Saudi Arabia/USA/World: Communities of Reconciliation

Peace Catalyst International (PCI) has initiated a program called ‘Communities of Reconciliation.’  The program is aimed towards bringing together individuals of different faiths for dialogues which break down walls, create a culture for genuine friendship and open and honest dialogue, and to build bridges for peace, reconciliation, and service to the community at large.

PCI has materials and talking points which help facilitate learning and understanding among the group.  The program is not meant or intended for any type of proselytizing.

I think this is a great program for individuals anywhere in the world to organize and participate.  It’s easy to construct invisible walls when communicating in forums where we do not see each other face-to-face.  Yet when individuals actually meet and have an agenda of talking points there are usually more commonalities which arise than differences.

American Bedu challenges YOU to create your Community of Reconciliation.

Saudi Arabia: Divorced by Loudspeaker


Just when you think you’ve heard of all the crazy ways that a woman has been divorced in Saudi Arabia, another one comes up.  I remember reading about women divorced by text message and a woman who was divorced because her husband felt threatened by her watching a Turkish soap opera but the latest seems to be a woman who was divorced over a mall loudspeaker!

 Tainted Love: Saudi Man Divorces Wife Over Mall Loudspeaker

Published March 25th, 2012 – 07:33 GMT via

The awkward moment when you get divorced via loudspeaker at the mall. You just have to hate it when that happens.

A Saudi husband used a loudspeaker to divorce his wife at a busy shopping mall after seeing her take a note from another man bearing his phone number.

This, according to the Saudi Arabic language quotidian, Kabar.

The husband was with his wife and three children at the mall when he went his own way into a men’s clothes shop.

“When he left that shop, he saw a man giving his wife a note bearing his phone number…she accepted the paper and put it inside her bag,”

The newspaper did not mention where the mall is located.

“He then used the mall’s loudspeaker to shout divorce words against his wife although she was with her three children.”


Now I wonder how the husband knew with absolute certainty that his wife was given a note with the guy’s phone number?  How can he have been so sure it was not a coupon?  I can recall many times when I would be passed a coupon by a guy who was only doing his job.

Was this a lame attempt on the part of the guy to save face?  How could this not impact and affect the children?  Hmmm…maybe the wife will be better off without such a husband?

We have definitely heard of some lousy break up techniques, but what do you think? Was he too harsh?

Also, what is the worst break up method in your opinion? Via text message? Via postal mail? By way of a mutual friend? Don’t hold back!

Saudi Arabia: Rise of the Fear of Women

Arab News ran an opinion piece recently by Mohammed Al-Saif which discussed the rise of gynophobia (the fear of women) in Saudi Arabia.  The article highlights Samar Badawi who was a recipient of the International Women of Courage award presented by the U.S. Department of State.  She received her award for recognition of her role as an activist in advocating women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.

Am I the only one who sees it as somewhat ironic that while Saudi men will worship, honor and usually obey their mothers they may have a candid disregard of other women.  Is this in part due to fear?

I remember that one young Saudi guy commented on the blog that he had not seen an uncovered woman other than his mother and sisters since he was 10 years old.  Can you imagine growing up in such an environment?

In many ways it is no wonder that a Saudi man could have a fear of women and want to keep her isolated. If a Saudi man does not have healthy interaction with women it’s no surprise that he may not know how to act, speak or perhaps even behave himself.  Why should the world be surprised that Saudi Arabia has one of the highest divorce rates in the world?

A woman can be the man’s best friend.  She can be his greatest support.  The woman has many talents and skills that should be put to use for the greater benefit of society.

Right now Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud is preparing to lead a group of ten Saudi women to the Mt. Everest base camp.  No group of Saudi men have yet to complete this feat.

I’m glad to hear of more Saudi women standing up and taking action for what they believe in, in spite of any resistance from the male society.  Honestly though, I think that the fear of women will not go away until changes are made at the most basic level in Saudi society starting with primary school students.

Saudi Arabia: Does a Misyar Wife Have Any Rights?

Islam recognizes both the traditional Islamic marriage and the misyar marriage as well as some others.  The traditional Islamic marriage is a marriage where there is a marriage contract, a wali who stands up for the bride protecting her rights and the bride and groom expect to remain married.  They will look out for each other and the man will provide full rights and recognition to his wife.

A misyar marriage is an agreement that a couple will marry but the wife releases the husband from any rights of housing or monetary support.  There is no obligation for the husband to spend a night with his wife.  He may come to her home or take her elsewhere for a few hours where they enjoy conjugal rights and then he will depart back on his merry way. A misyar marriage is really all about the man.  Why would a woman want a misyar marriage unless she wants to have physical needs satisfied in a halal way under Islam?  She’s not recognized or given rights as a wife.  Why would a respectful Saudi man settle on a misyar marriage?

According to this recent Arab News article, a woman does have some rights within a misyar marriage but it seems few women are actually aware of the rights.  To begin with, a misyar marriage is not intended to be a secret marriage between a man and a woman, although many men will stipulate to their misyar wife that it must remain a secret.

Wikipedia outlays the legalities of the misyar marriage as follows:

Misyar marriage fits within the general rules of marriage in Sunni law, on condition merely that it fulfil all the requirements of the Shariah marriage contract i.e.:

  • The agreement of both parties;
  • Two legal witnesses (Shahidain)
  • The payment by the husband to his wife of Mahr in the amount that is agreed[4]
  • The absence of a fixed time period for the contract
  • Shuroot, Any particular stipulations which the two parties agree to include in the contract and which are in conformity with Muslim marriage law.

Moreover, as explained by the Saudi Islamic lawyer Abdullah bin Sulaiman bin Menie, a member of the Higher Council of Ulema of Saudi Arabia, the wife can denounce at any time, as she sees fit, her renunciation of her financial rights, and require of her husband that he give her all her rights, including that he live with her and provide for her financial needs (“nafaqa”). The husband can then either do so, or grant her a divorce.[5]

The misyar marriage usually ends in divorce and it is the woman who loses.  The wife generally finds that she has been abandoned, which the Arab News article illustrates, and she ends up traumatized by the experience with her reputation and social status degraded.  

Gulf News also published an article explaining why couples may choose to enter into a misyar marriage.  In addition the article cites how misyar web sites and agencies have been established towards facilitating a man or woman to find an ideal misyar partner.

The following youtube video provides a detailed summary of a misyar marriage:

Saudi Arabia/London: Saudi’s Female Olympians?

As one follows media reports on whether Saudi Arabia will send women to the 2012 Summer Games in London, the reports are starting to look more encouraging.  To begin with, female sports commentator and amateur soccer coach, Reema Abdullah, will be one of the 8000 individuals who will carry the Olympic torch.  That’s a start but the world is looking for female athletes who will represent Saudi Arabia in competition for the gold, bronze and silver medals.

Dalma Rushdi Malhas (Hisham) may make history if she is selected to represent Saudi Arabia in the 2012 London Olympics.  She first came to light in the Olympic spotlight when she rode at the inaugural Youth Olympic games in 2010.   At that time she was 18 years old and had won a bronze medal while competing in Singapore.

Malhas credits her mother as her inspirational figure in her sporting career.  Malhas is not your typical Saudi woman.  She grew up in Italy and now lives most of the time in France.

Saudi Arabia qualified an equestrian jumping team for the 2012 games.  The Kingdom has the opportunity to send four riders as part of the team.  Will Malhas be among the four?

However, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) wants to see more than just “one token woman” representing Saudi Arabia.  Speaking on the condition of anonymity, an IOC official said that Saudi Arabia presented a list of four female candidates for consideration.  Because the women may not meet the international qualifying standards, the IOC may grant them Olympic entry based on “special circumstances.”

Having Saudi women participating in the Olympics is groundbreaking on a number of fronts.  Presently, the majority of Saudi schools do not have physical education programs for female students.  However, in order to become a future Olympian a Saudi woman must be physically fit.  The sooner she starts fitness programs the better chances she will have to become a Saudi Olympian in addition to incorporating a healthy lifestyle at a young age.

Opening up the Olympics to female Saudi athletes also opens up greater recognition to the Saudi woman.  She will be seen as an independent and strong woman.

There will certainly be continued resistance among Saudi’s conservatives and traditionalists of having women compete in the Olympics.  However, Crown Prince Nayef and others in the highest levels of the Royal family have spoken in favor of the women competing.  Therefore, any protests will likely be nipped in the bud and instead a new era of opportunities is opening for the Saudi woman.

Saudi Arabia: Will a New Flag be Placed Atop Mt. Everest?

I have always had and continue to have the highest respect and admiration for HRH Princess Reema Bandar bin Sultan Al-Saud.  She never disappoints and continues to have new innovative plans that give recognition to Saudi women and the need for more educational awareness of breast cancer.

Eyes of the world will be upon Princess Reema and ten Saudi women in early May when they will climb Mt. Everest towards raising awareness of breast cancer.  This particular endeavor will not only raise awareness of breast cancer but also underscores the importance of healthy lifestyle habits and staying physically active.

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among Saudi women and around 8,000 cases are discovered each year of which 50 to 60 percent are diagnosed at a late stage. Despite government efforts, the rate of breast cancer has climbed from 7.6 per cent 10 years ago to its current high of 24 per cent of all cancer cases.

Princess Reema and her team of pink warriors are truly women after my own heart.  Perhaps after their endeavor there will be a new flag flying atop Mt. Everest which prominently displays the pink ribbon in honor and remembrance of ALL women who have fought breast cancer.


Saudi Arabia: Smoking Shisha (Hookah) May Be Hazardous to Your Health

Smoking the hookah continues to increase in popularity around the world.  One can easily find hookah bars in most cities these days which offer an abundance of fruity tobaccos.  In Riyadh, where there are limited social opportunities for Saudi guys, going to a male only hookah bar is a favorite past time for Saudi guys where they meet up with their friends. However, now, the United Kingdom’s health authorities have come out with a strong warning against smoking the hookah:

UK health authorities issue Shisha health warning

A coalition of the UK’s leading public health bodies, led by Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, has issued a health warning about the dangers of shisa smoking.

Shisha smokers inhaling flavoured tobacco through waterpipes at cafes have become a common sight on city streets across the UK.

Mr Ian Gray, world renowned tobacco control campaigner and CIEH Principal Policy Officer said:

“Our members are growing increasingly concerned at the rising numbers of commercially operated shisha cafes which are both providing and promoting shisha smoking.

“While our primary concern is to ensure that the operators of these establishments comply with the law, we are also concerned that people smoking shisha need to be properly informed about the risks.

“So great are our concerns that we have produced a guidance document which includes descriptions of the health hazards associated with smoking waterpipes.”

Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said:

“Contrary to popular belief, shisha is not safer than smoking cigarettes. Don’t be duped by the sweet smell and wholesome sounding fruity flavours, if you use shisha you are a smoker and that means you’re putting your health at risk.

“It’s linked to the same serious and life-threatening diseases as cigarettes and there are added risks because you often smoke it for far longer than you would a cigarette, and you’re also exposed to toxins from the wood or charcoal used to burn the tobacco.”

Shisha smoking is linked to the same kinds of diseases as cigarette smoking including heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease and problems during pregnancy. Yet more than one in ten (13%) UK adults surveyed for the BHF thought there were no health harms from using shisha, and just 43 per cent knew shisha could contain tobacco.

Freedom of Information data from 133 local authorities in major towns and cities across the UK shows 53 per cent have – or have had – a shisha cafe since 2007, while more than 40 per cent have seen a rise in the number of shisha cafes since the smoking ban came into force.

This is in stark contrast to the steady decline in cigarette smokers in the UK and has prompted the BHF to urge people to find out the facts about shisha, which is also known as hookah, hubbly bubbly and narghile, as part of its No Smoking campaign.

The charity is concerned thousands of people who attempt to quit smoking may still be putting their health at risk by using shisha, and that the rising number of shisha cafes could provide a new gateway for people to start smoking and become addicted to tobacco.

Almost everyone surveyed for the BHF were unaware that during a typical hour-long shisha session, you can inhale the same amount of smoke as from more than 100 tobacco cigarettes. A total of 84 per cent of respondents thought it was 10 cigarettes or fewer.

The survey results also showed shisha is most popular among young people with more than a quarter (27%) of 18 to 24 year olds saying they’d used it.

Worryingly, misconceptions about the dangers of shisha were highest among this group and those aged 25-34 with 15 per cent each believing there were no health harms from shisha at all while 44 per cent of the younger adults thought it was less harmful than cigarettes.

By comparison, 17 per cent of overall respondents thought shisha was less harmful than cigarettes.

The data showed shisha is no longer a pastime for perceived specific community groups alone, with almost one in ten (8%) people of white ethnicity saying they’d used it.

The survey also showed almost one in ten (9%) former cigarette smokers have used shisha as well as almost one in ten (8%) non-smokers.

Notes to editors
•       The CIEH is the UK’s leading provider of accredited food safety and health and safety qualifications
•       The CIEH’s 50 qualification training programmes are delivered through a network of over 10,000 registered trainers. The training is developed for the varied skill levels within organisations. They cater to different learning styles and preferences through a series of flexible structures. CIEH qualifications are OFQUAL (formerly QCA) accredited and are valued and recognised throughout the world
•       The CIEH is the professional voice for environmental health representing over 10,000 members working in the public, private and non-profit sectors. It ensures the highest standards of professional competence in its members, in the belief that through environmental health action people’s health can be improved
•       For more information about the CIEH visit


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