Saudi Arabia: A Black Market Trade for Saudi Women

One thing rarely talked about but does happen sometimes within the Kingdom is when a young Saudi woman loses her virginity.  This is a tragedy for the woman and her family.  Her chances of an acceptable marriage are virtually gone if it were ever suspected she was no longer a virgin.  If a loss of virginity became known, not only would the young woman be disgraced but so would her family.  The family would be perceived as having no control over her daughter or having taught her right from wrong.  Yet in spite of these teachings and cultural repercussions some young women have given in to desire and lost their virginity.

In some cases a young woman may have lost her virginity to the man with whom she is engaged.  Perhaps her family was more open and liberal in allowing her to have time alone and unaccompanied with him.  He may have persistently encouraged her that soon they would be married so why wait.  Weren’t they already viewed as husband and wife?  This is probably one of the oldest lines a young woman with romantic visions of love in her head will fall for.  However what does not occur to her is that after having given in to the bodily desires of the man, it is as if she has crossed a red line and he can not look at her the same.  Now the betrothed has become a “loose woman” whom he can no longer trust.  If she gave her most precious gift to him prior to marriage how can he they possibly trust her after they are married.  He tells his family he can no longer marry her.  He’ll likely keep quiet as to the true reason why but then it leaves the woman frightened and having to face many questions from her family members.

Regardless of how a woman may have lost her virginity prior to marriage it is a disaster.  Unless a man has married a divorcee or a widow, blood is expected on the sheets the day after the wedding night.  In some traditional families the sheets are collected and displayed as part of the celebration that the marriage has been consummated, uniting the families and illustrating the pureness of the woman.

Loss of virginity prior to marriage in turn created a “black” industry within (and outside) of Saudi Arabia.  Because it is illegal, a black market comprised of either foreign doctors or foreign nurses exist who “restore” the hymen, ensuring that for all intents and purposes, a woman’s virginity has been restored and her blood will flow on the sheets during her wedding night.

They” “hymen restorers” are aware of the risks that they take in performing such services.  They know they can be jailed, lashed and banned forever from the Kingdom.  Yet their greed and some may say their compassion for the women persuade them to overlook the risks.  These hymen restorers will operate by word-of-mouth and they will be highly suspicious of anyone who may randomly call their mobile phone seeking help.  They will rely on pre-paid phones and leave no trace to their true identity. Most will not have an office and there is no guarantee that their services would be performed in a sterile environment.  They will not reveal their true name.

American Bedu Published in the New York Times

It gives me great pleasure to share with readers that a rebuttal which I wrote to a New York times editorial was published today in the paper.


The rebuttal I wrote is in response to the FDA decision to withdraw its approval for the drug Avastin to stage IV metastatic breast cancer patients.  I have been sharing my own journey with cancer to readers through my blog and for those not aware, I am a Stage IV cancer patient.  At present, Avastin is the only medication which has proven successful for slowing the growth and spread of my cancer and bringing quality back  to my life.  Prior to my Avastin treatments I underwent aggressive chemotherapy treatments which debilitated me and did not stop the growth of my cancer.


The jury remains out on whether Avastin will continue to be readily available to me and many others.  Genetech, the company which manufactures Avastin is challenging the FDA decision.  Avastin is also provided to individuals with other types of cancer but according to FDA studies, the benefits of Avastin to metastatic breast cancer patients are “minimal” and do not necessarily prolong life long enough to be of benefit!  Go figure THAT statement out…


There are side effects with Avastin such as high blood pressure and susceptibility to nosebleeds and some other effects too.  However these side effects are known and can be managed rather than cut off the only existing lifeline to Stage IV metastatic breast cancer patients.


The FDA should not have the right to determine life.  That should be God’s decision.

Saudi Arabia: In Saudi, A Man Can Simply Disappear

This is a frank message to women who are involved with a Saudi; this message is especially pertinent to a woman who may meet a Saudi while he is a student outside of the Kingdom.

Saudi men are raised in a closed and conservative society where segregation among the sexes remains the norm.  Many Saudi men will have had little to no time alone with their wife until –after- the marriage ceremony has taken place.  The wedding night is usually the first time the couple will have been alone together.

Saudi men are raised to protect and cherish the women.  That’s not to say that a Saudi guy will not try to flirt or talk with a woman.  In all likelihood, he will.  He will enjoy those opportunities but then that may automatically place the woman in a new category where she is “okay to flirt with and have fun with” but not a woman who would be considered a candidate as a future wife.

Therefore when the Saudi guy departs the Kingdom for an extended period such as a student coming to the West for four to six years of study, he finds himself immersed not only in a new country but a whole new world.  Men and women are not segregated and have classes together.  They may even share same floors in a college dorm or be neighbors in an apartment building.  In some cases they live in the same house where they each have rented rooms.

Outside of Saudi Arabia the foreign women may smile naturally at a Saudi guy and engage with him in discussions.  After all, the foreign women have never been to Saudi Arabia and likely have no inkling of the different culture and traditions.  The Saudi guy will likely respond and enjoy the attention.  He will also be naturally charming, pleasant and personable.

He will enjoy the experiences of freedoms he would not encounter within the Kingdom.  He may also start to have strong feelings of emotion for the woman.  It may feel natural and right to tell her he loves her and that she means the world to him.  He is probably sincere at the time too.

Because of cultural differences a relationship may move quickly between a Saudi and a foreigner.  He is also influenced by his culture when he is becoming close to a foreign woman and will want to please her.  Yet eventually as it gets closer for him to return to his country many of these same sincere Saudi men start to get a dose of reality.

They will feel torn between the freedoms they have experienced and the woman who gave and shared new experiences with them.  The foreign woman will be missed.  He will pledge his love and promises of returning or sending for her.  After his departure he may continue to call her but eventually those calls will be less often, further and further apart.

He will still not want to disappoint nor have her think bad or unkindly of him.  Usually he will simply disappear.

But…wait a minute…how can a man simply disappear?  She’s met his friends.  She’s talked to his brothers.  They know her.

That may be true but again she has not been exposed to the closed and private culture of Saudi Arabia.  The men will stick together.  They may know the woman and have even referred to her as a ‘sister’ but they stick together.  Sister is often the polite term a Saudi man will refer to a foreign female he meets through one of his own (Saudi) friends.  She is the foreigner and he will be loyal and protective of his own Saudi friend.  The friend will follow whatever his fellow Saudi has requested.

Now don’t start raising your eyebrows.  This is not just because she is a foreigner.  Even within the Kingdom a man can simply disappear.  There are Saudi women who never had a clue that their husband had more than one wife until the time of his death when they find the inheritance must be shared.  Yes, the Saudi man was able to live totally different and compartmentalized lives.  The Saudi families will act and do whatever they believe is in the best interest of the families.

Saudi Arabia is not like a Western country where there are multiple alternatives for validating and verifying information such as where a man lives or works.  In Saudi Arabia, if a man wants to, he can choose to simply disappear.

Saudi Arabia: Saudi Men and Their Hidden Talents

Some Saudi men (and their mother’s) may want you to believe that the Saudi man is helpless.  Now it is expected culturally that the woman, whether it be mother or wife, will take care of the inside of the home.  She may or may not have a housemaid but she will be the one responsible for ensuring that the house is clean, clothes are washed and food is cooked.  A Saudi man may want every woman to think that when he comes in the door all that is expected of him is to toss his smaugh off of his food, take off his shoes, put his feet up and watch tv until dinner is served.  However I can assure you that if a Saudi man has ever been abroad outside of Saudi Arabia where he has lived alone, even as a student, then he has learned hidden talents.

A Saudi man may not readily acknowledge it but he actually has observed and learned much more of his mother’s ways than he may even realize himself.  Many a young Saudi boy while growing up, and even as he enters teens and then twenties, will observe his mother as she cooks in the kitchen.  He may have even helped her.  My late husband shared how he would always help his mother roll out and fill the sambosa dough as he was growing up, for example.

Additionally Saudi boys while growing up will likely accompany their father’s, Uncles and friends to the desert on weekends.  During these weekend jaunts, the fathers and uncles are usually the cooks.  They will typical prepare kubsa or maybe a roast lamb outside over a fire.  The young boys will assist and watch the food cook over the fire.

These events helped prepare the Saudi man for those times when he may find himself alone whether out of the Kingdom or on his own for a period of time.  If he is away from family, he’s not going to go out every night to eat.  Well, let’s say most guys will not.  They will begin experimenting with those dishes that they remembered watching or helping others cook when they were young.  Their confidence will grow with the success of their dishes.

Now my late husband found that he actually enjoyed taking a turn at cooking in the kitchen.  He liked experimenting with differing dishes and using different spices.  One time he even made us “hot dog kubsa.”  (and yes, it was pretty tasty too!)  There is no doubt in my mind that every Saudi male knows how to make kubsa.  After all, it is pretty much a signature dish in Saudi Arabia!  Most Saudi guys know how to make seleek as well.  Bottom line, a Saudi guy is not going to let himself starve.  He may not like to do dishes but a Saudi guy can generally be persuaded to cook from time to time!

Saudi Arabia: Wintertime Recipe to Keep Warm


This is probably my favorite time of the year in Riyadh after the summer is over and the weather has changed.  During the day it can still get pretty warm but at night once the sun has gone down, it gets cool.  It’s a good time to share a part of American home cooking.  A friend of mine passed along her traditional chili recipe which she prepares regularly during the chill of Riyadh winters.  It’s easy to make, sticks to your ribs and keeps you plenty warm!  Bon Appetite!

Skyline Chili

2 lbs fresh ground beef
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon allspice
4 tablespoons chili powder (not the hot red stuff)
1 tablespoon salt (OPTIONAL)
1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper
2 large dashes worchestershire sauce  (about a tablespoon)
1 large whole onion
1 clove garlic
5 cups tomato juice

Combine all ingredients.  Be sure to separate the ground beef with your hands into the sause.  Cincinnati chili is very smooth, no lumps.  Cook on low heat for about two hours uncovered.  Remove onion and garlic.  Refrigerate overnight, skim fat when chilled.  Reheat and serve over spaghetti or hot dogs.

NOTE:  I do not use red or black pepper prefering instead to use about a tablespoon of hot sauce.
I have also found that the ground beef over here is super lean compared to the States so I do not let it sit as there is simply no fat to skim off.


Saudi Arabia: I love King Abdullah because…

There is no doubt that many around the world are pleased to learn that King Abdullah was recently discharged from a New York hospital and is now recuperating at his US residence.  King Abdullah has been an admired and much loved King for many reasons ranging from his humanitarian gestures to his reforms.  He is believed to be the most popular leader the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has seen.  Therefore this post is more YOUR opportunity to share with completing the following sentence:


I love King Abdullah because…

Saudi Arabia/World: Who Has the Right to Life?


I am still disturbed by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decision to take away my lifeline, Avastin.  Avastin is the drug which I have been receiving every two weeks via an infusion since I was diagnosed as having Stage IV breast cancer.  As of this writing I still do not know whether I will receive my next scheduled infusion on 29 December or if I am fortunate to receive it, whether its costs will be covered by insurance.

Isn’t it ironic that while many in the world and especially from Saudi Arabia choose to come to the United States for medical treatment, many Stage IV breast cancer patients may now have to seek alternative venues in order to receive the life prolonging treatment of Avastin?  Avastin may have been disproved by the US FDA but remains an approved medication in Europe, Canada AND even Saudi Arabia.

I always talk about contrasts and contradictions but what kind of a contrast and contradiction is this?  Who gave the US FDA the right to determine life?  Or the right to determine whether a person can have a prolonged life…

This brings up the topic on whether Saudi Arabia may become a venue for medical tourism.  Think about it…. The primary hospitals, both public and private in the Kingdom, have numerous professionals from not only Saudi Arabia but America, Canada, Great Britain, Australia and so many other countries.  At the private hospitals the care and the facilities are plush and comfortable yet at a fraction of the cost one would pay in the United States.  I have found hospitals in Saudi Arabia to be very accommodating for patients and visitors.  Drugs and regimes that one can not receive in the United States, such as Avastin, are available in Saudi Arabia.

Concurrently Saudi Arabia has been building up its tourist industry and the infrastructure to support tourism.  Why not include medical tourism in the equation?  Jeddah or Damman could be lovely places in which to receive treatments with the soothing and scenic background of the Red Sea.  Riyadh has its own charms and allure where one could receive care in one of the fastest growing and economically strong capital cities in the world.

Medical tourism would provide the Kingdom with an exceptional opportunity for bridging the gap and rebuilding the bridge between East and West.  Saudi Arabia is known as the Kingdom of Humanity so why not branch out to medical tourism?


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