Saudi Arabia: The Story of a Saudi Bi-Cultural Woman

It’s a pleasure for American Bedu to have the opportunity to interview Sahar and have her perspectives as a Saudi female growing up in the Kingdom.

 

Thanks, Sahar, for allowing me to interview you and taking the time to answer these questions!

 Flag-Pins-Thailand-Saudi-Arabia

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Let’s begin with a little bit about yourself.  I understand that you are a Saudi national, but what is your family’s background?  Are both your mother and father Saudi citizens?

Am a first born of Thai-Saudi couple , my father is a Saudi nation and my mother is a Thai national 

What has it been like for you growing up in Saudi Arabia but with a non-Saudi mother?  Have you ever felt at any time that you were not viewed as a Saudi?  Were you ever treated or received differently by your Saudi peers?

Yeas sometime when I was young since I used to be really weak at Arabic language and some of the life style are very different in my family than other one and (am sorry to say that) but when I was child I was trying to avoid any topic about my mom side , now as people are more open minded and more educated it became much more better   

Can you share with readers what a usual week is like for you.  Would you describe your life as a typical traditional Saudi life?  Why or why not?

It actually hard to say but I would say it not typical traditional Saudi life but it have a lot of traditional aspects since we live with my grandmother , as I said before the live style was so different from other , any one live in a multicultural family would understand that beginning from the perspective family to the food style are in way or other are different , sometime I view something as obvious and normally but others view it as strange or rather unique.

Where in the Kingdom is home for you?  Do you live with your parents or are you married?  riyadh houses

Riyadh is the home that embraced my memory , yeah I live with my mom and my grandmother ( from father side ) since my father passed away 

Speaking of marriage, if you are married, was your marriage arranged through your family?  If you are not married, do you expect or want your family to arrange your marriage?  Why or why not?

I think an arrange marriage is the obvious choice I see right now but I prefer if it was one I choose who have the same experience that I had

Do you consider yourself 100 per cent Saudi?

No

Do you travel often to Thailand to spend time with your Thai side of the family?

I was born and raised until the age of 5 after that we come to live with my father in Saudi since that we didn’t go back until recently and we are planning on doing regular visits  

People who never have the chance to hear from a Saudi woman often have many questions about them.  I’d like to ask you a few of the most common…

 

What do you like to do for fun and entertainment?

Gathering with family or friends, going out for shopping or restaurant sometime going camping in the winter

What kind of fashions do you like?  Do you listen to music?  If so, what kind?

I like more of cute or classic fashion and mostly I go with my own fashion – something that make feel comfortable- , in term of music I like soft rock or anything that have guitar in it 

traditional dress     How do you dress when you are out in public?  Ie, abaya, hijab and /or niqab?  Do you choose to dress differently if you are out of the Kingdom?  Why or why not?

abaya, hijab would be what I go with usually but when am with my father’s family they always ask me to go with niqab and I do so  , out of the kingdom I choose not to wear hijab but I dress modestly .

What are your views on Saudi women now being part of the Shura council?

It’s a good thing to make women part of that as everything need to even part to work well and I hope it lead us to better future .

What do you think are the most important issues for a Saudi woman and why?

That they are so dependent on men in most of the thing , they need to have more power in decision making .

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest priority, how important is it for women to drive in Saudi Arabia?  Please explain your answer.

7 , some women doesn’t have a male that could drive them around and other have different way to go that one male can’t drive then all in so in the end they need to use a driver with much of people can’t afford  , why it is the 7 and not higher ?! because there is other face that are part of the problem and could solve the problem which is the lack of good or at all public transportation . 

Are you in favor of the mahrem system?  Is it in the woman’s best interest that she have a male mahrem?

In some case a think it is good thing but mostly people here misuse this system to have overall control of the women

Do you think many Saudi women who are not married have contact with men to whom they are not related?  Why or why not?  If so, how?

yeah there is , as for why not really sure but most of the case I have acquaintance with are teenage and want to try love as any other teenage in the world or it is just out of curiosity toward the other sex .

What are the top five places and things to do you think an expatriate or any visitor to Saudi Arabia should do?

makkah     if they are Muslim I would say the two holy city , if not there in some historical place in different part of Saudi most of them are in north and south but we have national museum in Riyadh and Old al-drayah when you can see the traditional old house of Saudi , the following link of some good site I have passed by I hope it come to help :

http://blueabaya.blogspot.com/2012/01/ten-amazing-places-to-visit-in-saudi.html

http://travelling-around-the-earth.blogspot.com/2011/01/top-tourist-attraction-places-in-saudi.html

http://www.hziegler.com/articles/historical-ancient-sites-in-ksa.html

 

In your view, do you think there is a wide gulf of understanding between East and West?  Why or why not?

Yeas the lack of information or I must say the correct information from both side and the way that the media present the other mislead a lot of people who do not try to look more and understand more about the other side

How can people of differing faiths, customs and way of life build better bridges of understanding with Saudis?

In my humble opinion if we want to understand other we should not view them in subjective way nether view them in our prospective we should view them in an abstract way  , we should ask more and try harder to go to their cultural root and understand it as culture make deep effect in people behavior and action .

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

That was really good and interesting

I hope to read more of your good article and looking forward to read something about multicultural or multinational family of Saudi  

Thank you, Sahar.  It’s been a pleasure and honor to have the opportunity to ask you these questions.

It have been honor for me too to be a part of your site and if you need any further information in the future don’t hesitate to email me 

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7 Responses

  1. What a lovely honest interview.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this, too!

    I also noticed that Sahar’s English is very good! Just wanted to compliment her on it because I know learning English isn’t easy and as a third language, I though it was very good. (I’m around ESL people a lot.)

    I like her take on building bridges to better understand Saudi culture and how she compared it to abstract art. I would imagine that Thai culture is quite a bit different from Saudi culture, although there are some similarities, too.

  3. glad that people had enjoyed reading this interview …. as for my English actually am a bit embarrassed as I find out some grammatical mistake and missing word do to the reason that i haven’t read over the interview as i finish …

    the Thai and Saudi culture ended are different and the similarities mostly is in how that both culture are somhow so family oriented

  4. Sahar,

    I truly enjoyed your honest to goodness interview; with no holds barred. All the best to you and your family!

  5. @Sahar,
    I also believe that Thai and Saudi cultures are both modest in terms of dress (though in different ways) and dating/marriage, too?

  6. yes but mostly in old generation and other places than Bangkok

  7. It was great reading more about you, Sahar. Thanks for sharing!

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