A Snapshot of the Saudi Male Youth

The New York Times has been running a special series this past week about Arab youth and changing perceptions. Two of the articles were specific to Saudi Arabia. One was about male youth in the Kingdom and focused on two cousins who both lived and worked in Riyadh. The reporter was with these two cousins and learned their views on life, what they thought on various issues and how they lived. The complete article can be viewed at this link:


Many blogs which focus on Saudi Arabia have made mention of the NY Times piece. I had debated but then (obviously) ultimately decided to comment upon the article here and open up for YOUR comments and thoughts.

While I believe the piece is well-written (as one would expect from a NY Times journalist) I am a little bit disconcerted on the picture it portrays and wonder to myself, how many Americans who read this piece and know little about the Kingdom will come away with the view that it is representative of all Saudi youth? After all, compared to many other newspapers, the NY Times is overall well respected.

In my view, I wish the journalist had added a caveat that the views expressed represent a small segment of Saudi society and Saudi youth and not representative of the views of the entire country. For example, the majority of the young unmarried Saudi males whom I know in the 18 – 30 age range are very respectful of women in the country, whether they are Saudi nationals or not. None of the young Saudi males I know would give a woman or a couple in a restaurant a hard time because a woman was either sitting by herself waiting for a companion or that she chose to uncover in the restaurant. I felt that the article illustrated double standards among the young men it portrayed as far as having one set of rules and regulations for the women in their family and another set of rules and regulations for themselves when attempting to flirt or make contact with Saudi women whose families were not known to them.

I did not like how the journalist focused on how the two young men had difficulty using eating utensils properly and remarked later that they were more accustomed to eating with their hands. It is also NOT NOT NOT typical to live in a home with ones mother, father, father’s second wife and the combined children. But again, now that it has been printed in the New York Times this will make it the norm for those who do not know any better about life in the Kingdom. And while some Saudi homes will have a room where one will sit on cushions on the floor rather than couches and chairs to me the article seemed to imply that the entire house was sparsely furnished with no furniture or pictures adorning the walls.

The cousins comments on what is Jihad and their views of Jihad lead room for misinterpretation as well. And, does it really reflect the majority view among Saudi male youth?

I encourage everyone to read the article and then respond with your comments about your knowledge and perception of male youth as well as whether you think the article portrayed an accurate snapshot of male youth in the Kingdom.


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