Saudi Arabia: Exclusive Interview with Dr. Abdul Al-Lily, Saudi blogger

It gives American Bedu pleasure to present this exclusive interview with Dr. Abdul Al-Lily, creator and blogger of Sex and Beyond:  Saudi Arabia.  It is not only unusual to find such a candid blog and one written by a Saudi man.

abdul

 

First of all, thank you very much, Dr. Al Lily, for this opportunity.  I hope I dont overwhelm you with the breadth of questions I have for you!  I am also confident that American Bedu readers will likely have more questions in addition to their comments after reading this interview.

 

Lets begin first with some background about you. Where are you from in the Kingdom?  How would you describe your upbringing?  Do you view your family as conservative or open?

I was born in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and lived there till I turned 21 when I moved to Canada for a few months, then to England for around 7 years, then back to Saudi Arabia till now. At the age of 11, I joined an ideological community that trained its members in so many skills (e.g. computing, languages, management, organisation and graphics) and, more importantly, educated them intensively in Saudi Arabian culture and its theoretical aspects. I was very active and disciplined in this community, to the extent that I became an authority in this community at the age of 17. Through this community, I got very ‘culturalised’ and managed to achieve a high level of theoretical understanding of Saudi culture, to the extent that this qualified me to become a cultural authority outside this community, becoming at the age of 16 a ‘mouezzin’ (i.e. the person who issues the call to prayer from a mosque) and then at the age of 18 an ‘imam’ (i.e. an Islamic leadership position, often the worship leader of a mosque and a Muslim community, who may lead Islamic worship services, serve as community leaders and provide religious guidance). At the age of 20, I managed to memorise the whole Quran with understanding of the rules governing pronunciation during recitation of the Quran, and therefore I became qualified as an authority to teach others how to recite Quran. I, moreover, was an educational supervisor in Hajj five times.

Because I was always very keen to influence the organisation to which I am attached, I was very politically and socially active at school and engaged even with the regional education agency. Likewise, at the university where I did my undergraduate studies, I was a leader of social activities. Despite me being politically and socially active, my academic studies still had a top priority, and for this reason, I managed to pass my undergraduate studies with distinction and to gain a royal reward for the highest academic achievement in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. Beside my academic studies, I attended a great number of seminars and lectures in the theoretical and practical aspects of Saudi culture. When I got my BA degree, I decided to learn English. I always like to do what people find difficult to do, and since English is considered (at least by Saudis) to be something difficult to learn, my focus had become on learning English. But the problem was that my background in English was zero. I did not even know what the term ‘newspaper’ meant in English. So, since the second I finished my undergraduate studies, I started studying English intensively for a year in Saudi Arabia, and then moved to Canada to continue learning English, then to England to study particularly academic English and do my postgraduate studies.

What kind of experiences have you had outside of the Kingdom? To where have you travelled? How have these travels impacted on you and your outlook?  uk and canada flags

Moving to such multicultural countries (Canada and then England) gave me the opportunity to explore other cultures and compare them to Saudi culture. This has indeed improved my critical ability to analyse Saudi culture and look at it from a new perspective. I have decided to share my new perspective with the international community, believing that this sharing is of the essence given that the world is witnessing a high level of cultural exchange but the contribution of Saudi culture to this exchange was weak and limited. So, I decided to write about Saudi culture, thus enriching information about Saudi culture in this international cultural exchange. Many Saudis avoid critically and internationally writing about Saudi culture for various reasons, including not being good at writing in English, not being good at theoretically and critically analysing Saudi culture, not having the writing skill, not being good at expressing themselves and/or not feeling politically confident. Another reason why there is a lack of writings about Saudi Arabian culture is that Saudi Arabia is a collective society, and therefore anyone writing about Saudi culture thinks of himself or herself as a representative of Saudi culture, which therefore puts so much pressure on himself or herself, thus discouraging him/her from writing about this culture. Likewise, because of this collectiveness, Saudi citizens think of any Saudi writer about Saudi culture as a representative of Saudi society, and therefore they will be hard on him or her if s/he misrepresents the culture.

When did you first get the idea on starting a blog which address sex, intimacy, relations and customs thereof within Saudi Arabia?

I realised that my Western friends were fascinated by anything I mentioned about sexual practice in Saudi Arabia, even if it was a small and simple thing. This has indeed motivated me to blog about Saudi sexual practice. Another reason why I decided to write about sexual relations is that I am academically interested in relationships, including power relations and gender relations. For me, any connection between two social elements (here, the two genders) is fascinating, and I am keen to think about, analyse and write about such a connection. I decided to write particularly about sex because sexual considerations have been given so much attention to the extend that they have somehow impeded the progress of Saudi society and because sexual considerations actually influence fundamentally almost any decision and policy and shape fundamental aspects of the national culture, structure and even infrastructure. Yet, writing about such sexual considerations in English is weak and limited, and for this reason, I have decided to blog about them in English, hoping to help fill this gap.

I have chosen Saudi Arabia as the setting for my blog because of the nature of its culture which is seen to tend to resist strictly and uncompromisingly any socially deviant trend in behaviour or belief, making it very strong and so heavily protected that even those campaigning for change do not challenge existing configurations, but rather attempt to work within them. This culture is believed to have been politically protected not only from above by the social authorities, but also from below by most citizens – and moreover from outside by international Arab and Muslim communities. Some writers think that Saudis as a whole seem in no doubt as to where their values lie. It is believed that Saudis, as a whole, are still strongly attached to their culture and religion.

Did you have any apprehensions or misgivings on creating your blog and identifying yourself?

I am trying so hard to be diplomatic and charismatic as much as possible, which seems to have discouraged any cruel social reaction towards the blog. Besides, there has apparently become no (or at least hardly any) physical harm to anyone criticising Saudi cultural and social values and patterns – with the exception of the fundamental norms of the national political system which I intentionally avoid talking about in the blog. There, however, remains some social hatred towards such critics. That said, I have started to notice that some Saudis (whether young or old, liberal or even conservative) somehow admire, normally secretly, anyone who is ‘westernised’/’modernised’ and has its own distinctive way of seeing Saudi culture, especially when this person is successful and delivers his/her criticisms in a polite and delicate way. Frankly, given the fact that I hold a doctoral degree and am a faculty member in Saudi Arabia, this grants me so much prestige, which makes Saudis show respect to me despite my critical writings about their culture. Besides, the fact that I did my master’s and doctorate in the West and lived over there for a long time, this makes people somehow forgive me for viewing their culture through a critical lens. I am, as mentioned earlier, a faculty member in a Saudi university, teaching a large number of Saudi undergraduates, and since the relationship between me and my students tends to be good, these students are more likely to become influenced by my values, thus increasing the number of my followers and therefore my ‘protectors.’

How do you get ideas on which specific subjects you write upon?

I get ideas through talks with non-Saudi and Saudi friends and also through enquiries from the readers of my blog. I normally spend three hours on any post; an hour researching, an hour writing and an hour proofreading. I am obsessed with taking notes of any thought or idea that comes to my mind, thanks to Evernote.

saudi honeymoon     How easy is it for you to write each post on a topic dealing with intimacy and specific within Saudis culture and religious beliefs?

I already addressed this question in my answer to the previous question, but what I should stress here is that writing about sex is not a new thing within the Saudi context. There are actually so many publications in Saudi bookstores talking about sexual practices. But what makes my blog outstanding and sensitive is that it is written in English and therefore directed to the international community, thus exposing Saudi society to the outside world and therefore destabilising Saudi privacy. Besides, almost all these publications are religion-driven and/or -oriented and full of citations from the Islamic history, whereas I am trying so hard to do otherwise as much as possible, which has raised a new perspective with which Saudi society is not familiar. Another aspect of my blog, which makes it outstanding and sensitive, is that it discusses only those issues that have not been discussed yet in the Western media, trying so hard to avoid talking about any issue that has already been shed light on.

What do you view as your most controversial post and why?

This question leads me to an important issue, i.e. that the increasing emergence of communication channels (e.g. online forums and blogs) has encouraged Saudi people to start discussing their cultural and social issues. Yet, many of these discussions seem to exist within a ‘bubble,’ sustain one-sided arguments and lack extreme opinions and ‘wild’ views. My blog, however, hopes to offer such opinions and views, just for the sake of argument, helping blow such a bubble. That is, what I write in my blog does not necessarily represent my own beliefs but can be written just for the sake of argument.

What are your views on writings about Saudi culture?

There are serious limitations in many of the writings about Saudi society by Saudis. One is that they are written in an emotional way and lack a scientific aspect. Another limitation is that some such writings are written theoretically with no empirical research given that the social authorities will not allow for such research to be conducted given its social sensitivity and given that it conflicts with the national culture. For example, any research on ‘gender mixing’ (the opposite to ‘gender separation’) normally faces the challenge that the social authorities will not allow researchers to conduct any social experiment (i.e. trail and control group) whereby the two genders are experimentally physically integrated, as such an action goes against the core cultural norm of gender separation. For this reason, writings about gender mixing in Saudi Arabia are informed by writings about gender mixing in other non-Saudi contexts. Yet, gender mixing in other non-Saudi contexts (e.g. the West and even in other Arab and Muslim countries) is different from gender mixing in the Saudi context. For example, Western single-sex schools and colleges are different from the Saudi ones, since parents, employers and employees of the other gender can access them in the West unlike in Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, no one of one gender (e.g. parents, employers and employees) can access schools and colleges of the other gender. This means that findings of any research on single sex education in the West cannot and should not be seen as relevant to the Saudi context.

What have you seen as a most common theme or query which individuals like to see addressed?

I have realised that the Internet is full of merely dramas (i.e. not facts) about social life in Saudi society. I thus have built my blog in a way that avoids dramas and rather presents facts. That is, I have noticed that readers about Saudi Arabia seem to be keen to know about facts, being told in a factual and therefore not dramatic way. Such readers are also keen to know about those aspects of Saudi society that have not been discussed by the media yet. Such readers are aware that Saudi culture is more than just those certain cultural aspects that the media keep repeating and going through again and again. This awareness has encouraged them to become keen to expand their knowledge about Saudi society beyond these repeated aspects.

How much do the cultural customs, religion and segregation impact on a typical Saudis knowledge or understanding of intimacy?     saudi family

Saudi Arabia is a highly structured, deeply directed and intensively religion-oriented society, and this is why the impact of its norms on its citizens is strong. This explains why a Saudi, even after travelling abroad and exploring other cultures, is likely to remain under influence by and loyal to his or her culture and can hardly be independent of it. Saudi culture, moreover, has the power to regulate not only public life but also private life, and this is why even one’s private sexual life is subject to regulation by the culture. Yet, science sometimes proves the culture wrong, and this is when some citizens feel they are left in a critical situation wherein they do not know whether to follow the culture or science.

In your point of view, at what general age range is sex and intimate relations usually explained to a Saudi male or female?

It is useful to talk here about sex education. As the reader might know, there is no sex education in Saudi Arabia. The question is therefore whether such education should exist within the Saudi context. Some might believe that one will learn about sex with or without sex education, thanks to the Internet. Others, however, might argue that the Internet might expose Saudis to only certain aspects of sex (e.g. how to achieve more pleasant sex, including positions) but not to other aspects (e.g. how to achieve safe sex). Sex education has the potential to, or at least should, cover all possible aspects of sex and give students a comprehensive view on sexual practice.

Subjective, but do you think Saudis (male or female) may be more focused on sex or the idea of sex, than other nationalities? Why or why not?

Inside the country, Saudi men seem to be less focused on the idea of sex than other nationalities given that their exposure to (i.e. the reminder of) the other gender is weak. Outside the country, however, Saudi men seem to be obsessed about sex just as much as other nationalities are.

Are you married or single? If married, was your marriage arranged? If you are still single, do you plan for a marriage in your future and would it likely be an arranged marriage?

I am 29 and single, although Saudis typically get married at the age of 24. Saudi marriage is typically arranged through mainly mothers. A main problem with the idea of arranged marriage is that it is arranged by mothers who belong to a generation that is different from the generation of the person getting married and therefore are less likely to truly know his/her real needs. The one getting married could be left in a critical situation where s/he feels s/he has to put up with arranged marriage given that s/he cannot actually hang around and find a partner himself or herself given the firmly applied gender separation. Even if the Saudi man decides to travel to the West to look himself for the right partner to marry, the Saudi immigration system makes it difficult for him to bring her to the country as a partner, or even as a visitor given that it is difficult for female non-Muslims to get a visa to Saudi Arabia, I believe.

love gone wrong     So many foreign women engage in relationships with a Saudi while he is abroad. Most of these relationships are destined to eventual heartbreak. What is your advice to these women? What is your advice to the Saudi man abroad?

As I mentioned earlier, a Saudi man, while studying abroad, might have a Western girlfriend, but he finds it very hard or even impossible to bring her with him back home when going back for good to Saudi Arabia given that the Saudi immigration system apparently makes it difficult for him to bring her to the country as a partner or even as a visitor given that it is apparently very difficult for female non-Muslims to get a visa to Saudi Arabia, I believe. Yet, the best a Saudi friend of mind could do after going back home for good was to have a distance relationship with his European girlfriend, with him going regularly to visit her in Europe and her coming to visit him in the Gulf (not in Saudi Arabia though because she cannot legally get a visa and, moreover, because they cannot meet in Saudi Arabia given gender separation). He, moreover, cannot, I believe, marry her according to Saudi law unless there is actually a reason preventing him from typically marrying a Saudi woman. All this may have resulted in huge disappointment and frustration on the part of some of those Saudis being in a relationship with a foreigner.

Thank you very much for this interview and for sharing your blog with the world.

43 Responses

  1. He didn’t answer the question on the age sex ed should be taught and how were you, American Bedu, able to have a visa and marry your husband? How does he have a doctorate degree at age 29? It doesn’t add up.

  2. Hi Penny,

    I don’t know where you are coming from with your questions but if you search through my blog you’ll see that I have shared the story of my marriage and marriage approval. My husband and I received permission from King Abdullah.

    I take individuals at “face or word” value until they prove me wrong.

    On Mon, Feb 11, 2013 at 4:21 PM, American Bedu

  3. […] is a LINK to the interview that an american diplomat did with the author of the […]

  4. I know Mr Al-Lily and he does have a doctorate gained from a prestigious British university. I celebrated with him after his viva voce. I am British and I will have a doctorate by the age of 26. Doctorates are typically 3-4 years in this country. To some British people, Mr Al-Lily is actually quite ‘late’ in receiving his doctorate because he started it at a later age than usual, which is around 23 or 24. So it does, in fact, add up.

  5. what’s wrong with a doctoral degree at age 29? I’m 24 and about to finish my PhD within one year. It’s kind of normal in Europe.

  6. The US system takes significantly longer than the British/other European systems. In the US, these ages are typical for graduation: high school at 18. Bachelor’s- 22; master’s-24; PhD-28-29. In the UK (or at least England), these ages are typical for graduation: high school/secondary school- 17; Bachelor’s- 20-21 (depending on if a gap year is taken); PhD- 23-25. So it is therefore easy for me to believe a 29 year old has a PhD.

  7. I don’t know about the American system, but I am European, I went to Art College at 17, and it could have been at 16 if I had not added a year to high school. I got my Master of Arts degree at the Royal College of Art in London when I was 24.

    So it is possible to finish quite early, although from my personal observance Strange ones estimates are exaggerating the ages as a bit too early.
    I was always one of the youngest or actually the youngest student, at high school, in Art College and while doing my postgraduate at the Royal College of Art.

  8. I, personally, have never met anyone under the age of 26 who has a PhD. I have went straight from school at 17 to FE college (to do the equivalent of A-Levels); started my undergrad at age 18; started my master’s when I was 22; and PhD at 23. If I take 3 years, I will be 26 when I graduate. I haven’t taken any breaks in study – so I personally believe StrangeOnes estimates are a bit optimistic but there may be a reason for them.

  9. I did a bit of research on PhD age in England. It seems generally to be between 22 and 24 to start, although one can go for a PhD at any time, for it’s not part of your degree, it’s when you dig deeper into some aspects of your field, so some people start at 30 or older.

    I remember we had a couple of older artists doing a Master’s degree in the Royal College of Art too. I wouldn’t mind going back for another Masters degree myself 🙂 I loved it! One of my friends at the RCA went for a PhD I think she was about 26.

  10. I wonder he claims Saudi men are not obsessed with sex. This is contrary to any stories I have heard from ex-pats and Saudi women alike. A Saudi woman cannot walk the street safely, even when fully covered in a black bag without being harassed.
    All the socially unhealthy rules and segregation, and women not being able to drive, and women have to cover, and women not being allowed to work, and not allowed to work side by side with men are always based on the obsession about sex.

    The segregation alone will be responsible for a very unhealthy attitude towards the other gender and a obsession with sex.
    A friend who lies in Yemen, where they have similar segregation and forced veiling of women, told me the men are so obsessed they will start to drivel just by looking at a black wall!

    If your read the fatwas, the commentaries of religious leaders on social issues, the newspapers from the region, the blogs, women’s experiences, one can only come to the conclusion that the whole society is totally obsessed with sex and keeping women under control.
    Because when women are not under control it leads to sex.

    It’s bizarre but everything in the region is about sex. This really is obsessive and unhealthy.

  11. Western companies on Saudi land must comply with Saudi religious regulations. Fast-food restaurants such as McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, and other US firms, for instance, maintain sex-segregated eating zones in their restaurants. The facilities in the women’s section are usually lower in quality.

  12. his english is very good for someone who learnt it at such a later stage, I’m impressed with his language skills 🙂

    He seems well read and articulate, very nice interview.

    in many places outside the US, age is not strictly taken into account for starting school, and length of course also varies, I was the youngest resident in med school, and so was my husband. most of our peers were atleast 2 -3 yrs older. Many of my cousins with Phd have got it by 27- 28 yrs.

  13. I truly don’t think it matters at what age one receives a PhD unless it is unusually early. I say Kudos to him for pursuing advance studies.

    On Tue, Feb 12, 2013 at 9:22 AM, American Bedu

  14. Very nice interview! I was very impressed with his English, seems very articulate. I beg to differ on Saudis do not think about sex as do other nationalities. I am married to a Saudi for 18 years now, and many of my friends(expats) married to Saudis have faked our fair share of headaches!! heehee!!

  15. I don’t doubt the sincerity of the interviewee, but as a man I certainly know how interested I was in the opposite sex when I was in my 20’s.

  16. Jerry not all people are interested in the opposite sex anyway.

    And I consider the comment that Saudi men are not that into sex a huge lie which unfortunately makes one doubt everything else.
    Or I suppose one could be living in a bubble without knowing what’s going on and then I suppose you can imagine Saudi men are not that much into sex. But you’d need some pretty solid walls around your bubble.

  17. He certainly has mastered the English language…so much so that many of his answers sort of beat around the bush of the actual question asked, IMO. He says a lot without saying anything of value.

    Also, a country (governed by men for men) that covers its women, punishes them for any sexual suspicions, segregates them to the point of almost promoting homosexual activities…is indeed obsessed with sex. He failed that question big time.

  18. It seems EVERYTHING is about sex in Saudi. Especially illicit sex. Everything and anything might be a trigger.

  19. Coolred, I admire your ability to always cut through b*llsh*t like a hot knife through butter.
    I actually have a problem reading this interview because the language is more twisted than the most slippery politicalese.
    So, A+ for command of ”politicalese weaselly English”, D- for making oneself understandable.

    I don’t understand why the blog is in English either unless it is written exclusively for the western visitor. And if you want to avoid everything which has already been discussed in some other Western media I cannot see much of content for the blog.

    Considering him completely missing the Saudi obsession with (illicit) sex he does indeed give a different and unique perspective though.

    And what does he mean by ”This culture is believed to have been politically protected not only from above by the social authorities, but also from below by most citizens – and moreover from outside by international Arab and Muslim communities.”
    Really… what does that mean?

    And what Saudi ”culture” is he talking about? Real Saudi culture has been comprehensively destroyed over the last few decades and replaced by an experiment in social engineering. Hence the unhealthy and unnatural obsession with illicit sex.

  20. @aafke, I certainly don’t mean to criticize same sex relationships, I simply wanted to state that to men in their 20’s, it sex and then everything else. Now in my 60’s I’ve calmed down quite a bit.

    @coolred, I certainly find the language hard to follow. For example “At the age of 11, I joined an ideological community…” I have no idea what ideological community means here. There are no communes in Saudi Arabia. At 11 he would hardly be going to university. A madrassah wouldn’t normally teach computing. As Wolfgang Pauli might have stated (if he spoke English and comment on Saudi blogs): “It’s not even wrong”.

  21. Jerry, I was only kidding, didn’t mean to criticize you in any way. And while I am not a man I did hear that men in their 20’s think about sex about 400 times a day. Or most of them do… But you would know more about that… 😈

  22. Thank you for the interview. I would have expected that someone who is the author of a blog titled: ‘Sex and Beyond:Saudi Arabia’, to have been more forthcoming in his answers. I too, had difficulty understanding his responses. I also disagree with his assertion that Saudi’s are not obsessed with sex. On the contrary, Saudi is a highly sexually charged society, I was quite surprised and dismayed by the harassment I experienced there.

  23. Interesting thobe…like Saudi Arabia’s answer to Karl Lagerfeld. LOL

  24. @amal, lol…ur funny!

  25. Maybe he misses the sexually charged aspect of Saudi society since it’s usual to him, his norm. And perhaps he answers, but doesn’t answer because he doesn’t want to be blacklisted in his own country. That’s what I thought when I read this: he was somewhat censoring himself, to protect himself.

  26. In that case he shouldn’t be writing a blog or doing interviews. If you can’t say anything for fear of safety it’s better to keep still altogether.
    I understand the need to keep yourself safe in a country like Saudi Arabia but that is no reason either to give out misinformation while proclaiming yourself as an expert. That makes it look as if you are an apologist.

  27. @Lynsey, Radha, Aafke,
    I was just saying it was possible. When I was attending university in England for my Master’s, there were no UK students in my programme because all the UK students that had decided to pursue higher education beyond a Bachelor’s degree in that field went straight into a PhD programme. This was a trend found in other Master’s programmes within the university, too. Even if they were 25 when the started, they would have easily been done by 28-30. If an international student decided to go straight into a PhD programme after finishing their Bachelor’s, it’s quite believable that they’d be done even sooner than that. While people can go straight into a PhD programme after receiving their Bachelor’s in the US, I don’t know very many Americans who actually choose to do that, although I know quite a few who go on to receive a Master’s degree. That said, I still prefer the US for taught programmes, and possibly the UK for research programmes. (Although I was told by someone in a PhD programme that they would have preferred the US to UK for even a research-based programme.)

  28. Aafke-Art stated that “A Saudi woman cannot walk the street safely, even when fully covered in a black bag without being harassed.
    All the socially unhealthy rules and segregation, and women not being able to drive, and women have to cover, and women not being allowed to work, and not allowed to work side by side with men are always based on the obsession about sex.
    The segregation alone will be responsible for a very unhealthy attitude towards the other gender and a obsession with sex.”

    I respect the writer when he or she says the truth and avoid generlization. Aafke-Art did not say the truth when he said that women not being allowed to work. This is not true. One easy example which proves that Saudi women can work is th Princess Noura University ( for females only). The directior of the University and the deans of colleges are Saudi women. check the university website
    http://www.pnu.edu.sa/en/Pages/Home.aspx
    Yes we segregate between males and females in education, and we are porud of that because it is part of our religion. Saudi arabia is not the only country which has women university. There are many countries have women colleges (South Korea, Australia, UK, Canada, and United States) see the following website
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women's_colleges

    Many countries suffers from the impact of gender mixing. Look at these statistics in West:
    1- http://www.rehab.research.va.gov/jour/08/45/3/pdf/Street.pdf
    2- http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/misconductreview/report.pdf
    3- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8006699

    So, Can we repeat what Aake-Art said about Saudi Arabia ( All the socially unhealthy rules (in West) based on the obsession about sex.
    Can western women work safely? Can they work without being harassed?

    To sum up, let us show respect towards others and understand the cultural differences.

  29. It is important to note that Abdul Al-Lily, the Saudi blogger, is not an ‘expert’ on the sexual lives of Saudis. The notion of ‘experts’ is invalid considering ones personal agenda colors their interpretation. He is essentially introducing his narrative on the subject, so therefore what we find on his blog is through his own bias.

    Interestingly though, Dr. Al-Lily does manage to get away from his own narrative by including his readers into the blog posts, by making some of his posts the opinions of his reader rather than just himself.

    It’s an interesting blog indeed, but one must ask what is it’s intention? To answer the questions of the curious outsider? And if so, what sort of narrative of Saudi men and women are they seeing?

  30. Just an reply to the chatterboxes…..it is not important, if or when or where somebody get a degree,,,,there are more people out there with an high iq than in the ” academic world”. By the way first read than judge.

  31. @Hoor

    I agree with your viewpoints. Clearly, a lot of people on here have preconceived notions that influence their understanding of something they have not experienced

  32. Very handsome and gentle man.

  33. @ Penny: Thanks for your enquiry. I actually did my master’s in Manchester when I was 23. It takes one year to do master’s in England. So, I started my PhD in Oxford right after my master’s at the age of 24. It takes 3 to 4 years to do a doctorate in England. This is why I finished my PhD at the age of 28. Hope this is helpful. Yours. Abdul

  34. @ Aafke-Art: Thank you so much for your comment, which is very constructive indeed. You have drawn attention to a very interesting observation that I should have talked about in the interview. Thanks. Yours. Abdul

  35. @ Edwin: Interesting observation. Thanks for brining up this issue.

  36. @ Aafke-Art’s Second Comment: The bubble with the strong walls you are referring to here is what I was trying to refer to as well in the interview. A very well chosen metaphor. Well done.

  37. @ escortdiary: Thank you so much for defending my position – a very well written comment and excellent analysis indeed.

  38. Well, of course my arguments and metaphors are very constructive and brilliant. Because that’s what I am…
    Well constructed and brilliant….

  39. now access is denied to his blog

  40. from Saudi Arabia, of course.

  41. Thanks, Nassima, for your enquiry. Here is a post from Sex and Beyond: Saudi Arabia explaining how to access blocked websites. Here it is:

    “Saudi Arabia blocks websites that are seen by its social authorities as provocative (for example the website The Romantic) or as being concerned with pornography (for example Beeg!). The authorities block sometimes the whole website (e.g. Hi5) and at other times only certain pages of a website (as it is the case with AskMen, YouTube and Facebook). That said, I checked some online dating websites and they were actually not blocked. I could not help but wonder whether the fact that online dating websites are not blocked because the authorities have chosen not to block them or because the decision to block or not is arbitrary and is not made systematically and because there are no clear explicit accurate standards according to which a decision is made to block a certain website or not.

    Despite the blocking system, Saudis do actually access blocked websites, going around this blocking. Having interviewed some Saudis, they mentioned three ways of accessing blocked websites. One is through the VPN service. Another was is through the programme Hotspot. The last way is through the browser Puffin. Hotspot and Puffin are very easy to install and to deal with, but the problem is that the websites from which one can download these programmes are blocked in Saudi Arabia. The interviewees, however, remarked that, although Saudi Arabia blocks websites, they do not (nor can they) block phone applications from the App Store. This means, the interviewees explained, that VPN, Hotspot and Puffin are not blocked in the App Store and therefore can be accessed and downloaded even in Saudi Arabia. I was wondering if there were other ways of accessing blocked websites.

    Today’s class was an introduction to the Internet. I was talking to my students about the blocking system in Saudi Arabia, and then I asked them how one can go around this system and access blocked websites. Many students were well literate in this respect. A student gave me a way of unblocking websites, with which I actually did not know. He said that one could access blocked sites by adding the letter ‘s’ after http in the website domain. So, the beginning of the domain will become https I tried this during the class and worked perfectly. So, the student got a bonus.”

  42. The easiest way to go around blocked websites is to use proxy websites. And there are hundreds of them. Here is a list:

    http://www.listproxysites.com/top-proxies.php

  43. […] I actually took part in three interviews (by American Bedu, Desert Moon and iGina), and a criticism that has been directed to these interviews is that,  […]

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