Saudi Arabia: A Controversial Aspect of Parenting



It is difficult to be a parent and even more so of a “tween” or teenager with all of today’s modern technology.  What is a child doing on their computer?  After all, a lot of kids these days have their own computer.  In Saudi the majority of tweens and teens have their own mobile phones.  Who are they talking to?  With whom are they texting or sending pictures?

Should a parent “snoop” and not only look at a child’s computer or mobile phone but should the room be searched as well?  Is there more pressure in the West from social media that requires closer monitoring by a parent as compared to the Eastern world, such as Saudi Arabia?

When can a parent say with the utmost confidence and surety that “my child is old enough to make decisions with appropriate maturity and judgment?”

My niece, who is the mother of a tween boy and even younger daughter, was recently interviewed by the local news station in her area on this topic.  She is candid and forthright on her views.  What is your view?



Saudi Arabia: Khalid Ali M. Aldawsari – Why?

On the 23rd of February Khalid Ali M. Aldawsari was arrested by the FBI in Texas on a federal charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.  Aldawsari is a 20 year old student from Al Kharj, Saudi Arabia.  He has been in the United States on a student visa since September 2008 sponsored on a scholarship by SABIC, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of chemicals, fertilizers, plastics and metals.

A chilling picture is emerging of Aldawsari.  His intent to commit acts of terror against the United States on its soil fermented while he was in his teens and a student in high school in his homeland of Saudi Arabia.  A paragraph from Aldawsari’s journal gives alarming indications to the inner workings of his mind. He wrote that he (purposely) excelled in his studies while in high school in order to take advantage of the opportunity to receive a scholarship to America.  To Aldawsari, the scholarship was a necessary springboard for him to launch his plan to master the English language, learn how to (sic) build explosives, and then target the infidel Americans. It was to be his time for Jihad.

Aldawsari, who studied chemistry while at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, knew which ingredients he had to acquire in order to fabricate a weapon of mass destruction.  He had already procured quantities of sulfuric acid and nitric acid.  However, when he attempted to purchase phenol from Carolina Biological Supply, a company located in Burlington, North Carolina, his actions were reported to the FBI.  Aldawsari first attempted to have his order of phenol placed through the company’s web site shipped to a residential address. Carolina Biological Supply refused to ship to a residential address and Aldawsari tried again to receive his phenol order but now through the services of a freight firm in Lubbock.  The freight firm reported Aldawsari to local police which ultimately culminated in his arrest on 23 February by Texas FBI agents. Aldawsari will remain in the custody of US law enforcement in Texas until his detention hearing which is scheduled for 11 March 2011.

Aldawsari is behind bars but his intentions of Jihad and martyrdom raise numerous questions.  Who is Khalid Ali M. Aldawsari exactly?  Who is his family? What caused such over-boiling hatred in him while he was still in his teens and a high school student?  Could some of his hatred for America have derived from his home town of Al Kharj hosting some of the coalition forces during the first Gulf War?  How many other Aldawsari’s might be out there?

The arrest of Aldawsari has far reaching implications that go far beyond the future of Saudi student scholarship programs abroad.  The relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia remains strong.  U.S. law enforcement responded quickly for the apprehension of Aldawsari and with full cooperation from Saudi officials. However this incident does bring up the rhetoric again of questions and feelings of mistrust towards Saudi Arabia, Islam and Muslims.  How should American citizens remain vigilant in today’s turbulent times without over-reacting such as in the aftermath of 9/11 and now in the aftermath of Khalid Ali M. Aldawsari?

Saudi Arabia: Remaining Doubt over Truth of 9/11


September 11, 2011 will be the 10th year anniversary of what has become known globally as simply “9/11.”  There has been much talk on what are the true facts of 9/11.  What is the difference between truth and conspiracy?  Was it totally a planned act of terror heavily weighted by funds of Usama bin Laden and supporters?  Or…was it something else entirely?


Personally I continue to see 9/11 as a carefully orchestrated act of terror with all the earmarks of bin Laden and Al Qaeda.  Yet I have had discussions with others, including Americans, who disagree with my point of view.


The following is a video which presents a perspective of 9/11.  Whether one agrees or disagrees, it will surely provoke interesting perspectives and dialogue.

Saudi Arabia: Quilt Show and Artisans Fair in Jeddah

Most hobbies and crafts that expatriates have enjoyed outside of the Kingdom such as scrapbooking, knitting, book clubs, quilting clubs and more do exist within the Kingdom.  Sometimes it just seems to take longer for expat women with common interests and hobbies to find one another and connect.

Having a common hobby while living in an “uncommon” country can create an instant bond and lasting friendship.  Towards discovering these special friends I suggest that an expat woman begin dialoguing and expressing her interest on a special newsgroup such as [email protected] before arriving in the Kingdom.  Additionally, after arrival start spreading the word locally about any special interest.  If living on a compound or in an apartment building there are typically bulletin boards where information can be posted.  International schools, embassy or expatriate clubs or simply chance meetings with other expatriates are also excellent word of mouth venues for finding other women who share the same interests.

For women in Jeddah and surroundings who enjoy quilting, here is an excellent opportunity to get acquainted with other women who enjoy the fine art of quilting:


  • The Quilting Arts Studio and The Quilting Bees of Jeddah announce the:

    5th Annual Quilt Show & Artisans Fair
    Wednesday, 9 March 2011
    12 Noon~10:00 P.M.
    at The Quilting Arts Studio

    Many beautiful quilts on display
    Vendors selling unique handcrafted items
    Mini Quilt Tombola
    Cafe Corner with home baked goodies
    Zaran Abayas
    Cake Walk
    Silent Auction
    Quilt Raffle with many prizes

    ***LADIES ONLY***

    To find the location, go to this link:


Saudi Arabia: Winter Wonderland With Abdullah

I’ve been taking another trip down memory lane with many of my fond memories of life with Abdullah.  I have written previously about his adaptation to life in America when we were living outside of Washington, DC.  As I watch how so much of the United States continues to have harsh winter weather I’m reminded of Abdullah’s initial reactions of snow.  During his first snow storm he was mesmerized with his eyes locked to the window watching the soft flakes floating down.  As the snow started falling faster and thicker he was like a child impatient to go out and play.  He liked how the snow was covering up any trace of where the yard ended and driveway began.  At that point I reminded him that someone would have to shovel the snow the next morning if we were to get our cars out from the garage.  Oh how I remember how he laughed that confident and joyful laugh of his and assuring me not to worry.  He would be happy to have the experience of shoveling snow.

Sure enough the following morning after a hearty breakfast with a big cup of hot coffee he put on his heaviest jacket, woolen neck scarf, gloves, boots and Atlanta Falcons baseball cap he set outside with a smile on his face and snow shovel in his hand.  After about fifteen minutes he came back into the house for a short break.  When I asked him how he liked shoveling he told me, “Well…now I can say I have shoveled snow. It was fun for the first minute or two but I’m ready for it to melt away now.”  However, he assured me that he would finish the job he started and did not want my assistance with the driveway.

The next time snow was in the forecast Abdullah made sure we had a snow blower in the garage ready and waiting to be put to use.

Saudi Arabia: Is the Return of King Abdullah Imminent?


Multi media reports from internal Saudi press and international press discuss the anticipated return of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah to the Kingdom.  King Abdullah has been convalescing in Morocco since he departed the United States once he was able to travel after medical treatment received in November 2010.

King Abdullah, 86 years of age, made no public appearances while in Morocco.  There has been little in-depth information released about his condition except short comments that he is doing fine.  In a time of turmoil across the Middle East region and with whisperings of rumblings within Saudi Arabia many around the world are waiting to hear what King Abdullah is going to say when he addresses the Kingdom.

Can King Abdullah reassure the citizens of Saudi Arabia with his words to prevent eruptions and demonstrations such as those which are continuing to take place in Bahrain, Libya or Yemen (to name a few)?  Will he need to put words into immediate changes of reform to maintain peace and stability in the Kingdom?

Let me end this post with two final questions.  What do you think King Abdullah will say and do?  What do you think King Abdullah should say and do?

Saudi Arabia: Saut School – A Place of Hope and Future for Children with Down Syndrome


Down Syndrome and other illnesses and disabilities are often “swept under the carpet” in Saudi Arabia and not widely discussed.  Yet there are many children born each year with Down syndrome in Saudi Arabia and over 80 per cent of these children receive no schooling.  Saut School is proactively making a difference in the lives of Down syndrome children and their families.  It is with pleasure and honor for American Bedu to interview Fatima Malak about Saut School.


First of all Fatima, thank you for coming forward and allowing me to interview you.  I’d like to begin with some facts.  How many children in Saudi Arabia are known to have Down’s syndrome?  How many children each year are born with Down syndrome in the Kingdom?

There are no accurate statistics regarding the number of kids with D.S. in Saudi, but from Mckinsey and company study it showed that there are 15,000 youth in KSA. As for the ratio of infants with D.S. again, unfortunately ministry of Health doesn’t have this ratio.

Why is there such a social stigma in regards to Down syndrome in Saudi Arabia?  Why is there a reticence among many to talk about Down syndrome or even for a family to acknowledge that a child has Down syndrome?

The social stigma is universal. Saudi Arabia is not unique in their attitudes; they are delayed in getting the awareness and information to the public and providing services such as early intervention, due, perhaps to the nature of our society.  Attitudes are something that evolve and take time to change.  As people become educated about DS and see more in public and working in the community, more will ‘come out of the closet.’  It takes a few brave parents to come forward a talk about it—and demonstrate their human potential.

What inspired the establishment of Saut school?  When and where was it established?  What is your position and role at Saut school? How easy was it to establish a school exclusively for children with Down syndrome?

In order to satisfy the unmet demand in KSA, The Al-Nahda Philathropic Soicety for Women felt it was time for previously known ” Al-Nahda schools for D.S.” to become independent and establish a national society for Down Syndrome. Saut: The Voice Of Down Syndrome Society was established Jan/2010 in Riyadh and its mission is to make the best use of resources and opportunities to meet the needs of people with Down Syndrome and their families in KSA.

I am the CEO of the Society and it was very easy to establish Saut Schools as it was already existing as “Al-Nahda Schools for Down Syndrome ” since 87.

How many children were first enrolled in Saut school?  What is your enrollment today?  What can you share about the students who have already graduated from Saut school?  How are they doing today?  What are their capabilities and achievements as compared to a Down syndrome child who did not have the benefit of attending a school such as Saut school?

When the Schools started under the umbrella of Al-Nahda society there were 4 kids in 87 and the number grew to have 150 students today. Depending on the ability of each student: some of our graduates are working at the moment in supermarkets, McDonald, and  private companies, and others who are not capable of being enrolled in the vocational training program they graduate by the age of 18.

I can’t compare students who are enrolled in our program to other students enrolled in different programs as I have never visited the other places and I don’t know what type of programs they offer.

How many students can Saut school accommodate?  What are the ages of students?  What kind of teaching and resources are available to the students?

At the moment we can accommodate 150 students from birth till 21 yrs old. And we are hoping to expand by year 2012 and have Center of Excellence in Riyadh with a total number of 300 students and then expand in other major cities in the Kingdom.

Our schools offer world class educational and vocational services. We have developed a unique model that has won international recognition. And, thanks to constant support from international consultants and links with research centers in America, Saut is always at the cutting edge of medical and educational knowledge.

What is the composition of the students?  Ages?  Nationalities?

We cater to both boys and girls from birth to 21 yrs old. Most of our kids are Saudi.

Is Saut school a day school only?  Are classes year round or correspond with the Saudi school schedule?

Saut Schools is a day school and it corresponds with Saudi school schedule.

How many teachers are there at Saut school?  What are the profiles and nationalities of the teachers?  How does Saut school identify and recruit its staff?  What qualifications must the staff have?

We have 20 teachers and 6 aids and they are all Saudis. Teachers should have a BA in Special Ed and they get continued training in educational methods relating to D.S., And more than 30 teachers have been trained to be world-class Down syndrome experts.

What are some of the challenges faced in running a school oriented for Down syndrome students?  How have you overcome these challenges?  What challenges have you faced specific to Down syndrome in Saudi Arabia?

The most challenge we faced and still facing is getting enough donations/revenues to keep the Schools running up to the standards we want.

Does Saut school have an international affiliation and/or collaboration?  If so, how and what are the benefits to the students?

We have consultants from the US in Education, Early Intervention, and Speech Language Pathology. They have been in this field for more than 25 yrs. And they have published books on D.S.

I realize that a family member with Down syndrome can have an impact on the entire family.  What resources does Saut school provide for families?

All type of resources from Educational, to medical, to Social as well as counseling.

What are some of the most important facts people need to know about Down syndrome?

That People with Down Syndrome can reach their fullest potentials if they were given proper education.

What are your goals for Saut school?

Our goal will always be to offer comprehensive, state of the art and practical program that is uniquely effective because its grounded in international expertise and customized for the context of KSA.

Can individuals volunteer at Saut school?  If so, how and in what capacity?

Yes , individuals can volunteer and they can contact the school. Volunteer’s are welcomed! 😉

How can a child get enrolled in Saut school?  How can one contact Saut school?  Do you have a web site?

By calling the school and asking for the social worker, as for the site it’s still under construction and hopefully before the end of the year it will be launched.

What specific message would you like to share with readers of American Bedu about Down syndrome in Saudi Arabia and Saut school?

We would like everyone in the community to help Saut Society achieve its goals by supporting us in any way possible…

In closing, are there any additional comments you’d like to make?

No thanks J

Thank you very much Fatima for coming forward.  I wish you and Saut school continued growth and success.


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