Sunday, September 8, 2013

Saudi: Everyday Breakdown

Saudi director Haifa Al-Mansour said it best; everyday life in Saudi Arabia is hard, and these difficulties "build up and can break a woman down". 

It's in the details; knowing that your most significant life decisions cannot be made without a male guardian's permission. Asking for help from a man, only to be ignored because he doesn't want to speak to a female. Being late to an appointment because your driver doesn't show up on time, or because there is no public transportation and you're not permitted to drive yourself. The man who tells you to cover your face because it's a "sexual temptation", or the man who hits on you thinking you are a woman with no morale simply because your face isn't covered. The man who refuses to sit next to you on an airplane, or who refuses to shake your hand when he's introduced to you, all because you are a woman. 

It's not every man who is like this, but there are enough around to keep women constantly on guard.
Sometimes it doesn't feel human.

If you wear niqab and wear too much eye make-up...they will call you a temptress. 
If you wear hijab and show your face....they will question your purity.
If you choose not to cover your hair...they will doubt your faith. 
If you cover your entire body in black...they will believe you are holy.
Appearance is everything, and they are most comfortable with women who are entirely unseen and unheard. The women who are seen are simply asking to be disrespected. 

A society consumed by public image, in every way imaginable;
Shorten your thob and grow a beard to be considered the "better Muslim". 
Take a loan out of the bank to buy a car you cant afford to "buy our respect". Yes, it is for sale. 
Lather yourself in French and Italian designer clothes, let it be a reminder of the producers power over the consumer.
Complain about your maid or your driver, but don't be ashamed that you're violating their human rights.
Do whatever the hell you want, just make sure you pray five times a day. 

Let the empty streets comfort you. 
Find humanity inside the malls.  

-B. Al-H. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Saudi Arabia: On Losing Control in Qatif & Qassim

 My article on the similarities of demands in Qatif and Qassim, two cities traditionally know to be very different, and what that means for the Saudi government:

Monday, January 14, 2013

Nightmare in Saudi Arabia: Plight of Foreign Workers

My Article for Newsweek Daily Beast on the Dire and Often Slave-Like conditions migrant works may face in Saudi Arabia (Applies to GCC and many other Arab countries as well):