They always have been winning and probably always will…

If you read anything related to Saudi Arabia or have a conversation with someone living there, inevitably this remark comes up”but change is coming soon”. Well from my perspective, it’s just not true. Short of an outright war or a western invasion, women will never get their rights. I remember a Bahraini friend of mine telling me how her grandfather respected her grandmother because he was influenced by the British. Sometimes the thought that we would actually be better off if we were colonized in the late 1800s and early 1900s like our neighbors creeps into my head.

The muttawa way of life, in which everything that brings a smile to your face is HARAM (prohibited), is integrated into the very heart of our society. Music, plays, festivals even when they are segregated are strongly discouraged. And the prohibition is only related to doing it in public. It is a fact that most Saudis do not practice what they preach. Get on any plane leaving the country and witness it for yourself. Abayas come off and men and women become much more relaxed. Women are pressured and brain-washed into living the way they do. But why do men live the way they do, when for many it is obvious that they would rather be more relaxed with their families and have their wives drive their own cars…etc.

International tourism was not affected by H1N1 or the economy in Saudi Arabia. Strangely enough, more and more Saudis are leaving the country each year for a vacation. I know one woman who actually took a loan from the bank just to treat herself and her family to a trip to France. Another woman in her sixties, never had a passport until two years ago and ever since all she talks about is where she’s going and where she’s been for the summer. Just a week ago, there was no traffic in Riyadh! And I could get an appointment at my favourite hairdresser on the same day! Usually it takes at least two weeks advance planning. Everyone was outside the country.

And then they come back to another year-long round of pretending that they agree that everything should be prohibited. I think that what goes through their heads is something in the vein of “well I can handle all this freedom because I’m a responsible person but my fellow citizens need to be treated like caged animals, otherwise they’ll go crazy”. By crazy they mean things like convert to another religion, openly announce their homosexuality, walk around in revealing clothes and/or promote someone that has no blood relation to them.

But these things have not happened in any of our surrounding countries. Why can’t they see that a little freedom does not mean Hollywood?!


Filed under Culture

20 responses to “They always have been winning and probably always will…

  1. Dude

    having a bad day?

  2. Layla

    Although I’m not from Saudi Arabia but i entirely agree with you. I have given it a lot of thought before, and wondered how these restrictions affect women in Saudi, and I don’t think change will come. Like you said, you either have to travel to feel liberated or you just stay and feel imprisoned in your own country.
    I mean certain things should have a rational limit, take driving for instance, do they give you reason why women aren’t allowed to drive?

  3. I couldn’t be more right myself. Problem is, future doesn’t look bright anymore! For some reason, extremists are gaining power lately and it surely can’t be good ..

  4. Salman

    I am surprised to see that a Saudi women has written this blog. I had an impression that, Saudi women do not feel imprisoned and it is only foreign women who do.

    Although I am not an extremist, I find it hard to understand why women beleive that wearing a hijab with niqab and only leaving your eyes exposed is women imprisonment. Empowerment of women does not mean that they should be allowed to wear skin tight or western dresses and allow to walk in public. Why Saudi women, don’t wear hijab in foreign countries is an issue of racism. It is not easy to wear hijab and abaya in western country, since those women get to face a lot of negative attention and discrimination from westerners. The murder of an Egyptian Hijabi women in Germany is a good example.

    The only 2 factors stopping women empowerment in Saudi Arabia are lack of jobs for women and ban on driving. You can now see women working in malls of Jeddah which is a first positive sign of change. Women driving will also be allowed in years to come. It’s all a matter of time.

    I hope after reading this article, Saudi women don’t feel opressed just because they are made to wear the abaya and the naqaab. When I see a woman in complete hijab in Saudi Arabia, even in 2009, when women in rest of the world are walking naked, I feel respect and can sense modesty. I hope the day never comes when Saudi women walk the way Americans, Canadians or the Europeans do.


    • Salman – You seem to be insinuating that all Western women walk around dressed like sluts or that they approve of how some women dress in their societies. And that is a very unfair and insulting insinuation. The important thing to remember is that those women in other countries have the CHOICE to wear what they want, to go where they want and WHEN they want, to work or not, to travel freely, to swim and ride bikes, etc. The number of Saudi women working in Jeddah malls can probably be counted on one hand, so please don’t tout this as “progress.” You haven’t been paying much attention if you assumed that all Saudi women are happy with their plight here in KSA. If you don’t think wearing a black cloak in this heat, plus hijab and niqab, is so bad, I suggest that YOU try it and see how you like it. Yes, it feels like prison – in fact, WORSE than prison. Most women would dress tastefully and modestly if given the chance to wear something out other than the abaya. You must watch too much TV – TV is NOT reality for most women of the world.

      • Salman

        Hi Susie,

        Maybe you are right. I should not use the word naked women when I refer to western women as it is insulting. However, what majority of the women wear in casual setting in western countries may not be appropiate according to muslim standards even if Muslims do not wear the abaya.

        Most of the non-muslim women who are living in Saudi Arabia for one reason or another do find problems wearing the abaya because they are not used to it, do not like it and cannot understand the purpose of it. And for those women, I would like to say without being rude, that no one is forcing anybody to come or live in Saudi Arabia. It is a difficult place for westerners who will not only find the abaya as an imprisonment but many other things as well.

        Most of the Saudi women do not find the abaya uncomfortable. There are many western women especially in United States who have converted to Islam and wear the complete abaya even where is no requirement to do so. If this is oppression, why do they do so, even when they have a choice of wearing something else? And you are right in saying that women hear do not have the luxury of working anywhere they want and femle employees in malls can be counted on fingers. But guess what, I am still going to call it progress, because it is progress, maybe not according to western standards but according to the situation here, it is. And I bet you, in a few years, it won’t be possible to count female employees in malls and offices on your fingers unless you get extra fingers impanted on your hands.

  5. Tamador

    Dear Eman,
    Things are changing and will change more in time. I think that things only started to change when Saudi women themselves started to ask for change and work on it. A few years ago you couldn’t find anyone objecting to the way women live in KSA except in friends’ gatherings. Now you can find Saudi business women, journalists, division managers in corporates and BLOGGERS!
    Saudi women are stronger now and are demanding change officially through every media channel and their voices are being heaared. So, be optimistic and do more blogging with positivity and things will change 😉

    Love ya

  6. islam

    You make me sick what kind of thinking is that? Is the prophet pbuh was here u wouldn’t be saying none of that. Do you hate what allah has commanded you? Allah gave you life and taught you every thing you know. What excuse are you gonna have infront of allah on the last day? May allah guide you. I live in america california and know many many converts who wear full niqab and are dying to get to the kingdom and over here the kafirs dress like sluts and act like it you have 12 year old girls who had sex with 5 guys they never met strung out on drugs. The west is nasty islaam is al haqq. Fear allah and return to the sunnah of the messenger

  7. muslim

    I’m a muslim living in the united states and I’m shocked to read that blogg u live in the land of tawheed and u talk like that makes me sick. In american these kafir women walk around with tight clothing and mini skirts at age 11 you have prostitues drugs drunks aids a lot of aids you 12 year old girls sleeping around wit many males now that’s the kaafir world. maybe its you that need to change you live in a land wear you have the scholars we don’t. I know a lot of converts who would love to be in ksa and who are trying to get there now they wear full niqab. Fear allah and return to the sunnah may allah guide

  8. muslim

    Sorry about that I had to re post because I thought my post didn’t post sorry.

  9. To Islam/Muslim – Both of your comments were obviously written by the same person. You should have at least changed it a bit if you wanted to make it look like someone else agreed with you.
    The writer of this blog is an educated, intelligent Muslim woman who wants to see changes for women come to her country. There are many Saudi women who feel the same way she does. You talk about 12 year old girls sleeping with men in America, while the Saudi system supports marriages of young girls to grown men. This system is perverted because it is run by men and there is no input whatsoever by women. Many women here are brainwashed into thinking that they are incapable of making decisions for themselves. The religious zealots here keep squashing any small freedoms that women here have. SaudiWoman has the right to express her dissatisfaction with the way things are here – she is the one living here and YOU are not.
    SW – Everything you said in this post is true and I think you got it ALL right.

  10. muslim

    My dear sister it doesn’t matter how educated you are in the dunya that doesn’t mean anything the deen is gonna account for everything at the end of the day. So you would rather be ruled by kafirs ? The land of saudi is the land of tawheed the only land which fully governs by the sharia’a be thankful. Why don’t u just leave? Do u not like covering? I have kaafir family and they will never like me until I’m upon what they’re up allah says in the quran that they won’t like you until you’re upon what there upon. Sister you should ne patient instead of speaking out insha’allah you get rewarded and if you are getting oppresed than allah says there is no screen between me and the opressed so beware of they’re dua’a inshallah may allah reward you for patience and guide but allah knows best.

    • Muslim – You yourself admit that your own famnily doesn’t like you. It’s probably because of the way you talk to them, if your posts here are any indication. Spouting off about religion all the time in incoherent sentences only makes you appear extremist. And calling people “kaffirs” – well, what do you expect?
      Yes, I do not like covering. I never covered for 55 years and suddenly just because we moved to KSA I am supposed to hide my “beauty”? This makes no sense to me. I hate covering because it makes me too hot, I find it uncomfortable, and I don’t feel that God cares whether my hair shows or not at this point in my life. I live here because my husband wanted to move back home after spending 30 yrs in the states – isn’t that what a good wife is supposed to do? It doesn’t mean that I have to like it, although I try my best.
      You attack people when you try to make your arguments so no one wants to listen to you and you just sound crazy. If you would try being more tactful and considerate, it might improve your chances of getting along in this world.

  11. Tamador

    “You make me sick” and “you disgust me” the kind of words you use scream “I’m an extremist living in the USA and soon to be terrorist!” Brother, if your intention is to calm Saudi women who feel oppressed down or offer advice, then you definitely need to work on your communication skills and rephrase! And to be honest, you sound to me like one of those extremists who just thank God for being born a male and not a female because you’re not missing out on anything are you?! How convenient! You need to back off a little and study Islam well rather than just mimicking other extremists and only then you’ll realize that Islam preserves women’s right and had the prophet pbuh been alive he wouldn’t have allowed such oppression and injustice!

  12. muslim

    You’re right my approacg was wrong I shouldn’t have cam at it like that I’m sorry sister if I upset you or offended you in any way I didn’t mean any disrespect and honestly when I said u make me sick that wasn’t true so yea I can’t even argue with you about that because my whole approach was wronf and once I apolagize for being a A hole.

    And my family don’t like me because of my beliefs they’re non muslims who look down on muslims they think islam is what they see on the news but once again I apologize for the comments earlier

  13. Ahmer

    can any body of you define the term extremist,orthodox,fundamentalist i think these are all just the names given to us muslims for practicing their religion.
    Why no body calls catholics as fundamentalist. amazing

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