culture, discussion, friends, Gender, psychology

Do Saudi Men Understand Saudi Women?

Studying in US has given me a great opportunity to observe and understand  people from different backgrounds, cultures and religions but most importantly it has enabled me to observe and study people from my own country. I was curious to explore the level of understanding between Saudi men and Saudi women here in the open and free society where both men and women have the freedom to interact with each other without restriction or fear. What I found out from my experience is funny, interesting and sometimes sad. I will answer series of questions from my own experience in working and studying with both Saudi men and women.

First Question: Do Saudi men understand Saudi women?

Saudi men in back home didn’t put any effort to fulfill the gap of understanding between them and women because first and for most they don’t see any needs for that since they have the (social) power in their side and second because of the separation issue. Now here in US, I have encountered some Saudi who felt the need for fulfilling that gap of understanding to correct many of their assumptions. So, they go and interact with saudi girls like brothers and sister and best friends. They work together for Saudi event, they interact openly and they exchange stories and experiences.

I have also encountered Saudi guys who couldn’t accept the idea that Saudi women would have equal power to them. I remember one time I was talking with a Saudi girl in the university campus and once I finished my conversation with her, a saudi young guy came to me and told me that he wants to marry that girl ,although that he has never met her before. Surly, in that guy’s mentality, woman would never say no and even if she said no, she is for sure the loser! Now, how can I deal with this mentality? I didn’t say anything to him and went to my class

Another saudi young guy I have met has another interesting and funny story. He told me that he thinks that one Saudi girl has fallen in love with him and when I asked him how, he told me with full confidence : ” She smiled at me last week”??

I have met  three Saudi girls who complained about other Saudi guys and their mentality. “Whenever I walk around campus, I see Saudi guys gazing at me” She told me. Another girl told me that she is  felt tired of receiving continues love E-mail from another Saudi guy. There are plenty of stories of this kind and it made me despair sometimes but once I encounter a saudi decent guy who would improve the whole image, I renewed my hope again!

I have spent a lot of my time trying to understand the cause of such behavior from guys but I failed to get to any conclusion. For example, I thought that might be due to separation between male and female but then I realized that even students from UAE and Kuwait  at our university have exactly the same problem. I think I would need to study in depth the psychological and social factors that led to this problem.

Up Next,

Do Saudi women understand themselves? Did they succeed in representing new image of strong and smart women to the public and Saudi?

20 thoughts on “Do Saudi Men Understand Saudi Women?”

  1. Good. I like the person who trying to understand the things around him.

    When I was in UK, I never saw a Saudi’s men wife, although we are “free society”. So I couldn’t observe the situation.


    I think, the real question: Do Men Understand Women at all?

    I remember a book named “Everything men know about women”. The book was blank pages 🙂

  2. I do not think only Saudi men act that way. What you have described I reconize from how Some (not all) middle eastern men act. And it is from those who just arrived to this country. It must be beacuse of the diffrent mentality two countries have and people do not know how to act.

    The one story that I reconize alot from what you describe is the one where the guy sees the girl and wants to marry her. I have seen and heard alot of these stories here. A guy sees a very beautiful girl and wants her. And he probably thinks she can’t say no or that she must feel “honored”. Some of them do not even take the time to want to know the girl. Which is very sad. It is like the girl should not think, she should just stand there and look pretty.

    It is a mentality that they may have grown up with. Which can be a culture shock when they arrive to a diffrent country with diffrent values. Or maybe it is just that men do not understand women 🙂

    But great topic you have brought up!

  3. good question Murtadha,
    I think we as a nation need to look deeper into ourselves, we generally think of the others impressions about us more than of ourselves, of what we want or need despite the society, girls grow up to be good looking for her expected time of match-making, polite with guests, appreciative of proposals, whether it suits her or not, boys are brought up to learn how to be the MAN, much of the passivity and domination destroys healthy relationships, the question can also be drawn on sisters & brothers, you’ll find the same impressions, unless there are genuine beliefs from men and women of equal rights and identities, no healthy relationships would be there …Segregation between sexes, lack of representative female voices in the society, traditional gender roles (lower status for women in decision making & relationships), are the key points to understand relationships in Saudi, good luck in your search for answers!!

  4. Another eye-opening post!

    Even if I live in a more open society, the problem you have mentioned is still there. But for as long as a lot of people don’t realize how the gender gap adversely affects humanity, no matter how segregated or not, then the problem will still be there!

  5. Marwan,
    the understanding between two gender will never reach the perfection.. but in this post, i am talking about the basic and main understanding..

    It is true that this phenomena exists in many places in middle east but it isn’t as bad as it is in Saudi.

    True, many of us behave and act based on the assumption of others,, I think because we lost the sense of belongingness to our self for so long,, this is why we try to find a place in our collective society.

    Thank you so much,,, always be here, because you give so much aspiration and encouragement that would help me to write more.

    You brought a good point, I am struggling to understand the cause of the problem.. sometimes, i felt that it is due to segregation but then i realized that the problem exits in free society too.

  6. Murtadha, I subscribe to your posts in Google Reader now so I will be sure to read whatever you write. Keep ’em coming! 😀

    I have read some Saudi blogs, and will be honest in admitting that I have not been impressed by the Saudi mindset in certain areas that are important to me. I have been aggravated over things I see Saudi men do and the ways they think although maybe their women like how they are treated and it’s just my Western, nonIslamic mind that has problems relating to a different culture and religious beliefs. Regardless, when I “met” you — I think I saw your comment on American Bedu’s blog and followed you over here — and read your blog, I was amazed because you seemed so opposite of how I pictured most Saudi men in my mind. I think I really needed to meet you so I would stop stereotyping all Saudis one way. Well, I knew there were some good ones already (e.g. Saudi Jeans), but it’s nice to know you because you seem very thoughtful and kind. I should have known there were many Saudis like you out there. 🙂

    Anyway, keep writing and I’ll be reading. Best wishes in all you do!

  7. Murtadha,
    thank you for bringing up this interesting topic and I’ll be glad if you let me share my thoughts as a Saudi girl.
    It doesn’t matter if we are talking about guys in the United States or back home in Saudi Arabia; they are the same.
    Whenever I meet a Saudi guy, I wonder why is he so nice with me? he would speak very soft and use very nice words to show respect. at the same time, I hear really bad things about him from friends. from my point of view, I think that Saudi guys do their best to be gentlemen especially in front of us (Saudi girls) to attract us and to be the “supermen”. moreover, I noticed that when a Saudi guy talks with an American girl, he would die to make her laugh and he just makes himself an idiot and clown to get her attention and to keep the conversation as long as he can.
    If we talk based in our society the reality would be different. in our society, a man is a good person with other people (friends, colleagues, girls other than his sister or wife..etc) but at home they just don’t care and never try to be nice with the family members especially females or to be more specific “sisters or wives”. you can tell that when you get back home. our cousins treat us “the girls” very nice and they would do anything to get our satisfaction. but unfortunately, that same cousin would never try to satisfy his sister because it’s not important to attract her as a “female”.
    I’m not trying to generalize this fact on all of the Saudi men but unfortunately that applies on most of them. It’s hard to explain the relationship between both genders but be sure that if the woman gets her chance in Saudi Arabia, she might step ahead the man and be able to achieve as much as he can achieve.

    I’m very eager to read more about this topic, keep the good work up.

  8. Habeeb,
    Thank you for visitng my blog my friend .. good to hear from you

    There are many great Saudi examples,,most of them blogs in Arabic.. anyway, my goal of the blog is to present an image about saudi arabia without make up,,, the true image..
    so thank you for taking part of your valuable time in reading my blog

  9. Dear T,
    I totally agree with you. I notice that when i first came here in portland. Many of saudi guys always try to act and behave in a way that would attract the girl or at least present themselves as good guys.

    I have known people who are great, nice and polite with all other people but when you look at them inside their family, you would be amazed by how horrible they are with their family members.

    I will take in depth about my experience and more about my observation in upcoming posts but in the same time, i would like to hear your experience and your point of view in such a topic.
    Thanks again for your thoughtful comment

  10. Wonderful observations!

    In my experience university is an enriching and challenging experience for all students (or else they drop out LOL 🙂 ). All have concerns about “dating” and who likes them or not, and how to know, and do they “like like” them or just “like”them. This is even harder for students coming from cultures with no dating practices, or high restricted ones (chaperoned dates after official engagement) and high segregation. The other gender is even more of a mystery, and unlike in the romance movies, dating is more difficult than it seems. That includes socializing and getting to know other people in general. You described a great way to do so–through club activities and getting involved.

    As much as suddenly deciding to marry someone sounds foolish, in a way it is a socially and culturally appropriate way to express romantic interest and desires for those men coming from highly traditional cultures. The persistence of the socially “clueless” is unfortunately universal; and sadly, yes men do more often wonder why the women was so obtuse as to not want them, whereas women are more likely to wonder where they went wrong.

    I really enjoy your observations and thoughts, and I’m looking forward to future posts. Thanks.

  11. Chiara,
    very great comment. I am planning to post more about the understanding gap between men and women and how it is difference from culture to another

  12. good topic

    sometimes, you need to ask yourself ” what the women need, want ?? “

  13. Hello Murtadha Al Matwa’ah
    what a great blog!
    this is a very interesting post!
    I believe Saudi men don’t have enough exerpince when it comes to dealing with women. Yes, they have intereacted with some girls in US but yet thats not enough. I believe it will take Saudi guys a really long time to be able to understand women.
    you know that funn story about the dude who thought that the lady is in luv with him coz she smiled reminded me with a my friend story..
    she works in a hospital with men, every time she walks in she says ” hello, How are you?” for a coworker. In less than a week, the dude asked her in date and wanted to travel with her.
    he thought he was a ***** for saying Hello.
    this sterotype of Saudi is very common!

  14. Great post…….

    I only wish more Saudi men and women studied social sciences. I find they all go abroad to study business, or engineer (and ignore any study into societies, like their own)


  15. Thanks Murtadha,
    I really enjoyed reading your post,,
    I study in the UK, and I am a normal Saudi man let say like you 🙂 from Riyadh..
    I am studying master now and my issue with Saudi girls which I would like to bring her is that as we will see each other in the Uni most of the time for one year. I want to treat them as my sisters and like any other girls from different countries who study in the program, when I think about it with what they might have in their minds and what I have regarding the relationship between Saudi girls and boys outside of the Saudi, so I have two choices. First, I will introduce my self to them in formal way and then I can say Slam or Hi when I meat her any time, OR the other way, which I usually do, just say nothing I might just smile first time then after that I just ignore her for the rest of the year and I only talk with her if we have mutual friend ! I am really inside don’t like the second choice but It is always the decision i take.
    I have to say that I really understand why we have this situations as we usually don’t see each other in Saudi and we find it difficult to do it her and I notice that most girls from west of Saudi are more open and the have a good communication skills regarding this issue and they manage to deal with this conflict in really proper way.
    You know sometimes in the lab for example some of Saudi girls are really struggle with some difficulties which I can help but if she didn’t ask I don’t do any thing. I know she might be shy but also I don’t want her to think that I want to help her as a way to know her because as some reviews her state that they think all Saudi the same, and they go to ask Indian boy or any other students and I really feel sad inside and in some situation I offer my help and they appreciated and depends in her personality some times when we meet again she might chat or ask or just keep it to minimum level.
    And most of them if they knew really that you are a good man then we have a normal and good relationship and we treat each other like we are both men or women.
    To sum up ,
    My problem is generally speaking if you say hello and start to introduce yourself as with any other people then ????? What he up to???
    If you ignore girls, ignore in a good way like not even look to them(Like what we do in Saudi with girls) to make them feel comfortable , then they might say ???? what a tough classic Saudi man who lived in the last century !!!!!!!!!
    And I really understand the situations and our cultures and rols..
    and my sister face the same problem but in the opposite position !
    Please advise me,, What should I do t?


  16. Hi,
    I am an American woman who became very close to a Saudi guy in an online game. As we got to know each other better, I realized he had some very positive characteristics that many Christians I know (including myself) strive to live out, such as doing – not just talk about doing – and not being frivolous with words; in other words, only saying what you mean. He is frugal with money (of course, he has no debt), and while I unknowingly managed to insult him frequently, he generally responded with silence. It took me forever to figure out what he found insulting and to treat him as he expected.

    Since then, I have been very interested in the Saudi culture and have made it a part of my intercultural studies. My experiences have been very interesting. One guy seemed to think that just because I contacted him regarding a survey and continued to converse with him that I would meet him in an instant without a specific invitation. I didn’t even realize he expected me to go out with him until a little while later when it was too late. Then he unfriended me from Facebook, even though I apologized for possibly insulting him. Other encounters have proved just as elusive and mysterious. While sometimes Saudi guys seem very upfront and honest, if things take a wrong turn, I end up lost and confused, wondering what in the world happened. It seems impossible to keep them as friends. I recently met a young woman at my university and I hope we can develop a friendship so I can learn more about this fascinating culture.

    Fortunately, my first online friend and I are still speaking regularly and I sometimes feel he is my best friend. I keep searching out blogs like this one that will give me more clues so that I can better communicate with Saudi people.

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