Friday, May 13, 2011

Welcome to the Kingdom of Humanity

I'm probably not the first ex-pat with a slightly over active imagination to come and live in the UAE and develop a fascination with Saudi Arabia. I really, really want to go there to see what it's like. The reason for this slightly odd desire is probably because I'm not allowed in.

I can't go unless I'm sponsored by my husband, who has to have a reason to go there, ie work, which let's face it, is pretty unlikely in the Sand Warlock's line of work, ie booze.  Another way I can go is if I convert to Islam and go on Hajj.  This seems like a bad idea for two reasons 1. Overkill. 2. Offensive.
Or, I could go at the personal invitation of the King like my new boss did.  She ended up getting married accidentally which is entirely another story.

The reason I've got a bit Saudi obsessed again recently is because the Sand Warlock's birthday card which my parents posted from France arrived yesterday (about four weeks after it was posted, I think) and it was postmarked "Riyadh" and "The Kingdom of Humanity". Perhaps that's why it took so long, because it came via Saudi Arabia.  Or maybe, the usual demented postal system that operates at the husband's office was to blame.

But Kingdom of Humanity!  Are they havin' a bleedin' laugh?  A Kingdom where women can't come and go without the permission of their husband, can't drive, can't hold political office and have to have a male guardian (father or husband) who has control over many aspects of their life, where they're harrassed in the streets by religious police making sure they stick to the proper Saudi Islamic dress code of being covered at all times. 

It never really occurred to me to want to go there before I came here but now it's just a drive away, I really feel the urge to go and have a look.

There was also a story on the Emirates 24/7 website which really piqued my interest.  An American university professor was giving a lecture at Taif University in Saudi Arabia about the effect of climate change on desert animals when he showed a picture of a dog wearing Saudi head dress.  He was asked to leave the campus and the Kingdom immediately and said he was surprised by this because it was "only a picture".

I have to say it sounds extreme but I wasn't surprised.  Dogs are not thought well of in Islam and putting one in Saudi head dress would be considered an insult, I would have thought, and insulting Islam in a strict Muslim state = bad idea. 

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