discussion, Gender, Politics

Top Five Fallacies about Women Driving in Saudi

Here are the common five fallacies about not allowing Saudi women driving with my respond to each one of them:

  1. Women driving will increase the traffic:
    Many saudi fear that streets and highways would be extremely crowded when women are allowed to drive and this isn’t true. In fact, allowing women to drive will decrease the traffic.
    In Saudi, Traffic occurs in the peak time especially in the early morning when employees go to work and in the beginning of the night when many Saudi go with their families to supermarket and other things. Now, if women were allowed to drive, they  would have flexible time to go to supermarket and finish home needs instead of just being confined on one specific time (like until their father or husband get back from work). This would decrease the traffic in the peak time.
  2. Women driving will increase the pollution:
    You may wonder since when Saudi began to care about environment and pollution! Ironically, Saudi began to think about being environmental only in the issue of women driving.  This country has no recycling programs, no public transportation to help decrease cars pollution, and no social awareness at all about the environment and yet when it comes to women driving, everyone is beginning to react as if the environment was the center of his attention.
  3. Flirting and sexual harassment:
    Saudi who have been outside of KSA respect fully the law of the country. I rarely heard a Saudi harassing an American woman or a Kuwait woman just because he sees her driving.   A lot of Saudi guys go to Bahrain in the weekend, some for the sake of enjoyment like watching movie, other for getting drunk and having fun with women in night clubs and yet they don’t have any problem with women driving there. So, what is the magic thing that drive Saudi crazy when they see Saudi women driving? I don’t know!
    By the way, many Saudi women get sexually harassed from Taxi drivers so allowing them to drive will really decrease this problem.
  4. Women driving will increase the rate of accidents
    I don’t understand how people sometimes make a conclusion on argument without having a sound and rational premiss like saying that “women are very emanational and not physically strong to drive therefore, allowing them to drive would lead to more accidents”. Sounds stupid, right? but honestly many people have this mentality of thinking. Now, Saudi is ranked among the top countries in car accidents and so if we follow the same mentality of thinking, we can make exactly the same conclusion and say:  Saudi men shouldn’t be allowed to drive because of their irresponsible driving skills!
  5.  Women driving is prohibited in Islam:
    It is either Saudi think they are the only one in the world who follow Islam and consider all other Islamic countries as sinners for allowing women to drive, or we have really stupid religious group who invent Fatwa as they wish and like. We are sick and tired of people telling us what is sinful and what is not, and how we should live our life or shouldn’t! If you think women driving is sinful and Haram, that is great! you can enforce your belief on your family, but not on the whole country.
culture, discussion, Gender, Observation From Inside, Politics, reflection

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.

culture, discussion, Make a difference

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.

discussion, religions

A Story From The Bible

Here is one of my favorite stories from the Bible. The story has been narrated in Muslims’s books as well. I might share some more passages from the bible and AlQuran as an attempt to build a bridge between Christians and Muslims in my blog.

And every man went unto his own house. Jesus went unto the Mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. John 7:53-8:11 in the King James Version:

What is your personal reflection on the story?

discussion

Interrupting Others

Interrupting others, regardless of who they are and how much we disagree with them, is a disrespectful and an uncivil act. It is just so embarrassing and so ignominious to see people with university degree provoking and doing such an act.

I really hate to be in the environment where I feel that my self or any other speaker will be continuously interrupted by someone else. I really don’t understand why interrupting others has become an accepted phenomena in our society.

Now, I understand that some speakers have nonsense or wrong thoughts but if we want to engage in a discussion with them, we have to listen to their speech until they finish.  Then, we can ask them tough questions that will really show the weakness of their arguments.

It is very simple. If you agree to engage in a discussion with someone, you have the obligation to listen to his argument until he finish. If you just interrupt him every minute he speaks, then what is the point of the whole discussion in the first place. Also, keep in mind, that you may look foolish to others because of the way you handle the discussion.

What got me to write this post is the way UC  students behaved during the Israeli ambassador Michael Oren‘s speech. Oren has been interrupted continuously by (Arab or Muslim) students. I just feel their interruption made Oren looks like a hero to other students. They could have done a better job if they had ask Oren tough questions about human rights issues in Palestine and the criminal killing in Gaza.  These questions will really challenge Oren and put him in a very embarrassing situation.

discussion

Saudi Youth and The Labor Market

Olivier Arvisais is a university researcher at the University of Quebec at Montreal. He is currently doing an academic research on socials issues and labor market in Saudi Arabia. He want to know whether or not Saudis hold some prejudice with respect to certain kinds of jobs and whether most young Saudis prefer to remain unemployed, rather than to accept a manual labour job in the private sector or in the oil industry.

I really encourage every Saudi to participate in his survey by going to his website Saudi Identity . It is very short, and mostly Yes/No questions.

I think his research topic is really great and definitely touch upon very important social and economic problem in Saudi Arabia. Many Saudi youth grew up with the idea that working in a restaurant or any other manual jobs is shameful while the country suffer a dramatic increase in unemployment.

Anyway, it would be very interested to see  what Olivier would come up with from his research.  Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts in the comment section.

discussion

My View of Valentine Day

I honestly don’t believe in Valentine day.  I feel it represents love as a product of consumptionism. I think companies found V-day as a very smart idea  to manipulate the prices and increase people consumption  so the flowers that cost 20 dollar is sold for 99 dollar in V-day!

I am not against love celebration at all but I feel love is so beautiful when it express simply and continuously. This means that you should celebrate your love to your wife every single day she smiles at your face, every moment she holds your dreams and in every second she share a breath with you. Schedule your  own love day on your own calendar,  pick a day each month to surprise her with a flower or a gift and it doesn’t have to be expensive, it just has to be more sincere.

My point of the whole post is your love to your wife shouldn’t be appointed by somebody else, or by companies that want to make a profit out of you.

Notes before you comment:

  • I provided my personal opinion which means that I don’t say that the celebration of V-day is wrong and I don’t force people to agree with my opinion.
  • I am totally against what Saudi moral police do in V-day of forcing people not to celebrate the event. I don’t think it is sin in Islam at all to celebrate V-day and I don’t think anyone has a right to prohibit people from celebrating V-day.
  • Please read the comments below. I think most of my readers share a different take on the subject. That is always what I like about blogging. It always gives you an opportunity to learn new perspectives from people.

culture, discussion, Gender, psychology

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 🙂

discussion, personal, psychology

Your self is talking, Are you listening?

I am writing now because writing allows me to express myself to myself. It makes me feel my existence in a world that steals your identity in one way or another. I feel peace and loved when I write something to myself. Isn’t that odd! I mean myself and I are assumed to be one thing, and yet I needed to communicate with myself more often! How could it possibly for writing to have such a power of carrying and transforming my feeling from and to myself. well,I don’t know! but I do know that I need to keep writing in order to survive and to be who I am.

I try to spend more time with myself. To be honest, I like to be alone most of my time, I like to be away from people’s interference. The process of explaining one’s self to others is just painful and wasting of the time. Loneliness give so much value to a person’s life more than his social life. People have no idea how much loneliness can transform their lives. I am not talking here about loneliness that is mixed with depression and self-defestating. Nop, I am talking about how your self represent a unique, very special and remarkable power that can give you everything you need.  Loneliness, if understood right, should give you your happiness, your life’s adventure and above all your self. So write something to yourself, invite yourself for a coffee or buy a gift to your self. Express yourself as simple as possible.

Every week, I invite myself for a coffee and when I go for a walking alone, I try to dress up as If I am going for an interview or wedding. Last year, I bought a gift to myself simply because I did a good job in my classes. In fact, I am working in finding more creative ways to build more connections and bridges with myself.

so what about you? how do you communicate with yourself! Do you write to yourself often? Do you find it difficult to understand yourself? What is your view on loneliness? and does it make any difference in your life?