Saudi Arabia: Stop this Adhl

Adhl.  Adhl is the word for the male mahrem who is violating Islamic (Shariah) law by keeping a woman forcibly single.  Now in a country where women are expected to marry, take care of the home and have children, such as Saudi Arabia, why would a male mahrem (guardian) prefer not to have a woman fill her natural and traditional role?  After all, the male mahrem is responsible for all the needs of the single woman until she marries and then her husband becomes her new mahrem and takes over the role.  Thus far in 2010 there have been 30 cases of adhl in Saudi Arabia which have been reported to the National Society for Human Rights.  However there are those in Saudi Arabia who believe that the numbers of unreported adhl cases are closer to 800,000.  800,000?  Whoa…that is a huge amount.  Yet that is the figure cited by an Associated Press report dated 27 November.

So back to my question…why would a Saudi mahrem prefer to commit adhl?  Among many families marriages are still arranged among families so it is not as if the Saudi mahrem and particularly a Saudi father or Saudi brother has no control over selecting a spouse for the female family member.  Yet in some cases adhl is committed by the Saudi mahrem rather than see his female family member marry someone from another tribe or marry someone who follows a differing sect of Islam such as Shia’a instead of Sunni or vice versa.  Poorer families in Saudi Arabia will receive an allowance from the government similar to state welfare programs and if a female family member gets married her allotment to the family would stop.  None of these reasons are right or appropriate but will be among the reasons cited for a mahrem to willingly commit adhl and prevent a female family member from marriage.

In some cases the male mahrem such as the father is a widow and reluctant to allow a daughter to leave the home.  After all if she marries and leave the home then who will take care of him and the house?  Sometimes the male mahrem is driven by greed.  A female family member may have a good job which pays well and rather than allow her to have control of her income, the male mahrem considers her income as part of his.

Few women in Saudi Arabia are willing to go against the wishes or directive of their mahrem.  Not only because it is a matter of honor to respect the decisions of the mahrem but to go against a mahrem usually results in negative repercussions against the woman.  What kind of a mahrem a woman in Saudi Arabia has makes an immense difference on the quality of her life.  This is why there are often heated debates about the mahrem system and whether its rules and control are still applicable and needed in today’s Saudi Arabia.

What do you think?


79 Responses

  1. First, I think it’s disgusting that grown women need a guardian and second, I think it’s selfish of mahrems to not allow their daughters to marry if they wish. I know people often speak of how close-knit Arab families are as if this is something superior to what we have in the West, but I see nothing special about many aspects of Arab family life starting with this.

  2. Revisiting and reinterpreting Muslim text books will go a long way. Dismantling the religious establishment is a must. Codifying the rule of non-sectarian laws to protect all citizens from institutionalized barbarity can make a gargantuan difference. Empowering women to be the authors of their lives and livelihoods will render men financially irrelevant.

    Women have to organize and reject their enslavement status. Only they can do that.

    Governorship must be earned not inherited. An independent and non-sectarian court system, staffed by non-religious men and women professionals, is the key. The country’s wealth and direction must be handled by the majority of its people not by a handful of men from another era (centuries ago.)

    In short, Saudi Arabia needs total transformation from top to bottom and this can only happen when enough citizens are willing to pay the price to live with dignity.

  3. It’s unfortunate that some women have won scholarships but are unable to go without a mahrem. It is unfortunate that a woman who has earned a PHD cannot work as her husband wants her to stay home. Some women do not go to the doctor when diagnosed with breast cancer (for example) because their husband doesn’t want them to be disfigured for their survival. The new younger generation of men and women will most probably be the ones to change due to the economic reality that is nearly upon them.

  4. Well Said Ali Alyami.

    The Mahram system is a curse on the women of Saudi Arabia.

  5. To satisfy all, they should make this system – one of choice – women’s choice..

    Those who want to be under the protection of a mahrem go for it. This way they are not throwing away their centuries old system which i’m sure works for some. but at the same time they are accomodating the changing times.

    But nothing will change until the judiciary is educated. all this mom is great logic has no meaniing until it is enforced , the prophet could have said a million things for the benefit of mankind however if the men onthe street don’t follow it what good is it.
    I keep hearing about the greatness of mothers and how they should be treated, yet when the husband dies or divorces the children are given to the dad — suddenly the mom is not to be revered? she is to be stood up on apedestal only as long as she’s tied to a man?

    We have crappy mahrems in my extended family – and 2 of my widowed SIL’s are paying the price , so so sad to see them tormented and they will be for the rest of their life unless they have pious men falling out of the skies into their living room …sigh!! the least the govt can do is set them free- incharge of their own destinies.. what a waste of 2 beautiful lives and i’m told women are reverred and protected – ha ha ha good joke.

  6. @Ali al Yami,
    “In short, Saudi Arabia needs total transformation from top to bottom and this can only happen when enough citizens are willing to pay the price to live with dignity.”

    If you want your dignity, why do not you pay the price to live with dignity in Saudi? Why do you stay in America? Why do not you pay back the funds spent on your Saudi scholarship that you have received to Saudi people? This is Saudi money; you must pay back this money to the Saudi government. We have many poor people in Saudi; so, pay back this money to live with dignity. Do not live on the money of poor Saudis. Instead of paying back our money, you are making business by using Saudi social issues. wow, what a great dignity you are enjoying dude.

    In short, pay back the money of poor saudi people to live with dignity.

  7. I have one comment on who is the one to give the ‘bride to be’. Mehrem refers to a person who is either husband, father or brother or any other person who is in a position not to be able to marry her for reasons specified by religion. The ‘WALLEY” is the person who is usually the father (sometimes can be a brother or an uncle) who is in a position to sanction the marriage. ISLAMIC LAW dictates that he is obligated to marry her to the man of her choice if he is a good muslim that she wants. If he refuses his ‘walaya’ or governance is taken away and he no more has a say in her life.

  8. @Medina,

    I have no idea if Ali used a Saudi scholarship to attend University in the US- and I know he can defend himself- But I will say that ANY Saudi student paid for by the government owes thanks to ALLAH alone.

    After a lifetime of sub-standard CRAPPY education it is the least Saudi can do to give a deserving student some support, since they didn’t bother to sink enough of the oil wealth into a decent educational system for their own people. By taking a government scholarship you do not become a slave of the Saudi government.

    Allah made people free to live where they like. Who are you to judge if someone has a “good enough” reason to leave for another country. There are hundreds of reasons why someone might. And not all of them would be your business.

    Wherever they live they are free to try to help any place on this earth. Even the Prophet made hijra when things got bad. People ideally should be free to go wherever they can make a good life for themselves. And they are allowed their opinions on what is right and wrong.

    @Dr. Nassef,
    And now you see how Saudi law with its man as “owner” of woman LAW, is not the same as what many think Islamic law should be.

  9. @ Sandy, exactly. What Islamic law dictates “shari’a”, is not apparently what those Saudi men mentioned are applying. Islam makes the man ‘responsible for’ and not the ‘owner’ of a woman.
    About scholarships: This is money put for those to travel and learn to return and benefit their people. It is not put for this particular person to make gains for self-profit.
    Everyone is free to immigrate, using his/her own earnings.
    If the person does not want to return to benefit his fellow countrymen, then he better leave the scholarship funds to someone who will.

  10. Countries who can afford it owe their citizens a reasonable education. Saudi can afford it, and generally has not provided it. Even worse they are subjected to substandard education and religious indoctrination. So if they finally provide a citizen with some education. While of course it is a good thing- I wouldn’t think it merits any great loyalty.

    As I said, we do not even know who used a scholarship and who did not. And why they chose to leave. I know of one couple who left because their special needs child couldn’t get proper care here. So are they somehow wrong? It’s their choice.

    It seems to me you are using your medical skills in a country not your own. Don’t they need doctors where you live? Shall I assume you went to medical school on a scholarship and are now practicing in another country? The truth is I do not know. It is not my business- or my place to judge you.

  11. I was talking about scholarships. The freedom to travel and work where you chose is, i am sure you would agree, another matter.
    Sure i use my medical skills where ever it is needed. I am traveling at MY own expense. NOT at the expense of a ‘fund’.
    To answer you, actually where i live there are many doctors :)… as in any countries there always more than a few to spare.
    NO i did not go to medical school on a scholarship, so you need not assume that.
    and in the end.. i am speaking of ideas and not judging anyone.
    In a nutshell, if i take money from a person, a group or a body, for a certain reason with certain conditions.. dont you think it is only fair to fulfill those conditions, and not just turn ones back on the promises given and rules on which one was given that advantage?

  12. sandy,
    Based on your nosy logic, Saudi issues are also non of your business. You are American, so stick where you are from.

    according to the Saudi educational system for scholarship, he must pay back the money you receive if you do not go back to Saudi, adds to that that he is not Saudi any more because Saudi does not allow dual nationality, so he must pay back our money that he is enjoying now to live with dignity.

  13. Sorry Medina,
    You clearly didn’t understand my logic at all. By my logic, anyone, anywhere can have an opinion on anything they want.

    I do not know the details of the current scholarship system- and I can’t just take your word for it because you often make mistakes in your claims. However, of course if someone accepts a scholarship they should also honour its terms.

    BUT we have no idea who took or didn’t take a scholarship- and whether, or not, the terms were met. Or even what nationality anyone has. Many people live in the US and are not US citizens.

  14. Scholarships in the middle east are given (even by American funds e.g. Fullbright) on the stipulation of returning back to the country of origin so that what he/she have learned will benefit those who did not go, to teach them and for them to learn from him/her.
    Ofcourse this said, quite a few dont return. But by doing that, they deprive all those who would have benefited learning from them.

  15. All that oil money should belong to all the Saudis anyway. Any scholarship money a Saudi Student recieves is only a part of what should have been theirs in the first place.
    Sandy is right too, education is an international human right. Saudi is only doing it’s duty.
    I think it’s perfectly ok for Saudi students to stay abroad after they finished their studies.

    Not to allow women to marry whom they want, or forcing them to marry whom they do not want is very immoral and wrong.

  16. A code of ethics should always be respected. So is the word of honor and any agreement.
    Any breaking of these would be untrustworthy and unfair. The least you would say about that person is he/she is a liar and a fraud.
    I like neither. who does and feels it is ok to go ahead and do what you want ‘regardless’ of who or what you step on?

  17. Dr. Nassef,
    This is not a real argument because we don’t know if this is even what happened. And there are many reasons a person might end up leaving. What if they are unable to earn a living? They try for, say 5 years and can’t get a reasonable job? Or lets say a young woman is going to be forced into a horrible marriage and her only out is to leave? Or her family takes all her money? How long must she stay? What if a young man meets and wants to marry someone, willing to move back with him to the Kingdom, but they are denied a marraige permit? Or my friend who ended up having a special needs child when help here was unavailable? These people are not liars and frauds. They try to make it work. It isn’t their fault if it doesn’t.

    And besides no one has shown any evidence that the current scholarship program requires agreeing to come back. The previous one did, but it was to work for a minimum number of years and you were given a job. I don’t know the details of this one, beyond you are not allowed to marry a foreigner while on the scholarship.

  18. taking your previous message into account where you said that any agreement should be honored. I do hope your friend get the help for his child that he needs. Let us take a marriage as an example of a solemn agreement with vows. There are times when one or both parties decide to break it, ofcourse things may happen to change the course of events.
    My argument basically was about honoring ones word and agreements.
    a question: do you have the blue abaya blog?

  19. No that’s not me. I don’t have a blog. Actually, my friend with the child came back. They stayed out for alot of his early life, for those critical early development years. Then as more facilities here opened up etc. they came back. They never really wanted to leave.

    Actually, it’s been my experience that very few Saudi’s wish to leave. Only now are we seeing the beginnings of brain drain because of lack of opportunity.

  20. @ sandy
    when you say ‘we’ means that you are talking from the saudi point of view?
    Actually i cant blame anyone who wants to live a more open and what i would call natural life, to want to live anywhere but in saudi arabia. But maybe most are happy with the rules and regulation that are imposed…

  21. Yes from the Saudi point of view. No I don’t know if most people are happy with the restrictions. I’m guessing not. But most people who are academically qualified and whose families allow them to study abroad- lead a fairly open life. If a family lets their daughter study in America, they probably arent’ about to sell her into a child marriage and she’s likely traveled alot and had a supplemented education already. She won’t suffer much unless she marries the wrong guy- and then she can’t leave.

    Same for the guys. The ones studying abroad have more open families. ALso, if you want to lead the lazy life – it’s easier in Saudi. The newer trend is towards those who get a good education and have a good work ethic and get frustrated by the Saudi situation. So they leave and go where they are appreciated and the system runs well, and where they can feel they make a contribution and are appreciated.

  22. tell me do you miss your life back in the USA? and if you do get to go there, do you miss life in KSA?

  23. I do miss it but I am very fortunate I visit home every summer with the kids and my husband (though he doesn’t stay as long as he has to go back and work). I have a lot of family and we enjoy spending time together. I do get to missing my home in Saudi (and my husband) near the end. And I have a lot of family and friends here too. Saudi is definately not my first choice of place to live however. It is always such a relief to get out. To drive a car, to be my own legal entity and the actual legal guardian of my kids. To be able to just do my thing without worrying that someone will butt into my business.

    My husband likes it too. He can have me drive if he is tired. If I go to the bank I don’t need his signature for anything. He doesn’t have to worry about my getting anywhere.

    Many people, myself included, have a very nice life in Saudi. It’s just that the system is so bad and unbalanced that one is completely unprotected if things take a wrong turn. Especially as a woman. Even more especially as a foreign woman. I mean my husband could, if he wanted to, say the word, divorce me and send me out on an exit only visa without my children. No one wants to be in that position. Now, I don’t really worry about this happening. But I know some women do.

    But I am grateful for my life. And the way I really do get to have the best of both worlds.

  24. @ sandy
    Thank you for sharing

  25. @sandy,
    You are living a happy life in Saudi but you do not miss a chance to bash and demonize Saudi and Saudis. Why are you very negative towards us while you enjoy a happy life in Saudi? Why you just focus on the negative parts in Saudi? Every country has the good and the bad but you are always and always taking the side of people who bash Saudi and Saudi culture. You are not positive or at least neutral when you speak about Saudi. This is sad and there is a Saudi saying, they eat with us from our plate and they back bite us when they get full.

  26. I’ll tell you why Medina. And I’ve said it repeadely on this blog. I do not bash Saudi’s. I bash the system and give examples of how it leads to wrong things.

    Why do I bother? Because I personally know MANY women who are suffering awful, wrong things because of the system. And I despise all the priveledged people with good lives who go around and tell everyone, “Saudi is fine”. Because that is selfish. That is people who have taken what is good and don’t give a damn for their fellow Muslims who suffer. People whose pride is bigger than their hearts or sense of justice.

    Why would I be positive or neutral about the Saudi system? It is not positive and it is not neutral. Saudi has all women (and I am one) as the possesion of men. There is nothing positive or neutral about that. There is nothing positive or neutral about the children who never see their mothers because in a divorce the man can just take the children. There is nothing positive in the fathers selling their young daughters into marriage with old men and stealing the dowry which should be their daughters.

    I have also said many times there are many wonderful people in Saudi. They deserve better. Unfortunately, many of their fellow countrymen would rather lie, and tell everyone there are only “cultural” differences than admit the truth of the human rights violations that happen.

    This has happened repeatedly. I get accused of being “ungrateful” and a “backbiter” for telling the truth and caring about those who DON”T have it good- by hypocrites who say one thing and live another.

    I do not understand why it is so hard to get that I might care about all the women who don’t have a fair owner and family like I do.

  27. @ Sandy
    I agree with you, the Saudi system leaves a LOT to be desired not only from a western point of view, but astonishingly from the proper ISLAMIC view: rule and soul.

  28. @sandy,
    If you want to criticise the system positively it will be fine but your way of criticism is not helping Saudis. You do not produce or offer any solutions to us. You do not speak to Saudis people who are wishing to make reforms; you are just sitting here and bashing Saudi. So you are negative even if you think you are doing something good by bashing the Saudi system because what you are doing makes me and other Saudis step back and defend our country. Your way and other people ways of bashing Saudi make us Saudis go extreme supporting the system and become very defensive. So, you are negative at the end and your way of talking about Saudi make things difficult to change. so, saudis will defend the system for one simple fact: Saudi internal issues and problems are non business of anyone except Saudis. Offer solutions and we Saudis will thank you and we can take these solutions seriously. If you speak with respect to our country, we will listen to you very carefully but to bash our country and you wait us to listen to you? It is as far as the stars from you. So, I am saying to you please do not lose us we Saudis who are interested to see a change. I am candid when I am speaking now. You are losing Saudi people support by bashing their country.

  29. Long time lurker, first time poster.

    The more I read about how women are treated in Saudi Arabia, the more I am reminded of a short story I read in college, “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin. It wasn’t that long ago that women in the west struggled against the same prejudice that women in Saudi Arabia face now. If you look at women’s rights in the 19th century in the United States, you’d be just as appalled by the conditions they lived in as you are by women’s rights in Saudi Arabia now.

  30. @ medina
    So you will defend some negative point in a system JUST because you become defensive?? Even if you see it as wrong?? Does this sound reasonable?
    What is that? an excuse for not doing the right thing? to blame our negativity on a person who ‘dared’ point out something negative?

  31. God bless you Sandy. change will only happen by the contribution of people like you. i agree with you %100.

    @Medina, come on!! who do u think you’re lying to? if you really think that Sandy’s comments are not rational, than i suggest u reevaluate yourself and your conscious

  32. @Rami,
    Thank you.

    @Dr. Nassef,
    Very good point.

    I don’t “make” you or anyone else “do” anything. Your behavior is your own. And all I am doing is telling the truth. Saudi’s will never change anything unless they first admit the truth. How do you fix a problem if you pretend it isn’t there?

    It is true though. No one can make you change if you don’t want to. But I am aligned with the Saudi’s that DO want change. And there are plenty of them. How do you know I don’t talk with reformers? You have no idea what I do.

    And i do offer advice. Step one is stop pretending you don’t have a problem and start facing them.

  33. @ Dr. Nassef,
    I did not say that I will defend negativity. I am saying that I am against anyone who wants to demonize my country because my country is my identity. I welcome any any constructive and positive criticism that offer promising solution to our social problems but destructive criticism is not for reform it is for something else, it is to shift from reform to demonizing a country as a whole. So, destructive criticism is to attack you and your country and such step make anyone step back and defend his country as a whole. I hope you get me bro.

    Hehe, you made laugh dude. How are you!

  34. Medina, Sandy has offered solutions at various times.
    For somebody who is trained for years at rote memorization you have a pretty bad memory when it suits you.

  35. Medina…you apparently dont understand what “bash” means in terms of pointing out the problems a country, system or culture might have.

    Ive never heard Sandy bash anything…and rather than jump on her and say…how dare you bash my country…now im all defensive and can do nothing more productive then defend those same things she is pointing child marriages,…ownership of women, bad treatment of foreigners etc…why havent YOU offered up some solutions to those problems…rather than just rant on about how she is bashing your country and she shouldnt bite the hands that feeds her…whatever.

    Where are your solutions Medina? I havent heard you offer any either…other than the caging up of birds thing you mentioned. Unless, of course, you like things just they way they are and see no need for solutions to be found. Just a thought.

  36. @ medina
    a person needs to owe up to what is true and real regardless of how bad one feels about it. Your use of the term ‘bash’ maybe better expresses how bad you feel at this ‘point out’ than what sandy is doing. She is no position to ‘change’ matters. Her objection in itself is the solution, we don’t accept something but endure it means we want it changed… childishly simple but culturally really complicated. CHANGE will happen, but it takes new views to grow, and growth takes time.
    I am sure you can show more tolerance and understanding. Her sincerity is very obvious.

  37. Off-topic:
    What is bashing and harsh words to one person may be normal, neutral comments for others. It’s called cultural differences. What one may think they are implying by a certain statement may come across very differently to someone else. I have had this problem lately, and then I realise I have to re-evaluate who I am talking to and change the words I use accordingly. I’m not saying anyone should change their tone on here, just that we should try to understand the person’s comments by listening well and being open-minded.

    I think that adhl is committed for the same reason most people try to control their surroundings and others: fear. I imagine two of the greatest ones are fear of losing money and fear of losing someone else’s love (coupled with the fear of being left alone, etc.). There probably are some very few situations in which it is committed in order to protect the woman from marrying someone who is not a good person, but I imagine there are many more where the woman is kept from marriage due to other reasons.

    Additionally, if the woman wants to marry someone outside of the tribe, country, etc., the mahrem may think less of the male for this reason because possibly it is not the kind of guy the mahrem would be comfortable with himself. For instance, I am very different from certain relatives of mine. They have different values than me and thus would prefer a different type of guy for me than what I want for myself. Although we both want me to be happy ultimately, they can’t fathom the idea of why I would want such a “different” guy (who is not so very different from me 😛 ) as they are not very open-minded. Luckily, my parents are very supportive and I happen to live in a country where I have more individual rights.

  38. @ strangeone: two key points here, parent support + rights as an individual is respected in the country you are in.

  39. @Dr.Nassef,
    As for parental support, not all parents here are supportive. I just happen to be very blessed (that, or very lucky)! And it’s not always respected by the extended family, either. Luckily, what is respected by my relatives who disapprove of the way I choose to live -to an extent- is the individualistic (rather than collective) society that is the US. I still get to hear about how I’m not living up to their version of the best life, though, and what I should be doing instead. I still don’t like to mention things they disapprove of because of the lecture and family tensions that will follow.

    And yes, I am very proud of my nationality and rights as an American. 🙂

  40. I still don’t understand what the problem is to make this system “optional”… all the women who think it is a good thing to have the golden cage protection can still have it….unless the authorities are worried women will opt-out enmasse…

  41. @aafk,
    I did not see these solutions. What I see from sandy’s comments is her resentment from the Saudi culture at first place. She said herself that she has no respect to the culture. Correct me if I am wrong sandy. I do not think that Saudis will stand against their culture.

    When someone says that he has no respect of your culture, do you consider it a kind of bash or not? If someone criticizes negatively your culture and your system every single day, is such kind of behavior could be perceived as bashing or not? I use the term “bash” to describe sandy’s negative and regular criticism of the Saudi culture and system. I am not in a position to offer solutions now because I am correcting misleading information at first place. And there was no healthy argument provided me with the atmosphere make me feel I can offer solutions. so, any solutions or suggestions I provide here it will be used negatively against my country in the path of demonizing Saudi culture and system. What is going here is engineering propaganda against Saudi. It is to wash your brain and to make you believe that Saudi is evil and chane should take place. But in reality, it is not like what they say. It is the same propaganda that convinces the world that Iraq has weapons of mass destructions. I think you should be aware that we have concerns and we have negative experience with such propagandas.

    @Dr. Naseef,
    I understand your point but I do not think you are aware about the kinds of the change that they are seeking. The change that they are seeking is to change the basics that Saudi as a country stand on. For example, they want Saudi to be a secular state. They want to overthrow the Saudi regime. Do you agree with such change? Do you understand what does this mean in real life? I do not think you are in a good position to feel what I can feel when someone wants to change my culture and my political system because you are not going to pay the price for such a change. So, I am saying here that if there is a change, it must come from within the Saudi society. It least it will be fair, they will suffer the consequences of any kind of change because they choose to change. If I will speak against your country now and criticize it daily, I think you will change your mind and you will lose your temper. Regarding your remark about tolerance, I am very tolerant with them here, they sometimes call me names and you can check that in the other article but I forgive them and I do not even reply to them. I do not know for how long you are commenting here to come up with such conclusion?

    I always admire your comments. You are very objective. You are right that parents support is not always secured for Americans. I have a friend who pays the rent of her room in her parent’s house.

  42. Excuse me Medina stop lying about me. I never said I wanted to overthrow the Saudi regime, and I said I wanted an end to oppression of women and others and basic human rights observed and supported by the legal system. If your position is that an Islamic country cannot do that- that Islam cannot stand for human rights, then I guess I do prefer secular.

  43. Medina…someone DOES criticize my culture and country ever single day…and that someone is other American people. We do it every day. Its called freedom of speech and freedom of assembly to protest the parts about our culture and country we dont agree with or like.

    I cannot ever recall hearing an American use the phrase “bashing my country” when engaged in this sort of debate with a foreigner.

    I do find it interesting though that many foreigners from muslim counties will emmigrate to American, set up house, find work, live “the dream” so to speak….then gather in the Friday mosque for prayers and listen to the latest Qutba “bash” our culture, our country and our govt…right under our noses. And guess what….freedom of speech allows them to do that.


  44. @sandy,
    “I never said I wanted to overthrow the Saudi regime”

    Excuse me Sandy stop lying about me. I never said you wanted to overthrow the Saudi regime.

    Americans criticize America. Saudi criticizes Saudi, it is fine but why you discriminate against Muslim Americans when they criticize America? You think of them that they are not Americans? Muslims and you are all immigrants to America. So freedom of speech is their right as much as it is your right there. If you hold Saudi citizenship, I will secure this right for you in this blog. You can criticize Saudi as much as you want and ask for the change.

    who is Hypocrite now?

    “I cannot ever recall hearing an American use the phrase “bashing my country” when engaged in this sort of debate with a foreigner. “

    this does not negate that other people hear this phrase from other Americans.

  45. @ I’m glad to know I misunderstood. I got that impression from what you said to Dr. Naseef.

    As for only Saudi’s being able to criticize Saudi. You are wrong. Anyone can do it. There is no citizenship requirement and there is nothing you can do to stop it.

    Also, parent support is often not provided by Saudi parents. Support is more than just money- and even that is not always given.

  46. I meant Medina..that they come here and are free to criticize…and who stops them? Nobody…but you are on here dare all of you criticize my country. Im saying…we allow it even if we dont agree with it. Why are you so defensive about it?

    And I didnt say they werent allowed to do it….I just said they were hypocrites to “bite the hand that feeds them” as you mentioned to Sandy.

  47. I do understand what Medina is saying and it is what I was saying to Sandy to at various times. If she is claiming to speak for the oppressed women then that is all fine and good and postive. But her choice of words and the way she speaks about “bettering” the situation shows a negative attitude. Maybe that is not her intention but that is how it looks and to the sensitve nature of Saudis, it does not look good and makes him/her react defensively.

    I can sift through this blog to give examples but that will take time and not fair on Sandy who may have good intentions.

    How we see it is as tauting, as making fun of, and yes bashing. I did write before that it seems that she is not thankful for being in Saudi. But she has on numerous occasions said that is tryng to help the oppressed. I would only ask for a better way, better words perhaps.

  48. Sarah,
    There are no better words for the ugly things I am describing. And yes, I have a negative attitude about them. Of course I do. I am a human being that cares about other human beings. It is not my job to “pretty up” the truth, so that I don’t hurt peoples “sensitivities”.

    Also, to be very clear- I am grateful for the life I lead, but no, I am not thankful for being in Saudi. Saudi has given me no reason to be thankful to it.

    And for your information it is Saudi’s who tell me these things as well. Especially women and most especially women who are mothers who hope that their children will have better lives. Who see the unnecessary limitations etc.

    It is amazing to me that you would be more caught up in my sounding “negative” or whatever than being appalled at the human rights issues in your country. You think I don’t sound grateful? That I am negative? I never hear you say one thing in defense of the abused in your system. Never one word except to make it look like it’s not so bad. Do you think all those suffering fellow citizens of yours appreciate that?

    Did you read the paper today, about those abused women who were put in an old peoples care facility because there are no appropriate facilities for them? Did you read about how most care facilities for the abused treat the women like criminals? Why are you not more angry about that, than about me sounding negative? You all seem to be more about looking good, than actually being good. You value image over reality. Lies over the truth. You want respect for you country? Earn it.

  49. @cool,
    You destroy their countries and their civilization, absorb and steal and live on their natural resources and enslave them in farms and make of them refugees in camps, support dictators who rule them and then you say in a pathetic way that you feed them after they gained legally and rightfully the American citizenship as your immigrant ancestors did!! Who feed who now while you live on their stolen natural resources?

    Sandy is not Saudi till this moment.

    Americans also complain from their health system. This is a global matter and it is not exclusive to Saudi. And you should be thankful to Saudi because you live in the Saudi soil after they grant you the visa. Saudi provides you with security, health care and soil to stay in but many people take things for granted. So it does not surprise me that you are not thankful to Saudi.

  50. @Lynn,
    Do you have solutions? Your main point is to say Saudi is bad but not to offer solutions.

    If you and me and others offer solutions and we discuss these solutions positively for every matter and we make a draft of these solutions and revise this draft and then submit it to Saudi government, it will be great efforts and Saudis here will cooperate with these efforts. This is the only way I can offer help here. But if your point and interest are only to demonize Saudi, Saudis will be defensive only.

  51. @ medina
    Let us be clear about certain points:
    Are you saying that you are against someone saying his/her opinion ‘if’ you ‘judge’ it is in criticism to a certain situation?
    If someone does not like a certain political situation and you support it, is that person allowed to have this opinion? and if so do you think that this person can air it??
    Sandy is talking about what she likes and her opinion, her words are not a real war, she is not overthrowing or really changing anything… she cant.

  52. What are we discussing here? The right of someone like Sandy to freely say her view??? or that when she talks she has to abide by some other person’s regulations??
    Are we talking if the Saudi system is marvelous vs can be criticized? Is it above criticism?
    Are we arguing if Saudi women are happy with the system and want as it is, or that there is a feeling that a change must come??
    What are we talking about?

  53. My opinion: instead of going for the person with the view and trying to knock him/her down, why not simply argue the topic itself, idea vs idea, fact vs fact, and KNOW.. that here ( as should be in all the middleeast) we should be able to say we chose to dislike, or choose to like.
    To answer your question @ medina: about ‘tolerance, i was speaking here about what little tolerance i saw regarding Sandy airing her views. It is not a total judgment of your character, but how you targeted her instead of her ideas.
    Was i wrong in thinking you can show more understanding and tolerance?? are you saying you cant (present tense)?

  54. @ medina, anyone can want anything, that is our privilege, not everyone can be happy with a certain situation, there are those that benefit and those that suffer.
    WE have no right to censor what people want or dont want, nor even speak of their ‘wanting’. We can speak of what they ‘say’.
    She is an American, so suppose she says she want to change the whole presidency thing… so? It is her privilege and right. All of us in the middle east should have that RIGHT to say we chose,without being ‘bashed’ by someone who sees that airing an opinion we dont like is a ‘bashing’.

  55. ” whoever is not with us is against us” …
    i do hope we do NOT deal with other people with that stupid and very harmful philosophy!

  56. Thank you Dr. Nassef.

    Ok Medina. You want to talk about solutions. Lets talk. What are the problems?

    I would like to end the Mahrem/Ownership system that never allows women to grow up and be adults. I know many Saudi’s who want this. How do we start?

    I would like them to legally enforce a minimum age for marriage to prevent children being sold into marriage and I would like it enforce that in any marriage the dowry always goes to the woman not her father.

    I would like custody laws codified that keep the interest of the child as the most important factor, not the father. And unless there is actual danger to the child- the child has the right to access both parents.

    I would like women to be able to drive. Some people say many women want to drive. Some say women should not be allowed to drive and also that most women don’t want to anyway. So to be fair, I think it should be very clear that no woman has to drive if she doesn’t want to. And if there are only 5 or so women that want to drive, it shouldn’t destroy society.

    These problems are a good start. So what do you think are the solutions? I look forward to hearing your positive comments.

  57. @Dr. Nassef,
    You are missing the first thread of the discussion, so you get confused and appointed yourself as a lawyer for sandy. Sandy says that she lives happily with her kids in Saudi but she does not miss any chance bashing Saudi and the culture. So, I asked her, why you are very negative and hold negative attitudes towards Saudi while you are saying that you live happily there? I do not think that this is a complex question to understand Dr. Nassef.

    My position that sounds hard for you to understand although I stated it once is that I welcome any positive and constructive criticism to Saudi issues and I will thank anyone offer solutions to our social problems but I am against completely any “destructive” criticism that its purpose is to demonize Saudi especially from non saudis who enjoy life in Saudi. The one who have the right to change things in saudi is the saudi people ONLY because saudis will pay the price or get the benefit of any change. I think you get it well now and I am not going to repeat myself again and again.

    “She is an American, so suppose she says she want to change the whole presidency thing… so? It is her privilege and right.”

    I do not think sandy will agree with you in this matter becuse she believe it is not her right to change the saudi regime because she is not saudi. do you want to change the saudi regime Dr. Naseef?

  58. @Medina,
    Once again you are wrong about what you are saying.Believe me I have MANY opportunities to bash Saudi and Saudi culture and I choose not to take them. I have told you endless times Medina, that I am happy here IN SPITE of the system, not because of it. I am happy here because of good circumstances a good husband, good kids, good jobs etc. And circumstances weren’t always so good for me here. The Saudi system directly made my life very difficult at one point. And even today it does at times, but I am not expecting a perfect life. I have been very blessed and fortunate.

    And yet I see misery all around. And so I just try to tell the truth about what is wrong here. It is not about bashing. It is about telling the truth. Someone needs to help people here. Maybe you don’t need help. But why don’t you care about the people that do?

    I absolutely as a human being and a Muslim have the right and the duty to speak the truth. Or in Islam is one supposed to cover up when people are oppressed? As the wife of a Saudi man, and especially as a mother of Saudi children I have an obligation to try to change things here. I have said this many times. What do you not understand about that?

  59. @ Sandy
    Islam dictates that the dowry is ONLY to the bride, the father has no right to take it for himself.

    @ medina
    You are missing the point. My comments are about what you say. As i noted before, by stepping the topic to attack the person, is not honorable and is what you call ‘destructive’ to the conversation.
    Are you a self-appointed judge?
    let me simplify this for you: EVERY human has the right to speak his mind. OK?? NO one has the right to black-mail another to into shutting up.
    i want to ask you about the saudi politics. is it sacred? are people obligated to ONLY have a positive idea of it?

  60. @ medina again.. why are you always focusing on ‘changing the saudi regime”??? You first brought it up as your ‘theory’ that it was what Sandy wants. Again you pose it as a question??
    The topic is about the system.
    So we will ignore this ‘political daring’ of yours, rise above it and continue PLEASE with FREE ideas regarding the topic. Men control over women in Saudi laws, is everyone happy with it? is it fair and islamic to the women?

  61. @ Sandy, you say you see misery all around you… how do you react to that, and were you able to help?

  62. sandy,
    I would like that your critique becomes constructive not destructive. I do not like you sound that you hate Saudi system because this will make Saudis take defensive position, thus, your critique will be negative because you will lose Saudis’ support. This is my point. Offer solutions. Is it hard to understand me?
    Your earlier post above is a list of requests. It is not solutions. These requests will not be met if you can not support your request is not ok from an Islamic point

    I will take an example of these requests:
    “end the Mahrem system”

    How? Why? Do Saudis want mahrem system? Etc. I need solutions that stem from Islam, so that people agree with it. I can give you an example. Mahram should accompany women in travel. We have to go back to the situation of women 1400 year ago and understand why women should be accompanied by Mahram if the travel takes more than three nights on a camel. The reasons pop up now. It is because women need protection in any travel that takes three nights on a camel (180 Kilometer). We can say now that there is no need for Mahram’s approval in travel now because we have security. And women can take planes and cars alone and they are surrounded all the time by people and security. So by this way, you can debate with hard-line in Saudi and convince them that it is Ok that a woman can travel alone without mahram. I am sure the hard-line will argue that women should not be left alone because they may expose to “sexual harassment”. What can you say to them? If your way of change is to enforce things upon Saudi people, this will mess up things in Saudi and this is what I stand against it. We do not want any social trouble. We want that we agree on things first and then we can work together peacefully. And remember that we are a collective society. We should convince the majority of Saudis that such a change is ok and good. Change comes from necessity.

    By the way, all your requests above, I agree with them personally but as I said many times that my opinion as a person does not count whether I agree or disagree. The most important thing is the opinions of the Saudi majority and how to address or change this public opinion. This is my point. I am not against you but I am against your way that could make issues hard to solve.

    I do not want to repeat myself again. you can re-read my post above. You will find my answer there.

    Do you think you have the right to change the saudi regime? please to stick to this point to understand what I am saying.

  63. @ medina…
    1. Sandy needs no lawyer.
    2. it does seem really hard for you to understand but let me try again: if i appear to be defending then it is for the RIGHT to speak freely even for an opinion i may not agree on.
    3. Again: why become personal when there is a real topic?? Who gave you the right to say who can talk and who cant about what??
    4. The saudis are the only ones who have the right to change their system.. i agree totally! notice however that we are talking.. not changing, and this blog is not by those of saudi origin.
    5. You CHOSE to call an opinion ‘bashing’ then go and personally bash people?? Why… you dont agree or like their logic.. fine… ATTACK logic by logic idea by idea..
    To end… brother, this is a discussion, not a war, and i doubt you think you can intimidate anyone here into shuttingup and not saying what they want…Here… we are in a free country.. can you say the same?

  64. @ medina
    your last post… NOW you are talking!
    However, you can do that better than ask someone who was not born into the saudi culture.
    I think tribal issues also influence the islamic laws, what is your input on that.

  65. @medina,

    Why on earth would someone need to debate with hard-line in saudi , whoever they are!!! There are obviously quite a few woman who do NOT want the system, so the har-line women in saudi can keep their system, If a large no of women say 10-15% of the women petition that they don’t want the system do you think the govt would allow it to be made optional.

    How about for those non-saudi women married to saudi’s about making it optional for them? this is not an issue now, it has been an issue even a decade ago, when i lived there there were grumblings about this system… yes here we are 10 yrs later and not an iota of change….. so for the women in saudi ,, i’d say suck it up. change is a long ways away IF…

  66. @Medina, ‘Your main point is to say Saudi is bad but not to offer solutions’

    Are you out of your ever loving mind? Where do you get this stuff? I posted a link to the news report about a current even where SAUDIS were working on Women’s Empowerment. SAUDIS complaining about the state of affairs for women.
    Did you even read it?

    I did not say a thing. I don’t think that I have EVER said anything against the country besides the bullshit that they export as Islam. You are really on a roll here these last few days trying to portray Saudis as brainless, aren’t ya?

  67. @Sandy

    This is a little late and I’m still catching up. Your reply to Sarah deserves an applause. For this sentence especially “You want respect for you country? Earn it.” I give you a *standing ovation*. May you never let the naysayers deter you and may your efforts be fruitful. Perhaps someday your children will not have to face the problems found there today. Please continue to shine a light on the country’s ills because recent years have shown that worldwide condemnation does produce results.

  68. @Sandy,

    I know Medina is trying to push this Saudi culture line. Saudi does not have a real culture with roots any more. Saudi is divided into regions each region with its own culture and heritage. However, each also had to go either forceful change or a change that was too rapid for the culture to adjust adequately. So let’s talk about some of the different regions:

    – Najed: Had scattered Balduin tribes with very small urban centers. The people were extremely poor and lived a nomadic life for the most part. The culture there was not adapted to large city living nor living in multi cultural structure. The people of this region were very conservative and rigid. There was a move to cities after the discovery of oil, that happened too fast and the tribal people were not able to adapt their culture to the change. This is why you get the extreme contradictions in behavior.

    – Hasa: is a coastal region with a large Shiiat population. The people of the region were traders and had many interactions with outsiders. The culture was less conservative and accepting of change.

    – Hijaz: Had large urban centers of Mecca, Medina and Jeddah. The inhabitants were primarily of ethnic background covering a wide spectrum of all Islamic countries. This multiculturalism made the inhabitants more liberal and very accepting to change.

    Now the cultural issues arised, when Al Saud invaded the other regions. Since they are from conservative Najid, they and their religious leaders set about enforcing their cultural heritage on the other parts of Saudi. All other religious schools of thoughts were eliminated. The cultural identity of the locals were forced to change over a period of 80 years. What Saudi has now is an experiment in social engineering.

    Saudi culture was not allowed to evolve in the right direction. Its development was revered under the forceful control of the clerics. The idea that all Saudis have to appease the hardliners to make progress, is false. It did not work for over 80 years. Changes have only happened when people pushed back or external pressure shames the Saudi government to make changes.

    What is sad, is if Median is truly a Hijazi (from the City of Medina), then he really is a person without culture. Since he does not understand that his culture was totally different than what has been forced on the people of the region.

  69. @MoQ

    Careful there, the “constructive criticism” police might come after you! 😛

  70. Moq said before that Saudi Arabia is an experiment in social engineering.
    It comes a cross as something like ”1984” especially for women. Big Brother is always watching you, when you lleave the country your owner gets a text message!
    Punishment and torture awaits those who step outside the rigid borders of the artificial enforced ”culture” and you can see on discussions here what the reaction is when somebody is considered to commit ”thought crime”.

  71. Sandy, you seem to be a little confused. So far what I am understanding is that you believe in the Quran but want prove of Prophethood. And that you are happy in Saudi but not thankful. How does that make you sound?

    First of all, dear Sandy, I did not write my last comment as against your wishes to be judgemental, but only to make you realize how you make it sound. Fine, now you say you are not thankful while I can quote you on a preivous comment you said that you are grateful (I could be wring but it was in capital letters). So you are contradicting yourself. So what is it?

    More recently you made it sound that you are in contact with “reformers” and since you are for so long talking about the problems in Saudi, I would have thought that you have some ideas for solutions. But now you are listing some of the basic issues that need to be addressed – but offering no solutions.

    Listen Sandy, I am not turning a blind eye to the problems niether I am asking you to be “pretty up the truth”. There is no way to do that. What I am saying is that the way you go about doing it shows more of bashing than offering soloution,s Do you get my point?

    Do you think that USA is without problems? What if an outsider says that they want a change and lists the issues? Wouldn’t you be defensive? THe proof is this blog, where westerns mostly keep a defensive stance on western issues.

  72. @Sarah,
    I am not confused at all and you sound not very sincere when you call me “dear” while saying so.I have not contradicted myself- and most people understand what I’m saying so I don’t know what your problem is. I am grateful for my good life- grateful to Allah, but not to Saudi. It’s pretty simple.

    I have never said I don’t accept the Prophethood of Muhammad as you claimed on another thread or that I want proof of prophethood, as you just stated here.

    I listed problems rather than solutions because I was attempting to create a starting point. There is nothing to discuss if we don’t acknowledge the problems.

    And I do not claim to have solutions to these problems. But I do know that as long as people pretend that Saudi is a fair and just, non-oppressive state, that nothing will change. And lately changes have come because of outside pressure. Saudi gets embarassed into doing the right thing. This has all been talked about on this blog, but you are far more interested in somehow trying to get me under control.

    You certainly seem to be turning a blind eye to problems here. I have heard you spend far more energy trying to get me to say things the way you want than either stating what you think is relevant or offering any solutions.

    So yes I get your point. You want me to address things differently, and you want to try to somehow discredit me while pretending to be sweet and claim I am “confusing”,when I am being very clear.

    The answer is, “no”. I will speak the way I like, and it is your problem if you are so easily confused.

    This is a blog about Saudi Arabia. Not about the west. People talk about US problems all the time in the US. Outsiders do it and insiders. And no I don’t get defensive when people are telling the truth. Why would I be offended by that? Am I an immature child still with a third grade mentality?

    Also, I am not an outsider. I live here and am part of a Saudi family and part of Saudi society. Not that that matters. ANYONE, ANYWHERE has the right to voice their opinion on Saudi. And I hope more and more people do everywhere, since outside pressure seems to work best these days in getting anything done.

    This thread was about an abuse in the guardian system. Why aren’t you talking about that? Why is it more important to try to shut me up than talk about the topic of the thread?

  73. @Medina,
    You do not personally agree with what I stated. You have talked about how women are like birds and need to be kept in their cages, to protect them from the cats. And you also said you wanted no minimum age for brides so that your children could marry very young if they want. So which is it?

    I don’t care what hardliners think. My approach would be to try to get rid of their political power. They are the ones forcing things on the Saudi people- especially women. So how do you suggest we take away their power? I think pressure on the King to issue some royal decrees might be one way.

    And MoQ is right. Saudi “culture” didn’t used to be this way (maybe only in Nejd). Saudi was on a very normal path of modernization until the 70’s. There were even such controversial things as movie theaters! Everyone didn’t have to wear the abaya. Talk to some of the older people in your family about this “culture” and how deep its roots actually are. Unless of course you are Nejd. But if you are keep in mind not everyone else is, and not everyone else necessarily appreciated you imposing your medieval ways on us.

  74. Just for the record everyone- I do not have magic powers or magic solutions. Long ago I was at a dinner where some European foreigners were being hosted, and they asked a Saudi woman “How many drivers are there here?” and she smiled and said, “as many as there are women”. Maintaining that whole “I’m so lucky I have a chauffer” attitude that is prevelant amoung the upper class.

    Well it just so happend that I used to work with bunch of less well off women here- women who needed to work, who worked hard. And most of their money went to transport to and from work because they didn’t have drivers. Now it wouldn’t have been so bad if it was at least an investment in owning a car. But basically they just paid a huge percentage of their salary just to show up.

    When that women said this at the dinner, I was so shocked and suprised I didn’t say anything. But after that night I told myself, I may not be able to do anything about injustice here, but I will not keep my mouth shut again. Couple that with some of the horrible marriage issues, abuse issues and child custody issues that I know of, which are a result of the oppression of women and sorry, I won’t keep my mouth shut about that either. My friends, my former co-workers deserve that someone says the truth. And I don’t care if it offends people like Medina and Sarah. I find them more offensive in their obsession with trying to silence me, instead of helping their fellow countrymen.

  75. Thanks, Sandy for clarifying your stand. Will reply a little later.

  76. @radha,
    Yes we must speak to the hard-line because they are the one who can make the change easily to take place. If there is a strong opposition against the change from the hard-line, they will demonize the change and people who seek the change in the society. And it could be dangerous because some zealous people will come and speak to you face to face and may stamp your face. So, it is better to speak with wisdom. I know my culture more than anyone else here and I know the red lines and how to overcome the red lines. Change will start from education. It will take place in along term maybe when I get very old (: .

    we need around 80% of people supporting the change in the Saudi society. Less than this percentage, it will be a waste of time. I can tell you about this, for example, there was a strong opposition against the religious police two years ago due to some incidences. I estimate that opposition to be 60% of Saudi people but they could not change it. They only succeed to overthrow the manger of the religious police commission.

    Hehe, Lynn, I concluded that from your way of posting that link which points a finger that Saudi has an issue. It is like you are saying hey, this is the proof that Saudi women are not happy there. I can read your facial expressions even if you do not speak up (:

    There are two points you must understand. First of all, excuse me sandy, you are lying about me in your claims. I quote “also said you wanted no minimum age for brides so that your children could marry very young if they want.”. This is a lie sandy and I challenge you to quote me saying such thing. Another thing is about the cage and birds; I used that Arabic proverb to clarify my point in a poetic way but what I can say to people who are like kids never try to understand. You are not objective in this regard.

    The second point is that you proved to me that you are not for offering solutions but for change by force. You proved that you are going to hinder any progress change in society. I as a Saudi citizen who is very interested to see a social change in the Saudi society tell you honestly that you are making things hard for us to work in the Saudi society. Your way is going to derive Saudis to be defensive and resist any change. The result is that you are going to lose the interest and the support of the Saudi people who can cooperate to make any progress in the society and you will make of them opponents against any change. You are making it hard for me to cooperate. Do you understand what I am saying?! Your way is very negative because it seems that you no idea about the Saudi culture and people. You are acting like immature girl who plays with guns. So for the sake of change, please calm down and listen to what I said above very carefully if you really care about Saudi women. I advice you not to talk in such way among people around you in your extended family because you will lose their support and you may bring problems to your family. This is a candid advice to you. Try to understand how Saudis think and what ways can make them change.

    Another point is that the hardline are Saudi people and they have the right also to say anything in the Saudi society and they have the right to change things. You want to create a social problem in the Saudi society? and when things get worse in the society, you will fly to America? Are you going to pay any price for any kind of change? So, I am saying to you, offer solutions and do not be an obstacle in front of the progress for the sake of change.

  77. @Medina,

    I know you do not reply to me, because you have no answers. Never the less, I will always try to dispel the lies and myth you constantly write here.

    Let’s take this statement:

    ” You proved that you are going to hinder any progress change in society. ”

    The only people that are forcing are the hardliners. They do it with powerful groups that roam the streets and shopping centers (CPVPV is a good example). The people of the country are tired of such treatment. What Sandy is representing is not force. It is an opinion. When a government pays people to keep you inline, that is force.

    “Your way is going to derive Saudis to be defensive and resist any change.”

    I think you have been asleep. Many Saudis want change similar to what Sandy is asking for. Remember the brave women who drove in Riyadh. Do you understand that women want to work freely, want to work freely, etc. The issue you have is you are a coward, you cannot even get yourself to state your position on these issues. I am not even talking about actually doing anything yourself (like the women who stated their position with actions). You cannot even give your support for just issues verbally in a web site and anonymously. You always want to act like the only wisdom is for people to close their mouth and some how the hardliners in the country will move things forward for you. Even educating people on the issues of the country

    When you cannot make a legit argument. You always use the excuse that any argument or an opinion will some how impact the chances of Saudis to make a change. However, you always have an opinion when it comes to limiting freedoms. A good example is the Birds and the cage. Contrary to your claim, Sandy did not use it out of context. You brought it up and you used it to define your control as a male over the female members of your family. There was no poetic meaning behind it.

  78. I don’t really care about your opinion Medina, nor do I need your advice. I”ve been here twenty years. I’m not ignorant about how things happen and how change goes. Do your thing- that’s fine. Saudi’s I actually know don’t find me causing a slowing of change, nor do they get defensive or resistant to change. Contrary to what you think, I am sensitive to my position as a foreigner and I back up Saudi’s where they lead. And there are plenty trying to lead change who appreciate the truth being spoken. Besides which- no one can “make” you defensive. You are responsible for your own behavior.

    About the marriage age- I apologize. I mixed you up with another poster. You did not say that. On this you are right and I am completely wrong.

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