Saudi Arabia: A Saudi Mother Speaks Out

It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to conduct bi-monthly interviews on American Bedu.  This interview is with a Saudi woman who is a mother of three active children.  She lives in Saudi Arabia although spent time outside of the Kingdom for a period of time. She has kindly agreed to answer some questions about her life, views and perspectives.

To begin with Saudi Mom, Welcome!  Please share a little bit about yourself such as where you are originally from in Saudi Arabia.

I was born and raised in Riyadh as part of a big family, lots of siblings. We have some family who live in Jeddah so we spend a lot of vacations there.

I have accepted Carol’s very kind request to have this interview but was a little bit reluctant in doing so. The reason being I do not feel that I have any great wisdom or knowledge to share. I am not a scholar nor do I work in any particular field that will enhance the readers knowledge in any way after this interview. But I figured there is not much out there about Saudi mum and I guess some non Saudi’s would be interested to hear from me simply because we are a closed society and not much good seeps out from here unfortunately because good news is no news.

I want to emphasize I do not claim to be speaking for anyone but myself, and my opinions and views are from my experiences and do not necessarily reflect those of other Saudi women. (I sound like those disclaimers that go before interviews on TV to protect the network except this time it’s to protect the interviewee)

 

Everyone always enjoys hearing how couples met.  How did you and your husband meet and get to know one another?  Are you related?  Did you have an arranged marriage?

My husband and I are distant cousins. Our marriage was not arranged but was semi traditional. We had seen each other in family gatherings and spoken a few times and I guess we were both interested in each other.

His sister called me to see if I am interested in getting married and to check if I was available. This is sometimes done before the mothers contact each other in some families just to be on the safe side and not to cause any embarrassment. I said “Yes! I’m interested” and was later told I was meant to say “I will have to think about it and get back to you”. But anyways. His mother then called my mother a few days later. My mother asked me what I thought and I told her that I had seen him around and spoken to him and that I am interested. She asked me to give it some thought and do Salat Istikhara (A prayer that is done when a person needs help making decisions). A few days later my mother called his saying I am interested and that “they should speak and get to know each other before they get married” all agreed.

My husband and his father and brothers then went to my father to officially ask for my hand in marriage (I am told that that involved drinking tea and coffee and not actually talking about the actual marriage except for saying a few prayers before they left). After that, our engagement was official and we stayed engaged for about 2 years.

I was studying in the UK then so we would speak on the phone daily and see each other at my parents house when I was back home and I also saw him when he was in the UK. That is probably where families in Riyadh differ from each other. Some would not let the couple see each other till after the Milka (meaning they would get married on paper in order to spend some times together but each would still live in their family house and not have the actual wedding till after). Some would be ok with the couple seeing each other once and then get to know each other by phone conversations. And some won’t let the couple talk to each other at all and only see each other once. I guess we are considered the more liberal when it comes to getting to know one another before marriage because our parents believe that you cannot make a decision like marriage without being 100% sure you are compatible with the person you are marrying.

 

The marriage procedures and wedding parties are generally much different than those of a Western country.  Can you describe your marriage and what your wedding party was like?  What did you wear?  How many guests?  Were there separate banquet areas for the male and female guests?  When did your wedding party begin?  What time did it end?  What kind of food was served?  Did you have a wedding cake and if so, what kind?

We had a very simple wedding in my grandmother’s house. It was small for Saudi standards and we had only close family there. I wanted something traditional for my dress but a little different. So, with the creativity of my mother, we decided on a very modern style dress with very traditional beading on it. The kind of beading that was used is called “saadiyat” which is done using metal beads to make geometrical shapes. The image below is an example of such beading.

 

In many countries there are parties (showers) for a bride prior to her marriage.  Family and friends gather, play some games and all present gifts to the bride.  Is there anything similar in Saudi Arabia?

In the western province more so than Riyadh they have a “henna” night about a week before the wedding. The idea is that close relatives and friends have a gathering for the bride to help get her prepared for her wedding by applying henna to her hands and feet. The bride would sit in the middle of the room and the family would sing and dance around her taking turns carrying a tray with a pot of henna in the middle and candles around it. It would be passed from one person to another while they dance for the bride. Unfortunately not many people I know do it here in Riyadh. (please if there is anyone who knows more accurate details about the Henna do share, I did not do it justice!)

 

When does a Saudi couple generally receive wedding gifts?  What are typical types of gifts a Saudi couple may receive?

Well, as far as I know the bride gets all the gifts! My husband’s family bought him a gift before he got married (a ring) but I think men don’t usually get anything. The bride on the other hand gets an engagement present from the groom (“Shabka” it’s derived from the Arabic work for net!) This is not a Saudi tradition but one that came from Egypt but has spread all over Saudi. This is sometimes a ring or a set of earrings and necklace. Then, there is another gift from the husband called a “Sbaaha” (derived from the word morning) that is given to the bride the morning after the wedding, also jewelry. And the grooms parents usually get her a gift (again, jewelry) on the wedding day or just before.

A friend of mine had a bridal registry like in the west and she told me a few of her friends had them too. I am not sure how well that went though.

 

How long have you and your husband been married?

8 Years

 

I understand that you studied in Europe for a period of time.  Was this before or after your marriage?  Did you have a mahrem with you at that time?

It was both before and after my marriage. I went to the UK to study right out of high school as my two elder sisters did. One of them had already graduated and the other was still there. We did not go with a Mahrem. Our parents were always back and forth between Saudi and UK. I got engaged while still at university and my mother always wanted us to wait till after we graduate before we got married because she thought that we wouldn’t finish our studies if we did. We did get married before I finished and unfortunately my mother’s predictions (so far) came true when I had my first child and it was just not feasible for me to do it then.

In all honesty it is not because it is impossible, many women I know have got their bachelor’s degrees while juggling kids and a job and then went on to get their masters. I am just saying it wasn’t possible for me. I do not multi task well! But I hope to remedy that soon! The second time I went was after I got married and had 2 children. We went to the UK so my husband can get his masters and I joined the university again for a short while but ended up leaving again in order to be with my children.

 

Would you share a little bit about your husband.  Would you call him an open or conservative Saudi?  What kind of interaction do you and your husband have with each other’s families?

I am not sure I would call him either because I am not sure what either means. Some people take the term “open” to mean not religious and my husband is definitely very devout. And some people take the term conservative to mean harsh and backwards thinking which he most definitely isn’t.

My husband is a very intelligent, rational, respectful man with a great sense of humor. I never really think about things like equality and my rights as a woman in this relationship because they do not come up. Meaning he has full respect and belief in my ability to make my own decisions and does not, for example, question my whereabouts or have any problem with me traveling on my own. He prays every prayer on time along with the “sunna” (extra prayers that the Prophet pbuh used to pray).He reads Quran all the time. He has such strong faith that I hope to one day have and has always had the ability to surprise me which I hope I also do!

We are both very close to each other’s families. My mother and siblings adore him and feel at home with him. His family is amazing and I truly feel at home with them.

 

How long were you married before having children?  How much did you and your husband’s lifestyle change with the arrival of children?

I was married a total of 1 month before getting pregnant! So we never really had a chance to have a lifestyle together for it to change! But our respective lifestyles before getting married definitely changed dramatically. I moved from the UK back to Riyadh back to a new house, pregnant and with morning sickness, with a man in a house that I am in charge of! It was a huge shock and probably made the difficult first year of marriage that much more difficult. But the end result (our son) was definitely worth it.

Can you describe for American Bedu readers what your typical routine and life is like as a woman in Saudi Arabia?  Does your family practice segregation?  Do you have to abide by the rules of a male mahrem?

My routine is based around family. I am not working, although I do the occasional (very occasional) freelance work. Or help out some place or another I am definitely a stay at home mother. I take the morning time (while the 2 elder children are at school and my husband is in the office and my baby is crawling all over me pulling my hair) to read, watch some tv etc. When they get home it is a crazy time of homework, playing, crying (not always the kids) feeding, bathing and bed time. We have an early dinner (early for Saudi’s) at around 6 p.m. because I like the kids to be asleep by 8 p.m. After that I go see my mother and grandmother on most days.

The fear here in Saudi is falling into a “groundhog” day routine, the same thing over and over and over. So I decided last year to do as many things as possible that get me to interact with people I do not see every day. I have called up people I haven’t seen in ages and invited them to lunch, I have joined a book club, I have taken work out classes, always at different locations so that I change the scenery. I don’t necessarily take more than the one class unfortunately, but I try!

Weekends are for the kids to do what they want really and see their friends. On Friday, my eldest son goes to the mosque for Friday prayer with his father and the whole day is family day. We have lunch together and just spend time together. I try to get homework out of the way on Wednesday or Thursday so that Friday isn’t spent doing that.

Our family doesn’t practice segregation. We see our close male relatives at family gatherings. We spend most nights with our parents and my husband and brothers in law come by some nights and we all have dinner together.

Having a male mahrem has never really been part of what we do because our parents have faith and trust in us and in the way they raised us. And know we have good heads on our shoulders and are capable of taking care of ourselves. I have been traveling on my own since I was 18 and am really happy that I do not need a man to help me through the airport, to buy a ticket, to carry bags etc (although I deeply appreciate it and have no problems asking for it when I am traveling with 3 little children under the age of 10!). I think, and this is based on nothing more than the fact that it seems logical to me, that the mahrem originated to keep women safe in an unsafe environment.

 

Are there many in your circle of family and friends who are living in polygamy?  What are your own views on polygamy?  Do you think a woman has a choice on whether or not she needs to “accept” polygamy?

I actually do not know anyone in my generation or my mother’s generation who are living in polygamy. There are some in our grandparents’ generation.

As for my views on polygamy it is part of Islam but people should remember it is the exception rather than the rule. Islam didn’t create the idea of polygamy; it was around way before it. Polygamy was practiced in ancient Hinduism, in ancient Judaism and some sects such as Sephardi and Mizrahi jews only outlawed it relatively recently after moving to countries that forbid it. Islam regulated the practice of polygamy under strict rules and circumstances one of them being that the husband has to treat all the wives equally in every possible way and the verse in the Quran clearly says that even that is not possible. But some have a lovely way of making things that are clearly not encouraged in Islam become common law and part of their “right” as Muslim men.

I mean if you just look at zawaj almisyar (a “marriage” where the husband really doesn’t have to take care of the wife, provide her a house or anything, he only “visits” her when he is free and she stays at her family house) or zawaj almut’a (a “marriage” that is reserved for vacations and long trips when the poor poor man needs someone to be with him so he marries a woman with intent to divorce her when he is done) both clearly go against one of the most important rules of a marriage being valid in Islam, and that is “Alshuhra” meaning announcing to all who are around that so and so is married to so and so and not hiding it.

I think polygamy is part of Islam, and it is not “haram” as long as it abides by the rules that are set for it. Therefore I do not get why some sheikhs have told men that it is not necessary to tell their first wife they plan to take another wife… if you’re not doing anything wrong then why won’t you tell people?

As for a woman having a choice on whether or not to “accept” it I do not see why she shouldn’t have. If the man is sure about his decision and does not feel he is doing anything wrong or against his religious beliefs he should announce the wedding and not keep it hidden and then give the woman a choice to stay or leave. If indeed there is a valid reason then she very well might stay. If not, then why would you want to keep someone in a relationship with you against their will? Isn’t that more like slavery than marriage?

A woman has a choice (regardless if the man gives her one or not) if she has what we call “thahar” literally translated to mean a back, meaning family to back her up and support her. She could make the choice and leave. Women who do not have any support should have access to the information they need to file for divorce and should be educated as to what their rights are and how to enforce them. There are many support groups popping up, some with government support, that are there for that particular reason. And women should educate themselves on their Islamic rights. There was once a booklet going around about women’s rights in Islam that was amazing. That should be given out at all girls schools and universities.

You’ve lived both within and outside of Saudi Arabia.  Based on your personal experiences, do you feel that Saudi women inside of the Kingdom receive enough freedom?

I think a lot is changing for women in Saudi Arabia to work towards implementing rules and regulation to protect our freedoms. I do not in any way relate this to where I have lived because I do not hold myself up to the standards of the west as I feel that our fundamental priorities in life as Muslims and Arabs are so utterly different than those of the west that we cannot compare the levels of freedom or anything else.

I am trying to think and be honest with myself and see if there is anything I envy when I think of my foreign friends or the students I studied with when I was in the UK and the only thing that comes to mind is walking! I miss and envy the weather and how they can walk everywhere. I find that most arab women are blessed with really beautiful skin but are ridiculously unfit as opposed to middle aged western women who have better bodies then arab women in their 20’s and that is because we just don’t move! And we do not encourage our kids to move. Childhood obesity is on the rise as well as diabetes and it is a shame because we have the power to control this.

There are many things I, as a Saudi Muslim woman have that I am grateful for that many of the westerners I know do not seem to have. One of them being how alone they are sometimes. I mean being part of a big family is overwhelming but I couldn’t imagine a life without my sisters and brothers. When we’re happy, when there’s a family crisis, a death, I have no idea how people cope without the support of the family network. I mean my kids have so many people they call “mama” my sons teacher once asked me if I was in a polygamous marriage. God willing I won’t be that 70 year old lady with shopping bags all on my own walking home on a freezing day BUT God willing I will be fit enough to be able to walk home at 70 on a freezing day 🙂

Do you think a Saudi woman who has not traveled outside of Saudi Arabia is fully aware of the definition of freedom?  Why or why not?

Yes, because why would she define freedom by what she sees outside her own world. She should define it by how she feels in her own environment. A woman in India who has been burned by her husband because of dowry doesn’t need to have visited the west to know this is not ok.

Saudi women are strong willed and extremely intelligent and, as far as I have seen, the majority of them do not compare themselves or hold themselves up to the west’s standards. We hold ourselves up to our own Islamic standards and that is more than enough.

What do you think is the largest misconception outsiders have of Saudi women?  How can this misconception be rectified?

That we need saving by the west. That once we see all that “we are missing” we will shed our hijab and abaya and leap into the arms of “civilized society” and be thankful (not to a God because that is so passé) that we have been saved.

This can be rectified by actually talking to Saudi and Muslim women. The problem is we do not let people into our country easily. And we are very guarded, because we are so often attacked. But before deciding anything about anybody people must remember that the world is filled with many different people from many different cultures and there is no “melting pot” where everyone is essentially the same. We’re not, and guess what! we don’t have to be! We just have to respect each other and give advice only when asked for.

It is difficult for a person who is even slightly religious to have a normal conversation lately (in the UK at least, as I think the USA tends to be more religious) about God. I asked a woman recently if she went to church and she answered me as if I asked her if the world was flat. And I remember the questions and comments I would get for fasting or praying when I was studying in the UK. I never understood why it bothered them so much! I had two atheist professors who could not get through one class without attacking or making some snide comment about my religion. I figured this stemmed from some sort of insecurity they had. Something about my faith bothered them!

Having said that, I had amazing experiences and conversations with people of many different faiths that were enlightening. But honestly, I have never had a conversation with an atheist where they didn’t end up really worked up. I think it’s ironic they have so much faith in not having faith!

A lot of female expatriates in Saudi Arabia would welcome the opportunity to get to know Saudi women.  If an expatriate woman is not working and lives on a Western compound, how can she meet Saudi woman?

It used to be more difficult before the internet. I think the best way is to try and keep updated on what is going on in the city, from exhibitions to fairs to courses being given and try and go to them. There are a few city guide sites you can find through google that list these events.

Visiting women’s philanthropic societies and getting on their guest lists is also a great way to meet people and get involved in the local culture and customs. There are annual dinners and bazaars held for different causes all the time.

Saudi is probably not the kind of place you would be able to strike up a conversation with a stranger in a book shop or at a restaurant. It’s not part of our culture. But once you attend an event then people are less guarded because they feel you are interested in our culture and country and will probably talk your ear off!

 

What are good subjects for an expatriate woman to discuss with a Saudi woman?

Any subject really… whatever you would generally talk about with anyone. As long as the person is not offensive or rude than any polite conversation is fine.

When you go outside of your home in Saudi, how do you cover?  In addition to abaya, do you wear hijjab, niqqab and/or veil?  Why or why not?

When I leave my house I always wear the abaya and hijab. I think everyone here should because it is what is done. I think it is disrespectful to visit a country where it is considered impolite to show your hair or your body and do the opposite. No one is forced to come here so the thing I abhor is someone coming and blatantly ignoring the rules that were VERY clearly spelled out to them before they arrived. Such as modest dress, head scarf, no drinking, no public displays of affection, etc.

I remember when a friend of mine went to the Maldives on the website for the hotel they had a little disclaimer that said something along the lines of “this is a predominantly Muslim country so we ask that women and men dress appropriately when in public areas such as restaurants or the lobby”.

What in your view are the best things going for Saudi women in Saudi Arabia?  Additionally what are the biggest challenges faced by Saudi women in Saudi Arabia?

King Abdullah. An education system that is changing and getting better and is available to all. Intelligence, strength and an unwavering faith in God.

Saudi women have, religiously and socially, a support system that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. We are living in a country that is making many reforms. We are not comparable to some other countries yet when it comes to women’s rights but we are on our way.

As for the challenges that face Saudi women, in my opinion they are the same challenges women face worldwide. Balancing family life and work, striving for equal opportunity, we are faced with some social constraints. Legal restrains are being lifted and adjusted which makes it an exciting time to be a Saudi woman as we all work together to improve the situation. E.g. women are now able to take their cases to court with out the need of a “mahrem”.

However another huge challenge that is only relevant here is the lack of transportation. It is a big problem that hold many women back and can only be resolved with woman being able to drive and providing decent public transportation.

 

Are there any additional comments you’d like to add for American Bedu readers?

I would like to thank Carol for asking such thought provoking questions and I hope I wasn’t too long winded and gave sufficient answers. If I didn’t I apologize. I would also like to reiterate that the views I have expressed are my own and I do not claim to be speaking for Saudi women everywhere. I am sharing what I know and I know it is not everything and I do not presume to be speaking for all of you Saudi women out there. I only hope I spoke for some and maybe have people out there who share my points of view. Please visit me on my blog www.yamaamaa.wordpress.com 🙂

Thank you very much Saudi Mom for responding to these questions.  Your answers are sure to give American Bedu readers much to think about and discuss!

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45 Responses

  1. I really enjoyed reading this interview, and the interviewee’s blog!!! She sounds like a very intelligent, independent, wise, and interesting person! ❤

  2. I enjoyed this post very much..

    One question I had or really more of a wondering…

    “I do not in any way relate this to where I have lived because I do not hold myself up to the standards of the west as I feel that our fundamental priorities in life as Muslims and Arabs are so utterly different than those of the west that we cannot compare the levels of freedom or anything else.”

    I am unclear on this because there are many Arab and Muslims who are living in the west or even born there. Does that mean that they live in a conflicted world? I guess I mean, can’t they have those priorities and still live in the west?…although I am not sure what those are as she didn’t say. Can’t one be arab/muslim and still live a fully satisfying life in the west? Or is it naturally a conflict?

    Still I loved the post and the peek into her life and I thank her so much for doing it.

  3. Great interview!!!! Thank you!

  4. Wow, what an interesting interview. I really enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  5. I think you are very fortunate that your parents had faith and trust in you, allowed you to travel, have an education, and allowed you to make a real choice about your husband. No wonder you don’t miss western freedom. Too bad the Saudi system doesn’t support that for all Saudi women.

  6. very nice interesting post..it would be interesting to know what major interviewed woman has and what kind of freelance work she occasionally performs..
    ‘When I leave my house I always wear the abaya and hijab. I think everyone here should because it is what is done. I think it is disrespectful to visit a country where it is considered impolite to show your hair or your body and do the opposite.’
    right, but what about respecting visitors who arrives to the country?i honestly think that to be respected u have to give yr respect back..if i were in saudi, i know i would feel extremely uncomfortable at list in hijab.plus, as far as i know covering yr hair is the matter of choice even for muslims so why to push it especially on non-muslims?

  7. very nice intresting interview carol.and for the saudi mother,thank you for sharing your life and your thoughts here.i actually learned a lot of things.thank you so much!

  8. Hello everyone and thank you for your lovely comments 🙂 I really enjoyed answering the questions sent to me by Carol and I am pleased you enjoyed the answers.
    I wanted to reply to a couple of comments.

    First by Oby.

    “I am unclear on this because there are many Arab and Muslims who are living in the west or even born there. Does that mean that they live in a conflicted world? I guess I mean, can’t they have those priorities and still live in the west?…although I am not sure what those are as she didn’t say. Can’t one be arab/muslim and still live a fully satisfying life in the west? Or is it naturally a conflict?”

    The question Carol asked is that based on my personal experience of living abroad and in Saudi do I feel that women receive enough freedom. What I was trying to say in my answer is that living abroad didn’t effect how I felt about the freedoms needed in Saudi. Meaning I did not travel, see the west, and come back to make Saudi more like what I have seen.

    As for being an Arab/Muslim abroad and living a satisfying life many thousands have and are happy and settled. I do think (and now this is based on my own experience living abroad and in Saudi) that for me, as a muslim woman raising muslim children, it would have been a struggle in many ways had we decided to for example live in the UK indefinitely. Let me tell you why.

    When we are in a muslim country and it is prayer time you heard the “Muathin” call for prayer, everyone expects you to drop what you are doing 5 times a day and go pray. No one questions this or thinks the timing is bad or is annoyed that what ever meeting, gathering, wedding you are at has been put on hold while you pray. Abroad, there is no call for prayer and you do have to go out of your way to make it to somewhere quiet and clean (lets say if you are out shopping) to pray.

    In Ramathan (the month when we fast from day break till sunset) when you are in a muslim country the energy is different. You know the majority of the people around you are fasting, they are hungry, they are tired, they have been up and working and getting on with their day and it makes the whole experience so much nicer and easier. You know at sunset, you will gather with your family and break your fast on a date and pray together. In the UK while I was studying its leaving class to have a drink of water and maybe a date I brought with me. It’s not a collective thing. You are then excluded from regular daily activities because you are fasting on your own mostly.

    There are other subtle cultural differences that would have been difficult to deal with. For example, when my 5 year old son comes home from school telling me who his girlfriend is and that so and so kissed so and so (I felt like 5 year olds were a bit too young to be talking about kissing but I don’t). Now I know this is harmless but we are not a culture that dates and goes to dances and asks people out etc etc. So at 5 it’s cute for all of the other mothers but it’s not cute for me. So I am faced with a weird situation where I don’t want to go “awww how cute!” and at the same time knowing he’s 5 and clueless. But what happens if we stay there and he stays in his non denominational school with all the other kids who will want to be dating eventually for example? or do I then have to find a muslim school that might not give him the best education? (do you regret asking me the question yet? lol)

    I am of course speaking for myself and my little family. I know it is different when you have a bigger family network that makes a huge difference in helping the children be confident and proud of their own identity. If I was part of a bigger muslim community there things would probably be easier. Also, my husband totally disagrees with me on all of this and thinks I am reading too much into it!

  9. in answer to Irina’s question:

    First of all I studied graphic design and advertising. I did some freelance work with acquaintances here in Saudi.

    “but what about respecting visitors who arrives to the country?i honestly think that to be respected u have to give yr respect back..if i were in saudi, i know i would feel extremely uncomfortable at list in hijab.plus, as far as i know covering yr hair is the matter of choice even for muslims so why to push it especially on non-muslims?”

    All the foreigners here I know do not cover their hair but they do wear the abaya. As I said in my post, I just think its respectful to adhere to the customs of the country you are visiting and rude and small minded to go and try and implement your views and customs on them. That is also sometimes called being intolerant.

    To get a visa to the states they have to look into my bank account, question my employees, we always get “randomly selected” for searches. To get into the UK with a students visa I have to wait in line in the airport and get a medical there where they make me change in a room then walk across the waiting area in a flimsy robe to get a chest xray before they let me in. Is this fun for me? not really. Will I say something about it? no. Why? because I am going to these countries on my own free will and if I do not want to go then I do not have to.

    Most foreigners come to Saudi for tax free money and usually get a higher salary than they would get anywhere else as well as getting to live in their compounds where they could walk around in what ever they choose and never interact with the locals. The least they could do is be respectful to our customs when they leave their compound.

  10. I very much enjoyed reading this interview and the follow-up comments so far.

    The level-headed-ness is refreshing. 🙂

  11. I really enjoyed this interview. I think it shows that women everywhere in the world are very much alike in their daily challenges, views, and concerns. Thanks, Carol and Saudi Mom!

  12. Too bad the Saudi system doesn’t support that for all Saudi women.

    ———————————————————————-
    @Sandy,

    U might be shocked to read such reality about a woman in Saudi just like me. Such news is never published in International media as the interviewee said “We need saving by west”.

    Why u think that Saudi system doesnt support such system for all? Did this woman fight to get freedom? or She got all these freedom without fighting with system?

    There might be million other women in Saudi like this interviewee, who have not given similar interviews yet.

    What forced you to ask and think like this? Based on what u hear in International media right?

    Pondering for a moment, do u think that EVERY WOMEN in west is getting more support, freedom and enjoyment from any other woman in Saudi (by default)?

  13. @Mama Bee,

    Aslamu Aleikum,

    First of all I would like to appologise if I am not doing right thing or breaking rule of the blog.

    How can I get your mail id? I will be pleased if u share and will be extremely greatful.

    Thanks a lot in advance.

    Fi Amani Allah

  14. @Mama Bee,

    Aslamu Aleikum,

    First of all I would like to appologise if I am not doing right thing or breaking rule of the blog.

    Its really amazing and mind boggling to read such thought provoking interview. Thanks to both interviewer and interviewee.

    How can I get your mail id? I will be pleased if u share and will be extremely greatful.

    Thanks a lot in advance.

    Fi Amani Allah

  15. @Mama Bee,

    You have told us the parts of living in the West that would make it diffcult to live there and be a Muslim.

    As a Muslim American convert married to a Saudi lady, I’d like to know what parts of living in Saudi make it difficult to being a Muslim? From the stories I have heard from my Saudi family members and Saudi friends, there are many things in Saudi that make it difficult to be a Muslim. I wonder if you think the same way, and if so, what these things are for you?

    For me I would have a hard time reconciling the important part that justice plays within Islam to a system set up to forward one family (al-Saud) over all others, the system of “wasta” and “reshwa” which breeds corruption and inequality.

    When many people see Saudi as the prime example of what it means to be Muslim, or the prime example of an Islamic society, it then becomes very hard to seperate the people and the actions of that society from Islam itself.

    Do you feel that societal constrants cause people to twist their actions in ways that subvert Islam and it’s meaning? Ie the extreme gender segregation, that seems to have more to to with tribal norms than the religious practice of the Prophet (pbuh) that have caused people to mutate their behaviors in ways that are offensive to religious values?

    The example for this would be the issue with homosexual behavior amoungst young men and women which many would trace back to abnormal gender segregation, or the often constant sexual harrasment of women in the Kingdom.

    As a Saudi, home to the two Holy Mosques, do you think that the Saudi government and Saudi society give a proper representation of Islam to the world? If not, why not and what can the Saudi government and people do to change that?

    Thank you for your time. Allah Ma3aki.

  16. @Md. Azad Ali Shah
    I have lived in Saudi Arabia for about 20 years. I have seen first hand the abuse the system puts many women through. The total lack of human rights granted to women.

    As I have said MANY times on this blog- there are many MANY wonderful Saudi people and families and many women who live this good life. Women with this good life have a good OWNER or Mahrem. Women with a bad OWNER are stuck.

    And there are MANY who do not have a good owner.. And the SYSTEM does not support the woman AT ALL. Everything in the western press can be found in the Saudi press as well. Do you ever read that?

  17. I followed you over from Bedu’s blog 🙂

    About this comment… you know I think women’s bodies are so beautiful in all shapes and sizes, thin, fat, curvy, short, tall… we are all beautiful. I think that we focus too much on weight and not enough on health. I know so many skinny and thin women I can outswim, outrun, and so on and they “look good” I guess by some peoples narrow definition on that term but are completely unhealthy. It is sooo unfair.

    Also, you gave birth to life! A woman’s body usually does not go back to pre-mode. Its what makes us women, curvy life giving women and that is totally just as beautiful.

    So what I am saying is… don’t be so hard on yourself. 🙂 You are a new paradigm, no less lovely as the one before.

  18. I could have stayed in Bahrain. My children are from there and I knew it was a hardship to take them from the only life they have ever known…but I did it for two reasons. First of all they needed to experience life out of Bahrain. See what it felt like to live your daily life without a million pairs of eyes following your every step waiting for you to mess up and judge you accordingly. Or not even mess up, just maybe “color” outside the lines a little. The burden of living among the most judgmental group of people in the world is exhausting, painful, and never ending. They do not let you forget for a moment that what YOU do matters to THEM for some ungodly reason.

    I wanted them to experience life where they could just live it and the only one judging them, for the most part, would be me. 🙂 (kidding).

    Secondly, as a woman, I got so effing tired of being made to feel like I didn’t matter. My opinion didn’t matter. My thoughts were of no consequence. A man had already thought up a solution to every conceivable problem that could ever possibly exist so what did a woman need to bother herself and think at all about anything for? (not everyone was like this but enough to make it so freaking frustrating) For me personally, I needed to leave that country so I could feel like a viable useful thinking being again that had more to offer than procreative abilities.

    I appreciate this interviewers outlook about how living outside a Muslim country would be a strain on her and others abilities to conform themselves around Islamic duties etc….and I get that…but there is nothing in a so called Islamic country that could compensate me for my loss of self that I experience while there. While hearing the adhan is wonderful, and everyone praying and fasting together (for the most part) is great…those are very minor feel good moments to the constant ever invading never let down your guard for a second life of being a woman in a Muslim country. Before being able to enjoy the experience of being a Muslim that can hear the adhan and fast with my neighbors or pray whenever wherever I want…I must first learn to live with the cultural restrictions and demeaning attitude everyone of these Muslim countries have concerning me as a woman.

    Is there any compensation for that? Not that I can think of.

  19. Thanks Mam Bee for the great interview…

    @MD Azad,

    Sandy is correct. The issue for women in Saudi is not that they all have a bad life with no opportunities.

    The issue is that these opportunities are not given as a right by the system. The system supports complete Mahram control over women. Some can be lucky and have understanding families and husbands.Mama Bee is a good example of how well women do if given such freedoms. Other women may not be lucky to have such family and they live a life where every decision is made for them.

    Sandy is arguing rightly about institutionalizing such unjust control over women.

    And just in case you may assume, I do not get my info from the Western Press either…

  20. @Coolred38,

    Great comment.I loved your insight on the kids living with the judgment of others constantly. I think confidence in ones self gets built by making the small mistakes and learning through them. Unfortunately, in the ME there is too much focus on minor errors.

  21. Enjoyed the interview! Thanks for sharing.

  22. @Abu Sinan I appreciate where you are coming from but couldn’t that be said about any society? I know we hold a bigger “responsibility” as the land of the two holy mosques to be the ideal for all muslims but when in the history of Islam has that ever happened? the biggest “fitna” in Islam happened right after the prophet PBUH died.

    Now I hear my elder sisters voice in my head saying we should never compare ourselves to what is worse but what is better. She says it’s like saying “at least so and so never went to jail” that shouldn’t be the comparison. But I am being realistic and saying we should not ignore all the effort being put into reform in this country. As I said many times before, I’m just a mother and my reform is in my home with my children so I am unfortunately not the best person to speak to about this. I am blessed with family and friends have always, in this generation and the generations before us, had equal respect for all members regardless of gender or age.

    It is true there are a lot of tribal ideologies that entered into our Islam here but That is human nature. We know our problems and we are changing them in the way that we can and working on the rest. It is offensive that you suggest the majority of Saudi’s have mutated behaviors.

    I feel like you are probably very set in your thinking and feel it is a shame you have not had the opportunity to see and interact with the women and men who are trying to implement change the right way every day here in Saudi. I also think it is naive to think because we are a country that billions of muslims turn to when they pray that we will be a utopian society. The Vatican is not doing so well in that regard either. But it’s difficult to please people here… if you’re happy then you are “oppressed” and if you say you are trying to change things then it’s never enough. And I mean no offense at all in anyway but why should I answer to you? if you were a Saudi then by all means be outraged by what you don’t like about your country and take steps to change it in a productive way.

    May I ask, you are an American, but do you feel like and American? If so how do you feel about Americas foreign policy? About the farcical show that is going on between American and ISrael now? Because people see America as the prime example of freedom and justice for all…

    Aaaaanyways, as I said, my reform is at home with my children and how I strive to raise them to be proper muslims and productive members of society.

    @Coolred, I don’t really know anything about living in Bahrain. And as I said, I am only speaking of my point of view and my issues with living abroad with young kids. Again, as I said, there are many thousands of ex pat muslims living in non muslim countries that are doing just fine. I, personally, feel it’s easier here.

  23. This was a really interesting interview and a real pleasure to read. It puts some balance to the picture of KSA that I’ve been forming in my mind over the years. Thanks for sharing!

  24. Mama Bee…

    Thanks for your response. I can understand your POV. To pray 5X per day would be difficult because the western world does not stop like that…although they do pray and often. It is just that they can pray silently on the way to work or at their desk and it doesn’t have to be a formal prayer. Also they don’t have to do the physical motions that Muslims have to do when they pray so it can be a very personal and unnoticed by the people around them. So we do pray but it doesn’t have to be a specific time…it is heard anytime.

    I wanted to say about your question to Abu Sinan…does he feel American and agree with the foreign policy of USA and Israel. I am not answering for him because he certainly can for himself..

    I am American and I don’t agree with the foreign policy that USA engages in often times. Not all Americans blindly support Israel or agree that they have done nothing wrong. So it is very possible to be American and have a different POV than the one espoused by the government. I know several Muslims who live here happily and don’t agree with Israel…to be an american or even a Muslim American one does not have to support everything the USA does. It does not provide a conflict to live here and disagree with policy.

  25. Loved reading this interview! Wonderful to be exposed to a variety of points of view from within the kingdom.

    Thank you!

  26. Hello Oby,
    Thank you for your response. My best friend is American and I know they do not all agree with what is happening. I was actually just trying to make a point that generalising and blaming one person for actions that are not in their power is ridiculous, and to point out that while it is not Abu Sinan’s fault it is his duty, as an American, to try and make his country better by any way he can. Even if it’s teaching his kids to do things differently. I fell into the trap of getting sucked in and emotional but I feel like my brother can criticise my family because I know he has their best interest in mind, but I don’t tolerate anyone else criticising them it’s not their place. (family being Saudi and brother being fellow Saudi’s)

  27. Also just one more point. I know there are billions of Christians and people of other religions that pray and worship in their way. I was just pointing out that Islam is a way of life, it is in how we eat, pray, sleep, wash, talk etc. It is not something that runs along side our life it is a way of life for us. .I do not in any way mean that other people have less faith. I find I have more in common with religious people (regardless of what faith) because we understand each other in that way.

  28. @ Mama Bee

    I loved every single response you made!

  29. Lol thank you @Confused. I feel very confused lol I also feel very inadequate to be answering all this but doing my best 🙂

  30. I wasnt negating your point of view or experience..just offering my own.

  31. Mama Bee…

    No worries…I didn’t take it to mean that you thought others are not religious. I was saying that because we don’t have defined times or motions to pray I can see how it might be more complex to pray…I was just trying to offer an example of the differences and how I could understand it could get complicated for you. For example, I once heard of a story that happened in UK where a bus driver who was muslim pulled a city bus full of people over to the side of the road…he stopped the bus, pulled out a prayer rug and proceeded to pray (I am not sure how long that takes). anyway, the folks on the bus, not being Muslim were a bit taken aback because they had never seen that before! It seemed that they waited politely for him to finish(as per the article) but were quite surprised…so I can see how it might conflict and when all are of a like mind it makes it easier. But I loved your piece…

    BTW…you will get lots of questions but I think you’ve answered well so far.

  32. Thank you Oby:) i’m enjoying this! I started bloging really recently and who knew this could all be so much fun! I am happy to have this opportunity to give my point of view not because it’s incredibly important but just because it’s one that people haven’t heard probably:)

  33. I enjoyed the interview, and also that mamma Bee takes the trouble to respond to everybodies comments on the interview.

  34. @Mama Bee,

    I too, appreciate the fact that you coming here to answer comments and questions although your statements to me really didnt answer much.

    I will do my best to be more open and honest about the things you said and asked me.

    Yes, I am an American, although I was born abroad and have lived abroad a large chunck of my life. I will be honest and open when I talk about my country and not seek to cover things up nor try to pull the old carnard that only citizens of my society can question things about us and what we do.

    We are truly in a global society now. So almost everything one culture does will have a direct affect on other cultures. Your society, your culture and your government has a direct effect on me on several fronts. We’ll ignore the fact that multiple Saudis killed thousands of Americans and non Americans of all faiths on 9/11.

    My wife is a Saudi, my wife’s family is a Saudi. Because of that the policies, traditions and culture of Saudi directly affect myself and my children, often in a very negative way. So I do feel I do have a right to comment on these issues. Beside the fact, this is an open forum. If someone doesnt want to answer tought questions they shouldnt open themselves up to them.

    The Saudi government has felt it has the right to decide whether my marriage to my wife is valid, even though Islam itself sees our marriage as valid. Because they have stepped outside the bounds of Islam I am unable to travel to Saudi Arabia with my wife to visit her family. Because they have stepped outside the bounds of Islam my wife has to have a male member of her family in Saudi give her permission to do the most basic things in life like renew her passport. Now that her 19 year old son is here from Saudi she can now use him to do this. A grown, educated and traveled woman being forced to rely on her 19 year old son to do basic things.

    Because of the Saudi government neither of my sons will have access to a Saudi passport/citizenship or even the ability to live in the country of their mother without special permission. Of course that isnt a practical issue because we’d never want to live there anyways. One of our sons has Autism and there is little future or opportunities for special needs children in Saudi or the wider Middle East.

    These issues and many others have forced me to deal with the Saudi government for the last 8 years. So I would contend I have every right in the world to my opinions and criticisms.

    As to your questions about me being American, I will answer directly and fully your questions. I have serious issues without nation’s policies on many fronts. On this very blog I have been attacked as being “anti American” for making stands against American policies.

    I completely stand against our relationship with Saudi Arabia and the royal family there. Not only is it not in our best interests, I feel this relationship flies in the face of the values in which this country was formed.

    As to Israel, you wont get me supporting them one bit. Personally I feel we should stop ALL aid to them TODAY and completely withdraw any guarantees we have to protect them. Like my stance against supporting the Saudis, I feel that supporting the Israelis with their flouting of international law, racial and religious apartheid, goes against the values of this nation.

    See, unlike yourself, I can be 100% honest even if it means admiting that our country and it’s policies can be complete crap sometimes. As to others seeing our country as the prime example of freedom and justice, I would suggest anyone who thinks this way has never lived anywhere else in the West. Many countries have just as much freedoms, if not more, than we do.

    I wont temper my feelings and opinions about America just because I live here and am a citizen. I wont put my head in the sand and declare “my country, do or die”.

    As to being set in my thinking, that is VERY far from the truth! I married my wife having the best of feelings about Saudis, Saudi culture and society. It was only my dealings with these things that changed my opinion. Having lived all over the world I am very open to having my opinions changed. Realitu does that to you.

    Not all Saudis are like this, but most are especially the visible ones. I have dealt with a few good Saudis, but they are the exception. Sorry to have to say that. I’d rather it not be that way. I am married to a Saudi after all and my children are 1/2 Saudi and it is a fact of life they will have to deal with their entire lives through no fault of their own.

    It is a society issue, it is just the way things are and the way things work.

    My wife and I are working to let our children know that Saudi is NOT Islam and Saudis are not an accurate representation of what Islam is and what Muslims should be. We know how rough life will be on them being only half Saudi and therefor not really of import in wider Saudi society and will give them the tools to deal with that.

    Alhamdulillah, our faith in Allah and our deen will see us through these things. Too bad all too often it is without help from the people of my wife’s country.

    So why should you care what I think? What people like me think? Because I am an American married to a Saudi who could have been, and initially was, the biggest supporter Saudi Arabia could have. I am married to a Saudi, that should be enough, but the fact that my experience with the Saudi government, culture, society and establishment has been SO bad should give you and every other Saudi reason to stop and think why.

    If these things turned off a Western convert to Islam married to a Saudi lady, what are these same things going to do to the rest of the world with even LESS reason to be positive about Saudi? We are a global society and Saudi or any other country ignores this fact to their own peril.

    As you said to me, nothing personal against you. You seem decent enough, but your inability to understand why I would think this way or the fact that you dont see how I deserve an opinion on this issue isnt a good sign.

    I am teaching my sons to do the right thing DESPITE what Saudi and America do, even though they are the countries of their parents. I do my best in my personal life to make changes within our country. I did that at home and abroad working for the government of my country and in my personal time. Putting my head in the sand and telling others they have no right to an opinion because they are not American wasnt a part of it.

    Insha’Allah, my boys will become good Muslims and good members of the global society DESPITE the fact that they are Saudi and American, not because of it.

    My nasee7a, for what it’s worth? Open up and be honest with your feelings. Just as I was able to be completely open about our foreign policy and Israel you should be able and willing to do the same with your own country.

  35. Hello Abu Sinan,

    Thank you for being honest and open . It’s clear you hate Saudi and it’s people so not sure what you want me to say at this point. you are in titled to your opinion and If you are looking to prove a point then by all means go ahead, I’m not getting involved. Once the level or anger gets to where yours is and the content starts turning to basically saying all Saudi’s are evil I no longer participate because the only way to answer that is to spew more hate which is not my style and is no fun for anyone. Besides, I think you are not too worried about my replies as long as you get a chance to get your out there.

    Thank you Carol for having me on your site, I am honoured 🙂 and thank you to everyone who took the time to comment 🙂 if anyone wants to contact me please feel free to do so through my blog.

    Best,
    The “decent enough” Mama Bee lol

  36. Mama Bee… 🙂 liked your comment immensely. 🙂

  37. @Mama Bee,

    If that is what you got out of my comment I dont know what to say. I hate Saudis, but I am married to one? I hate Saudis, but stood side by side with my wife’s Saudi uncle to bury my Saudi mother in law? I hate Saudis but have gone round and round on this very site defending Saudis and Islam?

    The whole “you hate us” is just a way to ignore things you dont want to address. I didnt accuse you have hating the US because of your statements about US foreign policy and Israel. That is because I am not affraid to admit our issues and deal with tough subjects.

    I NEVER said all Saudis are evil, once again a strawman argument made by yourself so you can refuse to address real and pressing issues.

    You are part of the problem in Saudi. I suggest you take a look at yourself and your society and see if you cannot have something positive to offer in the way of change. You can lie about my comments, offer up strawman arguments to avoid having to confront anything difficult. At the end of the day you do only yourself and your people a disservice.

    You and other Saudis need to fix your society before it falls apart completely or before other people are forced to fix it for you.

  38. Mama Bee,

    I’m really happy that you took the time and energy to give an interview. It was interesting. But generic. I felt like I was a non related, non citizen of your country but a guest in your home. And, every time we spoke and I asked questions I only received a polite, not much information answer because I’m not an insider.

    I am in agreement with Abu Sinan for one area he commented on about how you answered the questions Your answers were vague and generic. I feel that anyone reading your answers thinking they are gleaning much knowledge re Saudia life are filling in the blanks of your answers without realizing it.

    I was excited to read your interview and I would of loved it if you could have been more detailed with your answers.

    I also felt you did not really understand the meaning of what Abu Sinan was saying to you. That is easy to do when writing information back and forth between two cultures and only reading the answers with no emotional or cultural cues either. And, one person is writing in their native language and using cultural references/meanings in the tone of what they are saying, thus, the reader you, while being educated in the language you are reading, are not a native speaker/reader, and are not picking up on certain cues in how he is writing.

    I felt he realized that you were not picking up on his meaning, so he then tried to introduce Arabic words and meanings in his next response but you still were misunderstanding..

    My being a native, American English reader/writer, and familiar with Saudia culture and some Arabic, saw what was happening and picked up on the under currents of how and what he was really saying and that both of you were misunderstanding the meaning of what the other was implying.

    And, this is not a criticism, but an observation of what happened between you two. Actually, both of you misunderstood each other from the beginning. I saw this while reading your posts back and forth. He misunderstood something you and then you missed the undercurrent of his meaning and when he tried to correct it either you deliberately ignored it because you didn’t want to answer his question and used a cultural misunderstanding to get out of it or you just didn’t understand what he was saying.

    When in his last post to you he laid his soul bare to you and tried to let you know in his frustration that why would he “hate Saudis” if he was married to one and his children were 1/2 Saudi, along with the fact that he converted to the same religion as you and the religion of your country and your country’s relation to the origins of this religion, it was so disappointing to see in all your intelligence and experience with Western culture that you choose to ignore his plea for understanding and acknowledgement of his frustrating experience with your culture and country.

    I know that you must be aware of the double standards that occur in your country when you are not a born and bred Saudi and how you are treated. You must have foreign workers in your home and/or have grown up with them and you know the attitude of your countrymen towards them.

    This man married one of your sister Muslims, and is a fellow Muslim, and while attempting to obtain a normal standard was treated worse than the foreign workers in your country and you couldn’t even say, I’m sorry that your experience was so negative.

    Instead it seemed you slammed the door in his face, thus, effectively repeating the poor treatment that he experienced already from your fellow countrymen. You reinforced his feelings and experience about “Saudi’s”. You missed a chance to provide a better experience and understanding of who Saudi’s really are.

    It was really disappointing for me to see how you choose to respond to him.

    To be fair to you, I am wondering if your life experience has been so sheltered that you have not really had to handle dealing with the nitty gritty of getting things done in your country and perhaps you don’t really know how a non Saudi is treated when they marry a Saudi and how difficult it is to have your marriage recognized officially because you aren’t a member of a Saudi tribe. And, if a non Saudi marries a Saudi woman that their children don’t get treated the same as your children and don’t get the same benefits as your children, and even though you all are of the same religion and you both were married the same way in Islam, your government chose to treat him very badly and this is unfair and wrong under Islam. This is the message he was trying to tell you and either you didn’t know that your government treated people this badly or if you did know then you were too embarrased or didn’t know how to respond.. If you don’t know about these things and were embarrassed to admit it in replying to him then maybe that makes more sense in how you responded to him.

    But if you were aware of this very common, negative treatment of non Saudi’s who marry Saudi’s and choose to misconstrue his comments to make him the bad guy and embarrass him in front of everyone here then that makes you look like an entirely different sort of person.

    I think he was very polite to you regardless of how you treated him. Would it have been so difficult to say to him, “I’m sorry that you had such a negative experience with our government”. It is “our” government as he is as much a Saudi citizen as you are since he married one of your Saudi Muslim sisters. And, he is a fellow Muslim just like you.

    To say this to him doesn’t mean you are accepting guilt…it means you have empathy for what happened to him and is still happening to him. Did you not read that his children, who are Saudi citizens like your children are being denied the same benefits your children recieve from your government?? How would you like to explain this to your children???

    Sorry but I thought it was a really immature way to respond to him and if you chose to delibertly misunderstand his response and take advantage like that so you wouldn’t have to acknowledge the negative treatment of him, a fellow Muslim.

    That is what he was trying to say to you. He was trying to get an answer from a fellow Muslim, a fellow Saudi, about how you felt about why he was treated like a second class citizen. When all he did was marry a Saudi and simply wanted his marriage acknowledged and the normal benefits received when you marry someone from a different country. Because he is not in a Saudi tribe, your government is denying him the same benefits your family and children receive. The man laid his soul bare to you and you trampled on it.

    I feel you owe him an apology.

  39. Mama Bee,

    I’m addressing a comment you made about Islam being a way of life and Christianity was not. I feel that you don’t understand Christianity. The Christianity in the Koran is Nestorian Christianity and it was ruled to be Gnostic and not included.

    Christianity is a relationship with our God the Father. The theology and concept of Christianity is different than Islam’s theology. Islam, for a large part, is not a close relationship with Allah. You are trying to emulate the lifestyle of Mohammed and the rules he said a Muslim should live by. So, how you do daily actions is how Mohammed did them or said you should do. So your “points for Paradish” are earned by following those many daily outward manifestations and actions that being favor to you in front of Allah. For Christians, we are told quite firmly that we will never get to Heaven through earthly actions or works and our entry into heaven is based faith about belief in the gift of forgiveness through Jesus, and understanding and following the new theology of why Jesus came and most importantly about how forgiveness works. For instance, being a good person and doing good things will not get us heaven.

    So, please understand that even if we followed every Jewish law in the Old Testament it would not guarantee us entry to heaven. When Jesus came he fullfilled the Law and changed our relationship, worship and theology thus creating the basis of Christianity. This means that Christianity is a way of life giving us a basis about how the Christiain life is to be lived. But we were not given a list of rules and actions to follow every day. Christianity involves “critical thinking” skills to interpret Jesus’ theology and how it relates to how we live and what decisions we make. Every daily choice and decision we make is unique. While there are some absolute rules that Jesus laid down for us, much of day-to-day Christian life involves personal choice and living through the theology. The desire and want to change your mind, heart and lifestyle from how you were living before. The fact that you have a Heavenly Father who loves you and answers prayer. No one is just born a Christian because they were born into a Christian family or a Christian nation. It is a total choice and change in your mind, heart and lifestyle.

    That’s probably why with most of your daily actions of living laid out for you in your three holy books or under the interpretation of your mosque leader, might intrepret that our religion and our life live side by side. I can assure you that it doesn’t work that way. If that was so, I would just feel like I was going through the motions or following rules. And, that is why God had Jesus come to fullfill prophecy and the Law, and to give a new lifestyle through forgiveness and faith, and to free us from trying to follow a million rules in the Jewish law. Please keep in mind that I am not a Catholic.

    Christianity is choice of wanting to live the Christian lifestyle.

    If you have a question I’d be happy to answer it.

  40. @Amazonbaby,

    Spot on, although I dont expect an apology. Her dismissive behavior is what I have become used to with most Saudis, especially those in positions within the establishment.

    She acted almost as if I was born disliking Saudi Arabia, not that my experiences turned once positive feelings about the country negative.

    Not all Saudis are bad. The problem is that the society and the culture is so prejediced against almost anyone or anything that isnt Saudi, that it is often hard to even get decent Saudis to understand. It is drilled into them from birth.

    I also think part of the problem is that the Saudis interviewed on this blog tend to be affluent, well educated and connected Saudis. I’d love to read an interview with a Saudi that is bery pessimistic about the way his/her country his going and the norms and values of their society.

    I know these types of Saudis exist, I have met many of them. It would provide equal context and counterbalance to the majority of interviews here.

    Mama Bee is just like many Americans who scream “hate” the second you question the policies of their country. I know she expected me to do the same when she brought up US foriegn policy and Israel. Far from it, I can probably complain about these issues more than she can.

    Until the majority of Saudis can get the heads out of the sand and openly and honestly evaluate their own country nothing will change. All of this talk about reform with KMing Abd’Allah really amounts to nothing more than window dress as the latest fatwa about women working shows.

    So what there are more committees here there, and everywhere. They are all filled with members of the royal family and the establishment. Besides which, when all it takes is a well placed fatwa or two, it doesnt matter.

  41. I really enjoyed the interview, and thought it was a refreshing peek into one Saudi family’s life.

    However, there were a few things that came to my attention while reading the comments. And I found that I had this urge to join in.

    Had this lady been a happy mother from Laos, we would have said, Oh, how quaint and similar life in Laos is to ours.

    But no! this mother is from Saudi Arabia, and she has the audacity to be content and happy in her own country raising her young family.

    We must not stand for this! We must hold this mother of three accountable for all the strife and worry that is apparent in her world.
    She must answer to us!

    Don’t you know @Mama Bee that the “West” in all it’s grandeur does not view your way of life as being sufficient? Can’t you hear their inward
    gasps at the fact that you have actually basked in the glory of their freedom, and tasted the dew of their modern civilized world, and yet you shun it and go back to your backwards and dusty natural habitat?!

    Although, they don’t seem to like it when people “Like you” migrate to their corner of the earth either, because everyone knows that the veiled specimens don’t really match the decor.

    So no @Mama Bee, we do not believe you when you say you are happy the way you are. How can you be when your women are “owned” by gay
    segregated polygamists with lesbian oppressed horizontally challenged sisters!

    You must cease this folly immediately! You must sit and lament the tragedy that is your life, and when possible take some pretty photos pinpointing
    said tragedy, and then share.

  42. I do get tired of threads which go astray by comments. I’ve been out of touch for the past week and still catching up on the comments.

    I think many readers are not fully aware that it is not easy for a blogger to have Saudi men or women who will agree to an interview let alone comment on a blog. Much is because of how dialogues too easily get turned into confrontations rather than remembering the basic rules of communicating or attempting to parlay a thread into a separate agenda.

    Mama Bee – thank you very much for your insightful comments and sharing.

  43. I liked the photo of the traditional beading too.
    One does stick ones neck out in these interviews. It is interesting to read how different people from other countries look at the world, and how much we always have in common in spite of different cultures and religions.
    And we naturally differ, from human to human, despite having the same religion or culture. This is what makes interacting with other people so interesting.
    I always enjoy reading the interviews very much.

  44. Dear Carol
    Best wishes and blessings for your health. Thank you for your lovely interview with the lively and intelligent Mama Bee.
    I warmed to her as an Iraqi Brit who spent five years in Asir and learnt the beautiful Saudi/Yemeni Arabic. We also enjoyed two years in Riyadh and became very fond of the Saudi people and their gentle life style that is so misunderstood and criticised by those who haven’t even visited the Kingdom let alone experience the warmth and courtesy of it’s people.
    May God bless you

  45. […] my interview with American Bedu, I hit the big time! With 250 views on that day! (Yes, I know, peanuts for […]

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