One Saudi’s introduction to the Kingdom

One young Saudi man in Riyadh has taken it upon himself to not only introduce a snapshot of the Kingdom to the world but also wished to illustrate how Saudis and Westerners were really not that different. I enjoyed watching the beginning of his video but when he introduced the distinction of prayer I felt that the video lost its flavor and direction. I’m not saying I’m against having prayer introduced in the video but I think by having the call to prayer go on as it did made the video lose steam on its emphasis on showcasing the similarities between Saudis and Westerners. The prayer portion of the video goes on for longer than the other audio portions of the video. But I do give this video “E” for effort and hope you enjoy it.

74 Responses

  1. Given the web site address on the video, which is that of a site that seems dedicated to proselytizing, and the fact that the call to prayer is 2/3’s of the video, I got the feeling this video was more of a proselytizing tool than an introduction to Saudi and Western similarities, which seem reduced here to fast food places, and car driving. Even viewing the football match had men sitting “tailor position” on the floor, which would be unusual for Westerners, even the European ones who share a passion for football.

  2. There is so much one could say about this video.

    Much of what is different today in Saudi society isn’t all that different in western societies only a few generations ago. When I was a child and visited my relatives in east coast cities, there society was very religious, not quite a religious as an insular society like Saudi Arabia, but very religious. When I visited my grandmother I would here the Angelus played at the church around the corner. The building my grandmother lived in was owned by her brothers and during the 1950’s everyone in the building was related.

    Of course the differences are profound, the women in my family were not isolated. Even in the 19th century they worked outside of the home.

    What is so profoundly different between the west and Saudi Arabia, is the absence of women in public life.

  3. ‘What is so profoundly different between the west and Saudi Arabia, is the absence of women in public life.’

    Jerry, you took the words right out of my mouth!

  4. that video confused me. “they like what we like” who is ‘they’ and who is ‘we’ the roles seemed to be confused here as he is obviously saudi but speaking on behalf of the rest of the world.

    I’m more critical so I’ll give it an F totally failed outside of reality for me.. too far to even give it an E for effort.

  5. Carol, I really don’t believe in grades…as I was a teacher and found them totally useless most of the time here in KSA.

    But, I agree with Jerry and Lynn. Yes, we have McDonalds in both worlds, but in the west, a woman can go into the same door as a man…..and not the ‘family section’ of the store. In the west, a woman can drive herself to the shopping malls.

    It’s the same for men in both countries…because men are free….but very, very different for a woman.

    I think that the guy that made the movie should cover up as a woman for a week and go out and see the similarities, and then, start his movie again. He may see things through new eyes.

  6. This video actually emphasizes how Saudi Arabia is different from the west. The absence of women in the video is one plain example.

  7. I second Nzingha’s view!

  8. I dont understand how sharing an obscene like for fast food means “we are like them”…etc

    Those are surface issues which are similar through out the world. As others stated…while showing the men enjoying their “we are like them” lives…show some of the women as well.

  9. second Nzingha in all respects.
    pointless video.

    Coolred, I don’t share the obscene linking for fastfood,?

  10. I only noticed men in the “we-are-the-same” portion of this video. And noticed they could wear shorts! How lucky for them in that hot climate! :) I bet if he showed women, we’d see how very different our societies are. Women here are playing volleyball with the men and enjoying soccer matches and playing video games with their male family and friends. Seeing this made me think Saudi was made up strictly of men. Or only the MEN could hang out and have fun together. (Which I know from your blog that is not the truth since women’s gatherings include fun times.) I guess if the women were shown, we’d all see the true difference. Their women go around like black “ghosts” if you will. (I’m thinking of the interview where the woman was asked if she were a ghost. Loved that, btw.)

  11. So, if I harshly resume the video,
    West : fast food, soccer, shopping, video games.
    SA : fast food, soccer, shopping, video games, plus Islam.

    Quite a restrictive view, eh?

  12. What I found interesting was hearing and seeing the young Saudi man’s perspective on what HE thought were the similarities.

  13. Yes, that’s what HE thought because HE is a man. That’s why he needs to go out to the same places HE goes now, only as a woman and HE will see the differeence from SHE !!! ha ha ha

  14. just wanna say there is no comparison at all between a Saudi man and Western man.Western men are not threatened by their women.Their women have the guy is fooling himself,but he can’t fool the whole world.

  15. Aafke that was funny.

  16. He got me confused …

    Who is “us” and who is “they” here?

  17. Nzingha took the words out of my mouth too!

  18. Amad, ”us” are men, and ”they” are other men.

    I suppose this bloke never even realised he kept 50% of the population out…

  19. American Bedu you made an interesting comment in how the young man thought there were similarities. The call to prayer may not have been heard or seen by many in the western world so even though a little long it might have been educating to some. The lack of females in his video must mean that he thinks this is normal in the western world too?? Hmmm….

    I think he did not succeed in his quest to show how similar we are. Oh well.

  20. No…I don’t think he succeeded in his quest to show similarities. This reminds me of post 9/11 when the Saudi government ran a campaign on the strong friendship between USA and KSA and had various commercials and short videos running on tv. I’m sure they are also on youtube now.

  21. Do Saudis realize how unusual their strict sex segregation appears to the Western world?

  22. Some do Jerry but not all. In fact if you turn it around, in their eyes we are the ones who look odd with all the openness and non-segregation!

    It is not only Saudi Arabia which has sex segregation. It can be practiced (in various degrees) throughout the GCC as well as India, Pakistan, Afghanistan too.

  23. In the video the narator seems to be using ‘us’ to refer to Westerners and ‘them’ to be Saudi, so I would have assumed he had a deeper understanding of the West.
    As much as I might like to meet the Saudis half way on some thing, here I cannot. I think the extreme sex segregation is destructive. If millions of people are doing it, that doesn’t make it any better.

  24. This could’ve been a good video, but instead it failed.

    Also, from web comments, it seems many non-Saudi Muslims in KSA are actually disillusioned when they get to there and see everyone is not just like us only holier. In fact, they are more segregated than us and just as unholy!

  25. I, too, was confused when he was talking about ‘us’ vs. ‘them’. I’m glad there appears to be little difference in what guys like to do between the West and Saudi Arabia besides hearing the call to prayer, now there needs to be a similar video from a women’s perspective if we are to believe the same with females…and that’s not likely to happen. Sigh.

  26. insecure, an identity search, unconfident , seeking from others an acceptance…………….that what this video gave me as an impression. I even didn’t have to see it all to know that it is a junk

  27. Perhaps followers of this blog (Saudis and non-Saudis) would consider making their own youtube video on the subject of similarities between USA and KSA? Just a thought…

  28. I’m setting aside my harsh criticism, because I really can’t knock the video. The guy is doing something innovative and positive for a change, which is better than most. Maybe instead of some people attacking his character, by basically repeating the same thing four times, you guys can give him some tips. Maybe the western audience can chime in, on what kind of information they want on Saudi culture.

    My tip would be to actually interview different groups of Saudi youth. Instead of showing a broad picture, try capturing the individual, because whether you care to admit it, Saudi is completely different than western countries. It’ll be hard to bring up our practices and show the similarties. Also, leave the religious aspect behind, because that’s something the whole world is very familiar with, try showcasing something different.

  29. As a European I see some clear simularities :mrgreen:
    Both Americans and Saudis:
    – like revolting fast food
    – have very kitchy taste
    – have no sense of history
    – know nothing of geography
    – have very little idea about how people outside their own culture behave or live
    – have a lot of religious bigots in their country
    – are capitalists
    :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

  30. I have to agree with Chiara and Jerry M that this was a proselytizing tool. I was actually very eager to hear him out about his perception of the Western Word and the Muslim World (hough I find diving the two problematic)-and where our similarities merge and diverge. I was disappointed but it’s still cool he’s speaking his mind-even if its motivated by his religious belief.

    Aafke you are dead on the money with your list! lol!!!

    “And I’m proud to be an AMERICAN where at least I know I’m free…

    and I won’t forget to SUPER-size my MickeyD’s #3…

    I proudly stand UP!…Next to you in a State that I can’t name….

    But I can’t deny that I love this land….though my HIS-T-O-RY is FuuuuZYYYYY…

    Capitalist is the U-S-Aaaaa!”

    I think my version is better than Lee Greenwoods. :)

  31. I agree with AB, this very much reminds me of the PR campaign post 9/11 – “Why can’t we all just get along?”

    The reason the call to prayer went on so long ( at first I thought it was proselytizing “you can have all this and Islam, too”) but then I think most Muslims would feel uncomfortable cutting off part of the call – sort of sacrireligious.

  32. Oh man Mariam, don’t get me started on post-9/11. Such a momentous chance to unite the world and it was fantastically squandered by religious pandering and fear mongering. (but thats a WHOLE other topic)

    But thank you for adding that info about not wanting to cut the call to prayer short. He could have balanced it out with more about Saudi society or youth culture, or failing that, I could live with 2 more minutes of fast food/videogame/sports banality.

  33. Aafke — your list is hilarious!

    Firebrand — yes, your version does rival that of Lee Greenwood’s!

    Mariam – thank you for pointing out the obvious! I’m embarrassed not to have caught that.

    I’d still like to see some folks here take a try at their own youtube videos!

  34. @mariam –

    Fair enough, cutting off part of the call to prayer may be sacreligious. They could have made the rest of the video longer though. All I know is that (male) Saudis like to drive cars, eat McDonalds, play Xbox, and play soccer. It’s not really revealing as is.

  35. I think the point is that there is no need for a call to prayer as part of a video on the similarities of KSA and the Western world. That is part of what makes me think that it is a proselytizing tool.

    If you were looking for religious similarities (not the marked difference of the call to prayer) you could film a mosque and point out the similarities architecturally (minaret/steeple) or just say something like “Just as the Christian religion is important in the West, Islam is important in KSA”.

    Instead you have a male youth pitch (driving cars, neon nightlife with familiar fast food hangouts, football) and then Islam too. If you were trying to attract teen/young adult males to anything wouldn’t you include cars, neon nightlife with familiar hangout names, and sports with their subliminal but not overt (too scandalous) associations with virility and s-e-x?

    Check out
    with its headings: Learn about Islam | Become a Muslim | How to Convert to Islam? | Muhammad The Messenger Of Allah | Translations of Quran
    and Discover Islam in all World’s Languages.. ! with links to many.

  36. Aafke-The West includes Europe, or as some now prefer to call it Eurabia:mrgreen:

    All, conversion protocol 101: confuse “us” and “them”, find a spokesperson who blends the two worlds; make it all look same, same only better; slip in religion sotto voce, or hypnotically.

  37. Aafke…lol….ur list is great. Have you ever seen Jay Leno when he goes in the street and ask average Americans questions regarding American politics…history…geography etc….makes you hang your head in absolute disgust and shame some of the answers those people give…while laughing your ass off at their total ignorance.

    I grew up in the great square state of Wyoming (the only square state on the map btw…easy to spot)…I do believe its the third largest state after texas and california (sorry…its been many moons since I was in elementary school)…not to mention the first state to award women the right to vote. (surely something taught and worth remembering in school)…and yet I have lost count of the number of Americans upon hearing where I grew up…ask me “is that a city or a country?”.?

  38. Coolred-Wyoming???-The state that brought us Dick and Lynne Cheney? A (Canadian) bootlegger’s paradise? Okay, home of Jackson Pollock and yourself. I guess it can stay in the Union. :mrgreen:

  39. I would like to see a video made by a Saudi woman…:-)

  40. iwka – actually there are several youtube videos of the same Saudi woman giving a tour of her home and talking about her life. I’ll have to see if I can pull them up.

  41. Obviously the biggest difference west versus KSA is that the society is based on Islam. I think it must be great to have praying facilities on each streetcorner and that segregation is practiced as a routine. In the West it’s hard to combine religion and work/life.
    Once you see the domination of islamic values in KSA as a great advantage life is easy.
    I imagine for christian wives of saudis or expats this means nothing and this is what I notice in the preceding comments.

  42. well Peter I would say that the society is based on Islam in KSA is indeed a great difference between the two cultures and customs. I am curious as to whether you have ever been to KSA?

  43. Bedu, yes I have been in KSA several times in several cities for work as well as UAE. What I liked best is that prayertimes are fully integrated in daily life, there is no issue as there is for muslims in the”west”.
    In fact KSA society is very much more tolerant to westerns (muslims or not, headscarf or not) as compared to us in Europe(headscarf issues and prayertime issues)
    So I imagine for non-muslims many advantages to live in KSA seem inconveniences, just to mention a few;
    Dresscode , prayer faciities, proximity to the Holy Cities, segregation of the sexes, etc., halal f.ood all over.
    Let me have your thoughts..

  44. @Peter – I appreciate you taking the time to respond and expand on
    your earlier comment.

    The factors you cite as either advantageous or an inconvenience
    (depending which way one views things) are legitimate points. What
    will bother me though if I simply choose to be an “outsider looking
    in” are the lack of rights and opportunities for women. Recent
    examples are the courts upholding the right of a 40 plus year old man
    to remain married to an 8 year old girl and the recent ruling that
    women’s fitness centers must be closed down and some clerics simply
    stated women should not exercise!

    It perturbs me when I see examples such as I provided which just
    illustrate the big distinctions between the two countries and such
    distinctions which sometimes make it difficult to take KSA seriously.

  45. Bedu, you have not been in Europe (the “west”) recently I imagine. We in Europe are not that much advanced. Women that wish to swim amongst women and want to organize an hour/week for this are blocked. Not because it does not make business sense but because “we do not do this here”. Same for wanting periods for fitness. Poor judgement by the courts is no reason to criticize ‘all the rest”. Many europeans born from immigrant parents who criticize their country are told to return to where they came from (in fact the country of their parents). Expats have chosen to work and live in KSA, you don’t like it, get out. Christian wives of Saudi’s have chosen to live in KSA, be thankful for all the advantages compared to the miserable life you would have had most likely in the USA.It is up to the Saudi’s to change what they feel should be changed, not to their kindly invited guests.

  46. @peter,

    Do you know believe in freedom of expression? I get tired of how so
    many on hearing something contradictory to what they believe or feel
    immediately get so defensive and say “get out if you don’t like it.”
    Life does not typically work that way. And towards understanding, it
    is good to speak up on alternating views and share in a thoughtful
    manner; not aggressive or argumentative; otherwise folks stop

  47. Bedu,
    the expats that don’t like the choice they made and stay for the money have no right to criticize the country. Particularely westerners have this bad habit.
    The behaviour of a good guest is to be respectful of the customs of the host. I am sure you do not criticize the hostess when you visit a family while they feed you and entertain you. Same thing applies as good behaviour for guests to the Kingdom. Has nothing to do with freedom of expression, a great right often times abused, as your freedom to express yourself stops where you start hurtinginsulting others.

  48. @Peter,

    We are in agreement that if an expat who chooses to come to the
    Kingdom for work and is intensely dissatisfied does have a choice.
    And yes, when interacting with Saudi nationals one should be
    respectful. However that does not mean one has to accept or agree on
    all the customs or the culture.

    My Saudi husband and I (as well as extended Saudi family) frequently
    speak frankly with each other on the distinctions of USA and KSA and
    what we like or dislike about each. It’s not meant to be
    disrespectful but helps us better understand each other and where
    respectively coming from.

  49. Bedu, I disagree with you on one point.
    I believe it were good if westerners in an strictly islamic country could accept the islamic customs and arabic culture. They don’t need to agree obviously. Not accepting has an almost colonial touch of superiority, don’t you think so? One can still respectfully disagree but after basic acceptance.
    In western societies I believe immigrants are expected to accept their new countries norm, customs and culture.

    PS: Peter is as much a Blog name as Primrose. I am as much a muslim as the respectable lady behind the name Primrose.

  50. @Peter,

    I dont think anyone, anywhere, has to accept the culture they live in, in it’s entirety.

    I have lived all over the world and I have never accepted the entirety of ANY culture, including the American culture to which I was born into.

    Laws are one thing, you must follow them, culture is something else.

    Besides, I wonder what you think about Muslims in the West, who are NOTORIOUS for not following either the culture, nor often the laws, of their adopted countries?

    Personally, I find many such laws offensive, ie French ban on hijab in school. Are you saying you support such a ban and that Muslims in France should encourage their daughters to uncover?

    Should all Muslims who live in the West shut up and follow Western culture and laws, or should they move home, as you have said of Western ex pats?

    It would seem from your posts that you want Europe to accomodate for Muslims……..yet Westerners in the Muslim world must accept their lot or move. You cannot have it both ways.

    I am a Muslim, but it is clear that the Muslim world needs the West more than the West needs it’s Muslim populations. This is especially true in Europe, where unlike American, the majority of it’s Muslim population are poor and uneducated.

    You write “Women that wish to swim amongst women and want to organize an hour/week for this are blocked. Not because it does not make business sense but because “we do not do this here”. ”

    I’d give your own advice back to you. Muslims who live in the West have made a CHOICE to live here. if they dont like it, they can leave, just like the advice you give to Western expats.

    It would seem you want the West to accomodate the Muslim population in a way you are unwilling to have the Muslim world accomodate Westerners.

    You cannot have it both ways and not be a hypocrite.

    You say KSA is more tolerant? I had to hold a laugh at that one. There are mosques all over Europe, I have been in many. Are their any churches in Saudi?

    Women wear hijab all over the Western world, the West accomodates Muslims in a fashion that is IMPOSSIBLE in ANY Muslim country.

    I am thinking you must have been joking.

  51. “Laws are one thing, you must follow them, culture is something else” Abu Sinan, this is so true! That’s what people forget sometimes. It was a very interesting time when Ontario, Canada ‘almost’ passed a law allowing for Sharia law. Muslim groups opposed it and it didn’t fly. The reason for opposition was that they came to Canada for our freedom AND our laws. Sometimes Canada will bend over backwards to the detriment of all.
    I do understand France’s stand on the hijab, Christian crosses, yamulkas and so on in state run schools. It puts everyone on the same footing. I would gather that France also has schools that are operated by various religions so that would be an option for some who had difficulties.
    Personally I rather like to see the differences in our Canadian schools.
    BTW, right now there’s a big issue about a woman wanting to wear the niqab while testifying in court. I don’t think she should be allowed to. If I were going to court I’d have to have my face in view. That is the law in Canada! What do you all think about this issue?

  52. Wendy,

    I think it is wrong to ban the hijab anywhere. The problem is France said it wanted to protect the rights of females to make a choice. How did they protect these female’s choice? By excludiing one of their choices!

    What an odd move.

    Others said they wanted to do it to fight extremism. Like you said, these girls could go to Muslim schools. So you fight extremism by forcing the girls to go to schools that might be run by extremists? You want to foster openess by the communities by forcing girls to segregate at Muslim only schools?

    Another odd move that has the exact opposite end as those who proposed it wanted it to have.

    As to the niqab, I am with you. The niqab, unlike the hijab, is NOT required for women in Islam. Also, in the interest of fairness and justice, one should be able to see who is giving testimony.

    Unless we want to become a place like Saudi, we must ensure the religious rights of all as much as possible. Banning the hijab is unfair, undemocratic and certainly not the act of a country that claims to be free.

  53. PS, as to Shari’a, as a Muslim I am against it’s imposition as well. I have seen the nightmare it has become in the Muslim world and wouldnt want my wife and children to have to deal with it.

    Not that I am against Shari’a, rather it always seems to get hijacked by extremists who make it into a form of religious dictatorship.

  54. A quote here …

    The French Point of View

    The French official explanation for banning the Islamic headscarves in French public schools and government facilities is “upholding the secular nature of the French state,” a tradition that goes back to 1905 legislation and to the principles of the French Revolution. Basically, it is to keep the state separated from any established religion in order to eliminate the influence of religion and religious leaders on people’s life. The law prohibits Muslims, Christians, and Jews from wearing headscarves, large crosses, or skullcaps.

    If someone chooses to go to a religious school that is their right. They are not being denied freedom at all. France is not denying Muslims, Jews or anyone else their religion. I see lots of Muslim girls in Canada going to school with uncovered heads. They can cover if they wish though.

    Heads are to be covered to show modesty? and to not entice men? I put questions marks because I’m not sure. Anyway, if muslim girl were to arrive in the school where I live she would attract much more attention from the males than if she were to have her head bare so she would not be showing modesty by attracting attention. In Saudi I’d be attracting much more attention by being uncovered so I’d probably choose to cover.

  55. Thanks to Peter and American Bedu I watched the video again, and it seems obvious this arabophone is reading from a script written as if he were from the West.

    I don’t like the “go back where you came from” argument since as American Bedu pointed out that is “easier said than done”, and as Abu Sinan pointed out , it often means where previous generations are from. Some are refugees who cannot return, or whose homes and towns no longer exist. It further is a cheap trick, except in the instance of someone who is recently arrived, complains, makes no successful efforts to adapt, and has a legimate possibility of returning.

    In Ontario the fight against Sharia family law was led by Iranian women who defeated the proposed law, and in the process had the unintended effect of eliminating the Jewish and Catholic family law option (especially in cases of divorce and inheritance) which had been passed and in effect for years with little comment or awareness on the part of the general population.

    In Canada the eruption of niqabi rights cases, like the voting while niqab’d brouhaha and the testifying while niqab’d controversy are rather suspicious to me-especially since Muslim women said the niqab wearers are a very small minority of the voting population and Muslim rules and Canadian voting law made it a non-issue, or rather a political electoral right vs left issue. No woman had expressed the desire to vote with her niqab on.

    The as yet still unresolved situation of a woman testifying against her alleged rapists while wearing a niqab is more complex and harder to resolve at the level of fundamental Canadian rights (to religious freedom, and not traumatizing witnesses vs to face one’s accuser, and have the witness’ demeanour apparent to judge and jury).

  56. Regarding law vs custom:

    It is legal for women in Ontario to go topless anywhere they want (and has been for almost 12 years). Aside from lesbians on floats in Gay Pride Parades, to my knowledge this never happens, except for the occasional public breast-feeding breast sighting.

    Nonetheless, one kind gentleman has formed an activist group to help women enact their rights: “Topfree Equal Rights Association”. A true feminist man if there ever was one. ??

  57. And I applaud the change to Canada’s laws brought about by the Sharia dispute. Sometimes laws change for the better of all.

    If the woman involved in the court case is given the right to testify behind a screen where she can’t be seen by the accused that would be fine. In fact I think it’s wrong that a woman has to be further traumatized by having to look at her accuser in court so all women should be given that option.

    You’re right – not all people can go back. BUT … they have chosen a new country for whatever reason and they must fit in with the laws of that country. As much as I might not like the laws in Saudi, if I chose to live there I’d have to abide by them. Would I have the right to whine and complain? Yes.

  58. Abu Sinan and Wendy

    Regarding the headscarf ban in France:

    It is important to recognize France’s fundamental valorization of “la laïcité”, laity (lay or layman), similar to but different from secularity. This does stem from the French Revolution (because of the power of the RC Church allied with the aristocracy), was reinforced by the Napoleonic Code (for the same reason), and rewritten as law in 1905, again to diminish the power of the RC Church, and was to entrench separation of religion and state, in direct response to the Dreyfus affair.

    The basic principle is to keep religion in the private sphere and to keep it out of the public one. The 1905 law specifically legislates against any religious symbolism within schools, including RC and Jewish. The new law includes Christian, Jewish and Muslim symbols. Some hijabis have moved to private schools, and some wear the hijab up until entering the school, and on exiting.

  59. ‘The niqab, unlike the hijab, is NOT required for women in Islam.’

    But then it boils down to one’s definitition of hijab doesn’t it? A very large percentage of Muslims (majority maybe?) in the world do not define it as a ‘head covering’. People define ‘modest’ in many different ways don’t they?

  60. Wendy
    While generally on the don’t traumatize the woman further side, I have to say that false accusations, and convictions exist, and therefore the rights of the accused need to be protected, and in Canadian law these include the right to face one’s accuser, and to offer the judge and jury the ability to judge the witness’ demeanour, based usually on facial expression as well as other oral speech and body language cues (the ability to do this is a whole different topic).

  61. I agree, it’s not fair for one side to accomadate for the other while the otherside doesn’t do the same. I just want to note that spain had just opened its 1st masjid in past few years.and while Saudi may not have any official churches, Qatar, Bahrain,UAE, and other Arab countries do if I’m not mistaken.

  62. Good point! I guess I wasn’t clear on what I said. I believe that women HAVE to show their faces to judge and jury. I just didn’t think it was always fair to have to face the accused. I wasn’t thinking about false accusations which happen more often that they should. In the case of false accusations it’s very important that the accused and the accuser face each other therefore there can be no ‘hiding’ at all when it comes to court!:)

  63. Mimi Ameer – for sure there are churches in Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan. In Morocco there are also synagogues – perhaps they are also in other Islamic countries.

  64. yes, there are some in Iran too.

  65. @Abu Sinan and others, I am not sure if my message has been received the way I transmitted it.
    It is a very western attitude to not accept impositions of this nature, often because of a feeling of superiority.
    Certainly one can disagree but accept the general environment and go with the ,generally acceptable ,flow.
    Saudi cannot be well compared to any other society but they do resist gradual intrusion of non-islamic values protecting erosion of the Saudi/tribal values and norms and of course expats pay the price of the “inconveniences” being imposed. For a muslim these “inconveniences” are easy to understand and deal with, hamdullah.

  66. Peter

    I, for one, did not mean to imply that persons in a culture shouldn’t adopt the norms of that culture, nor that models elsewhere should be followed by Saudi. There usually are variations in expectations or choices within any culture though.

    There is no doubt that Muslims travelling to a Muslim country will have an advantage in understanding the culture. However, many of them express difficulty in adapting in Saudi as Islam is practised there in a specific manner different than many others (all concerning driving). Some, like an extended family member (female), simply decide not to go there.

    As a Westerner I certainly adopt the customs of the countries to which I travel or where I live, without a feeling of superiority about the West (although at times with some disagreement or incomprehension). I do adapt well when I live in Morocco, thanks in no small part to the generosity of spirit of (most LOL? ) Moroccans, and have adapted in more conservative Western countries, more conservative Eastern ones, and certainly wore hijab in Iran.

    I have never experienced the challenge of living in Saudi, a country which sounds like it has much to offer as well as much to adapt to for anyone (but then the same could be said about many places-and some more than others).

  67. iwka,would u like to see a video made bu saudi women>>>

    you would have to see them veiled!!!!!

    the wife of my husband’s brother is a saudi and that’s why she get the attention,but what i want to say is that my husband is not allowed to see her,she covers alllll of her face and body with a piece of cloth when he or any of his brothers walk by..i do not do this becaus ei used to live with them in the same house so it is kind of hard to keep myself covered all of the time.

    there are places in riyadh where u dont have to sit in the family grenada mall and hayat mall,people can sit with each other and there are places in grenada for more strict people.but how would you fell if u r totally covered and felt that you have to eat,,,you will have to life your cover and pass the bite under it to ur mouth…..isnt that a bit odd?
    not to forget,,,,,the man is always scanning to find a woman he might be able to send his number via bluetooth!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11it gives me the ……………………….

    i have w ish,which is to video tape saudi women on the plane to beirut and how they dress and act,smoke and drink alcohol,pay bouncers to secure their table in a club and wear the ultra mini skirts!!!

    i would like to show the saudi men who leave their families and wives in the hotel or with her friend in restaurant and then he goes to clubs and restaurants and have whores sit on his table.

    damn it ,,,how will i ever be able to let my daughter marry a saudi?(remember my daughter is a saudi)

  68. @Peter, looks like we may respectfully agree to disagree. I have
    learned over the years during my diplomatic career how one can stand
    true to their values while respecting the culture and customs of
    another without compromising on own values and beliefs.

  69. @2em reina – so many of the children from bicultural marriages to a
    Saudi that i know end up marrying another who also came from a
    bicultural relationship.

  70. @Peter,

    You write:

    “It is a very western attitude to not accept impositions of this nature, often because of a feeling of superiority”

    Again, you have a clear double standard. Muslim immigrants are amoungst the worst I have seen when it comes to “accepting impositions”. As a matter of fact, they regularly are known for ignoring local customs and traditions, or wanting a whole new system or set of rules to accomodate them.


    You write: “But then it boils down to one’s definitition of hijab doesn’t it? A very large percentage of Muslims (majority maybe?) in the world do not define it as a ‘head covering’.”

    I dont know where you get this from. I think you have it opposite. The vast majority of Muslims believe that covering the head is an obligation. Just because they dont do it doesnt mean they dont believe it.

    My wife, for example, doesnt wear hijab but she is very clear about the fact that it is required. The debate is more over should they be forced to wear it, ie Saudi, whose obligation if any to enforce it. and exactly what is modesty.

    The vast majority of Muslims accept the concept of hijab as covering the hair.

  71. ‘My wife, for example, doesnt wear hijab but she is very clear about the fact that it is required’

    And which culture was it that taught your wife her religion?

    ‘The vast majority of Muslims accept the concept of hijab as covering the hair.’

    Maybe we should take a vote? lol

  72. @Lynn, I agree that the interpretation of hijab being covering the hair and wearing modest and loose fitting clothes. Only hands and face can be left uncovered (some madahab leave feet uncovered)
    In asking most sisters, also uncovered ones, you will find that the vast majority is convinced of this being an obligation, but are not ready for many reasons (difficult, limitation to work, lack of strenght, etc.)
    No need to take a vote, we have the holy Quran, hadiths and our Sheikhs for guidance!!

  73. ‘(some madahab leave feet uncovered)’

    And the ones that interpret it to leave the hair uncovered are ignored or stoned as blasphemers right?

    Yep, no need to take a vote because those that interpret it differently are not allowed a voice.

  74. @Lynn,

    My wife was taught Islam under the Saudi Arabia culture, but has lived most of her life in the West.

    No need for a vote, anyone who has traveled the Muslim world will be aware that the real debate is not IF the hijab is required, but in what form and how it is to be enforced, if at all.


    Are you a Muslim, if not as a Muslim I am getting REALLY annoyed at non Muslims trying to tell US what our religion says.

    Everyone has a voice, the FACT is that 99.99% of those voices do not argue about the obligatory nature of the hijab. The real argument is over the details of the hijab, not it’s requirement.

    And it is a bit of an exageration to say that any dissenting voices are ignored or stoned to death. That just isnt true, but like with your comments about the hijab, it is uninformed.

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