Saudi Arabia/USA – Reverse Culture Shock Perhaps?

Saudi national Nuha Mohammed Al-Doaifi must have missed the course on American culture and etiquette.  The twenty one year old mother was arrested this past week in Palm Bay, Florida, after spitting on customers in the local WalMart.  The spit started flying when Al-Doaifi was informed she was entering the WalMart store through the exit door.  Instead of the typical Western reaction of “Thanks for letting me know!” Al-Doaifi responded by spitting in the individual’s face.  Palm Bay police were called and arrested Al-Doaifi on a battery charge with a hate crime enhancement. If convicted, the charge with a hate crime enhancement against Al-Doaifi could bring a greater punishment upon her. In Al-Doaifi’s statement to the Palm Bay police she stated, “her actions (of spitting) were directed at random people based on their ethnicity.” This is not the first time Al-Doaifi has purposely spit on an individual.  Several weeks earlier Al-Doaifi spit in the face of a professor at the Florida Institute of Technology.

Nuah Mohammed Al-Doaifi is either an arrogant individual or a very naïve individual. Her surname suggests that she has Bedouin roots. Given that there had been a previous spitting incident at the Florida Institute of Technology leads me to guess that she is either a student in the United States or the wife of a Saudi student and experiencing western culture and the lack of segregation for the first time. She probably is both confused and frightened by the Western openness.  In Saudi Arabia the woman would rarely be challenged for entering a store through an exit rather than the entrance door.  A stranger would not attempt to speak to an unknown Saudi woman. If an expatriate male were to attempt to challenge a Saudi woman in the Kingdom, his actions would be seen as inappropriate.  However a cultural misunderstanding does not condone Al-Doaifi’s actions as okay or appropriate. In fact, spitting at or in the direction of a person is viewed as one of the highest insults in Saudi Arabia.

The actions of Al-Doaifi reaffirm my own belief that any Saudi who is coming to the United States for an extended period of time as a student or spouse of a student must participate in a course on American culture and etiquette before departing the Kingdom.  Saudis (and Americans) need to remember that we do not see the same mirror image nor do we interpret information or actions in the same manner.


35 Responses

  1. Why the hate crime? Would it have made a difference if she didn’t hate those she spat on?

  2. Oh yuck the picture is disgusting and so is the girl’s behavior. I sincerely hope her child was not with her to witness such foul behavior.

    What is it with spitting? Surely it is a universal insult to anyone, anywhere but to me it’s even more deplorable coming from a female. I’m not sure why, that’s just how I feel.

    I actually have a lady neighbor who was spit on here by another older lady. Note I said older. And she spewed her spit over the mere mention that her abayah was opened and her cleavage could be seen (my neighbor thought she was unaware). Now, I know my neighbor she is very soft spoken and most assuredly approached this lady in a respectful manner but the spitter actually tricked my neighbor into lifting up her niqab (asking to see her, feigning to know her) and spat directly on her face, called her an animal and then walked away!

    How despicable and how sad!

  3. Oh come on now Jerry, who spits on someone they like!?

  4. More seriously, I certainly think Saudis need to be prepared when they come here. I guess they are used to a world where virtually everything is prohibited. It must be hard to imagine a place where actions that might be frowned upon aren’t stopped immediately.

    I hope that this woman is deported asap (and fined for spitting first, of course).

  5. “In Al-Doaifi’s statement to the Palm Bay police she stated, “her actions (of spitting) were directed at random people based on their ethnicity.”

    Pure racism and discrimination.

  6. “Oh come on now Jerry, who spits on someone they like!?”

    That is exactly it, so if spitting is a crime, why does spitting with hatred make it worse?

  7. Spitting on someone is assault. “Hate” as a category of crime is getting out of control, and becoming to prosecution what PC is to speech – a slippery slope.

    She should be charged with assault – multiple victims, multiple charges. Commiting a crime should bring deportation ASAP.

    In order to spit she must not have been wearing a veil and/or an abaya. She’d get whipped for that back home in saudi. :)-

  8. With all due respect, one must question this woman’s psychological stability. If she is competent enough to come to the States, and go to Walmart by herself, surely she must know that spitting on people is not tolerated here.

    If her ethnicity is used to explain her actions, she may not get the type of help she needs.

  9. @ Marham..I live in Saudi. It seems the first defense used by a Saudi for a crime committed here, mental defect. Please.
    @ Jerry.. I have lived in Saudi long enough to understand, just because they ARE Saudi, they are above the laws in other places. Orientation to other cultures wouldn’t help much. As for woman, being deported? The US is way too PC for that to happen. On the other hand, being a Western woman in Saudi, should I display that sort of behavior, I would be on the next plane out of here and my husband would probably lose his job and be on the plane with me.

  10. @ Rosemary, she did have her kid with her.


    “I wonder what would happen if a white American woman in Saudi Arabia spit on a Saudi? Comparing the two judicial systems for the same crime would be noteworthy.

    And speaking of Saudis in America and their crimes:”

  11. I read the original news article, she had her baby with her and was trying to get in the shop via the exit, and couldn’t she kept banging her trolly into the exit door.
    I don’t know, it could well be that she was overstressed with a baby constantly whining, sleep deprivation and trying to study and married life etc.
    Young mothers can and do flip and I think they do need and deserve understanding and support.

    Her racist tendencies are something else though.

  12. I think that the US Embassy and consulates throughout Saudi should give the following before giving a visa:
    1. Psychological test
    2. Examination on Western culture
    3. Applicant must write an essay responding to questions on application.
    4. Personality test
    5. Polygraph test
    6. Presidential Physical Examination
    7. At least an 80 hour course on western culure and etiquette.
    9. Stress test
    10. Five personal refer from a US citizen.
    11. Five personal ref. professionally
    12. Five personal references from Saudi Authorities
    13. A US history examination/geography of the US

  13. Perhaps they should start with the FSNs at the embassies first.

  14. I think you are asking a bit much. Especially #13, especially for America, I think the American are the most geographically challenged people on the planet!

  15. Here is the article in it’s entirerity. The reason the hate crime was added is because she said she was targeting “white people”.

  16. Maybe she has mental problems…maybe she was just hateful…but from what I read recently(I wanted to see if this might be normal behavior for a Saudi who was VERY upset…each culture having their own preferred insult) Evidently spiting for Saudis is an extreme form of contempt and just about one of the worst insults you can give to someone. That still doesn’t solve the problem of why she sis it.

  17. Linda…

    “As for woman, being deported? The US is way too PC for that to happen.”

    They HAVE started deportation measures for her. She spit on her professor as well and received counseling from the university she attended. This is at least her second go around with spitting. She has been finished with school since the Spring so I am not sure if her visa has expired which should make deporting her a fairly easy procedure.

  18. Yuck – deportation does seem appropriate. I do wonder why she came in the first place. Perhaps, as she is married, she didn’t have a choice.

    I heard some time ago that the Dutch have a course on their culture for immigrants. I’d love to hear more about it ? Future topic for Bedu??

  19. As an American married to a wonderful man who comes from a well known Jordanian tribe with roots in KSA, what was the point of identifying her as having Bedouin roots? While she certainly acted in a despicable manner, does that damn all those who claim tribal affiliation? We need to get past that city (madani) vs. tribe (Bedouin) mentality!

  20. From looking at her pics on tv and newspapers, she looks more like some drug addict on psychedelic drugs. Looks no different than what is seen on COPS. Allahoo Alim :)-

    Let her go back to saudi if she does not like how she is treated here. I have no sympathy what so ever.
    The great thing about America is that if you don’t like it, you are free to LEAVE.

    At least, the people at that Wal-Mart are lucky that she was a peaceful muslim. Allahoo Alim!

  21. I guess instead of flipping the bird or using strong language some people prefer spitting.

  22. Absoluletly embarrassing as a fellow Muslima! \She seems to be wearing her bra on the outside of her shirt in her mug shot. Someone should have also called the fashion police!

  23. It is a very common site. A macho man with a harem of females he does not trust or a black clad whoever, force their way through a door that clearly marks EXIT and the expat staff can only look the flying fornication of a rat’s posterior, to say politely.

    My best bet is that she was doing as is her wont. Not that she could not read. She is not programmed to follow it. Heavens help us if she invents something!

  24. Ok. Some text got missing somehow from the above comment. Do excuse what appear as incomplete sentence(s). I dont know how it happened. I sure hope the point I was trying to make gets delivered.

  25. My experience in the ME is that spitting is akin to throwing your shoe at someone…extremely shaming.

    I wonder at people’s depth of hostility towards her. We have Americans that do that and so much more while abroad and they appear to have this certain Superior thought about themselves…as in Im American so step the fuck off. Ive seen that plenty of times too. People dont always behave generally and while abroad do things not typically associated with their personality…sort of like some people on the Internet. 😉

  26. I wonder nobody spit back at her.

  27. Another Saudi student in the news today. This time in Binghamton, New York,

    A graduate student from Saudi Arabia admitted Friday that he stabbed to death a professor he believed was part of a plot against him. In court Friday, al-Zahrani said he was provoked to the violent attack by a “smile” from Professor Antoun, whom he believed was “laughing” at him and mocking him.

  28. All that comes to mind is the “GERMS”…. uggghhh the human mouth is nastier than a dog’s … imagine the spread of germs — far and wide.. disgusting is the word that comes to mind.

  29. What was the ethnicity of the Walmart employee? My guess is he or she was a minority and that’s why it was also labeled a hate crime.

  30. Ok, I read the article lol, should have initially. It was the comment about Americans pushing her around. And this woman has also spat on her professor? If she was intelligent enough to have been accepted to a college how in the world would she thought it was acceptable behavior to go around spitting at people in a different country?

  31. Good grief, the articles themselves surely don’t give a full picture of what went down — and the comments on these websites are horrible. Spitting? Rise above it, no matter what ethnicity the woman is. No one would suggest “shooting and burying at sea” an aggressive, unmannered American woman for spitting on someone in public.

    The commenters’ propensity for violent reaction on the linked sites has me far more worried than a person of any nationality going around spitting. Xenophobia is alive and well, apparently. Yes, spitting is an insult, but it doesn’t call for this sort of outcry. I don’t even think the incident(s) merited a news article. It fans flames in a completely unnecessary way.

    Culture shock and cross-cultural interactions can get ugly, yes, but the best way to deal with it is with patience and explanation. I admire Ms. Rakowski for cleaning up and getting the police involved, rather than spitting back or starting a throw-down. If only we could apply this sort of think-before-you-react behavior to the larger picture of conflict….

  32. Jess…

    While I would agree with you more if it was an isolated incident, it wasn’t. She evidently had spit on her professor and tried to spit on another customer but missed…and that is what we know about. So there was a pattern of behavior there.

    The reason the racial issue was brought up is because she stated she did it because Americans were pushing Saudis around although I am not sure what she meant by that. She didn’t say americans are pushing ME around which would indicate it is a much more personal issue…rather it was she who said americans vs saudis. I think the disticntion is what made it eyecatching.

    What would have happened to the woman if she was in Saudi and it was the American who spat on a saudi? Could we fairly say that it doesn’t deserve this kind of outcry? I think it would probably be big news there as well.

    Having said all that, either this woman is full of such hate as unable to control it or she is mentally imbalanced. Ignore the comments…haven’t you ever noticed no matter what the topic, whether Muslims or the president or anything it brings out the very negative commmentors?

    And I agree with you that the woman handled it just as she should have by reporting it and letting the police handle it. But the SAudi was very lucky she didn’t pick someone else to spit on as she could have found herself badly injured if she encountered another person as full of hate or mentally unbalanced as she.

  33. I can’t understand how spitting like this could be even considered as a culturally accepted manner of expressing your feelings by people who I keep hearing described as supposedly so hospitable and pious. It seems ridiculous to suggest that a visitor to our country would need to be taught that spitting on someone is not acceptable behavior.

    Z Allawzi, I also don’t think that her possible Bedouin roots should have been brought into it. I don’t think any of us would appreciate being judged on our presumed ancestry. I thought we didn’t like profiling?

  34. Yep, Oby, I do get your points. She had spit on someone before, I know. And it is an eye-catching incident, for people who are looking for that kind of thing, in my opinion. If she had been of a nationality outside of the ME, it wouldn’t have made a difference or hit the news, I don’t think.

    I don’t think her actions are defensible, but spitting is pretty minor compared to what so many average Arab-Americans went through since 9/11 — the harassment, the threats, the fear, the killing of a Sikh man because he wore a turban. I just look at the spitting situation and think it’s pretty petty. Even if she does think that Americans are “picking on us,” depending on what “us” might mean, she has a point. And yeah yeah yeah, why is she here, then, etc., that’s an old stale argument; many people end up in places they don’t want to be. Plus, culture shock can be a major mind and spirit-bender. Not that you made these arguments, Oby; I’m just digressing. 🙂

    You wrote: “What would have happened to the woman if she was in Saudi and it was the American who spat on a saudi? Could we fairly say that it doesn’t deserve this kind of outcry? I think it would probably be big news there as well.” I’m sure you’re right. Another reason I’m glad I’m from a country that’s not nearly so draconian. And you’re so right — certain topics definitely bring out hate. That scares me way more than some woman spitting….

    My own ideas here, but I don’t think she was mentally unbalanced. I think the cultures of the US and KSA are so radically different that it must be really, really hard for an average, unprepared person to move between them. The news coverage just gives so little sense of the possible background(s). And I agree she IS lucky, because based on the comments on those links, she could have run into someone who would have beat her a** and then turned around and hated anyone with an accent or brown skin for the rest of their lives. That kind of behavior perpetuates itself pretty readily.

    I think she herself is about akin or equal to the average person out there who gets inflamed by these very sorts of articles. I think that people who stereotype and who have no patience are the ones most affected by articles that form the basis for this post, and it’s a bit ironic….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: