Saudi Arabia: In Case You Thought Saudi Women were Meek…

Is there a global stereotype about the Saudi woman that she is meek and fearful to speak out?  I think this video clearly dispels such impressions:

The video illustrates how the Muttawa (Religious Police) can “troll” the local malls and approach anyone, including women, on what they perceive as inappropriate.   

For some reason, the luxurious Hayat Mall where the incident in the video takes place seems to be a favorite haunt of the Muttawa.  I wonder if it is because Hayat Mall has a large proportion of shops which cater to women seeking a ballroom gown?

Hayat Mall was one of the malls which my late husband and I enjoyed going to.  We’d arrive at the mall after dinner and evening prayers to stroll around for exercise.  And yes, we’d typically see the presence of the Muttawa in the mall as well.

However, the video certainly demonstrates that a Saudi woman is NOT meek or fearful to speak out in public and against the Muttawa.  I applaud her actions and salute her for also taking the initiative to capture the entire event on video too.

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26 Responses

  1. We went to Hayat mall several years ago, the last night before returning to America. It was during prayer time and I was with my young kids. I was so happy to be returning home, that I ran down the hall a bit and jumped and clicked my heels. All in abaya and hijab. It was nearly empty, but in a small way it was an act of defiance, for not ever being allowed to express my authentic self in public. Good for her! What courage that woman has!

  2. Brilliant video, wonderful woman! Super woman!

  3. I posted this on Facebook today. Good for her speaking up!

  4. Wow the power of media in the hands of the masses . . . or rather one woman who wants to wear nail polish and not be harrassed.

    Are the religious police always in uniform? Who was the guy in the throbe they were talking with?

  5. The religious police are the ones who wear the thobe and bischt. The men in uniforms are the police.

  6. In the contrary, Saudi and Arab women in general are anything opposite to meak.

    They can be very forceful and hotheaded if anything.

    In this case, she had a good reaction to the haya ( mutawwa) but had she faced a more severe personality of a mutawwa, maybe she would have been arrested.

    She in this case we see a forecefull women and a meak mutawwa 🙂

  7. I don’t find the general Arab woman meak. It is no wonder considering some of the brutality of the society and the way the culture look at behavioral punishments. It creates a constant policing attitude where all and sundry costantly interfere and can completely destroy or make your life. This policing and interferance into everyone’s business and life is actually common in most of the East, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Asia and the Orient. Saudi women are often quite aggressive and even quite vicious. After all, violence and physical abuse against Filipino maids meeted by the Saudi women are well known and brutal.

  8. Although arguing with the Mutawwa let’s not forget that she was scared to leave the mall in case they would run her over by their car, or take her and bring her with them outside the mall.

  9. Saudi women meek? No one who has ever taught them would ever say that. 🙂 I have yet to meet one who is afraid to speak her mind. 🙂 🙂

  10. Who is immoral? The man chasing a woman around a mall, harassing her; or the woman going about her own business in a shop? ….exposing them as the perverted bullies that they are.

  11. Immoral and hypocritical, studying her lips to see if she was wearing lipstick. She nailed them down!

  12. Actually, if these Mutawwa’s would follow the instructions of their religion, they would have no business (or right) looking at her face, body or feet….

  13. yes, hypocrites!

  14. Is it the norm for a woman to call the ‘mutts’ out or do you think she may have been one of the many princesses who had power behind her? All I could think of was ” You Go, Girl”!!!

  15. In my experience not all women (expat or Saudi) are as vocal when confronted by the muttawa.

    I do know a few expatriate women either married to a Saudi or to an Arab who have been severely hassled by the Muttawa. In each case, the expat woman was not covered and with an Arab man. In each case, both the Arab man and the expat woman stood up to the Muttawa.

    I think most of the Saudi women want to avoid a confrontation with the Muttawa and may feel it is easier to comply than to be a maverik.

    While we don’t know whether the woman in the video was Royalty or an elite, I think she is representative of the younger generation who are more aware and vocal of their rights.

  16. The religous wing has a powerfull media force too through Youtube and twitter , I have reviewed their huge attacks on this poor lady , and no one defending her case.What I heared that she has been taken to their office and her case is issued to legal department for opposing to them.
    The problem is that we have no task definintion to those people nor police could take their tasks.

  17. good for her. I hope other Saudis follow suit

  18. In January, King Abdullah appointed a moderate to head the religious police raising hopes that a more lenient force will ease draconian social constraints in the Islamic country.
    Two weeks into his post, Sheikh Abdullatif Abdel Aziz al-Sheikh banned volunteers from serving in the commission which enforces the kingdom’s strict Islamic rules.
    And in April he went further prohibiting the religious police from “harassing people” and threatening “decisive measures against violators.”

  19. Just to let you know that the comments on the original video are far from encouraging this kind of attitude! most of the saudis are saying she is a cheap girl and some even say she was chiihi not sunni (I personnaly dt see the relation). Many videos were apploaded in order to asnwer the girl and some of them chocking saying that they are happy with this religious police and proud of the saudi women being the cleanest girls in the word as no one see them (I felt insulted in some of the videos) and that this girl does not represent saudis! Also many pple are saying she was half naked in the mall and wasnt arresterd only because of her nail polish which I doubt was true. Btw the girl is in jail now!!!

  20. Yes, I have read that, they traced her through er phone number because she called the police. Otherwise, considering the description: A woman in a black abaya with nail polish, wouldn’t have been enough to find her.
    Shame.
    I liked her.
    I have no doubt there are a lot of lies spread around about her person and decency by the ”pious” hypocrites. Anything to punish a wayward woman is allowed. Maybe they will call her owner too, to chastise him for not doing a good job in training her to be meek and obedient to all men….

    From what I have heard (from Saudis) Saudi girls are as bad or worse than their Western counterparts, only more sneaky about it. Of course if nobody knows it doesn’t count.

    And being hidden from view has nothing to do with ”purity”, more with ”Stupidity” (from the people who made this ”women have to be covered” nonsense up)

    Anyway, what does ”halfnaked” mean?
    In a Saudi Mall context?
    Your toes are showing through your sandals? No gloves? A lock of hair showing? I can hardly believe it means actually half naked, like in a bathingsuit.
    She certainly didn’t seem ”halfnaked” from what we saw on the video…
    And according to the text even her nails were covered… in nail polish… You think that would be better than to have ”naked nails”… that would probably arouse all the men in the mall…..

  21. meme, on May 30, 2012 at 5:05 pm said: “Also many pple are saying she was half naked in the mall and wasnt arresterd only because of her nail polish which I doubt was true. Btw the girl is in jail now!!!”

    Thx meme for the update. I bet the religious police are going to make a living hellish example out of her. Same as hamza kashgari guy who tweeted a few innocent tweets on mohammed’s b’day and was extradited back to ksa from either malaysia or indonesia, not sure of which country.

    After the worldwide attention is gone in five years or so, they will probably both be either beheaded or stoned to death in public squares, to “cast terror in hearts and minds” of the rest of the saudis.

  22. Saudi Woman are not weak by any means. They know very well how to manipulate men and their children and society to get what they want. They live a good life and from the outside looking in others may want to believe they are weak but they are not. I believe their men also like how their woman manipulate and control them within the house to some extent. Outside with the boy well, that’s another story. For the record, I’m tired of western outsiders who lived/worked in Saudi for any amount of time believe they know Saudi culture and think their woman are weak and not liberated. Before I get hate replies, NO, I do not agree with some of their cultural beliefs but that is their system and when they decide they had enough only then will it change.

  23. http://www.arabnews.com/?q=attack-saudi-officer-condemned

    While I do NOT approve of any hate crime or hate acts by any people or countries, we must all learn NOT to jump to conclusion without first knowing the FACTS on both sides. And as intelligent adults we should not be swayed by media bias and act on emotions.

  24. Aafke-Art “From what I have heard (from Saudis) Saudi girls are as bad or worse than their Western counterparts, only more sneaky about it. Of course if nobody knows it doesn’t count”. (I agree with you)

    Your statement is true. Many Saudi woman are not so innocent that sometimes this blog and many other blogs make them out to be. I have met many who are wild in acts and deeds and then pure/innocent when they are around family and close relatives that I wouldn’t do in my western world of freedom. We tend to forget Saudi are regular people. Regular man/woman and they know how to play the game very well that makes them look like a victim to the world. OH, and while it’s against the rules…. Most of my Saudi male friends had sex with Saudi woman from back home before they came to the west.

  25. […] americanbedu.com/2012/05/27/saudi-arabia-in-case-you-thought-saudi-women-were-meek […]

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