Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Get My Wife a Shisha!

Gender segregation and the male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia are issues that I have complained about many times in the past.  Just when one might think things are improving for women here, this male domination and control mentality rears its ugly head again. 

Earlier this week, it was reported in the news here that women are no longer permitted to go out with girlfriends to enjoy smoking shisha, unless she is accompanied by her legal male guardian who must order it for her.    

The ramifications of this are really confusing, as many hasty decisions here in KSA are.  If every woman who wishes to smoke shisha has to drag her husband, brother or son with her, the result will be scores of men and women mingling together in public!   Didn't they think of that?

The message here is that women are not capable of making their own decisions and that men are more intelligent and superior in every way and must decide what is best for their wives, daughters, and sisters, regardless of the women’s wishes.  I don’t buy into the BS that a man needs to decide what is best for me.
By now we all know the harm that smoking can cause to humans.  But as long as there is no law against smoking, adults should have the right to decide for themselves whether to smoke or not.  I am an adult and I am perfectly capable of making my own decisions regarding my life, my image, and my health. 
Ahmed Al-Shammari tweeted, “I am totally supporting this idea because it is sad when I see young women smoking shisha in public.  It makes them look cheap and easy.”   It’s okay for men to smoke shisha because it makes them look cool, or what?  Sadly this is the mentality of so many ignorant and backward men in Saudi Arabia.

I’m so tired of these double standards for men and women. 

Gender segregation is carried to such an unhealthy extreme in this country, it has resulted in an alarmingly high divorce rate, daily harassment of women, and immature men who misbehave. This gender segregation policy actually enables men to continue behaving badly instead of allowing them to behave normally. 

The real issue here is control.  Men here want to control the lives of women in every way they possibly can.  It’s insulting, tiresome, and more ridiculous as times goes on. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Calling All Students! Education Fair (IECHE) in Riyadh April 15-18

In mid-April, representatives from nearly 500 institutions of higher learning from around the world will converge in Riyadh for the annual International Exhibition & Conference on Higher Education  (IECHE).  

Almost 40 countries will promote their schools and disseminate useful information in the hopes of attracting Saudi students to their campuses.  

The exhibition is extremely well organized and quite impressive to behold.   More than 50 schools from Saudi Arabia are represented at the event as well.   

The four day conference will feature a large variety of workshops and speakers, covering all areas related to attaining advanced degrees, scholarship information, fields of study, requirements, etc., as well as having staff on hand to answer questions and solve issues.  

There is news coverage of the event and everyone is welcome to attend.  In addition to all kinds of available information, there are also goody bags and freebies for attendees.

High school students and college students pursuing advanced degrees can benefit greatly from attending this event.

For gathering information about higher education schooling, you won’t want to miss this spectacular event to be held April 15-18, 2014, in Riyadh.  For further information about the 2014 IECHE conference, CLICK HERE.


Al-Hijaz Mall Re-launches With a Whole New Look

 From the Omar Abubakr Balubaid Group

Jeddah:  Al-Hijaz Mall recently re-launched its new updated appearance, including major structural renovations.  The opening ceremony was attended by families, businesswomen, and visitors, and guests, including representatives from Al-Fasailya Womens Welfare Society. 

 Mr. Abdulla Jabran Al-Ghamdi, Mall Development Manager of the Omar Abubakr Balubaid Group, said, "Al-Hijaz Mall is one of the oldest shopping malls in Jeddah, as well as one of the busiest places for shoppers looking for designers and name brands in jewelry, fashion, and textiles.   The second phase of the renovations will include the development of a food court, a play land, and a bazaar area. We extend our appreciation to Al-Fasailya Womens Welfare Society for participating and assisting with our ceremony and their efforts to make this event successful."  

Al-Hijaz Mall, formerly known as Souk Alhijaz, is located in Jeddah's Al-Bawadi District.  The mall consists of two buildings connected by a bridge and it houses about 150 stores.  The mall sponsors campaigns, festivals and annual events, such as Spring Holiday, Back to School, Ramadan, Summer Festival, and more.  Al-Hijaz Mall would like to welcome all shoppers to come and enjoy its new clean and modern look.    

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Let's Protect the Rights of Men! Yeah, right...

File this one under B.S.  I cannot believe that the Saudi Gazette would publish an opinion piece like this one, a truly blatant piece of vile rubbish.  THIS is the male mentality that the women of Saudi Arabia have to deal with...

Reprinted from Saudi Gazette Newspaper

Let’s protect the rights of men!


Last updated: Thursday, March 20, 2014 8:01 PM

Saleh Bin Sabaan
Makkah daily

A female television broadcaster who is also a women’s rights activist recently spoke about the phenomenon of violence against women in Arab societies. While demanding an end to this phenomenon, she said that female victims of violence suffer from various psychological disorders.

However, no discussions took place on the violence perpetrated by women against men. Is there any organization to count the number of men who have been subjected to violence and harassment from women? Every one of us – both men and women – know that a large number of men have been put behind bars simply because of women. They include murderers, thieves and corrupt officials. There are large numbers of men who have lost their dignity at the hands of women, have become mentally unstable, have committed suicide and have even become addicted to drugs.

Why do we not count these as examples of men who have been victimized by women? I recently read a warning from a women’s rights activist that there has been an increase in the number of men in Arab society who have become victims of assault and harassment at the hands of women. I think that the harassment caused by women is more harmful because it falls into the category of mental harassment.

Women resort to lies, manipulation, conspiracy and tricks that they employ in all occasions and situations. A woman will use words, tears, laughter, fake illness, and whispering to deceive her man. All of these are the sources of her strength. A woman outshines man in this respect because she has more control over her emotions and sentiments than a man does.

If you look at any food channel, you can see that most professional chefs who show their expertise and talent in the art of cuisine are men, even though cooking is supposed to be the duty of women. In general, women suffer from an acute shortage of creativity because they stick to the ground reality. Women are not typically inclined toward adventurism and experimentation. On the other hand, a woman is more dedicated to consumption and materialism. She is content with possessing things and simply keeping them without taking advantage of them. If you have a look at her “treasures” in the cupboards and trays of a kitchen, you will understand my point. For instance, it is futile to assume that she might spend half of the value of kitchenware on buying books.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Trip to Waba Crater

 I recently took a day trip to Waba Crater, a 363 km jaunt from Jeddah.  We left at about 3am so we would arrive early morning and enjoy the area before the heat of the day was upon us.   I enjoyed seeing the Camel Crossing signs along the way, and yes, we did see camels on the loose.  By the way, you can click on any picture to see an enlarged image. 
It took over 4 hours to get to Waba Crater.  Our first sighting of it was a Thelma and Louise moment - the road just leads right up to it and luckily our brakes worked!  The early morning sun rays created a magical effect on the spectacular scenery before us. 
Originally thought to be a meteoric crater, it is now believed that the crater was formed by an underground volcanic eruption in which the hot lava mixed with an underground water supply and the result was this enormous sunken hole - "a massive steam explosion generated by molten basaltic magma coming into contact with subterranean water."
The white substance in the bottom of the crater consists of crystallized salt and the delicate lacy edges formed when the remaining groundwater eventually dried. 
The diameter of the crater is about 2 km wide.  Volcanic rocks of all sizes line the sides of the crater and there is some visible vegetation in places on the interior of the crater. 
There is a rocky path that goes down to the bottom of the crater, but care must be taken because of the loose rocks that one doesn't lose her footing.  The trail begins on the north side of the crater.  The sides of the crater are quite steep.
The weather was clear, but the wee hours of the morning were briskly chilly and the winds were strong.  It was delightful weather for me but my companions were cold.  We were the only visitors to the site up until our climb back up when we came upon a group of American visitors who had driven from Riyadh. 
The patterns made by the salt crystals against the volcanic rock and the sparse vegetation made for some very artistic looking scenery.
There are several tour companies that provide all inclusive trips to the crater, or you can opt to do it on your own.  We traveled by sedan to the isolated site.   You can also camp near Waba Crater.  There are not really any facilities, so be sure to bring sleeping bags as it can quite chilly at night especially in the cooler months.   I read that the best place to camp is on the south side of the crater just above the palm trees.  
It is recommended that at least three people do the hike down and back together.  Experienced hikers can probably reach the bottom in 20-30 minutes and make the climb back up in 45 minutes to an hour.  Take plenty of water with you.  Arrive early morning if you can to beat the heat. 
There is not a whole to see along the drive up and back besides desert landscape and some hills and mountains in the distance, but we did see many bedouin tents, herds of goats and sheep, and of course, camels. 
To view some more amazing photos of Waba Crater and the surrounding area, CLICK HERE for the Amusing Planet post about the site.  CLICK HERE for a map of where Waba Crater is located.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Defying the Women's Driving Ban

I got my driving learner's permit before I was 16 years old.  I took a Driver's Ed course in high school.  I have a clean driving record and am a careful and cautious driver. I have driven in many states in the USA, even made a few cross country trips, and I have also driven in a handful of other countries around the world.

When I moved to Saudi Arabia in 2007, I knew that females were not allowed to drive in this country.  In fact, this kingdom is the only country in the entire world that does not allow women to drive.  In 1990 a caravan of 40 Saudi women drove in the country's capital city of Riyadh in an organized effort to defy the ban on women driving.  Their lives were affected in a myriad of adverse ways after that.  Among other things, they were banned from traveling outside the kingdom for many years and they lost their jobs.

Saudi Activist Wajeha Al-Huwaider

The Saudi Women's Driving Movement was quiet for many years.  But since 2007, it has picked up steam.  Activist Wajeha al Huwaider has petitioned the king and has defied the driving ban regularly since 2007.  The Arab Spring seemed to breathe new life into the movement, with more and more women speaking out and  demanding their right to drive.  Manal al Sharif was arrested for driving and held in jail for ten days, making worldwide headlines and becoming an activist and sought-after speaker as a result.   Shaima Jastania was also arrested for driving and made headlines when a judge sentenced her to ten lashes - for driving!  Fortunately for Shaima the king intervened and her sentence was overturned.

Saudi Activist Manal Al-Sharif

Dozens of women in Saudi Arabia have posted videos of themselves driving.  One of the latest is a prominent Saudi business woman, Aisha Al-Manie -who in an act of solidarity with her less fortunate Saudi sisters who cannot afford drivers - posted a video of herself driving on International Women's Day.  While Al-Manie can afford a personal driver, she wanted to show her support for all women in Saudi Arabia who would benefit from lifting the driving ban. 

Not being able to drive in this country continues to be my biggest problem affecting the quality of my life here.  It really pisses me off that I am not allowed to drive, yet I see little boys as young as 8 or 10 driving huge SUVs around the city, sometimes filled with a gaggle of Saudi female passengers.  To me, this is the height of ridiculousness.  With safety concerns often cited as a main reason for why women aren't permitted to drive here, how on earth is a little boy driver who can't even see over the steering wheel any safer?

A few days ago I was out with three of my female friends.  It was a hot day and we got thirsty, so the driver double parked behind some cars and left the vehicle to get us some cold drinks.  Double parking is very common here in Jeddah since (a) much of the available parking space is taken up by disabled abandoned vehicles covered in a thick layer of dust and (b) there is not nearly enough parking provided for on the narrow streets of the city in the first place.

Of course the driver of one of the cars that our vehicle was blocking arrived back to his car.  As all drivers in this situation must, he resigned himself to the fact that he would have to wait for our driver to return.  But he didn't know who was sitting in our car.  A car full of helpless women we were not!  I hopped out of the back seat and into the driver's seat, shifted into "Drive" and inched the big SUV about two car lengths forward.  One of the other gals hopped out and videotaped part of it.

The man we were blocking backed up and stopped next to our car before he drove off and gave us two thumbs up while declaring how he was in favor of women driving in Saudi Arabia!  As a result of that day, I am proud to say that my name has been added to the Honor Wall, the list of women who have defied the driving ban here in Saudi Arabia.  Here is my video:



Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Holistic Health Event Tomorrow


WHEN:   Thursday, March 6th, 2014, starting at 10 am

WHERE:  Jeddah, Saudi Arabia


Your True Nature "YTN" and Holistic Juicy Living "HJL" fuse together to bring you unique services, products and courses. We invite all holistic enthusiasts to come by and visit our booth at the Binzager Compound in Jeddah.  Exclusive offer to come and meet with Holistic Nutritional Coach Hanane Serhan and Spiritual Life Coach and Healer Alicia Ali and receive a bonus consultation. 

Wholesome duo, Holistic Juicy Living and Your True Nature, proactively respond to lifestyle demand and unleash publications geared to catapult an uprise of the Global Holistic Movement in Arabia - an EXCLUSIVE preview of UPCOMING self transformative titles now available to ATTENDEES ONLY!

Key themes aim to target the holistic conscious audience covering Holistic Health, Spiritual & Self Development and will empower readers with POWERFUL TOOLS and and SELF TRANSFORMATIVE knowledge to bring desired results.

Women are demanding a health revolution as diseases are on the rise in Saudi Arabia.  Poor lifestyle choices, lack of education, spiritual emptiness, and a rise in OBESITY and DIABETES among women and children have reached startling numbers in the region.  Now is your chance to take action. 

Visit YTN and HJL on March 6th at the Ladies Business Bazaar at Binzager Compound- Don't miss this opportunity to personally meet the Holistic Duo of Alicia Ali, Spiritual Life Coach and Energy Healer, and Hanane Serhan, Nutritional Coach and Detox Expert, in their VENTURE for HOLISTIC revival.

JOIN the event on FACEBOOK.