Saudi Arabia/USA: It is a Lack of Tolerance or is it Fear?

Living now in North Carolina I think it is a fair statement to say that I live in part of America’s Bible belt.  It is not uncommon to see individuals gather hands and pray before a meal in a public restaurant.  It’s not even unusual to see people praying inside of a shop or mall.  In fact, one time while I was out shopping with my bald chemo head in a small shop a total stranger came up to me and asked if she could pray for my healing.  I was very moved by her gesture.

Yet it seems that many non-Muslims in America continue to feel various forms of trepidation when confronted with a Muslim.  If a Muslim chooses to pray during the day at appointed prayer times and in public, you can visibly see and feel most non-Muslim’s feeling of being uncomfortable.

This is the holy month of Ramadan and similar to when Christians celebrate Lent or Jews celebrate Hannukah, people should be more considerate of the respective beliefs of Muslims during their special time of prayers too.

Thankfully, one company, CEVA Logistics, in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee corrected the ways of intolerance and discrimination.  CEVA has some Muslims among its employees who desire to pray as close as possible to appointed prayer times.  The male employees chose to use the washroom as the place where they could perform wudu (cleansing prior to prayer) and then perform their prayer.  They performed these prayers during their standard break times.   It was especially important to nine Muslim employees to pray during Ramadan rather than have to make up for missed prayers later.

To their surprise and in spite of positive working records, the men were released from their duties and fired.  The men complained and an initial investigation took place.  All nine men have since been reinstated to their positions.

I consider Tennessee as part of the Bible belt just like North Carolina.  The question I wonder though in regards to Muslims who openly follow their faith and particularly in America’s Bible belt is whether non-Muslims are simply intolerant of a different faith or it is fear?

Saudi Arabia/USA: From the Mouth of a Child (No. 7)



American Bedu is very pleased to bring back the popular series of posts “From the Mouth of a Child.”  Really, who can build better bridges than children with their candid words and innocence?  Children adapt to people and cultures instead of putting emphasis on politics or religion.



What is your name?




Where do you live?

North Carolina


What is your nationality?

American and Latvian


How old are you?



Who is the leader of Saudi Arabia?

mommy and Daddy


What is the capital of Saudi Arabia?

I don’t know


Who is the leader of the United States of America?

Our president…not George Washington, but I forgot his name.


What is the capital of the United States of America?

I’ve never seen it


How many hours does it take to go from America to Saudi Arabia?

2 or 3 hours


What is the best thing to do in Saudi Arabia?

I don’t know


What is the best thing to do in the United States?

Play in my friend’s house.


Why do women wear black in Saudi Arabia?

So they can’t get killed.


What is a muttawa?

I don’t know


What is the adhan?

I don’t know


Are there muttawa in the United States?

I don’t know


What is a Muslim?

I don’t know


What is a Christian?                  

A school


Do Muslims and Christians like each other?  Why or why not?

I don’t know


What do Saudis like to eat the most?



What do Americans like to eat the most?

Chicken, corn, tomatoes, hamburgers



What would you like to say to other children around the world?

I like you.

Saudi Arabia: What’s In a Name?


Saudi Arabia is implementing more rules which specific apply to an individual’s name.  An expatriate’s name must appear the same way and same spelling on passports, iqamas and even the expatriate’s identification card from his or her home country.  If there are spelling errors or changes in the names as they appear from document to document, these changes must be corrected or the expatriate may risk forfeiture of employment.


I think the rule makes a lot of sense and should certainly be implemented worldwide.


However, while it sounds straightforward, that’s not always the case.  What’s in a name and why are so many names presented differently from country to country?


Take Pakistan for example which is also another country such as Saudi Arabia where its nationals must also have a national identification card.  Many Pakistani’s may have “Syed” listed in advance of their first (given) name.  For many, “Syed” is a name or rather term of honor and respect.  As a result, a national identification card may cite the name as Syed Tareq Mohammad Siddiqi for example.  It’s a legal name yet if you have to complete a document which asks for first name, father’s name and surname without compromise for hyphenated or double names, a passport or Saudi iqama may cite the name as Tareq Mohammad Siddiqi.


Arab names follow the format of first name (given name), father’s name and family (surname/tribe) name.  This format applies whether male or female and also is why the majority of married Arab women do not share the same surname as their husband or children.  My husband’s name is Abdullah Othman Al-Ajroush.  His name indicates that his parent’s chose to call him Abdullah, his father was named Othman and his surname/tribal name is Al-Ajroush.  Some Arab names will actually continue covering perhaps as many as eight generations.  The surname does not change but after the father’s name, the grandfather and great(s) grandfather’s names will be cited too possibly back to the beginning of that particular tribe.


My husband’s children whether male or female are known as (first name) Abdullah Al-Ajroush.  Again, if preferred, grandfathers names can follow after Abdullah usually with the word ibn or bin in between indicating “son of.”

Other expatriates in Saudi Arabia have other challenges when it comes to their names and official documentation.  Many Asians write their name with the surname followed by the first name.  Western names generally do not have the father’s name as a middle name and many Westerners may have hyphenated names.  These can be challenging factors when completing a Saudi application which asks for first name, father’s name and surname.


The bottom line is to ensure when completing or providing any data of a name is to confirm that the data matches before a document is processed.  A mismatched document pertaining to a name could take a long time to get corrected perhaps causing delays in getting paid or other essential issues.  In the worse case, documents with mismatched names could cause an expatriate to leave Saudi Arabia until corrections have been made and resolved.

Saudi Arabia/ World: Capture the Spirit of Ramadan


The International Professional Ramadan Photography Competition showcases the skills and imagination of talented photographers from around the world as they share their techniques and personal anecdotes about cultural and religious traditions during Ramadan.

Ramadan is not only considered to be the most spiritual month in the Islamic calendar but is also a time for families and friends to reunite in peace, prayer and piety. Fasting from sunrise to sunset as a form of spiritual cleansing, self-discipline and empathy for the less fortunate, Muslims during Ramadan practice tolerance, forgiveness and perform good deeds. It is in this spirit that photographers are invited to share their best photography in a unique and unprecedented 30-day visual celebration that will educate and enlighten thousands of viewers around the world.

The competition is open to talented photographers around the world over the age of 18. Cash prizes will be awarded and winners will have their photos published. Participants are encouraged to photograph all things Ramadan: people in prayer, holy places, mosques, iftar and suhoor foods, family gatherings, and even inspiring natural beauty and landscapes taken during the month of Ramadan.


For more information and details, visit Capture the Spirit of Ramadan website.


American Bedu blog continues to wish all its Muslim readers a joyous Ramadan Kareem!

Ramadan in Riyadh – How YOU Can Help


American Bedu received the following email which she is pleased to pass on towards creating awareness of a need and especially during the Holy month of Ramadan:


Asalamu Alaykum,


Below is some info about a project that has been set up. Please help create awareness about it.

Inshallah you are all well.

I would like to let you know about a project that a couple of Expat
English teachers and myself are working on. With Ramadan approaching
alhumdulliah we will be blessed to have ample food for Iftar however there
are some families in certain areas in Riyadh that will not. One of these areas is Al Jaradiyah.


We hope to distribute Ramadan Food parcels to help these families throughout the month of Ramadan. The parcels will be distributing to some of the most needy families that live in Al Jaradiyah. This is an extremely deprived area of Riyadh often described as one of the slums with families who have no source of income, widows and orphans who have largely gone unnoticed.
Each Ramadan Food pack will consist of:

4kg Rice

2kg Flour
Noodles/Soup packet

2L Oil
2 cans of meat (corned beef/tuna)
1 can of vegetable (tomato/corn/peas)
1 packet of biscuits
1 packet of lentils

The cost of each parcel will be approx 80 riyals.

We hope to be able to distribute at least 250 packs this Ramadan. We
will be distributing the first batch on Friday 27th and the second batch
Friday 3rd August.

Help us support these families this year.

How YOU can help:

By donating money towards food packs.

By donating food items

By forwarding this email out to your contacts in Riyadh.


You can also follow the project on our blog: (Photos and updates to be posted up soon inshallah!!)


or join our Facebook page

Share your ideas. This is the first Jaridiyah Ramadan Project that we
are carrying out, your ideas and suggestions are welcomed.

Remember these families in your duas and pray that this project is a

For further information or if you would like get involved please let
us know.

Contact: Afsha ( [email protected]/ 0545760132 or
Naima: [email protected]


“Whoever feeds a fasting person will have a reward like that of the fasting person, without any reduction in his reward.” [Tirmidhi]


Saudi Arabia: Waiting for Iftar

This short music video can sum up for some the feeling of the final hours before iftar when one can break the daily fast of Ramadan.

Saudi Arabia/Pakistan: Back to Where it all Began

Abdullah and I initially met when we were both work working at our respective embassies in Islamabad, Pakistan.  Therefore, Pakistan always has a soft spot in both of our hearts for multiple reasons.  In 2005, I had the opportunity to return and work on behalf of an international US company which recruited me to set up and establish its presence in Pakistan.  Although it would mean another long distance separation for Abdullah and I, we talked it over thoroughly and he gave me his blessing to pursue the opportunity.  Thankfully there were regular opportunities for me to return to the US and for him to come and visit me in Pakistan.

It was a strange but exhilarating feeling to return to the same country where our relationship had started.   I left Pakistan the first time in 2001 wondering if Abdullah and I were really going to have a future together.   Now, fast forwarding only four short years to 2005 and I was returning as his wife!

Sadly, I returned to Pakistan two days after the tragic earthquake of October 2005.  Before I could think of renewing contacts with old and dear friends, I jumped immediately with a crew into earthquake relief efforts.  I could only cry silent tears as I entered Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) and realized so much of where I had explored with Abdullah was no longer.

However, life does go on and I helped as I could and focused on the job I had accepted.  I wanted to do it well.  When circumstances allowed me to resume getting in touch with old and dear friends, in spite of the recent tragedy in Pakistan it was still a joyous and emotional occasion.   Most were not only my friends but friends of Abdullah and myself when we had last been in Pakistan together.  They were all overjoyed by our marriage.

I’ve chosen to share photos of the house I lived in when I returned to Pakistan in 2005.  This particular home is also quite similar to many Arab homes.  It was configured so it could easily accommodate segregation if that was desired.  In addition it was large, spacious and ideal for both working and entertaining.  While Abdullah and I did not live there on a regular basis as husband and wife since he was posted to the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC during this period, we managed to make it our enjoyable and comfortable second home in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Welcome!  Entrance from front door to our home in Sector F-8, Islamabad, Pakistan.  Although not seen in photo, there is another similar door to the left side which would lead to a men’s area if segregation were practiced.

 Front door opens into the large salon.  To the left where one views the enclosed plants that is actually a two level waterrfall.

These are views of the main salon which were taken from the balcony above on the 2nd floor.

This is one view of the kitchen(s) in the home.  This is the primary kitchen and directly behind what appears to be a small hallway led into a second full kitchen.  This made the home extra ideal for entertaining and hosting large functions.  This photo was taken prior to a dinner party with my chef and a helper starting to prepare for the function.

These are two separate shots of the dining room.  The dining room was situated between the main salon and also what could be a separate men’s salon but which Abdullah and I had converted into a rec room.  Note that the dining room could easily be shut off and private from the main salon in the event of segregation. Although not seen, another wall in the dining room had floor to ceiling built in china cabinet.  Additionally, a lovely washroom was also off of the dining room.  Abdullah selected and mounted the swords on the wall as decoration.

This is the rec room where many happy times and competitive games of billards took place!

The upstairs of the house had 3 spacious bedrooms each with en suite bath and Bedu’s private home office.  Note the  top of the two story water fall in the first of the two photos.  The sound of the falling water was always very soothing and calming.  Another unique aspect of this house is that there was a small inner corridor which connected each bedroom without the need to have to go out into the main hallway which overlooked the main salon.

These are views of the largest of two bedrooms which were used to host visitors.  Most visitors joked that this room made them feel like they were taking part in a film giving the style of the curtains!

This was the guest room I preferred to have female guests stay in with its pink walls and delicate pastel furnishings.

These are two separate views of the grand master bedroom suite.  Note in the first photo you can see an air conditioning unit on the wall not too far from the bed.  Imagine my and Abdullah’s surprise (shock) when we discovered one night that a family of geckos had made their home inside of it.  We kept hearing unusual noises coming from the a/c and when Abdullah turned on the light to investigate, several of the gekko family members had been walking across the ceiling but when the light came on they all scurried back in side of the a/c unit.  Trust me…they quickly had a new home outside of the bedroom!

Bedu’s home office with picture of her Habibi where she could easily view it!  Although I had established a corporate office and staffed with personnel, I enjoyed the sanctity and privacy my home office offered.

One of Abdullah’s many trips to Islamabad while I was there.


Good friends and Saudi kawa!  One of Abdullah’s Saudi  friends was in Islambad when Abdullah departed in 2002 and still remained when I returned in 2005.  It was like a mini-family reunion!

A special moment between a Saudi Dad and his little girl.  She’s actually trying to teach him how to play “Simon Says” while visiting at our Islamabad home.

Night time view of the front yard with its small waterfall tucked in one corner.

Hope you enjoyed the tour and this walk down memory lane!


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