Saudi Arabia: Interview with Khalid

Khalid is a young professional who grew up in Saudi Arabia and also writes his own blog.  He has kindly agreed to an interview with American Bedu.

Khalid, first of all, please tell us a little bit about yourself.  What part of the Kingdom are you from?

I’m a freelance 3d & Motion Graphics Artist. Theoretically, I’m still a child that’s learning something new everyday. I claim to be a philosopher when I’m driven by poetry, and I claim to be a poet when I’m driven by theory, though, in the end, I always claim to be an artist. Technically I’m a half Indian, half Yemeni non-citizen born and raised in Jeddah. However, to complicate things a little bit more (or not), I studied in Arabic schools most of my life, thus making my mother language Arabic. And while always being a foreigner has been a huge obstacle in my way, I think that it actually led me to have a less-biased perspective on things -which I’ve really come to appreciate in my latter years.

What was it like growing up in Jeddah?  What kind of schools did you go to?  What did you and your friends do for entertainment?

In my opinion Jeddah is probably one of the most diverse cities in Saudi Arabia, when it comes to culture; you see people from all around the world here, of different races and different backgrounds. Even the accent and the “urban/slang” words that are commonly used amongst the locals are derived from different Arab/Non-Arab countries.

As for my education, I studied in private Arabic schools. I wasn’t the kind of kid that would have to go out everyday or two, so running my own online forum was my form of entertainment at the time. Unfortunately, though, the schools that I attended followed a memorize-what’s-written-and-don’t-ask-any-questions policy; they discouraged discussions and disagreement, and they limited students’ passion, ambition, and dreams by letting us believe that failure in class meant failure in life. These limitations cleverly stirred up my passion for rebelling; my grades gradually lowered, and my interest in seeking an alternative for the educational system increased. –Since then I’ve been trying to figure out how to work on an educational plan that would benefit the students and encourage them to dream, one that would allow the realization of their dreams.

 

Where did you attend University?  What did you study?  What was it like living in Malayasia as compared to Saudi Arabia?

I went to Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia. I studied Interactive Multimedia (the interactivity wasn’t and isn’t really my specialty, but it was the one course they had that included all the classes I wanted). During my stay there I think what I noticed was that they welcomed foreigners with more warmth than Saudi Arabia does.

 

What did you enjoy best about Malayasia and why?

Definitely the KFC over there. ‘Cause it actually tasted good. Unlike the KFC we have here in Jiddah.

 

How easy (or hard) was it to return to Saudi Arabia after having been abroad?  How did living abroad for a period change you?

I think that the hardest part in leaving or returning from one place to the other is adapting to a different lifestyle than the one you had gotten used to. Of course, this is different from one person to the other. To me the major change was the shift from a family-oriented lifestyle, where the family would meet every week or so, to a rather independent lifestyle, where I’d spend most of my time on the computer without bothering anyone by my anti-social life, and then back again to the family-oriented lifestyle. But I think that the experience I’ve had traveling to different countries exposed me to different ideas; some that you just immediately fall in love with and wish that everyone around you was exposed to them. Some that make you feel grateful for knowing that you haven’t grown up associated with them. All-in-all though, I think that people should see things with a non-judgmental open mind, and endure what’s right, whilst learning about what’s wrong.

 

When did you establish Alleviated Media?  What is your mission and vision?  What medium of art do you prefer?

I’ve always wanted to have a more ‘formal’ façade for my freelancing business, but I didn’t want it to be too formal that I’d forget about the passion I have for art and only tune into finances. So, by the end of 2010, I think, I started visualizing the ideas I had and I began the process of putting them together and into work. My goal was to basically do the job I’m given, with passion. –You see many people out there that work just for the paycheck, without putting an extra effort, simply because they don’t care. They seek a career in art, without the passion. I’ve always wanted to be one of those who did their jobs in the best way they could because they wanted to.

When it comes to mediums (or forms of art) I’ll have to admit that I’m still in a dilemma about my favorite; I can’t focus on just one form or medium; I professionally mostly work with motion graphics and 3d, but I really enjoy digital and traditional painting, photography, and film-making on my free-time.

 

You and I came in contact with one another through our blogs.  Please tell us about your blog.  What is its name?  When did you create it?

I was initially going to name it “The Alien” (now I’m thinking that The Alien Diaries would have sounded lamely amusing), and according to “my plan” it was supposed to be just a personal blog under Alleviated Media. Then I figured that I should separate business from theory, so I thought that I’d name it “In My Mind, From My Heart”, but then a friend pointed out that it sounded a little too feminine (though I thought that Mind Untwined sounded feminine). I eventually took my friend’s advice and went for Mind Untwined. I started writing around the beginning of September, but I only spread the word about the blog to friends and family by mid-September. –Up until now, it’s still in its beta version.

 

What prompted you to start a blog in the English language?  Who do you feel is your target audience?

Well, for some reason I’ve always been more comfortable expressing myself in English. I love the Arabic language; it’s written and spoken poetry. But I think that the advantage that English has over Arabic is that you could easily turn your writings into another form of art, by balancing between formal and non-formal words, whereas in Arabic one would notice the stumble if you carelessly overdid it. Also, I wanted my thoughts to be read in a more common/universal language, and since I didn’t know how to speak Chinese, I figured that English would do.

 

What kind of messages does your blog convey to readers?  What impact do you want your blog to have?

I’m honestly still unsure of the messages I’m trying to send, or if I am trying to send any at all. I think I just wanted to document my thoughts and see if there was someone out there that shared the same thoughts as I did, or if someone had different thoughts and helped me see things from a different perspective. I foresee myself ten to twenty years from now looking back at my writings and saying: “So, that’s the way the young me used to think. If only I had known back then what I know now…”

I guess that at the end of the day, I want to know that I’ve got a place to express my thoughts, without nagging anyone about them for hours. I wanted to give people the choice to hear my random ramblings, or not.

 

Now I’ve got to ask you, as a man in Saudi, some questions many readers are interested in.

 

Do you think women should drive in Saudi Arabia?  Why or why not?

  When this whole thing started (once again) this year, I actually wasn’t with or against the idea of women driving. I never really gave it much attention until this woman, Manal Al-Sharif drove her vehicle (with her brother) and was caught and held at the station when she didn’t break any laws. That incident triggered some emotional thoughts, I guess. But I still just thought that I should “observe from a distance”. Then I found out that some barbarians started a “campaign” claiming that they’d throw any woman that drives on a certain date with their shoes; didn’t happen, but, to know that such mentalities exist and are being supported is just shameful. Or how about the so-called “religious police” that prepared a sentence of lashing women who drive? Seriously, what kind of religion do these people follow?

Since similar incidents arose, I realized that I should voice my opinion on this matter: And I personally believe that women should have driven a long time ago. Religiously speaking, women back in the prophet Mohammed –peace be upon him-‘s days used to ride camels/horses, which were a form of transportation, and they did travel on their own. But nowadays it seems to be more acceptable here for a woman to ride with a foreign man (a stranger) than it is for her to drive on her own. –I think that the reason most men don’t agree with women driving doesn’t come down to their fear for their women, but their fear from their women, of becoming more independent and dominant; they worry that if the woman begins to drive, she wouldn’t need the man anymore. –I think that they shouldn’t give it more time “for mentalities to change”. They should at least start giving out permits to the women that are in need, and gradually going from there. Waiting for things to change isn’t going to change anything. If not now, when?

 

How do you feel about Saudi women being given the right to vote?  Is this a good thing?

Although I’m uncertain of what kind of voting would this include, and whether the voting (from both, men and women) would be biased or not, I believe that it is a good thing, yes. Why would a woman be any different than a man?

 

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges which need to be overcome in Saudi Arabia?

First of all, I think that people should stop following the herd; as soon as something becomes more popular or socially accepted, it becomes a trend, and consequently, it becomes right. But if something wasn’t accepted by the majority, whether it was right or wrong, it’s automatically marked as wrong. Also, I would definitely like to see Saudi Arabia being a country that’s more open to the world, in a sense that the country would open doors to the public’s relations and interaction with different cultures. I also strongly believe that people should learn to differentiate culture/tradition from religion; cultural beliefs should not be mixed up with religious beliefs.

Nowadays we’re witnessing many changes and “openness” to different ideas. But I think that what many people still don’t understand is that the change comes from oneself and within, and the change shouldn’t be that of belief. For instance, people have been dropping their religious beliefs to feel more liberated. I believe that liberation is in one’s mind, and it can be guided rightfully by true religion.  

 

Are there any additional comments you’d like to add?

I’d like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to expose myself to your readers, and for making me feel more welcomed in the blogging world –since I just started blogging and I still feel reluctant to doing certain things, being unsure of the rules and whatnot. – I greatly appreciate all of your efforts putting up these questions, and writing great articles in American Bedu. Thanks a lot.

 

Thank you very much, Khalid, for taking the time and allowing me to interview you.

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31 Responses

  1. Cool, nice to meet you Khalid. I’ll have to check out your blog! How did you come to be so fluent in English when you were taught in Arabic most of your life?

  2. nice, masha allah

  3. Thank you Khalid. I have checked out your blog and I like it. 🙂 It is now a part of my Favorites.

  4. Great job editing this, Carol! The pictures you’ve added have definitely given my rather dry answers some life.

    @Lynn:
    The pleasure is mine! As shameful as this might sound, but I learned most of my spoken English from movies and music, and the verbal English from the internet, and books. Hence the not-so-good grammar.

  5. @Linda:
    Thanks alot. I really appreciate it. Carol is the one to be thanked here though! 🙂

  6. bookmarked your blog bro…. 🙂 lol i am on the way of improving my English.

  7. […] In a recent interview by Carol Fleming from American Bedu, I was asked about my opinion on the subject of women driving […]

  8. wonderful khalid, i really like it so much all the best in your thoughts in your blog.

  9. “I believe that liberation is in one’s mind, and it can be guided rightfully by true religion”

    Amen to that brother lol 🙂 .nice interview really enjoyed reading about ure views.

  10. I rather like this intervew…Khalid expressed himself very well and made his points on where he stands clearly and without hedging or filling in with platitudes. Very nicely done.

  11. Khalid…

    Thanks for the interview…

    “For instance, people have been dropping their religious beliefs to feel more liberated.”

    Just a thought I had…perhaps as the society becomes more open and accepting of different thoughts rather than embracing the herd mentality you mentioned they might begin to feel “that liberation is in one’s mind, and it can be guided rightfully by true religion”. At the moment they don’t really have that choice and so it becomes an all or nothing situation…once the culture as a whole starts embracing differences without feeling it is a threat then the people might be able to think in the same nuanced way that you do!

    Good luck in your endeavors.

  12. @Khalid – That is not shameful at ALL that you learned from movies and music. I think it is impressive. DId you watch English language things at a very young age? Did you watch Sesame Street in English as a child? 🙂

    See, Gladiator? Keep it up! lol

    @Oby – ‘…once the culture as a whole starts embracing differences without feeling it is a threat then the people might be able to think in the same nuanced way that you do!’

    Yes, I can see it coming.

  13. @Khalid,
    First, please let me say that I really enjoyed reading your interview! Thanks for sharing with us! I am glad to hear that you chose your career path based on what you enjoy. I agree that too many people choose their career path based solely on prestige and wealth.

    Blogs are good for expressing thoughts.

    If you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you for some advice:
    I have some friends that are trying to learn English. Are there any recommendations you would make to Arabic speakers wanting to learn English? Can you think of anything in particular that might need extra attention? Anyone else who may have feedback on this, please let me know. Thanks!

  14. Khalid…curious as to your comment that you mainly learned english from music and movies…is your language peppered with what we consider curse words then because several other people I know that learned that way use cursing liberally throughout their speech and seem to think nothing of it…even when receiving looks of shock followed by giggles when hearing curse words used in such a manner. (lighthearted and non threatening for the most part). Just wondering. 🙂

  15. lolz lynn, Khaled is on my Idol list.

  16. @Coolred – Not ALL music is like that rap shit you might enjoy 😉
    I’ll have to check out his blog to see if I can detect a southern accent (country music). I bet I will, since he seems to have such a refined mind. 🙂

  17. My brother in law is from Venezuela and he learned a lot of his English from TV as well. He speaks English very well. Friends from Chile didn’t believe Spanish was his native language because he doesn’t speak English with an accent.

    Oh, thanks for this interview!

  18. @gladiator:
    Try watching movies without the Arabic subtitles; it might surprise you how good your English really is!

    @Faidi:
    Thanks!

    @oby:
    That’s a good point. I have to agree with you on that. I just hope that people understand that being open-minded doesn’t mean that you have to defy your beliefs but that you could preserve your beliefs whilst accepting the fact that other people have their own beliefs.

    @Lynn:
    Well, I used to watch Highlander and MacGuyver, and they were somewhat new shows at the time. So you can imagine at what age I started watching movies and shows in English. 🙂 Also, I forgot to mention that I used to communicate with my father in English and Arabic, since he was more fluent in English.

    @StrangeOne:
    Honestly, I’m not sure what would help. But I personally think that confidence is the key; some people are afraid of trying to speak in a different language that they are subject to being mocked. I think that one of the things that are greatly beneficial to me was curiosity; everytime I read a word that I didn’t know, or heard about something that I wasn’t sure of, I looked it up. So, perhaps reading and making the effort to try and comprehend what’s being read would help?

    @Coolred38:
    Haha, actually, to answer both of your question and Lynn’s inquisition, I mostly listen to rock and almost every sub-genre of it. As to whether I swear alot or not, well, I have my own view on profanity: I don’t usually use it in the presence of women or children, and I can restrain myself from using it professionally, or when I’m meeting someone for the first time. To me, the more I feel comfortable with someone, the more profanity I use in speech (usually in a humorous way), but I think that what’s endearing about it is that you get to this level of comfort with another person, knowing that no matter what you said to them -or what they said to you- wouldn’t push them away from you, and they wouldn’t take it personally or be insulted by it. –It’s usually only for emphasis though. And I rarely swear (at) someone, I’m usually either swearing at inanimate objects, or (again) using it for emphasis. So, yeah, I tend to swear the most when I’m all by myself. I personally think that profanity is rude and insulting when it’s used for the sole purpose of insulting another.

    But yes, I agree with you on that point, that some people think that it’s “cool” to swear, or to indulge in such behavior as seen on TV or heard in some music. But I certainly hope that they will change their views when they realize that the characters in the movies are fictional characters, and that music, regardless of whether the song has a message or not, it’s usually expressive.

    @Susanne430:
    That’s what the media should be for; educating and connecting people from around the globe with one another.

    –Okay, now that I pasted that here, I realize how lengthy it all seems for a comment. All apologies for that. I just hope I didn’t forget responding to anyone.

  19. @Khalid,
    Thanks for the reply. I appreciate it!

    I have similar viewpoints on swearing as my parents taught me it should be used to add emphasis, and only in the company of people who will not be offended by its use. Whether or not you use profanity to insult someone, an insult is still an insult.

    Do you have any favorite musical artists?

    @Suzanne, I’ll have to recommend more English shows.

  20. Lynn…now why would you believe for a second that I listen to “that rap shit”? Tupac is about as close as I am willing to get…with occasional forays into Eminem territory…other than that…I prefer 60’s and 70’s music. Definitely NO cursing.

  21. Khalid..thanks for the reply. I agree…we curse with those we feel comfortable with..which can be both a positive (you feel close enough to be able to express yourself without fear of censorship) and negative (there are plenty of words in the English language that can be just as expressive as cursing…even more so) so we have to find a balance that doesn’t make us sound like the next Big Rap Star. 😉

  22. Derived great pleasure not just reading your very articulate responses to very pertinent issues of today in KSA; but also delving into your thoughts for the improvement of a country that you grew up in, knowing that you will always be considered a foreigner.
    Success will always be yours Khalidh as you are flying on the wings of Passion, Patience & Gratitude.

  23. ‘Tupac is about as close as I am willing to get…with occasional forays into Eminem territory…’

    Yep, that’s ‘rap shit’. But I was just kidding, it’s just that that ‘rap shit’ is the only place you hear cursing, isn’t it? Oh, is ‘shit’ a curse word? LOL

  24. ” I came from Alabama
    Wid my banjo on my knee,
    I’m g’wan to Louisiana
    My true love for to see” lol thats like a song 😉

  25. Hey, that’s MY song! Or, at least, one I heard too much growing up. Even my pastor would sing it as I exited church. 🙂

  26. @Khalid, were both of your parents also born and raised in Saudi Arabia? I guess probably not because you said your father was more fluent in English than Arabic. I’m just curious how they ended up together.

  27. @StrangeOne:
    I usually hate answering this question ’cause it leads to hours of much needed conversation. But my taste in music ranges from The Beatles to Slipknot, from Led Zeppelin to the Foo Fighters, Ten Years after to Pearl Jam, The Rolling Stones to Incubus, and of course not to mention Queens of the Stone Age, Soundgarden, Bright Eyes, and so on… oh and Alanis Morissette is a favorite (try listening to her cover of Dear Prudence by The Beatles). And I also listen to Rebecca Black. I mean, who doesn’t? (If you haven’t heard of her before, don’t look her up on Youtube. Seriously, I regretted the day I did.)

    @Kathy Zain:
    You have no idea how much I appreciate your kind words, Aunt. And I hope you know how grateful I am to have you, and a wonderful supportive family altogether. Needless to say, your caring soul has helped me and the rest of the family countless times.

    @Lynn:
    To be honest, up until this very own day and I still hear different versions of the story of how my parents met. But basically, my mother was born in Saudi Arabia and then she studied in India for a few years, and then got back here, and my father studied in India and then moved to Saudi Arabia.

  28. Did they always have parental approval of their marriage? I just thought it seemed a little off for a Yemeni to allow their daughter to marry an Indian but perhaps I am wrong? Would a Saudi be ok with their daughter marrying an Indian or a Pakistani?

  29. Lynn,

    Sorry for the late response. Actually, I’m not sure about the situation nowadays, but I think that some people are more open to the idea than others. As for my parents, it was the other way around; my mother was Indian but she lived in Saudi Arabia, and my father was of Yemeni origins, but he lived in India ever since his grandfather moved there, and then moved to Saudi Arabia.

  30. Oh, I misunderstood or I assumed that your father was the one that was Indian since he was the one that spoke English better than Arabic.

  31. One thing I have noticed that is as true for Arabic-speaking countries as it is for the US is that socio-economic status plays a role in how closed or open the people may act around others, and also how important money is viewed in terms of getting a “good” high-paying job versus getting a “good” job that one enjoys. I have dated an Arab man from what in the US would be considered upper-middle class, one that had close relatives from the upper-class, and one that would be considered lower- to middle- class. All are very intelligent and nice people, but their priorities were and are quite a bit different.

    How much a foreign woman would be accepted into the family does have something to do with what level in society the man is from, and what socioeconomic, political, and education background the woman has. That said, if the man truly loves the woman, it seems that the family will at least give her a chance to prove her “worthiness”. And, I have heard that some mothers, much like in the US, feel that no woman will ever be good enough for her son(s) but the mother may still accept a foreign woman especially if she makes her son happy. However, there are still many families that will refuse to allow their son/daughter to marry outside the family tribe, especially if they consider the other person to be beneath their own social standing. Sad, but have heard from more than one person that this still happens,

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