Saudi Arabia: Mark Your Calendar’s for Janadriyah

janadriyah 2013

kaust.edu.sa

 

It’s almost Janadriyah time!  The Janadriyah festival is the annual highlight for both Saudis and expatriates in the Kingdom.  It is the annual cultural festival which showcases the traditions and customs of each Province within the Kingdom.  It is the best event that is produced and held in the Kingdom and provides the best image of Saudi Arabia.

The Janadriyah festival begins on 04 April and will last for 17 days.  There will be separate hours and/or days for men, women and families so be sure to check out the schedule.

Each year the Janadriyah festival will have special events oftentimes featuring different countries with which Saudi Arabia has special relationships.  This year the Janadriyah festival will feature a 2,000 square meter China Pavilion.  In addition to Saudi Arabia, visitors will also receive a taste of China.  The China Pavilion will feature traditional Chinese handicrafts, artifacts, clothes and textiles, along with modern products using state-of-art methods and devices of display.

camel race

washingtonpost.com

 

Another hallmark of the Janadriyah Festival will be the annual camel race.  This race will have participants from throughout the GCC, Sudan and of course, Saudi Arabia and showcase the different camels.

The first four days starting Tuesday, April 4 through Sunday, April 7 will be for single men and the remaining 12 days will be for families, from 4 p.m. to 12 midnight. Students have been allotted three hours starting 9 a.m. during April 6 to 10.

The Janadriyah festival is one event anyone in the Kingdom or who is able to travel to the Kingdom will not want to miss.  It’s too bad Saudi Arabia does not allow tourism visas for the Janadriyah festival showcases the best of the Kingdom and could bring in thousands of visitors to the Kingdom just for this specific event.

Saudi Arabia/USA: Abeer Shares her Experience as a Female Saudi Student in the USA

  • American Bedu is pleased to present this interview with Abeer, a female Saudi student who is studying in the United States.

saudi students usa

menafn.com 

 

 

  • First of all Abeer, thank you for following American Bedu blog and for agreeing to this interview!

 

Thank you so much for the opportunity. It’s an honor to be on your blog!

I want to add that I use your blog as one of my resources to keep myself updated with news about home!

 

  • Let’s begin with a little bit about yourself.  What part of the Kingdom are you from?  Prior to arriving in the United States for studies, what was your educational and professional background?   makkah

I am from Makkah but I have been living in Jeddah for the last 14 years, I usually joke around and tell people I’m from the Highway (Khat Alsaree3!!)

I received my BA and MA in Linguistics from King AbdulAziz University. I started off teaching English in a center during my sophomore year summer break and continued doing that until my graduation. After graduation I worked with Effat University and have been with them ever since until I received the King Abdullah Scholarship through the university. My last post before I left for my PhD was the Enhancement Centers manager in Student Affairs.

  • What made you decide to study specifically in the United States?  Where are you studying?  Was Indiana University your first preference?  Why or why not?

I chose the US and specifically the Midwest because I grew up within the area; my father was doing his PhD in the University of Madison Wisconsin when I was young. I had a wonderful childhood experiencing all the seasons and the Midwest friendliness.

IU   I applied to all the universities in the Midwest that were top in the field I was interested in and I was accepted in one of the four I applied; Indiana University.

 

  • What are you majoring in?  How do you intend to use your higher education on your return to Saudi Arabia?

I am majoring in Higher Education Student Affairs which is part of the School of Education. Currently higher education is a rapidly developing field that governments and economists have taken interest in. The literature points out that there is a need for professionalism in this area and I couldn’t agree more. The economy is in the need for a holistic graduate that can work immediately upon entering the society. It is very important to note the sensitive role that higher ed faculty and staff play in an individual’s life,

Through my work in student affairs I have worked on projects that focus on students extracurricular skills, this helped develop my main research interest which is student adjustment and development. The main goal behind the PhD was to enhance my experience by learning more about theories and practiced methods that I could benefit from and use when I return to work in Saudi Arabia.

  • What have you noticed as the biggest contrasts between educational styles in the United States as compared to Saudi Arabia?

I have noticed that higher education in the US is more of a lifestyle where you live and breathe books, papers, conferences, study groups..etc.  Back home I felt that university to me was a responsibility like a job or basic school where attendance is required but then after 2 or 4 pm, the day is done and other aspects of life take over.

This is more or less enhanced by the fact that higher education is socially considered a turning point for most people in the United States where moving out of the family house into dorms is the norm whereas in Saudi Arabia, unless married, very few leave the state of dependency.

  • How do you find the US education system?  What’s life like for you at a large University?  Was it a big transition adapting to the diversity and having not only other international students but male and female students in your classes?  phd-symbols

I think there is an educational system set for every need and ability. When I was looking for universities I was told by many to choose one in the UK because of the closer distance to Saudi, the fact that the time period to get a PhD is less and that they require no graduate standardized tests. The main reason that I stuck to my decision was that most (if not all) university programs I looked at required a minimum of courses. I felt that especially since I was venturing into a new field that I would need some classes that allowed me to read and research different fields. This was the gap I was looking to fill. I worked in Student affairs for a long time, but I believe that to achieve productive quality work a person must now about all the dynamics of the institute he or she is working in. Knowing what others did in your field will help you see the overall picture and make clearer decisions for the benefit of the whole institution.

Indiana University Bloomington has a fairly large campus with more than 5,941international students.  However I am the only international student in my cohort. I was also the only married female with kids. They were all nice and friendly but it was not easy to relate to anyone. I am on a scholarship and they all have graduate assistantships. I have to go back home immediate after class for my kids and they went out together after work. But it was very comforting to know that we were all there with more or less the same background experience. And we were all from different parts of higher education learning about the other parts together. In regards to dealing with male faculty and students I admit I was a bit timid. I did try something to help me – I gave them a neutral status – hahaha – I de-gendered them all! It was actually a method that worked really well with me. I was already intimidated by being outside my comfort zone I really did not need that extra stress!!

  • What kind of adjustments, if any, have you made while studying in the United States?

single parenting     Plenty! During my first year in the US I was on my own with my two children. My husband stayed behind because of his job. I had many turning points in my life and this certainly was one of the major ones. I had to learn to be available as I could not depend on anyone but myself when it comes to my children and their needs. I learned to budget (!) and compare prices. I wasn’t driving when I first arrived and taking the bus was frightening. I had a bike which I used for the first few months until a rainy day where I was forced to use the number 9 bus – I even called my friends in Saudi to let them know about my 10 minute adventure! It was a journey for me, I have never felt so vulnerable, I learned to ask for help which was very difficult for me. I always had help available: my driver, maid, my mother, sister, grandmother… I was never in need to go out and ask for assistance.

I believe that I have changed and am progressing to a more independent nature. I feel more confident about making my own decisions.  If anything I realized how much I took for granted. I think like anyone I wanted to experience a different life and was keen on leaving my comfort zone and starting my adventure. I am enjoying my adventure but with an added feeling of looking forward towards the ending and returning home.

One of the most important changes that happened to me is on the personal side. My husband and I decided at the beginning that it would be best if he stayed in Saudi while I left with the kids and did my best to finish as soon as possible. It was a difficult decision but we decided to go for it for a year and if it didn’t work out we would have to give up something. That whole academic year was the toughest challenge of my life. I realized the importance of a family being together. I realized that while independence was a gift it did not mean detaching yourself. My children needed their father; I needed my husband’s support. I realized that needing him was not a weakness. I grew up with a lot of feminist books and always wanted to prove that I can exist on my own. I still think it is important to be strong however a partnership cans the best place to derive strength from. My husband has generously left his job and joined us now. He is discovering new interests and working on a non-degree program. I am very blessed

  • What do you see as some of the biggest differences between your life in Saudi Arabia and now as a student in the United States?  Please explain.

My life in Saudi was hectic! I worked long hours, volunteered at my children’s school, participated in social events, always on lookout for new extracurricular activities for the kids, I was always pushing for time for my husband, parents, grandmother, siblings all that while trying to maintain the best acceptable social life I could! It was crazy, I had so many things to do and was home very little.

Now? well Bloomington is a very calm and peaceful place and it kind of rubbed off on me. My children still have their after school activities which is great for them. We have more family time than we ever had before. We have movie nights at home around a fire. We have small Arab gathering almost every other week. My husband and I have peaceful mornings where we go out and walk.

  • What are you missing most about Saudi Arabia?  What are you enjoying most while studying in the United States?  grandmother love

I miss my family, my grandmother lived close by to me and I visited her as frequently as possible. Her windows bring in a beautiful breeze even on the hottest days. She would tell me stories or talk about a soap she was watching. I miss her tremendously.

I miss my sisters!!!

In general I miss the social life and the easiness of becoming part of a social circle. I feel that I am experiencing this alienation because I am a foreigner here and every time I meet someone I take time to introduce myself and my background not that I don’t enjoy that but I do miss the familiarity. On the other hand I have more time to myself and my small family. I have been able to explore my own individuality; I make my decisions without too many outside factors influencing my opinion. In the end there are two things that are very important to me now; my family and my studies.

  • What do you think will be the biggest adjustments for you when you complete your US studies and return to Saudi Arabia?

I have been through this adjustment process when I was young, this was when my father received his PhD and we returned to Makkah. It was not easy and it was a tough road, but with support and understanding from my parents I was able to face the differences. But when I think about it now and how it will be after I return, I don’t feel any fear.  I am actually thinking on how I can keep some of the independent lifestyle I have here. In your blog you mentioned the washing machines and the dependency on maids. I laughed thinking if I could depend on myself and have my home all to myself; that would be amazing.

I don’t fear people reaction much. I think this is attributed to the fact that Saudi’s (in Jeddah specifically) have a more understand view of cultural and social differences. I have been criticized of being an optimist when it comes to my view of Saudi. But I truly believe that we have developed and moved forward and will work to make a better life for each other. Lots of disasters and difficulties in the society have led to self-initiated changes. That’s the spark that we needed and through education ourselves we must work on bettering ourselves for the sake of bettering our society.

  • Naturally I must ask, since you are a female student, (a) are you accompanied by a mahrem while in the US and (b) do you drive while you are in the United States?

car keys   I was accompanied by my husband when I first arrived; he did go back but visited every couple of months. After convincing my family my younger brother joined me for a short while, he was accepted in a university in the US and the UK but believe it or not he returned to Saudi because he could never feel at home anywhere else.

In regards to driving I was very scared of the whole experience and as soon as I got to Bloomington I was sent the booklet and some helpful hints for the writing test! I guess the ladies were excited on introducing me to driving. I took my time though and after I passed the test I needed to wait six months before I took my driving test because I had no previous license which was fine for me I was not looking forward to driving during rain or on icy roads. Once my husband was here he found me a driving instructor (saying that he couldn’t do it and that I needed someone with more professional teaching skills, I think he was just afraid I would use his car to learn!!) anyway I passed the test and received my license within three weeks. I do have to say that I still ask my husband to drive me everywhere (Saudi habit) and I only drive when I absolutely have to. I walk most of the time – I don’t get to do that back home so I try to enjoy myself as much as I can.

 

  • Do you feel like you have been accepted and warmly welcomed as a Saudi student in the United States?  Why or why not?  hoosiers

Bloomington is a funny place in Indiana. It is the most culturally diverse town in Indiana. I think that everyone here is more or less accepted and free to be themselves.

Before I came to the B-town I emailed a lot of people! I reached out to a moms group which helped me in locating the best schools. The department’s assistant was great in introducing me to the right people.  Everyone that I talked to was really helpful. When I got here my advisor did a great job in welcoming me and gaining my trust, he works with many international students and I think my fears were things that he worked with before. He was my rock.

I have lovely Kuwait neighbors who have been wonderful and supportive.

As a Saudi student I must admit that I did not find much support from the Saudi society. After all I was without my husband so they really didn’t know I was there. Once I became familiar with my surrounding, I would go up to Saudi students that looked new and would ask them if I could help them in anyway. I met and made friends with a lot of Saudi’s that way. I think that was how one day I woke up to find myself nominated as the Saudi Club president! I declined though because I didn’t want anything to take me away from my kids and studies – I was hardly able to juggle those two things.

  • Has it been easy to make friends with non-Saudis and non-Arabs?

I can’t say it was easy and I can’t say it was hard. I am a very social person and tend to say Salam to people I meet and introduce myself. At the beginning I kept to myself and my Kuwaiti neighbor was probably the only person I knew. I then started to meet moms of my children’s friends which was a great thing. They were there for me and I am very grateful to them. I have made many friends after that as I gained confidence and became more adjusted. My husband and I joined many social groups which increased our social circle. 

  • How has your lifestyle or customs changed, if any, while being a student in the United States?

Like I mentioned before I am very much relaxed now, I have my studies and my small family to take care of. I take every day as it comes. I don’t plan much. I feel as though I am on vacation sometimes!! This does not apply to the end of semesters by the way!

  • Please share a few of your favorite experiences as a Saudi student in the United States.

us-saudi-flags   I am very happy to be representing my country. I love clarifying misunderstandings and sharing experiences. Listening to others and realizing how we are all more or less the same. I once heard someone say that we are all foreigners. That is such a true statement.

One event I can remember was when I was asked to give a presentation about Saudi Arabia during the Saudi national day. I was never so proud of being a Saudi more than that day. I started of the presentation with the national anthem, everyone joined. The proud faces and enthusiastic voices were very moving.

 

  • What have been some of the challenges you have faced since being in the United States?  How have you overcome these challenges?

One of the things that I still struggle with is my hijab. People are curious and I find it difficult to handle all the staring and turning of heads. I don’t know if I have overcome it completely but I can say that I am more confident as time goes by. The most difficult part of the challenge knows that I am being judged according to my appearance. I wear my hijabs different every time just so that I leave people guessing which can actually be fun. People now come up and ask my husband and I where we are from. We get very interesting guesses!

  • What advice do you have for other Saudi students and especially female students who are studying abroad?  How can they make their educational experience the most positive?

Get to know the people around you. Learn from them. Do not isolate yourselves and allow different people to come in contact with you. I have seen students that spend more than a year in the US and still struggle with communicating and adjusting. Join clubs, volunteer, go to study groups, learn about others talk about yourself. Most important be simple. Do not worry about your typos, or how you might be understood or what one would think of you if you did something. And as I always tell my brothers have fun but be careful!

Being abroad is an opportunity to gain new experiences and learn more about you. Don’t waste it!

  • Have you been to the United States before?  What is your view of Americans as compared to Saudis?  Is it true Americans are more open but Saudis are more hospitable?

I grew up in the midwest and spent a few vacations there after we returned to live in Saudi.

 Americans and Saudis are different like any other culture is different to another. I even feel the Gulf States are very different to an extent too. However I do feel there is a more simplicity to the American Culture in comparison to the perfection that I see many Saudis seek. I would relate that theory to the openness and hospitality issue. I found both cultures display the same generosity and warmth but with varying degrees. Americans are more honest about their priorities and value their time and schedule. Surprising them with a visit would not be suggested. Saudi people on the other hand would cancel their appointments and call for catering even if it was a difficult time.

  • How supportive has your family been about you studying abroad?  family first

First of all I am very blessed to have the support of my father and husband when it came to my career. From the time my father told me that I was a good writer and I shouldn’t waste my time in a science major I knew that he always took my happiness seriously. When I received my scholarship he encouraged me to apply to universities and go ahead with the process, “You never know what will happen just go ahead and do it!”Alhamdulliah I did. My husband has been my support from day one. He never let me miss an opportunity. I am thankful for having him in my life. My family has always been a supporter of education in fact my mother will be finished with her qualification exams soon! Go Mama!! I am very blessed Mashala.

My husband and I are working hard on helping each other study after all we are the working kind where after the kids sleep it means its grownup time and we go out, socialize or just watch a movie. Now we have to help each other find quiet time and take turns putting the kids to sleep when the other has a deadline. Its great education for us!!

  • How do you feel studying abroad and specifically in America has changed you?

I have matured and I like to think that I am more careful and perceptive about my decisions. I give myself more time to think and rationalize and I allow myself to make mistakes and learn from them. I know I am being very theoretical, I am after all studying for a degree in Philosophy!!

  • Is there anything additional you’d like to share?

I care very much about student development and understand the importance of adjustment. I believe that a happy student is a successful student. I would be very happy to help as much as I can student that are facing difficulties with their surroundings and in need of assistance.

  • Thanks again for this interview and I wish you all the best in your studies and future endeavors.

 

Thank you so much for this opportunity. I have to say that I loved answering your questions more than writing my papers!

 

 positive

 

 

For the number of international students at IUB:

(2012) Another record year for international student enrollment reported at Indiana University. Retrieved from: http://newsinfo.iu.edu/news/page/normal/23098.html

 

IU Image:  projectformica.blogspot.com

PHD image: distance-learning-college-guide.com

single parenting image:  buzzle.com

grandmother image:  papercuts.blogs.splitcoaststamps.com

car keys image: plazaautomotive.com

IU Hoosiers image: coolspotters.com

Family First image: familiesfirstcolorado.org

Be positive image: lifereflexology.blogspot.com

 

 

 

Saudi Arabia: Can Online Matchmaking Work?

finding love online

yourengagement101.com

 

It’s not surprising that with the plethoria of available social media, more young (and older) Saudis want to take greater control over finding a spouse for themselves.  These Saudis are expressing their interest and requirements in a mate through twitter, online forums, online matchmaking sites, muslim marriage sites and leaving the traditional matchmaker behind.

In addition to mothers, grandmothers, sisters and aunts who will search among their peer groups for possible matches with single loved ones, they may also turn to the traditional matchmaker.  The traditional matchmaker is a Saudi woman whose business is bringing together compatible and suitable men and women for (arranged) marriage.

The traditional matchmaker receives fees for her services, both to engage her initial service and other fees when a couple agrees to a match proposed by her.  She will match up couples for traditional Islamic marriages and she will may also put couples together who are seeking a misyar marriage.  Due to the unique requirements and sensitive details of a misyar marriage, a higher fee is generally charged for this service by the traditional matchmaker.

With Saudi men and women turning to the Internet to find a mate, the traditional matchmaker fears that her role and services performed have started to diminish.

saudis online

kids.britannica.com

 

Saudi citizens reaction to the use of online sites is mixed.  While many Saudis like having greater control in finding and choosing a mate, there remain difficulties in overcoming culture and traditions concerning marriage that have been in place for decades.  In Saudi Arabia, unless it is a misyar marriage, one does not marry a spouse but rather the family and tribe as well.  Many marriages continue to be made within the extended family and tribe.  This is not only for keeping assets and family business within the family but also the most common network of contacts women in the family will use to find a mate for their family member.

Use of online sites do make it easier for the Saudi man to post and find a second wife or a woman willing to engage in a misyar marriage.

This video further discusses the pros and cons of Saudis who are turning to online sites in the hopes of finding a spouse.  Not all Saudis are in favor though of online matchmaking.  In 2011, Saudi Gazette published an article on this topic.  In the article, young Saudis share their experiences with social media towards having interaction with the opposite gender and follow up with what they see as the pros and cons using such media. Saudi women cite their concern about deception on the part of the man that he can make himself into who or whatever he wants to be.

In spite of the valid concerns raised, there have been success stories of young Saudi couples finding love (and marriage) .  One Saudi man did find his wife though online media.  They had an “electronic” courtship which was approved and sanctioned by their parents.

online matchmaking

singleandmuslim.blogspot.com

 

Some of the more popular sites which Saudis (and other Muslims) tend to use for finding a spouse are:

http://matchmaking.dating.lt/profile/step_look.htm.php?sid=1we

http://seo.arablounge.com/matchmaking/Saudi%20Arabia/Saudi%20Arabia/RIYADH

http://www.muslimmatch.com/

http://salaamhearts.com/

On viewing the above sites, it is clear that one has to be careful in their use.  They must think carefully about what they say and how they say it.  Anyone starting a dialogue with someone met online should be careful and always cautious.  There are scammers and those looking to con individuals who prey on the online sites.  These unscrupulous individuals are looking out for themselves and their own venal desires.

stk158045rke

dating-sites.bestreviews.net

 

Online matchmaking it not new, although a new trend to Saudi Arabia.  The Western world has been active with online matchmaking/marriage sites for years.  Following are some of the most popular sites in the Western world.  The same advice on using caution for anyone seeking love and marriage through an online site applies.

http://www.match.com/

http://www.eharmony.com/

http://www.christiansingles.com/

 

caution

champion-america.com

 

Someone accessing online sites for the intent of seeking love and marriage are immediately making themselves vulnerable by placing such an intent and desire on cyberspace.  A man or woman should be careful to not reveal too much about their vulnerabilities of loneliness.  It is also safer to use an alias and reveal little about your real name, family, financial status or any assets.  Start slowly and cautiously.  Beware of stalkers in addition to the scammers and cons.  In my opinion, a woman should not use an online site without advising someone she trusts of what she has done.  This is for her protection.  If a man or woman feels that an individual sounds like a compatible candidate for a spouse, validate as much information provided by the person as possible to ensure of their legitimacy and sincere intentions.  Don’t go from corresponding on an online site directly to a personal meeting.  First, correspond through the mechanisms within the site.  Eventually you may wish to chat via Skype where you can start by hearing one another (without video) and then when appropriate (especially for the Muslim world and its customs) have a video chat.  A Muslim woman may want a male beside her at that point such as father, brother or Uncle.  This further reiterates the seriousness of the intent and lets the male suitor know that the woman has male relatives who are looking out for her well being, safety and best interests.

Love and marriage can be found online.  I will acknowledge that back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s I was a more of a geek and ran a successful bulletin board system (BBS).  These became pretty much obsolete with the introduction of the Internet then followed by other social media sites.  However, while I had my BBS, 3 couples found each other and ultimately got married.  My BBS was not set up in any way as a matchmaking mechanism but some regular participants got to know one another through common interests which were discussed.

Saudi Arabia: King Saud University Launches Interactive Arabic Project

 

King Saud University has launched an online project to help non-Arabic speakers learn Arabic for free via the internet.  The Interactive Arabic Project can be accessed from any part of the world.  The Interactive Arabic Project is a self-learning project and offers complete Arabic lessons.  Those who choose to participate in the project are required to have a prior knowledge of the written form of the Arabic alphabet  and how to pronounce the letters.

 

The Interactive Arabic Project focuses on vocabulary, structures, listening, speaking, reading and writing.  In addition, the content demonstrates Arabic culture and some social aspects of everyday life in the Arab world.

Each unit will contain lessons and accompanying exercises on listening; vocabulary; grammatical structures; listening comprehension; speaking; reading; and writing.  The project also includes three separate tests.

The Interactive Arabic Project also has its own facebook page where participants can “meet” and discuss the program.

American Bedu – The Documentary – New Promo

American Bedu wishes to make a difference and an independent film producer is making a documentary of my life.  A new promotional one minute trailer has been made.  It is a pleasure to advise that the American Bedu documentary is entering the post-production phase.

nb:  prior to entering the completed film into any film festivals or a public showing it must first undergo a review by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Saudi Arabia: Torn Between Two Worlds

 

Andreiclaude.blogspot.com

 

When a foreign woman marries a Saudi man there is the possibility that she may spend the majority of her married life in Saudi Arabia.  The reasons for settling in Saudi Arabia can vary:

  • The husband may have a good and stable job in the Kingdom.
  • He may be the eldest son and as a result be the present or future patriarch (mahrem)  for the women in his family.
  • He is close to his family and does not wish to live outside of Saudi Arabia.
  • The couple jointly made the decision to settle and spend their life in the Kingdom.
  • It is a good place to settle and raise a family.

 

Some foreign wives can easily adapt to a long term life in the Kingdom.  This is the wife who embraces the cultures and traditions of Saudi Arabia.  She has likely established herself as part of a loving and caring family.  She has made friends in her community. In some cases her life is made easier with domestic help and possibly a driver.

Ideally the wife is able to make regular trips back to her home country where she can visit her family.  However, depending on location and distance, such trips can be expensive and result in limited visits.

As a result it is not unusual for a foreign wife who continues to have family ties and close friends in her home country to have moments of being torn between two worlds.  She wants to know the events of her family and friends lives as well as share her own.  Yet with distance and time it can be a challenge:

  • If there is not the opportunity for regular travel it can be difficult for her Saudi born children to know her family.
  • People have a natural tendency to get caught up in daily affairs within their own sphere.
  • Family and friends may not be interested about her life in the Kingdom.
  • She can’t be available when there is a family crisis such as an accident or death.
  • Parents and other loved ones become elderly and require additional care.  She is unable to be there for them due to conflicting responsibilities.

A foreign wife who may find herself feeling despondent and homesick should know she is not alone.  She’s encouraged to reach out and share her feelings with other wives who have gone through the cycles of highs and lows.  They can offer support and encouragement.

She should also take advantage of today’s technology to maintain regular contact with family and friends outside of the Kingdom. Internet based services  Skype, Vonage and Magic Jack all work in the Kingdom.  While Skype is software based, equipment would need to be purchased for Vonage and Magic Jack. (Aramex is a reliable method to receive mail and packages from outside of Saudi Arabia.)  Last but not least, the video chat section through gmail works well from within Saudi Arabia too.

Saudi Arabia: The Arab Woman; The Muslim Country

Saudi Arabia:  The Arab Woman

 

American Bedu is choosing to reprint the following article which appeared on the www.aafaq.org website.  Saudi author, journalist and activist Wajeha Al-Huwaider is well known for her support of women issues.  While the poem is referred to as a satirical poem, it is also brutally honest.

 

In a Satirical Poem, Saudi Author Laments Conditions in the Arab World

In a satirical poem titled “When,” posted on Arabic reformist websites including www.aafaq.org , reformist Saudi author and journalist Wajeha Al-Huwaider lamented what she regards as the conditions in the Arab world. In the introduction to this poem, she wrote: “‘When’ is an ode to the troubles of the Arab citizen. Both men and women participated in its [writing], and it is still open to additions. This ode will be hung on the walls of the palaces of the Arab rulers, [1] so feel free to add you contributions.”

The following are excerpts from the poem:

“When you cannot find a single garden in your city, but there is a mosque on every corner – you know that you are in an Arab country…

“When you see people living in the past with all the trappings of modernity – do not be surprised, you are in an Arab country.

“When religion has control over science – you can be sure that you are in an Arab country.

“When clerics are referred to as ‘scholars’ – don’t be astonished, you are in an Arab country.

“When you see the ruler transformed into a demigod who never dies or relinquishes his power, and whom nobody is permitted to criticize – do not be too upset, you are in an Arab country.

“When you find that the large majority of people oppose freedom and find joy in slavery – do not be too distressed, you are in an Arab country.

“When you hear the clerics saying that democracy is heresy, but [see them] seizing every opportunity provided by democracy to grab high positions [in the government] – do not be surprised, you are in an Arab country…

“When monarchies turn into theocracies, and republics into hybrids of monarchy and republic – do not be taken aback, you are in an Arab country.

“When you find that the members of parliament are nominated [by the ruler], or else that half of them are nominated and the other half have bought their seats through bribery… – you are in an Arab country…

“When you discover that a woman is worth half of what a man is worth, or less – do not be surprised, you are in an Arab country…

“When you see that the authorities chop off a man’s hand for stealing a loaf of bread or a penny, but praise and glorify those who steal billions – do not be too surprised, you are in an Arab country…

“When you are forced to worship the Creator in school and your teachers grade you for it – you can be sure that you are in an Arab country…

“When young women students are publicly flogged merely for exposing their eyes – you are in an Arab country…

“When a boy learns about menstruation and childbirth but not about his own [body] and [the changes] it undergoes in puberty – roll out your prayer mat and beseech Allah to help you deal with your crisis, for you are in an Arab country…

“When land is more important than human beings – you are in an Arab country…

“When covering the woman’s head is more important than financial and administrative corruption, embezzlement, and betrayal of the homeland – do not be astonished, you are in an Arab country…

“When minorities are persecuted and oppressed, and if they demand their rights, are accused of being a fifth column or a Trojan horse – be upset, you are in an Arab country…

“When women are [seen as] house ornaments which can be replaced at any time – bemoan your fate, you are in an Arab country.

“When birth control and family planning are perceived as a Western plot – place your trust in Allah, you are in an Arab country…

“When at any time, there can be a knock on your door and you will be dragged off and buried in a dark prison – you are in an Arab country…

“When fear constantly lives in the eyes of the people – you can be certain that you are in an Arab country.”

Endnotes:

[1] This is an allusion to the Seven Mu’allaqat, famous sixth century odes which, according to Arab legend, were hung in pre-Islamic times on the walls of the Qa’ba in Mecca.

 

 

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