Friday, 29 April 2011

Lady laws and male lingerie attendants

Coming from New Zealand, I’m used to being independent. Driving to work each day, meeting friends for coffee, going to the movies.  It’s a good life.

But for women in Saudi, the very opposite is true. Life is one long list of ‘must nots’.

Saudi women cannot drive.

In fact, they cannot even get in a car or plane without the personal or written permission of a male relative. No room for any spontaneous flights of fancy. Not anywhere.

Only men work in Saudi.  

Well, more accurately, Saudi women only work on very rare occasions. And then, they must be physically separated from the potentially dire risk of contact with men, even to the point of having completely separate elevators.

But girls can be educated as far as university.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Muddled Bloodtest

Alexander and the Terrible Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day used to be a favourite book in our home. It finishes with, “Some days are like that, even in Timbuktu.”

I’ve just had an Alexander kind of day.

Until the muttawa appeared, lunch in the family section of the Faisailah food court was just fine. Muttawa are religious police. They enforce the Islamic dress code, separation of men and women, and prayer attendance. They patrol Riyadh and can appear pretty much anywhere, any time.

Faisailah Mall

Monday, 4 April 2011

"Slow For Camels" - Driving The Desert, a pictur(esque) essay

Over 95% of Saudi Arabia is desert of some description. Just beyond Riyadh’s high-rise city skyline, there it lies; stretching to the horizon. The other day we drove to Hidden Valley, found 80 km west of Riyadh. It’s a pass between the rocky Tuwaiq escarpment, running along the west side of Riyadh and leading into a valley known as Wadi Nissah.