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.
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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.

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.

Discrimination Against 14 Countries

This week, U.S. announced an intense air screening on the fliers from 14 nations. I am not upset about the law itself at all, I really think that America has every right to protect its country but what I am upset about is the idea of treating people from some countries differently than others. It is simply an act of discrimination whether you like it or not!

Time has shown us that human rights are just a theoretical argument and politicians always use it to manipulate the public! and people  are so pathetic and confused. They have no other way but to believe what they hear in TV and see in the movies.

Is Jeddah Really Different?

“Jeddah is different” is commonly used phrase among Saudi, referring to how different Jeddah is from the rest of the cities. The mater of fact is that Jeddah is unique and different when it comes to its people, culture and its general atmosphere. People from Jeddah are very tolerance and open-minded. Most Sunni & Shia are living together in harmony in Jeddah, unlike other cities of Saudi Arabia where the Sunni-Shia thing is very heated topic. Jeddah’s people are funny, they have this unique sense of humor that attract you to them from the first time.   There is a great mixture and diversity of races and thoughts in Jeddah which enrich the social structure of the city.  In addition to all that, The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice have the least power in Jeddah in comparison to Riyadh and other main cities.  That has given Jeddah more freedom in most of its aspects of life (like mixing between men and women rather than gender separation)

However, there are many things that Jeddah is indifferent than the rest of cities in Saudi. The poor city infrastructure system, the bad hierarchy system in government agencies, the poverty and the high unemployment rate are almost in every side of this country. For example, The government spends millions and millions of riyals into the infrastructure of Jeddah and just this month, the city turned upside down because a heavy downpour. It is shocking to see how the infrastructure of such main and important city of the rich kingdom is poorly built and managed. People are wondering where the millions of riyals that we hear about it year after year in the newspaper and TV goes? The visionary king request an urgent investigation for what has happened in Jeddah and Saudi people want every official has a hand in this disaster, to be held accountable. Let’s hope that this event will send a message to all officials in this country that they will always be held responsible and accountable for any mistake or manipulation they make.

My heart goes with the families who have lost their loved one in this disaster.

Two Open Letters

Dear Muslims,
  • I don’t understand why Muslims’ communities in US and around the world don’t speak up publicly in the mosques against terroristic acts like Fort Hood shooting incident and other terrorist incidents. I honestly believe that terrorists who kill innocent people in the name of Islam insult the prophet, peace be upon him, and his teaching more than the danish cartoon, because terrorist commit this awful act on Prophet’s name and damage the image of Islam around the world. So, why Muslim’s reaction is different when it comes to Fort Hood shooting. Shouldn’t you go to street, protest and speak out-load that you are against these terrorist and their message!
  • I think Muslims in US enjoy the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion more than in any country in Muslim nation. So, dear beloved Muslims, if you don’t appreciate the blessing you have here, you are more than welcome to come to live in any Middle eastern country you choose.
  • Muslims always complain that they can’t rise their children in Islam teaching and keep them away from all the seductions and immoralities of the Western society. Well, I think the seductions and immoralities are in everywhere. People can find them whether in Saudi from the TV channel and internet, or in US by simply going to night and strip clubs. So if you don’t know how to rise your child to be a good Muslim and represent the teaching of Islam here in US, you will never be able to rise them even in any of very conservative Islamic society. So stop blaming the society and start blaming your self.

Dear Non-Muslims,

  • Professor Juan Cole of the University of Michigan once wrote in his article Blowback from the GOP’s holy war “One most certainly does insult Muslims by tying their religion to movements such as terrorism or fascism. Muslims perceive a double standard in this regard: Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols would never be called ‘Christian terrorists’ even though they were in close contact with the Christian Identity Movement. No one would speak of Christo-fascism or Judeo-fascism as the Republican[s] … speak of Islam-o-fascism. … [Many people also] point out that [it was] persons of Christian heritage [who] invented fascism, not Muslims.” That is simple what I wanna say for my dear american.
  • I am really sick of american coming to me asking these questions like: why Islam treat women badly, why Islam support terrorism! There are extremists in every religion. Catholic church has killed massive number of people when it was in power in Europe, now would it be legitimate to call the whole religion as bad religion! of course not! What about the Zionist soldiers when they kill palestine kids in the name of Judaism, would it be legitimate to blame that on all Jews! of course not.

Edward Said’s View on the Media

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“Despite the variety and the differences, and however much we proclaim the contrary, what the media produce is neither spontaneous nor completely “free:” “news” does not just happen, pictures and ideas do not merely spring from reality into our eyes and minds, truth is not directly available, we do not have unrestrained variety at our disposal.For like all modes of communication, television, radio, and newspapers observe certain rules and conventions to get things across intelligibly, and it is these, often more than the reality being conveyed, that shape the material delivered by the media. “

Edward Said