Saudi Arabia With No Makeup

I watched recently the MTV episode “Resist the Power! Saudi Arabia.” The episode represents an inside story of young Saudi: Fatima who fights to change the traditional clothing of Saudi women,  Ahmed who fights for women rights, Aziz who wants to date and see his girlfriend with no fear, and finally the music’s group who want the freedom to play their music and songs in public.

My thoughts of the episode:

  • First of all, the episode is more for an entertainment than for a documentary purpose.
  • I think the young Saudi in the episode represent their individual perceptions and observations of Saudi society which is open for a discussion and debate.
  • It is impossible to make a realistic judgment about any society or religion based on small selective groups of people, or blogs or news.
  • There is no diversity in the participants of the episode. They are all from Jeddah. They are all against the tradition or the society.
  • I think there is a mixed understanding between what is religious and what is traditional in Saudi society. I think the presenters themselves weren’t sure about where to drew the line between religion and tradition.
  • I think it is very good and healthy to have people showing their opposition or agreement on social and cultural issues especially in Saudi Arabia.

My opinion on Fatima part:

  • Her story was very interesting. I thought she did a good a job in presenting her own observation of the Saudi society.
  • I don’t think she represent a large number of Saudi women. She is from rich family. She has her own driver which many Saudi women don’t. She can uncover her face outside while many saudi women get  in trouble for uncovering part of their face in many cities of Saudi.
  • I really like her colorful abaya’s business. I really wish that these beautiful colorful Abaya will replace the black ones in KSA.

My opinion on Ahmed role:

  • I really like his part the most. He was very confidence in speaking about his thoughts and ideas. He stated clearly his vision of change in Saudi society.
  • I think his story possibly represent a specific group of young Saudi who are well-educated and concerned about women rights along with the civil issues of Saudi society.
  • I think he did a good job overall.

My opinion on Aziz role:

  • I thought he was so funny.
  • His story is very common among Saudi teenagers, talking and having fun with girls in the chat rooms or in the messengers then, falling in love and then arrange for a meeting and then one of them may not show up, or maybe both of them show up but they end up getting in trouble or maybe they decide to get married but then their family will oppose the whole thing! You know, happy ending are rarely predicted on this type of stories 🙂

My opinion on the devil music group*:

  • I think the guys were confusing. I have never heard or saw music group similar to theirs in Saudi Arabia before. It was very interesting for me to watch and listen to their stories.
  • Their music and their clothes are unaccepted by the majority of Saudi society.

How do Saudi viewers react to the episode:

Many Saudi (men and women) felt upset and offended by this episode for many reasons. Some think that the episode focuses only on the negative sides of Saudi society and ignore all the positive sides.  Many Saudi don’t like to see any criticism on their culture exposed to the outsiders. Part of that comes from the old belief that the west are conspiring against Saudi culture or that some religions will try to destroy Islam by presenting a bad picture of muslim society.

Other Saudi think that it is perfectly fine to let people share their individual understanding and observation to the world even if it disagree with our observation. In the time of internet, the world has become a very small village and things can’t be hidden anymore.

I personally think that it is better that we become open and honest about our problems. The mask strategy is no longer practical and Saudi should appear to the world with no makeup. We aren’t the best country in the world and certainly not the worst. There are many Saudi who view life and society differently. I think everyone of them should have the right to speak up his/her mind. We may agree or disagree with what they say and think, we may think that they are completely right or wrong but none of us can deny their right to share their own observation about the world around them.

* Clarification: I am not referring to the music group as the devil. I am referring to how the music group is called and perceived in Saudi society. In the episode  summary, they made the same reference as to explain why Saudi society oppose such type of music. Thanks for Hammad for asking me to clarify this point.

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Two Open Letters

Dear American and foreign countries,

I want you to discriminate against Saudi, Kuwaiti, Omani, and Emiratis so badly. I want you to treat them exactly the same way they treat Indian, Bangladeshi and Filipino workers. I want you for example to force Emiratis to work under the heat of sun for less than 2 dollar per hour. I want you to make fun of Saudi exactly the same way they make fun of Asian workers. I want you to never allow Kuwaiti to eat with you in the same table and when he asked why, tell him that you are from a better social class than he is just like some Kuwaiti assumes that they are from better social class than Asian labors. I want you to get Omani maid, and force her to work 24 hours without rest just like Filipino maids work with no rest for Omani families.  I want you to force every Saudi that comes to your to convert to Christianity, or whatever religion you like just like Saudi force foreign workers to convert to Islam.

Maybe when we feel how is it like to be under oppression and discrimination, we will become more aware of how bad our actions and treatments to Others. Maybe our governments will understand that  the discrimination against forign labor workers will lead to a discrimination against  our own citizens.

I hear everyday a discrimination and an insult against some labor workers in the Gulf countries and nobody stands against it, no newspaper write about it, no government official speak up against it.  But when one Saudi, or Kuwait, or Emiratie guy has been discriminated against in the West or in America, the Gulf turn upside down and every newspaper write about it and every government official stands against it.

Now dear Saudi, Emirati, and Kuwaiti,

There is a simple rule in life, it is “treat others the same way you want others to treat you”  so If you don’t stand up against discrimination on any country, race, or religion, then please don’t ask others to stand up when some people discriminate against your country or religion.

You have an obligation to stand up against discrimination wherever it is, just like you have an obligation to pray five days times a week. It is not like saying “oh, that isn’t of my business” because your silence is counted as if you are supporting the problem.  So, please never allow any discrimination to happen in your home, or in your neighbor or in your country.

Note:

I made a generalization in this post just to emphasize the urgency of the whole society to speak about this problem. I know that there are many Saudi, Kuwaiti, Omani, and Emiratis who are strongly against discrimination on labor workers from all the countries. So please don’t take the post personally.

Saudi Women and The World

“(Saudi) Young women bloggers are fabulous” said Kirsten Powers in talking about her trip to Saudi Arabia. I have to say that I am so proud of Saudi women who blog, who speak up, who expose their identity, who show their disagreement or agreement about global, political and social issues, who show their feminism, their faiths, their thoughts and creativities so openly. I am so proud of Saudi women who hold a camera and take  photographic pictures and share it with the world in Flickr. I am so proud of Saudi women who hold a pen and write about philosophy, literature, psychology in the newspaper. I am so proud of Saudi women who tweet in Twitter about the lovely voice of their mothers, the romance of their husbands, the funny stories of their children and about everything concern their lives.

And that is why I believe that Saudi women aren’t in anyway less intelligent, creative, caring, beautiful than the rest of world’s women. I wrote this post as a respond to one of my American friend’s question  about why do so many Saudi guys, whom she met here in US, find American women are more attractive, beautiful and intelligence than Saudi women. Well, the answer is that I can’t speak on their behalf, I think they have the right to speak about their personal opinions and preferences. But I also would like to speak about my personal opinion, I find Saudi women are very attractive, beautiful, intelligent, intellectual and creative. and that is why I think I am going to marry a Saudi woman.

By the way, just so that you don’t confuse my personal opinion with my stand on foreign marriage. I strongly believe that Saudi men should have the freedom to  marry whoever they like from wherever they like, but I also believe that Saudi women should have that freedom too. There are so many handsome, romantic and intelligent  foreigners out there who want to marry Saudi women. So, let’s be fair on that.

The Story of Buraidah Girl

I have been asked by one of my friends to comment on the marriage of 12 years old girl to 80 years old man in  Buraidah of Saudi Arabia.

The truth is that I can’t write about this story. I really can’t. The reason is that that the process of writing to me is the process of imagining. It is the process of feeling each word I write. and when I imagine this story, when I imagine this little girl standing alone in one room with this monster, I feel paranoid, angry and tortured.  Then, I feel a sense of insecurity, embarrassment, shame and self destruction.

Saudi Dreams

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.

I have a dream that one day this country will rise up and live out the true meaning of Islam: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.”

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day women will be able to travel everywhere without the need for a permission or a Mahram.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day a son from a Sunni family and  a son from a Shia family will sit together  in the table of brotherhood, not to argue over who is right or wrong but to think about the future of this country.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, a saudi employer will treat his Indian or Asian employee with respect and love.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, the Imam in each mosque of this country, will talk about love and respect for all other religions.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, the rich people in this country, will realize the sorrow and the suffering of the poor people who live in broken houses without food.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, the religious policy will realize that the moral values can’t be obtained with force but rather with love and tolerance.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, no one can be above the law and no Wasta will provide privilege for someone over others.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, our government will stand up and prosecute those who permit and allow the child marriage in this country.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day everyone has the freedom to speak his mind, to live his life the way he want, to be what he want to be without the fear of  society and traditions.

“This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to my city with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.”

And if Saudi is to be a great nation this must become true.So let love ring from the mountains of Mecca to the farms of Alhassa. Let love ring from the land Ar’ar to the desert of Rub Al-khali. Let love ring from building of Riyadh.

And when this happens, when we allow love, freedom and tolerance to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every town and every city, we will be able to live the true teaching of the prophet Mohammed. Then we will all repeatedly remember the saying of the prophet, that “the believers, in their love, mercy and kindness to one another are like a body: if any part of it is ill, the whole body shares its sleeplessness and fever”

Thank you and god bless you.

God bless Saudi Arabia.

Note:

The main speech is from I have a dream speech by Martin Luther King.. I made some changes on it so that It becomes about Saudi Dreams.

Another Victim of Sexual Harassment

The following post is from masstz_blog. She works as a lab specialist in one of the hospitals in Saudi Arabia. The post was written in Arabic and I translated it to English so I can share it with my readers here. The translation isn’t literal so I asked for her permission first in order to translate the general idea of her post. She kindly accepted.

“It was shocking and painful to know that yesterday one of my friends was harassed by one of her coworkers. The harassment was shocking and painful to an extent that I can’t even describe. It was honestly painful for me to hear every detail of the story. It first started with silence then with fear and shock.

It hurt me that she didn’t speak out and talk about it to anyone. She fears that talking about it would make it worse and that people would gossip about it and that would hurt her more. She fears that people would have no mercy upon her story and would blame her first for the incident.

As for people, they always have different reactions and point of views in regard such an incident. There will be those who would start blaming a woman’s decency while others would blame the mixing of genders in the workplace. In both situations, the women will be blamed for what happened to her without hearing every detail of her story. It is sad to realize that there are still sick people with stupid mentalities regardless of the educational advancement and the modern life that we have.

Her story, in every aspect of it, is painful and heartbreaking. I cried with her when she started crying. I felt her fears deeply that nobody can imagine. I personally lost my trust in people around me and for a moment, I became scared of everyone.

I wish I had another heart, one for all of that and for all other things. A heart that can carry all the pain and another one just for living

  • My Comment:

It is indeed a sad story and to really understand what the woman has gone through, you need to imagine yourself in her situation. What if someone harassed you in your workplace and you can’t talk about it or even if you talk about it, you will have all this fear of being blamed and misunderstood?

Sexual harassment happens in Saudi Arabia just like it happens in The US, so I would not go to blame wholly one specific country or society. In fact, I realized that blaming that and this won’t help solve the problem. I mean, I can write 10 posts about the things I hate about the Saudi society and yet nothing will change. So, in this post, I want to present an analysis and solutions and yes, I am going to write it about it in Arabic so my message reaches as many Saudi as it possibly can.

There are many questions that we need to answer in order to offer a solution for the problem. First, what led that man to harass the woman? Is it because of his sex drive and lust or because of something else? Secondly, why would the society blame the woman first? Does segregation help prevent the problem as many religious people claim? These questions along with many others that I want to address here in my blog. Please share your thoughts, questions and answers!

Thanks to Asmaa for correcting my grammatical mistakes 🙂