person to another.
4- Most Saudis extremely love their parents. The mother is usually more loved than the father.
5-Saudi men are Not used to interact with strange women, and of course they get tired when they see a non-modest woman as all men do. The fact that sexes are separated may create this issue, which BTW is widely accepted by both sexes but the argument often come to the extent by which this should be applied.
6-Don’t mix things together. Saudis are not Islam.
7-It’s common for Saudi students to cheat in test as a mean of helping their friends, even though it’s forbidden by religion and Arabic culture.
8-The education system is noticeably weak.
9-When a Saudi invite you to Islam, that’s mean s/he really like and wish you all good. Because they truly believe in their religion and that it’s the only right path to haven, they’ll invite you to it ( don’t get confused when you see them ignore some aspects of it, because this is another story)
I find myself forced to say that there are goods and bads, and it’s your call to know with whom you should interact.
Finally, if you are willing to respect their red lines and socialize with them, you’ll find many loyal friends.
I forget to tell you that it’s 5:30 a.m and I haven’t slept yet, just in case you wonder why we come to school lazy and late .
I hope you all enjoy being in Saudi Arabia or teaching Saudis abroad.
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