Saudi Arabia: Which One is She? Maid, Helper or Friend?

domestic help

sulit.com.ph

 

With Ramadan 2013 starting on or about the 8th of July, many Muslims throughout the Kingdom will be looking for additional assistance during the Holy month and perhaps through the Hajj season.  This is a period of time when meals take on an additional importance and particularly after the second week of Ramadan has passed, many large families gather to spend the rest of Ramadan together.  Ramadan is a high season throughout the Kingdom with housemaids in demand.

But my question is, who is the housemaid?  Is she just a maid or instead perhaps a helper or friend?  I think it is fair to say that the Saudi families who have had the same domestic worker for multiple years the formal employee-employer relationship begins to blur a little.  Instead of a mere maid she may be better viewed as a helper (less derogatory sounding) or maybe even a friend.  Regardless of what term applied there still needs to be a modicum of distance to preserve the employee-employer relationship.

If you have the opportunities to talk to Saudis who have had the same domestic worker in their home for a period of years, they generally refer to her with affection.  They know about her family, her desires and goals for both herself and her family and in many cases, these Saudis will do what they can to further improve her life.  They’ll not only keep her clothed or have her receive medical attention when ill but sometimes go beyond to help with her family giving her children better educational opportunities.

When a housemaid is serving a family for whom both know is only a limited period of time, the same degree of closeness or trust may never develop.  This can be especially true among expatriates who have engaged a housemaid while in the Kingdom.  Unlike the Saudi family, the expatriate family will eventually either go on to another assignment in a different country or return to their home country.

Expatriates, with an emphasis on Western Expatriates, may have a reputation for treating their domestic help nicer and more like a family member or friend.  Expatriates will generally pay the domestic help a higher salary too.  As a result, many domestics would prefer to work for an expatriate family.

But that does not mean the domestic may view acts of kindness by the expatriate in the same manner as the expatriate.  Domestic help may try to take advantage of the expatriate who has not grown up in a culture where domestic help is the norm.  As a result, the relationship gets blurred and the domestic help may try to manipulate the expatriate.  The manipulation can take place in requesting salary advances, loans, request for medicines or simply sharing how bad they have it such as poor living accommodations, etc.

The domestic may start out working well for the expatriate but ultimately her work ethics may start to slack off.  She may not be as punctual or reliable.  Eventually the expatriate may learn she was also stealing small items or monies from the household.  This tends to happen not only because the domestic does not have a pure heart but because the expatiate family has been too kind as well.

I’m not trying to say that Saudis are the best managers of domestic help or that all is rosy if a domestic helper works for a Saudi.  But I wish to sensitive readers that engaging and retaining reliable and trustworthy domestic help is also its own work in progress.

I believe there could be a market for seminars on both engaging, treating and retaining domestic help in addition to seminars for the domestic help on training and having a successful long term relationship with their employer.

Saudi Arabia: Interview with Romance Novelist, Kat Canfield

It is a pleasure for American Bedu to interview one of the followers of the American Bedu blog.  With this interview, readers learn more about Kat Canfield and why she has an interest in Saudi Arabia!

kat canfield

 

Firstly Kat, thank you, for the opportunity to interview you and share about yourself and your background with readers.

I am honored to have you interview me.

Let’s start with some details about you!  Where are you originally from?  Where do you live now?  How long have you been following the American Bedu blog?

I grew up in Ohio, in Amish country. I moved to Florida after we had a blizzard and the temperature on the thermometer was -32 degrees F! For me, even hurricanes were better than that and I lived through several of them.

I lived in Florida for 25 years before moving to Tennessee with my husband.

I found American Bedu while researching for my book. It has been helpful to learn and understand a very different culture.

Please share your background with readers.  How did you end up in law enforcement as your first career?  At what age or what point in your life did you know you wanted to be a police officer?

Law Enforcement found me I think. I had many people who thought I would be good in that field and encouraged me from high school on but I didn’t listen. I worked in Agriculture in Ohio and several businesses when I moved to Fl. Nothing fulfilled me or was I good at. Finally, I decided to prove everyone wrong that I didn’t have what it takes to be a police officer. Well, I proved to myself I really was!! I was thirty one years old and could beat the barely twenties in physical activities, the shooting range, martial arts, etc. I gained respect from my instructors when I could ‘fall down and give me 100’ (yes, pushups, the full military ones). Sorry, I have to brag on that, as several of the male instructors did not think women should be involved in police work, as it took a man. One of those instructors took me aside just before graduation and told me I had changed his mind about women in police work. It was then I realized I could be a role model for other women which is another reason I want to tell your readers about it. I think the American Bedu Blog helps empower the women in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world who are oppressed. I am all for helping women find their value in the world.

I must also relate this as it has to do with empowering women. I was married briefly in Ohio. I was a battered wife. I got the courage to leave in a time when it was socially unacceptable to do so. Thank God, the laws have change greatly in this area. As a police officer I could help abused women and children get help.

What were some of your most memorable moments when you were on the force?

I have so many memorable moments!! First I must say, read the book as several of them are in there, just the names, and some circumstances are changed to protect identities.

But my most favorite moment is this. I worked as a mounted police officer for eight of my years in police work. Horses are still my first love. One day I was working in the park when a woman and child approached me. The woman asked if her little boy, about seven, could pet the horse. This was a normal thing that happened in the course of the day. The boy was petting the horse and talking to it. I was trying to understand what he was saying to the horse so I asked his mother what he was saying. She was crying! Now I was worried. I asked her what was wrong. She told me her son was autistic and had never spoke a word to anyone before that moment. Now I was crying. The horse had opened up a door for that child. The police horse did that in a lot of instances and is a tool more police departments should utilize.

Did you ever encounter any Saudis while you were an active law enforcement officer?  If so, please share as you are able.

I met many people from everywhere when I lived in Florida. I met Arabs from everywhere in the Middle East. I found them pleasurable and respectful. I probably met more Pakistanis than Saudi. Because all that I knew where very nice people I found it hard to believe so many of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi. I did not want to believe it. We have to remember that a few bad apples does not mean the whole bunch is bad.

You are also a multi-faceted individual.  At what age did you begin to have an interest in writing?

I started writing when I was a child. In high school and college I wrote for the school newspapers and was editor my senior year. I wrote feature articles for the local newspaper and authored many short stories. I just never thought it was that good so didn’t pursue it. However, as a police officer, I had to write, lots and lots or reports. Some of those were short but on more difficult cases they were very long and detailed. I think I improved my skills by writing all those reports! Plus, it gave me experience that found its way into my novels.

What gave you the idea to write a novel about Saudi Arabia?

Well, if you believe in the Ginn or spirits of the desert, it could be said one of them spoke to me. I tried several ideas but this one just felt right so I went with it.

When did you start to have an interest in Saudi Arabia and why?

The book, Arabian Nights. I love that book. I also love Arabian horses, I have owned and ridden them. And then there is Lawrence of Arabia. The country just has a natural romance to it. Every book I have ever read that had something about Saudi Arabia in it is fascinating. If you want to write a romance novel, why not have a character that is from Arabia?

Have you ever traveled to Saudi Arabia and/or personally know some Saudis?  How did you obtain your material about Saudi Arabia for your book?

I have traveled there only in pictures and via the internet. I want to go there very much. I did a lot of research on the country and customs through the internet. I found yours and other blogs about the country that gave me ideas. You actually helped me find books about Saudis that I read like Princess, A True Story of Life Behind the Veil, by Jean Sasson and Ted Dekkers book, Blink of an Eye.

only love twice bookcover

Can you give American Bedu’s a brief synopsis about your first novel, ‘Only Love Twice?’

It is my fantasy. A story of fifty plus year olds. It is Cinderella and her Prince Charming. In this one Prince Charming is a Saudi and Cinderella is American. And if that isn’t enough to keep them apart, he is Muslim and she is a Messianic Jew. I like to use a line from Michael Crichton’s book Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way” to describe it. In this story, Love finds a way.

Did you find it easy or difficult to write a romance novel featuring an American and a Saudi?

I wrote from the heart. (That Ginn again) The man is Saudi but raised in the western world so is not as ‘Muslim’ as the Muslims would like. I took what I learned about Saudi culture to compare the two cultures. I wanted more than just a romance, I wanted to show everyone that two cultures could learn to get along together despite the differences and even learn to love.

What has been the reaction of Saudi’s to your book, ‘Only Love Twice,’ which features a romance between an American Jewish woman and a Saudi man?

I really would like feedback from Saudi readers about the book. I have not to date had any reviews from them. My friends and family that have read it really liked it and asked how I got the idea and how I got the knowledge of the different culture.

How can American Bedu readers obtain their own copy of ‘Only Love Twice?’

The book is available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and my website, http://www.katcanfield.com.

American Bedu has had the honor of reading ‘Only Love Twice’ and was captivated.  However, I must ask you, is it simply a coincidence that the featured female character resembles you?  After all, she is also a retired police officer and fond of horses.

Great question! It is my fantasy after all. But really, I just found it easier to use some of my experiences to give Madison a personality. Also, many of my friends have asked me to write about my experiences as a police officer. So this was a way to include those stories and weave them as threads in the story. And who is the personality of Saleem? He is the best of every man I know.

Do you have another book in the works about Saudi Arabia?  If so, what can you share?

I am writing a sequel. In it they travel to England and Saudi Arabia. In it there will be more of the differences of cultures and discussions about child brides, arranged marriages, and letting Saudi women drive. I borrowed the visual of one of Susie’s abayas, (Blue Abaya Blog) the one with the hand painted peacock feather on it for several scenes where Madison wears an abaya. (I hope that was ok, Susie?)

I have another completely different characters book working but have not decided if the male character will be Muslim or from a Muslim country. For some reason I find them easier to write about (Must be that Ginn again).

When you are not writing, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I spent two months this winter in Florida training with my instructor and my horse in the pursuit of better dressage; what I called Dressage Boot Camp. I also walk every day, I am up to 6 miles a day which I can do in an hour and 20 minutes, so I move out. If I am not walking or riding I am on the computer reading or writing.

What personal message would you like to convey to the thousands of followers who read American Bedu daily?

Keep an open mind. Listen to the views of others, express your views in a respectful way. I have found other views to be insightful and actually changed my opinion on some things.

Kat, thank you again for the interview.  I wish you all the success with ‘Only Love Twice’ and all future books.

Thank you, Carol, and wish you well and pray for you every day. You are an inspiration!

Saudi Arabia: Which One is the Wronged Party?

deserted by bride

lemondrop.com

A young Saudi bridegroom had demonstrated good luck in the currency trading market.  Before he knew it, he had amassed a significant amount of money and had also bought a large house.  Newly wealthy and believing he was stable, it was time for him to marry.  He did not have any difficulties in finding a Saudi woman agreeing to be his wife.

They had a lovely wedding.  However, after the wedding ceremony and with anticipations of the wedding night and bright future ahead for the newly married couple, the husband wanted his wife to know about a recent change in his circumstances.

Lured by greed, he decided he would make one more investment just prior to his wedding.  He wanted to receive the maximum possible return so he chose to invest his entire fortune into the market even though he was strongly discouraged by investment counselors to do so.  Unfortunately, rather than receive the return of his dreams, instead he lost not only his monetary fortune but his house, too.

On hearing this news, the wife left him and has filed for divorce.  The new groom ended up in the hospital due to shock at this drastic turn of events.

This situation highlights the increased trend of divorce in Saudi Arabia as well as the need for investors, young or old, to either follow the advice of investment counselors or insure that they understand well data and risk management.

American Bedu has another question for consideration which she poses to readers.  Which of the two is really the wronged party?  The groom because his new wife chose to leave and divorce him so easily or the wife because of her husband’s foolhardy investment?

Saudi Arabia/USA: On Hugs and Kisses

universal greetings

waggeneredstrom.com

I never noticed until being immune-suppressed how “touchy” a culture we have in America!  While we do respect personal space, think about what happens when a typical American meets someone new or is just greeting someone they know.  They shake hands, they hug, they kiss …. And they pat each other’s back!  Because I am immune-suppressed due to my cancer (I have a very low immune system which makes me extra susceptible to catching a cold or a virus) I am prohibited from the traditional contact.  When I go out to a public place I have to wear a face mask and sometimes gloves.  Ironically this still does not keep Americans away from wanting to hug and pat the back!

Whereas in Saudi Arabia, even when one is not battling an illness, there can remain a reserve and a no-man’s land or red line that is not crossed.  Men will shake hands with other men but probably not with other women.  Women will air kiss and then sometimes shake hands with other women.  There is not as much hugging as a greeting among either friends or strangers.

Why exactly do Americans like to hug and pat the backs of strangers?  If you don’t want that to happen to you, you don’t have to resort to wearing a mask or gloves, simply cross your arms over your chest when greeting someone.  This is a universal sign of greeting but without touch!

Saudi Arabia/Australia: Insights on Polygamy

 

Polygamy in Saudi Arabia takes place more among older men who are already established and in better financial circumstances to take on additional wives.  The rising youth in Saudi Arabia overall state they are not in favor of polygamy.  I guess ultimately time will tell on their part whether they remain true to their present feelings or change their minds.

Rarely is polygamy followed as advised in the Quran where a man is to be just and fair with all his wives.  In most cases the Saudi man seems to have a mid-life crisis when he reaches his 40’s or 50’s and at that time decides to secretly take another wife whether she be foreign or a Saudi national.  I say secretly for the first wife (and any other existing wives) are generally the last to know when a Saudi man takes another wife.

However, there will be clues that the wife can pick up on.  The husband will not be home as often.  The household income may change with unexplained cuts in the budget.  He will be more secretive when he is on his cell phone or may text more often.  Eventually the wife will realize that the life as she knew it with her Saudi husband has changed.

Polygamy is not limited to Saudi Arabia.  It exists in every country in the world, legally or illegally.  The Australian program, Insight, featured a special on Polygamy in Australia.  Although somewhat lengthy, the video is mesmerizing, especially when seeing and hearing the testimony of two sisters who share the same husband.

Saudi Arabia: Why Won’t Saudi Men Use Protection?

use a condom

There has been greater global coverage in the press and on different blogs and other social media about Saudi men getting a foreign woman pregnant and then abandoning her and the child.  The fact that so many young Saudi men are unwilling and not ready to be fathers makes me wonder why they (obviously) chose not to use protection such as a condom?

I know from my own experiences in Saudi Arabia that there is little to no sex education taught in the schools or Universities.  Most young Saudis learn sex education from friends or trusted family members and exactly what or how much they learn is debatable.

Additionally, growing up in a gender segregated environment does have an impact that Saudi youth will have many curious and arousing thoughts about the opposite sex.  The lack of contact seems to magnify the allure and temptations.

Therefore, when the young Saudi man has the opportunity to travel outside of the Kingdom whether for schooling, business or pleasure, many take the opportunity to engage in sexual relations.  Once they find themselves in a  more open society without segregation it is not difficult for them to find a woman to charm and engage in an intimate relationship.

Sadly, most of them are probably thinking of only the self-gratification and not the fact that a sexual encounter can have long lasting implications such as a pregnancy.  It probably does not occur to them either that engaging in relations with an individual also poses the risk of a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

Why does a Saudi man choose not to use a condom as a protection for himself and for the prevention of an unwanted pregnancy?  Because Islam promotes and encourages large families, a Saudi man probably does not think about a condom.  If anyone is going to take care of birth control, it is usually the woman.  In private discussions with either women or Saudi men, the most common phrase on why the man does not use a condom is that “he wants the encounter to feel natural.”  Others have stated that using a condom is too confining or just an annoyance.

It seems that the Saudi man most likely to use a condom when having intimate relations is the man who chooses to use the services of a prostitute.  Additionally, some married Saudi couples have chosen the condom as a birth control mechanism.  However, the single Saudi male who wishes to have intimate relations is the most likely not to use a condom or seem to think about consequences by not taking appropriate protection to avoid an unwanted pregnancy or STD.

Saudi Arabia: Marriage with a Money Back Guarantee?

money-back-guarantee

oneindiashopping.com

 

A story which appeared in the PanArabia Enquirer has all the ingredients and makings of a “Tash ma Tash” episode, which is an all time favorite comedy show that airs during Ramadan in Saudi Arabia.

A 90 year old man from Jizan Province decided to divorce his 14 year old wife because they did not share similar interests.  Apparently during maher (bride money) negotiations and discussions of the arranged marriage with the bride’s parents, the man was assured that his new wife would enjoy and share the same interests as the man.  With their assurances, the man paid the family the equivalent of US$20,000 and the marriage took place.

typical teenager

community.sparknotes.com

 

Initially the marriage was great.  The groom readily admitting he enjoyed showing off his new wife.  However, the wedding bliss faded shortly thereafter.  The bride did not want to sit and listen to classic singers like Umm Kulthum or Fairuz or “potter” in the garden with her husband.  She was more interested in messaging with friends on Facebook, painting her shoes with glitter and putting up her favorite posters on their bedroom wall.  The groom had no choice but to divorce her due to irreconcilable differences.

Now he is seeking back the mehar that he had given to the bride’s family.  According to the groom, the marriage contract had an agreement that if the marriage did not last for more than six months he could receive his money back.

Since when does any marriage come with a money-back guarantee?  But more importantly, this is another case which highlights the need for regulation on the ages of couples who marry in Saudi Arabia.  The bride’s actions illustrate that she is just a young teenager and not prepared for married life, let alone a man old enough to be her grandfather or great-grandfather.  I am assessing that the bride’s parents were overcome by greed to allow their young daughter to marry a man so much her elder.

What happens now to the young woman?  Will she be warmly received back into her family’s arms after they have had to return the bridal money?  Will she be able to find future happiness?  Will she have the chance to marry a young man closer to her in age and interests or now that she is a divorcee and no longer a virgin, will she only be viewed as “second, third or fourth” wife material now?

Saudi Arabia: Interview with a Saudi Foreign Wife

February is known as a month for love and romance.  As a result, American Bedu has featured multiple interivews with individuals who have their own special connections to Saudi Arabia.  These interviews are always a popular topic of discussion.  With today’s posting, American Bedu has the pleasure to interview an American woman who has married a Saudi man.  Due to sensitivities associated with her story, she is not identified by name.

 

Thank you for reaching out to American Bedu and offering to share your story and journey.

love and marriage

yumigawa.deviantart.com

It’s my esteemed pleasure to share my story with you. I’ve been following your blog from time to time for several years now.

To begin with, please share with American Bedu readers a little bit about yourself.  What part of the States are you from?  What was your upbringing like? 

I grew up in a small town in New Jersey a commuter suburb to New York City. I had a really troubled relationship with my parents. It led to me leaving to live with my grandmother, who then died after I got into college. After college when I had nowhere to go but home since I couldn’t find a job, I came to them. I even helped them move from one house to another and many other things since I was muslim at that point and had a better understanding of respect for parents. They had the same problems that they had with me when I was a younger. One day, after a minor altercation with my dad, he just told me to get out of the house and never come back. I spent about 4 months homeless, refused to get married until I had gotten at least some kind of job. Anyhow, that’s another story.

Did you ever imagine yourself meeting and falling in love with a man who came from a differing culture, country and religion?

When I got into college, I had pretty much given up on men after being picked on a lot and turned down by guys throughout high school. Not only that, but my university was quite dangerous, and I had been sexually assaulted not only at my university job, but also in the dorm laundry room and by a classmate. I really was not looking to be in any type of romantic relationship with a man. I was even turned off of marriage even further since I had been working in the center where they had English language classes for international students and a few guys had targeted me as a potential wife. I had at least two stalkers that I can remember. One even tried to get me into his car to go to the mosque to get married so he could get a green card!! (I have no clue how he could have forced me to marry him had he actually gotten me there.)

saudi love

sarooony.deviantart.com

How did you and your Saudi meet one another?  How long from your initial meeting did you both realize that you had feelings which were stronger than a mere friendship?

By the time I had actually met him I had already converted to Islam and was speaking Arabic fluently. It’s actually a funny story (only for me) how we met. You see, I had met this girl online who had similar interests in Arabic, and Saudi Arabia. I had by that time met a lot of Saudis at my school, and was getting somewhat interested in their culture, and I was also learning specific dialects from the country. She had been telling me about this guy that she knew online that was soooooo perfect.

“He doesn’t go out with girls, he’s so religious…” The more she told me about him, the more interested I became. She was also really infatuated with him. I felt I knew a little bit better about the Saudi culture and its language though; I was definitely a better match. I was probably hearing about him for months, so I’d ask different questions about him, getting to know a little more about him.

He seemed like my ideal guy. I told her one day that she should put us in a conference chat so I could see that he is ‘really real.’ When I talked to him the first time he was really polite with me speaking in Modern Standard Arabic. I wouldn’t speak English with him at all. I wanted him to know that my language was good in hopes of enticing him to like me. (I already knew I liked him before this point.)

After this meeting, I kept in touch with him but I never spoke with him by voice or even saw his picture. I just wanted to know his personality because I care about these things the most. Now, at the time we had met we were in summer breaks from school. I was about to go into my senior year and he was going into his junior year of university. I asked him to help me with my language, so we would watch Arabic cartoon series together in YouTube. I would write ‘Ready??? Play!!!’ to make sure that we both were at the same exact second each time. I felt really close to him. It wasn’t until I had gotten back to the university for a few months where I gave him a missed call in Skype. I wanted him to think it was a mistake, but he actually called me back. Then I answered and heard his voice for the first time, and I liked it a lot. Within a few weeks, I requested him to send me his picture. I had totally been thinking he was short with a big, black, curly hair atop his head and a cute potbelly (since he said he likes to eat a lot). I was totally wrong. His picture literally took my breath away. He was tall, balding handsomely and built.  It wasn’t soon until I started wanting to tell him “I love you.” I think he felt that coming with my playful, “I….., I……., I……” He said that we shouldn’t say that, we aren’t married. I said, “Why aren’t we married?”

I told him I knew already about the whole ‘it’s not allowed’ thing, but are we really just going to not get married? We married (islamically) by phone, kind of as an engagement. Then, we could continue our chatting to the romantic level.

 

How much did you know about Saudi Arabia as a country and Saudi’s as a people prior to meeting the man who became your husband?

I can’t say that I knew more than he knows about his own country, but I could place people into which city(ies) they were from by listening to them speaking or by their face, clothing style or other. I had done my reading.

What part of the Kingdom is your husband from?  What kind of an upbringing did he have?  Would you describe him as open or traditional or conservative?

My husband is from the Eastern region of Saudi Arabia (sharqia). He is also a Shia (I am also). His father died when he was 2 or younger and his mother died when she was 17. The thing about his upbringing has a lot to do with the death of his father.

The story was that his father, a successful businessman who owned a bit of land, was having some pain in his leg. His (evil and jealous, but trusted) brother decided to take him to a public hospital. He died of mysterious reasons. The next thing that happened on the day that he died as told by his mother. His evil uncle went into their house into his father’s private room and closed the door. He took everything of theirs, and left them with nothing. As much as she complained, his family did not want to burn bridges with each other by getting into the problem. She tried to get aid from the government but they would give her nothing stating that her late husband was a ‘businessman.’  She was forced to bring up three children with no means in a very small house. It gave him a lot of reasons to respect women, one of the things that I admire about him. He cares deeply for the rights of women. 15 years later, she also died from mysterious reasons. Sometimes we think that she had completely tired herself out from the stress of living in such poverty.

I would say that he is open-minded.

When and how did he propose to you?  Was his family aware of you before he proposed or that the two of you married?

We agreed to get married. His family knew nothing about it when we married (technically got engaged) on the phone like that, but some months before we got married on government papers (in the US), he called his brothers to let them know he had found someone and see what they thought. He let me talk to them. They really liked me, especially because I was a convert and probably more because I spoke their language and they could identify with that.

civil marriage

clarkcountynv.gov

I understand that you and your husband are married.  Please share some details of your wedding with American Bedu readers.  Did you have a civil, church or Islamic wedding ceremony?  (or combination!)  Did you have a large wedding?  What kind of a dress did you wear?  Who stood up with you?

We had a civil wedding. We went to city hall in New York City, got our marriage license and then asked them to allow us to marry on the same day instead of having to wait another day; they allowed us. Then we proceeded back to the court and looked around for someone to be our witness. I just wore regular everyday clothes that I was normally wearing around that time. My black abaya and black scarf.

How long have the two of you been married?  How confident are you that you know all you need to know about your husband?  Please explain your answer.

We have been married almost three years now, not counting the engagement.  I’ve known him for 4.5 years. I think I know more about him than he knows about himself. He relies on me for everything. I really have no idea where he would be without me. I also wonder where I would be without him.

What does your husband do in the United States?  Do the two of you plan to remain in the United States?  Do you want to travel to Saudi Arabia?  Why or why not?

Well, he got dismissed from his graduate program. That was really sad news for us, but he is definitely going to try again. He is desperately trying to find a job. He’s had several interviews and a few offers so far but some are in other states and I will not be able to leave with him, as I am in my last semester of graduate school and working two jobs at the same time.

Do you ever fear that your husband will return or have to return to Saudi Arabia without you?  How does that make you feel? 

I used to fear that a lot, especially because we had no money to apply for permanent resident status. I finally got some money together last summer and we started it with a lawyer. We were really worried about the financial sponsor portion of the application, but I have really good news…. Our lawyer fought for us to count his scholarship salary as my income. It was slightly complicated to do that, but if any of your readers are attempting this, you can have them contact me, and I can tell them how to do this.

Do you know his family?  Do you know how to contact them and feel that you can reach out to them at any time?

I know some of his family personally and most of them by reputation. I am definitely more than welcome to call them anytime. He has one aunt who sticks on me like molasses. She constantly calls me wanting to chat, and chat, and chat…. His brothers really like me a lot. One of them once called at 3 am to ask me how to spell ‘gergis’ (craigslist). They get a lot of help from me with English (so they had better not complain!). But sometimes some miscommunications happen between me and them and I end up being mad at them for some reasons.

parenthood

dishesinthesink.com

I understand that you and your husband are also parents!  How has parenthood changed your lives and your relationship?

Parenthood changed our lives a lot. We don’t get the time to talk like we used to. I kind of feel more like roommates right now. I’m co-sleeping with my one-year old daughter, and I’m not going to stop until we get into a bigger place, so he either sleeps at the end of the bed or on the couch, because we don’t have the money to buy a bigger bed. Lots of things are going to change when either I graduate or he gets a job.

Do you want your child to have Saudi citizenship?  Why or why not?

I’d like her to have anything that she is entitled too. If she can get some benefits from being a Saudi citizen such as a college scholarship and such, I’d REALLY love that for her!

How do you feel your life has changed by marrying a Saudi?

At first, I had to be really secretive about this relationship. So it cost me a lot of friendships. I had agreed to be silent about this marriage, but it was really hard in the long run. Many of my friends who I miss never knew I got married and had a baby, and if I tell them now, they will be so mad at me for not telling them.

What was your family’s reaction to your decision to marry a Saudi?  Are they supportive?  Are they okay if you decide to make a future life in Saudi Arabia?

Because my parents and I had so many problems, by the time I had gotten married I had already cut ties with them for a while.

When my dad got prostate cancer I reconnected with them for a short while, but it was pretty hard to maintain a good relationship. I cut ties again after a fight with my mom. Now just three days ago, she was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer, so I am back in touch with her. We should be having a visit soon. She really likes my husband. I’m not sure about her specific reasons, but she never ‘didn’t like’ him.

If we had decided to move to anywhere in the world, I honestly feel that it wouldn’t affect her feelings at all given our relationship.

There are many women who meet and fall in love with a Saudi while he is abroad.  What advice can you give to these women?  How can they know their Saudi is serious (if they are wanting a committed relationship with him)?  What are the ‘red flags’ a foreign woman should watch out for if she becomes involved with a Saudi?

I can tell you only from experience from knowing a few other women who married Saudis here in the US.

If he is hiding any type of information from you such as financial information, family information etc, beware.

If he spends more time with his friends than you, beware.

If none of his friends know about you or only a select few, beware.

If he has a lot of girls on his facebook, or numbers in his phone and he is one of the traditional types, I’d be suspicious.

Sometimes they might hide girls’ numbers under men’s names in their phones, if they are calling a specific guy really often you might want to investigate or ask how that guy is doing.

Are there any more details you’d like to share about your relationship and marriage?  Any additional advice?

Advice: marry someone who respects you.

American Bedu wishes you all the very best and happiness!  Thank you again for this interview.

Saudi Arabia: What Should a Couple Know or Discuss Prior to Marriage?

getting married

dazzlejunction.com

Marriage should be viewed as a lifetime commitment between a man and a woman.  With marriages that are arranged between family members or a matchmaker, a young man or woman may be uncertain on what they believe they should know in advance of marriage.

Many Saudi families who have arranged a marriage for a son or daughter will generally at some point allow the young couple to have (chaperoned) time together where they can speak and ask questions of each other.  This meeting, although in most cases viewed as a mere formality, is also the opportunity for the couple to determine if they are truly compatible with one another.

Not all marriages are taking place between young men and women who are getting married for the first time.  In some cases one half of the couple may have been widowed or divorced or in other cases, a woman may be agreeing to become a second, third or fourth wife of a Saudi man.

marriage questions

foundationsforfreedom.net

American Bedu received a list of issues which should be taken into consideration prior to a commitment of marriage.  This list is a guideline and written from a Western perspective.  Yet it raises many important issues that do impact on the ability to have a successful marriage and relationship and how well suited a couple are to one another based on their upbringing, culture and values:

1.       Relationship Options and Goals
2.       Family Background
3.       Home Roots location and Culture
4.       Family Values
5.       Educational background
6.       IQ indicators
7.       Decision making ability
8.       Sense of humor
9.       Verbal skills
10.  Religious background/Tradition
11.  Level of religious participation
12.  Openness to religious discussions/learning
13.  Personal Faith
14.  Children
15.  Relationship with children
16.  Parenting skills
17.  Parenting styles
18.  Pets
19.  Work background
20.  Current living situation (own/renting – house/apt etc)
21.  income level
22.  Personal Health issues
23.  Physical Attraction
24.  Physical Preferences
25.  Physical Turn-offs
26.  Definition of Intimacy
27.  Desire for Intimacy
28.  Capacity for intimacy
29.  Sexual Experience
30.  Sexual Preferences
31.  Sexual Desires
32.  Previous relationships
33.  Relationship(s) with X’s
34.  Bad or Repulsive habits
35.  Pet peeves
36.  Meyers-Briggs Temperament Type
37.  Biorhythm Cycle
a.      Biorhythm compatibility
i.      Intellectual – 60% Ideal
ii.      Physical – 60% Ideal
iii.      Emotional – 80% Ideal
iv.      Overall – 80% ideal
38.  Match.com personality type
39.  Hobbies
40.  Circle of Friends
41.  Relationship with Father
42.  Relationship with Mother
43.  Relationship with Siblings
44.  Previous personal Crises encountered and endured
45.  Any Healing/Grieving processes not completed
46.  Personal Hygiene Standards & values
47.  Physical Conditioning standards & values
48.  Any health problems or limitations? (revisit this again at later phases In the relationship)
49.  Cooking skills
50.  Entertaining skills
51.  Expressed Social skills
52.  Observed Social skills,
a.      Large Group
b.      Small Group
c.      1-1
d.      With Wait  Staff
e.      With Retail CSRs
53.  Past Huge Emotional Events – life changing level
54.  Unfinished business – personal emotional, legal, financial actions that are still unresolved.
55.  Favorite foods
56.  Favorite colors
57.  Clothing style preferences
58.  Income needs to support style of living
59.  Financial stability
60.  Tax returns
61.  Personal Values
62.  Personal Crusades
63.  Personal Prejudices’
64.  Personal Passions
65.  Personal Political views/passions
66.  Values indicated by the lifestyles and habits of your children
67.  Relationship with your children
68.  Importance of family
69.  Your Interaction with my family
70.  Your acceptance of my family – as they are
71.  My families acceptance of you
72.  Pets acceptance of you
73.  Your acceptance of my pet(s)
74.  Temper/Anger management
75.  Argument/fighting skills/styles
76.  Emotional “Hot Buttons”
77.  Any Baggage
78.  Preferred Living situation
79.  Realistic Living expectations
80.  Personal Dreams/Goals and Aspirations
81.  Willingness to relocate
82.  Willingness to commit
83.  Number of previous LTR’s
84.  Longest relationship – what kept it together?
85.  Strongest relationship – How and why was it so?
86.  Number of previous engagements
87.  Number of previous marriages
88.  On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, how attracted are you to me?
89.  On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, how willing are you to commit to being exclusive in our relationship?
90.  On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, how accepting would you be “at this time” to a proposal of marriage, if one was made?
91.  Divorce Redlines/Limits – what things would you divorce your spouse for?. .physical abuse? …Drug addiction?  & HOW does this reconcile with Forgiveness Promise?
92.   Taste in:
a.      Art
b.      Furniture
c.      Decorating
d.      Architecture
93.  Attraction to others outside the relationship, including porn
94.  Man Toys
a.      Boats
b.      Cycles
c.      Others
95.  Guns at home
96.  Division of HH Chores
a.      Dishes
b.      Yard work
c.      Car Maint,
d.      Handy Man Stuff
e.      TP – over/under
97.  Roles in Marriage
98.  Movies
99.  TV habits
100.         Ideal Vacation, Travel
101.         Jealousy
102.         Books
103.         Retirement Goals
104.         Arrests/Illegal Activities/ Drug use
105.         Handling Money
a.      Budgeting habits
b.      Priorities
c.      Saving habits
d.      Investment Habits
e.      Donations
106.         Bucket List
107.         Personal History of Faithfulness to partners in the past..
108.         Love Language….
109.         Birth Date
110.         Sporting Activities and Viewing
111.         How/where and with whom do you celebrate major holidays..

“List: Copyright 2013, by Stan Tucker”

Saudi Arabia: Arranged Marriage or Love Marriage – How Do You Know If Either Will Work?

arranged marriages

moi-little-blog.blogspot.com

 

Saudi Arabia is not the only country where marriages continue to be arranged.  Much of the Middle East, Asia and Africa continue to have arranged marriages.  Additionally, those who come from countries and cultures where marriages are arranged generally continue to follow their heritage and traditions even when they have departed their country of ethnic origin.

Marriages can be categorized as arranged, forced or love.  An arranged marriage is where either a representative of the family or a matchmaker will facilitate the introduction of a young man and woman for the intent of marriage.  However, both the young man and the young woman are to have the freedom of choice to say yes or no to the proposal.

That sounds pretty simple except when families are keen to have a new bond forged in a family through marriage, many young men and women are reluctant to stand up to their parents for fear of them and perhaps the family losing face.

A couple will enter into an arranged marriage likely with the same hopes of a love match – that the marriage will create a special bond, spark and intense feelings between the new husband and wife.  At the same time, a couple who has agreed to an arranged marriage will likely approach the union as one which they will make the best of and learn to adapt to one another.

On the other hand, there are forced marriages.  These are marriages which families may attempt to call arranged but either the man or woman strongly opposes and does not want the union.  However, due to familial pressure, the feelings and emotions of the man or woman are not taken into account.  It is with forced marriages that abuse may begin and these marriages to ultimate end in divorce, abandonment or the man taking another wife.

Last but not least are the love marriages.  Love marriages can come about naturally between a man and a woman.  In Eastern cultures where a man and woman have met one another without an intermediary, the relationship may segue to one along the cultural norms of bringing extended family into the picture in the hopes of further bonding the families prior to a happy marriage.

In the Western world little thought is given to the concept of an arranged marriage.  Yet, the Australian show, Insight, had an interesting and very candid program about arranged, forced and love marriages taking place in Australia.

I highly endorse everyone watching the one hour video.  This is an excellent video to give anyone greater understanding and insights to the distinctions between marriages (arranged, forced, love), the reaction and acceptance to the differing types of marriage and especially from both men and women of all age levels and strata’s of life.

 

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