Posts Tagged ‘Saudi’

The Life of a Saudi Woman

05/08/2011

This post was originally posted in Maha’s Noor Elahi blog “A Saudi Women’s Voice“.

Life_ in general_ is a challenge. For women, it is even more challenging; for Saudi women, it is mission impossible!

Yet, we as Saudi women, are living the impossible and in fact, we are making it possible! 

To be more specific & to avoid generalizations, I am going to take my readers today on a journey to a typical day of my life: the life of a 40 year old Saudi wife, mother, & working woman…Don’t expect deep secrets though 😉

Like all responsible women, who don’t belong to the royal/velvet class in Saudi Arabia, my life is one huge roller coaster!

Once that iPhone alarm starts doing its thing at 5:30 in the morning, I wake up and start waking up my three kids for school. After they have their breakfast and go to school, I start getting ready for work. My work place is about 30 minutes away from home…that’s the supposed time…but in reality and due to the dreadful, hideous, and poor traffic in Jeddah, it takes me over 50 minutes to reach work!

So…that’s over 100 minutes (1 hour and 40 minutes) lost on the road…or actually stuck in traffic…and that happens daily!

Once I reach work, I do nothing but work of course…Working in a private sector with high standards is very demanding, time and energy-consuming…all for the good of the society indeed. As an English language instructor and co-editor and translator, I have to keep up with everything new in the field…I have to always be creative and think of new ways to make life easier for my students, who come with minimum study and language skills and aim at learning English, so they can be up to Dar Al-Hekma’s requirements. At Dar Al-Hekma things don’t work as in most educational institutions in Saudi Arabia; there is no such thing as lecturing and then asking students to memorize and do well in tests. It’s the responsibility of the instructor to implant skills and values in students and to make sure they are strong enough to survive in the real world, to find their roles in life, and to succeed in their careers. Of course, I am not the only one responsible for this, but it’s my mission as a member of a great team.

During the non-stop, long work day, I always squeeze 30 to 45 minutes to go to the gym that the college provides for its staff and students. Why on Earth do I go to the gym if I have loads of work?

Well…that’s the other side of the story…I’m woman in a world full of beauties everywhere (TV, magazine, streets..well yes even thought they wear Abayas they’re still gorgeous)…I am woman and I want to be pretty and fit…In fact, I am expected to be fit…there are no excuses for being overweight in a world that has increasing awareness about health and exercise. No matter how many times Oprah says “we must love our bodies and accept ourselves the way we are”, there is this urge in every woman, I assume, to be beautiful and sexy regardless of her age. Don’t get a wrong idea now…I’m not a model! I just try my best to lead a healthy life in good shape, and that, I believe, contributes to my success as a working woman, wife and mother. No one really wants a mom, wife, or employee who has health issues! It’s harsh and sad..but true!

Back to my day…Around 4 pm, I go back home…and on my way home, I go to the supermarket to buy some groceries and necessary stuff for dinner. My kids reach home an hour before me…Of course, if I were allowed to drive, I would have reached home earlier, but I have to wait for the driver to take them home and then return to me (their schools are next to my house). Once I’m at home, I start preparing for a rather late dinner (around 6:30).

Now…most Saudi women have their maids cook for them…my husband doesn’t really mind, but I cannot think of a woman, who is a total stranger to cook for me and my family! Besides, I’m an excellent cook and I’m a really picky eater. I want my husband and kids to eat clean, tasty, and healthy food. I don’t want to be under the control of a maid, who might decide to leave all of a sudden and who is basically not a trained cook nor a professional house manager; she is just a helper at home. It’s my house and my family, and I’m responsible for them. And after all, cooking is not that big a deal!

Once we finish dinner, I stay with my kids to help them with their studies, especially the youngest one, and then the youngest goes to sleep, and I stay for a while with my husband if he hadn’t fallen asleep. By now, there are about three to four hours before I go to sleep. During those few hours, I read, prepare for work, correct papers, write/translate articles, and spend some time with my two eldest kids and with my husband. I forgot to say that I do all those things while I’m extremely exhausted, but I struggle to stay alert and awake (thanks to vitamins!)

I sleep at around 11 to 12 pm to get ready for a new day.

And now it’s time for Mr. Weekend!! And boy that poor weekend is stuffed with millions of things! My weekends, are divided among my kids, parents, in-laws, beauty salons to take care of my skin and hair, spring cleaning a specified room in the house, doctors’ appointments, and three quality hours on Friday for me and my husband alone.

And as you might have noticed, there’s no place in my life for phone calls, chit chats, hanging out with friends, or socializing and visiting family members and attending wedding parties. The only parties that I attend are the parties that my kids are invited to; I always go with them, especially the young one.

I’m trying to be a good mom, an attractive and loving wife, and a productive employee …and I try my best to do all that with a smile on my face…My mission in life, I have come to believe, is to help others and inspire them to get out the best of themselves.

Life is becoming difficult every day. As women, we have to prove ourselves in the workplace and at home, and as for me, I can never be but a giver and a person who inspires those who need to dig deep into their souls.

I could have taken the easier path as many Saudi women do; eat, drink, spend all my time chatting or hanging out with friends, spend a lot of money on trivia, and be a completely dependent woman on the maid(s), but that’s not me! It’s much easier to be this spoiled woman, who sleeps all day and has others do things for her and at the end of the day complains about not getting a Fendi bag from her husband!

But such a life is just a pity in my opinion. Life with all its challenges, difficulties, and obstacles is much more beautiful and meaningful than just a life of “taking or waiting to see what others offer me!”

 Of course, nothing comes easily…I gave up on a lot of things in order to fulfill my main roles in life. I’ve set my priorities and made my choices …and took the road “less traveled by” as the amazing Robert Frost puts it.

If we don’t face life’s challenges, it will hit us on the face!

If you’re like me, be happy that you have the gift of working and giving others instead of just taking. Don’t forget to take care of yourself and your beauty, take breaks, have fun, and be prepared for life’s surprises; the pleasant and the unpleasant ones….And of course, always be proud because you are a giving woman!

But I’m not the only one…..I am sure and I know there are many amazing women out there, who have even more demanding and challenging lives…and the least I say to them is that “You make us all proud!”

Responsible and reliable Saudi women rock!!

Thomas Friedman – Saudi Wahabism

16/05/2011

So Thomas Friedman says the reason for the appearance of Osama Bin Laden on the global scene is the Wahhabi ideology, well that is either incomplete research or denial.

Having followed Friedman for a while, and having been in awe of his “knowledge” when I first knew about him +10 years ago, I know personally how he seems convincing, but he does have an agenda which includes making everyone in the region look bad, and almost never finding fault with Israel.

Thomas Friedman

Yes, the alliance between The Saudi family and Mohammad Ibn Abdulawahab goes back for decades, we learned that in school, that is no secret, what Friedman missed is a very big sign.

Maybe he never listened to Bin Laden speak, maybe he never heard his reasoning, if he did hear and analyse Bin Laden’s speeches, then he is denying and misleading his readers, if he didn’t hear or read the speeches, then he is BS-ing them, and on both accounts he should be ashamed.

I remember a Bin Laden speech after 911, it was the weekend in Saudi and my friends and I were planning on watching The Patriot, but like everyone we wanted to hear Bin Laden’s message, AlJazeera made everyone know what time it would air, he talked about Sykes-Picot, he talked about the Israeli occupation, he talked about the things the West does, and how when they are treated with the same they cry, the metaphor was something like when a sheep rams a wolf which is taking it’s young he cries foul play. That speech ruined the Patriot movie for my friends and I.

The carrot that extremist dangle in front of gullible believers is the Israeli occupation and the treatment of Palestinians. The promise to pray in the holy Al-Aqsa mosque, which they cannot go to, even Al-Oraifi tried to highlight that issue in his own special way.

Israel is an apartheid state, many are finally beginning to realize that fact and cutting funding, some Americans do not want their tax money to go to Israel, but it still flows, which is funny to me because I thought as a democracy, tax payers can say where they want their money to go. 6.8 million US dollars per day go to Israel, with nothing in return, at least the US is getting oil in return from Saudi, which of course they get their money back by Saudi buying American cars, and US franchises opening up all over Saudi, and of course arms deals, along with other things here and there.

I am an advocate for non violence, I disagree with many of the “wahabi” ways, but I also understand that when you keep telling them to be peaceful yet non peaceful methods are being used against them… Well, most People are not from Nazareth and their conception was not immaculate, so don’t expect them to be able to turn the other cheek.

So will you, Thomas freedman, as an “expert” on the region, ever tell your country to see that they are helping the carrot grow.

Just in case you missed my point, you said America gives money to Saudi, Saudi gives money to extremist, let’s not give money to Saudi so they cannot give money to extremist.

America also gives a lot of money in return for nothing to Israel, Israel with its history of violence and continuing violence fuels the extremist, who then go look for funding, you see how you missed that big part of the picture?

America gets less than 10% of its oil from Saudi, which means that America’s dependence on Saudi oil is minimal.

You know, the vibe after the soviet retreat from Afghanistan was for the mujahideen to go to Palestine and liberate it, that was the carrot… And it still is, and you know what, even peaceful protesters (you know, the ones who took out Mubarak) are now willing to march peacefully into the Gaza strip, oh, and the Muslim brotherhood is not behind this, actually it is not in favor of it.

So either Israel becomes a real democracy (because it is going nowhere, not in any near future), and make every Arab envy the Arab-Israelis, or please stop the half-baked hypotheses… wait, no or… Just stop the half-baked hypotheses, you already bragged about how you do not really read the details of the policies you advocate… but then again, you have a mortgage to pay… come to think about it, no you don’t, you married into one of the 100 richest families in America.

By Qusay

Removing the Veil on the Streets of Paris

01/05/2010

The Veil war, as I like to call it, in Europe and specially France will keep creating a lot of discussions and different points of view. In this post, I am re-publishing the opinion of Abdulrahman Al-Rashid the General Manager of Al-Arabiya TV based in Dubai and the former Editor In Chief of Al-Sharq Alawst Newspaper. He is considered one of the well known liberal voices in Saudi Arabia while some Saudis consider him a voice of the West in Arabic.

In any country that boasts that it respects freedom, the laws have never been tested as they are tested today with France starting to ban the wearing of veils covering the face by women in public institutions and when driving. Is it a law that protects freedom on the pretext that it refuses the veiling of women? Or is it a law that is hostile to freedom because it deprives a woman of wearing the veil, which she considers to be a religious necessity, or at least a personal choice?

Who is harmed? In the French Muslim community a minority of women, who wear full cover over their faces, has emerged within the conservative religious tide that reached that community. Conservative Muslim women in France used to find it sufficient to cover their hair only, and the majority of Muslim women in France from the beginning did not wear veils. Now the Niqab, i.e. covering the entire face, is one of the characteristics of the new women hardliners in France, and they are a minority.

Moreover, those harmed by the new law are the tourists coming from the Gulf countries, where the Niqab is the rule not the exception, especially in Saudi Arabia. However, this is a limited harm, because tourism includes a big world, and the women banned from wearing the Niqab can go to nearby Britain rather than France. Thus, the problem is limited as long as the European Union does not adopt the French law and impose its implementation on all EU countries, which currently is a remote possibility.

Who is behind the new legislations?

Most probably it is the women societies together with some human rights societies, which consider that a woman would not cover her entire face unless someone forces her, such as her father or her tribal society. Therefore, these organizations consider that the law ought to protect women from total veil, even if the woman says that she is covering her face voluntarily. These organizations consider themselves engaged in a confrontation with the hardliners, and will not allow women to implement the hardliners laws whatever their justifications might be.

There is a group enthusiastic about the ban that has a less ideological opinion, which considers the ban as its tactical goal. This group considers that the banning of the Niqab limits the spread of the phenomenon of extremism, which starts with clothes, and progresses to rejecting the society, and even rebelling against it by using violence.

Banning the Niqab will not become a major issue in France and most of the European countries, because the number of Niqab-wearers is a few hundreds, while the number of veiled women is in the thousands, and it is difficult to ban the veil.

The truth is that the issue is not the harm, but it is the principle of banning, which includes a clear violation of personal liberties. Whatever is said, and whatever the justifications might be for the hunting down of wearers of the Niqab, which has started, the truth is that this is a violation of the fundamental principle on which the European systems are based, namely the respect of personal liberty. This liberal principle is collapsing at the worst possible time, as the Muslim woman is being prevented from practicing her right to be veiled at a politically-suspicious time. Had this happened at a different time, perhaps it would have had less negative reflections.

The only justification that can be accepted for banning the Niqab is the security fear that terrorist or thieves might disguise themselves as women wearing Niqabs; such incidents indeed have taken place. However, the new law has not said that, as it has generalized the ban everywhere and at every time, while it would have been reasonable to impose it at the points of entry into the country, and at the security-sensitive places.

However frightening or disturbing the Niqab might look in the eyes of the feminist organizations, it remains an individual issue that falls in the domain of the right of the individual to choose. By oppressing the Niqab-wearing women France becomes the same as the rest of the countries that are accused of oppression and of limiting freedom. It is true that the Niqab is merely a cover, and the number of those harmed by the law is a few dozens, but it is an issue of principle. We all know that the most difficult issue in the concept of freedom is tolerating the others when they practice their freedoms.

http://www.asharq-e.com/news.asp?section=2&id=20727

ABC in Saudi Arabia, meeting the experts and knowing the target

03/03/2010

I received an email from the Saudi blogger Mohammed Awlia asking me to share a post that he recently published in his own blog. Below is the post and hopefully more will come from Mohammed.

Today we [Saudis] dwell on how unfortunate our current situation is, how the previous leaders failed to meet the demands of the rapid development of the 20th century, how education is poor, how unemployment is rising, how bribery became an everyday habit and finally how connections make life  easier!

It is, in no doubt, an extremely significant thing for us to admit that we are mistaken. Our ice-breaker discussion today is just how unsuccessful we are (whether true or not) and begin comparing ourselves with the old Islamic Caliphates, to the United States and recently Japan.

Very good! You would think we are comparing ourselves to know where we stand and where want to be. However,  we are now experts at pinpointing the errors, today everyone utilizes various coefficients in an equation that underscores our situation, whether economically, politically or academically … but at the end we all deduce an exact single result; failure. Some blame it on how we lost our everyday ethics, how dishonesty emerged, that we are too spoiled or living in poverty.

Our main objective, if there is one, is to jump from point A to point C without passing by B. It may be possible, but it is in fact not advisable. The question, therefore, emerges: What is point A, B and C? My humble answer to this modest question will be: Sorry there is not only a single answer but a million! One million! Yes, because to every situation there is an alternative way to tackle it with this so called theory of ABC

We utilize this theory conditionally to an obstacle we face. For instance, let’s employ this analogy in the business world; how would A, B and C be implemented.

Before I start with an example, it will be my honour to introduce the experts that will provide us with their assertions that would balance the reliability or the credibility of the example chosen.

  1. Dinner evening specialists (DES); a group of people who meet for dinner and usually end up discussing the welfare of the nation, the negatives, and at sometimes they end up celebrating the achievements of a minority in the country.
  2. Afternoon singles (AN); a group of singles who usually hang out at a café’. Unlike DES, the afternoon singles discussions vary, sometimes it is about the country, stuff they must buy, stuff they wish to buy, football and what’s wrong in their lives.

Back to the example:  Point A may be an individual’s qualities in the workforce; leader, hard worker or organized, teamwork…etc. – simple stupid. So far point A is clear? I hope so.

Point B is putting these qualities in immense action, receiving hard tasks, working with foreigners (unfortunately subconscious racism)… Point B is the area where an employee may get demotivated, feel he is fed up.

Why would such a behaviour occur? On the one hand, according to dinner evening’s specialists (DES) in this particular situation assert that this shift in behaviour is due to the fact that they are given an easy ride in school, in other words there is not much challenge in school, therefore, getting used to studying a day or week before the exam.  On the other hand, according to the afternoon singles (AS) it is as a result of being spoiled, getting used to things coming easy- life being easy… until you suddenly encounter difficulties and thus back off. Valid argument, obviously not to all… but to some at least

Point C, Maslow’s hierarchy’s self-actualization, being an executive, a CEO… Aiming high! Another argument by our team of experts, DES claim these high ambitions are, in fact, due to the notion that they are being pressured by society’s expectations, and hence wanting to meet their anticipations. However, AS give a dissimilar theory, their thesis states that these high aims particularly go hand in hand with the love of tangible materialistic things, meaning the idea of owning the best car, a big house and travelling first class.

Therefore, to conclude, we may say that these points, in order to effectively employ them we must follow them chronologically, rather than jump from different points. If an individual jumps from A to C, in the example used above, it may mean the individual did not experience B (the hard one) vividly and is thus not able to perform well as a C – a CEO. This, therefore, draws the line that distinguishes where the real mistake is:

  • Blaming the government: 50% effective – The government can provide everything but it is for you to follow up… We cannot all be CEOs.
  • Blaming bad teachers: 10% effective –Teachers are put at a halt, perhaps because they are not satisfied with their salary, with the weakness of the syllabus and unmotivated students.
  • Blaming the family (Society); 30% effective, blaming the country for not being trained to encounter difficulties, such as getting used to living economically and to cut costs.
  • Attend the dinner or chill at the café’: 0% effective all you will do is sit down moan and hope one day things will turn around.
  • Blaming yourself; 88% effective, making the change you seek in the world… nevertheless an evident loophole may be falling into depression.

Hence, not only the government, the private sector, the health sector, the education sector, the industrial sector are all responsible, but also you are, by all means, responsible!

May Allah bless all.

Worries of a day

04/02/2010

I can define myself as a husband, a father of two, a son, a brother, an employee and a Saudi. All of that feels too much to handle. At the moment I am thinking of many things. I’ll be buying a house using the interest free loan from the company I work for. Yet, the loan will not be enough and I’ll have to borrow some more money since the real state  and land costs in a country full of vast empty land is high rocket.

In the same time, I am looking for a private school for my daughter Joori who will turn five next year. The only sources of information about private schools in my country are either friends and their experiences with schools for their own kids or the discussions boards in the internet!. Opinions differ and drivers for these opinions differ as well. I am not sure where she will end which is not a comfortable feeling at all since I believe that education will be one of the most important things I’ll leave her with.

As a Saudi who cares about what is happening in his country, I cannot stop looking at missed opportunities and things that can be done better. Maybe being an Industrial Engineer enforces such feeling. There is a long list of things that I can criticize, but there are few things happening that can help shaping a better tomorrow.

The above is just a sample of thoughts that run through my head during a normal day. Many more to come soon.

By Ahmed O. Ba-Aboud