Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Widowed in Saudi Arabia, Part 4

This is Part 4 of a 4-part series. Click here for Part 1.


I t’s not easy being married to someone from a totally different country, culture, and religion. And it’s certainly not easy to leave your family behind and move to your spouse's homeland, uproot your whole life, forget about the religion you were raised with, and give up the many freedoms you have taken for granted to come to a country like Saudi Arabia, where a woman literally become the property of her husband. Until my own son was 14, the idea of moving to Saudi Arabia never really crossed my mind. Then suddenly, after 30 years in the states, my husband expressed his desire to move back to the country where he was born and grew up. If my son had been a girl, I would have never agreed to come. And the fact that he was already a teenager and would be a man in a few years was a factor in my decision to come here also. If things didn’t work out here in Saudi Arabia for us, then I figured we would be able to leave when my son came of age, although my husband has always assured me that we are free to leave here at any time if things get too unbearable for us. You see, females in Saudi Arabia are always the wards of a man here, whether it be her father, or her husband, or even her own son, as in Asima’s case.

Just recently Asima was referred to a Saudi lawyer by another British friend. The lawyer kindly offered his services free of charge and he represented them in court, which finally named Faris, at 20, the legal guardian over his sister Jannah. He is also the legal guardian of his mother Asima, since they are related by blood. Once Faris turns 21, he will be his own man, no longer needing a legal guardian of his own – formerly his grandfather, now his uncle – which means that once Asima has their affairs in order and sells their home, they will finally be able to leave Saudi Arabia. Once the house is sold, the proceeds will have to be divided up according to Islamic law.

I have the utmost respect and admiration for Asima. I’m actually in awe of how she has managed to hold her family together and survived here despite the odds and the obstacles she has had to face. Getting virtually no help from her husband’s family, as well overcoming the power struggle they have imposed on her over the years, has only made her stronger. Asima is a survivor. Yet she doesn’t see herself as brave and feels that she has only done what any other mother in her same position would have done to protect her children, although that’s not entirely true. Other women who have been widowed or divorced here have chosen to leave Saudi Arabia, most having to leave their children behind because of the laws here that favor the man - no surprise in this male-dominated society. Asima credits the support of a few close friends and the loyalty of her Pakistani driver with helping her make it through these past eight tumultuous years. Before he dies, her husband Abdul had asked the driver to stay on and watch over his family after he was gone, and the driver has done so, even though he's past retirement age. He tells her that he will only retire and return to his home once she is free from this place with her children.

Asima has no regrets about marrying her husband. She has two awesome children and fond memories of her all too fleeting years spent with Abdul. But there are times when she thinks about how many years of her life she has lost for loving him and staying. However as far as her kids are concerned, nothing has been too high of a price to pay to stay in their lives as she has done. And when I asked her what advice she might offer to Saudi wives before coming to the KSA, she had this to say: “I wish I could just say ‘Don’t Come!’ But life isn’t that black and white. We always believe the worst won’t happen to us. We are with the person we love and who loves us, and that’s all that matters at the time. I would certainly advise all women to make a contract before marriage and be prepared just in case, both legally and financially. Also, have all legal documents kept safely with her, the house in her name, separate bank accounts, and dual citizenship for herself and the children.”

By the way, you may have guessed that Asima is not her real name. It was a name we chose for her because of its Arabic meaning, which is “protector.” Her sole aim all these years has been to protect her children, and she has done a remarkable and admirable job of doing just that. She hopes that by letting her story be known, it might help at least one woman make the right decision in her life and be protected. Asima knows that there are good Saudi men (she had one!) and good Saudi families. Unfortunately her Saudi family has been unkind and cruel to her and her children, a fate they will hopefully not have to endure much longer. She can see the light at the end of the tunnel now, and it has been a very long tunnel. Telling her story has been very difficult for her; it’s been like reliving the pain of the last eight years again. But she has hope for the future, and she’s confident now that there IS a future for her and her children out there.

So let Asima’s story serve as a warning for any woman marrying a Saudi man and considering a move to Saudi Arabia. We all want our happy ending, but Saudi Arabia may be a difficult place to find it.

Asima continues to live in Saudi Arabia for now and still has her ups and downs, good days and bad. The end of her story has not yet been written because it has not yet played out. She still has hurdles ahead of her. There will be another chapter down the road, maybe even two, before all is said and done, and I will bring it to you at that time. Please keep her and her children in your prayers in the meantime.

And thank you, Asima, for sharing your important story with us.

UPDATE: Follow THIS LINK for a final update to Asima's story.

51 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing Asima's story with us, Susie. I've read stories of women who have married Saudi men and had a terrible time. I'm glad things are getting somewhat better for Asima. I'll be thinking about her and keeping her in my prayers. I'll be waiting for a happier Part 5 also.

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  2. I am just in awe over this story! It is heart-wrenching to say the least, and I am so grateful to you Susie for sharing it--and to Asima as well for helping to alert others of these terrible and all to often occurring situations. And God bless that driver as well...subhannah Allah, we need to remember a lot of people in our prayers with this post.

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  3. i like it
    im from indonesia

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  4. amazing account. and yes i will keep her in my prayers and thoughts.

    on another note...i have often wondered how you make it through some days given the restrictions and loss of many of the freedoms...driving a car, being your OWN person, wearing what you like and expressing yourself and so on and so forth. i have to say it must be quite challenging and at the same time quite difficult.

    hugs

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  5. Thanks for sharing that beautiful story! I know all too well the pain of suddenly losing a beloved husband. I consider myself unusually blessed because my Lebanese in-laws have been so kind and generous. I do remember, however, the fear and anxiety I felt when I flew with his body to be buried in his father's village, and the aftermath of his father and brothers figuring out how I was going to live. The reality is, if they had wanted to, they could have cut me off entirely and taken my children, as I had never converted or registered our marriage in Lebanon. I am just thankful that they are not those kind of people. One of the great things about Middle eastern culture is the desire and and obligation to take care of family--but the negative is, that it can be taken to the extreme, as in Asima's story. I would remind anyone thinking of marrying into the culture that, you are not only marrying that wonderful man you love--you are marrying into a family, and you don't know how they will act after a tragedy such as this. Their Islamic responsibility to their loved one is more important than your feelings. And, most importantly, try to plan ahead--though I am not sure in Asima's case if that could have helped, but planning for the worst could only help.
    Thanks again, Susie, you always enlighten and entertain!

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  6. Thank you Susie for bringing Asima's story to us. Asima you have my admiration. You are an inspiration to women, not just in Arabia but everywhere. My prayers are with you and your family.

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  7. Susie, you have written the most endearing story and your photo selection excels.

    So glad to hear of a helpful lawyer. I pray Asima and her children move on with their choosen new lives in happiness.

    You have made a great friend in Asmia.

    I look forward to hearing more in the future.

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  8. A great narration from Asima's telling and your writing, and important advice for all. Even the best inlaws may respond poorly in times of stress, or generally think they are doing the best, or be influenced by the newest person to have married into the family into behaving in unforeseen ways. Legal and financial protection is a must for all couples. As well as dual citizenship, maintaining professional qualifications in the home country, and a work history wherever you are, are also important. (Easier said than done I know)

    Susie, I am glad to hear you had thought about "escape" plans before arriving, and that even assuming your husband remains the man you married, you and your son are or will be able to leave.

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  9. It sounds like your husband is pretty relaxed anyway, he was fine with you working as a police officer and in the travel industry. He doesn't sound like the domineering type at all. The fact that he was willing to live in the US for 30 years sounds as though he must love you dearly!

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  10. **hugs to Asima**

    Hope your future is bright, Sis!!

    Salaamu `alaikum wa rahmatullah

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  11. Dear Susie,

    I have followed your blog with great interest. I am married to a man who is Lybian. After living in this country for many years, he returned to Lybia last summer for a visit and has undergone a transformation I never thought possible. He is now very unhappy with his "American" life. This has taken quite a toll on our marriage, but I am trying to manage for the sake of our teenage son, whom we both love dearly. He wants me to go to Lybia with our son for a vist, but I refuse to go under any circumstances until he is eighteen years old. If I had to do it all over again, I would never marry a Muslim Arab. After almost seventeen years of marriage, I can honestly say the cultural differences are monumental and the woman has to give in almost 100% of the time. I am sure everyone that there are some marriages that can be truly happy, but they are few and far between. I come from an immigrant Hispanic family with very traditional values, but I was not prepared to deal with the situations that I have faced with my husband's family over the years.
    Good luck to you and keep writing! You are a gifted writer and a caring, insightful person.

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  12. This is a pretty cool story to tell. I think you picked a perfect time to tell it... I have come back every day to read not just your stories, but also the comments you receive. Have you noticed more traffic on your blog since Perez Hilton featured your blog entry about Katy Perry on his blog? Thats how I found your site, but now Im hooked!

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  13. Susie, I have been glued to this story from the start. I hope that you will keep all of us posted on Asima's future. You must let her know how much support she has here. She is in my prayers. You have done a wonderful job of telling her story.
    sirod umm umar

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  14. I've also been glued to my computer waiting for all the parts to be posted. She sounds like an amazing woman. Although the experience was horrible, it will make her, and her children, stronger in the end. You absolutely have to let us know when she leaves the Kingdom and how it all plays out.

    But this story had me wondering as I'm not that familiar with Islamic laws. If Asima didn't have a son, only daughters, what would happen to her?? Would she ever be able to leave the country then? Would her in-laws be her legal guardians?

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  15. Susie I love your blog, I only started reading a week or so ago. I found this story so scary and sad, I hope this woman finds happyness and peace when she is able to escape.

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  16. You write so eloquently. This story brought tears to my eyes as I read. Thank you and I hope and pray that this has a happy ending for Asima.

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  17. Long time reader- first time commentator..This story has greatly touched me I just HAD to comment.

    Being the daughter of an open minded yet traditional Tribal Saudi father and an American mother- green eyed & freckled faced .. I have a deep appreciation for "Asima's story".
    After 20 years of living in KSA my mother made her escape plan, there was no knowing what my fathers reaction/retaltion might be.
    My mother had fake names planned for my sister and I - and a run away plan that addressed every worst case senario possible. She was prepared and determined to get out - and leaving her two daughters anywhere was simply not an option.
    I am thankfull that my father eventually came to accept us living in the US and supported us financially.
    22 years later I am able to have a great relationship with my father and mother - and I am living independently from both of them in the US. I love them dearly and if it wasnt for my mother having a back up plan, forthought, and the willingness to confront and prepare for dealing with her biggest fears.. I would not be here. She was a Pionere in the ongoing saga of "American Woman Marries a Saudi Man... "

    Thank you for sharing. There are so many lessons to be learned from Asima's story.

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  18. OMG!! Susie I've just discovered your amazing blog!! Now I am totally hooked. I love your photos and writings, they bring about a whole different perspective of Saudi Arabia. I've been there twice but only for religious reasons (Umrah) but wasn't able to see much of Saudi Arabia. Thank you so much for creating this blog and I wish you all the best!

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  19. Hoping this story will continue on a path to a happy ending. Wish her and her family years ahead filled with more happiness than they could ever imagine.

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  20. What a touching story! Thanks so much for bringing it to us. I can hardly wait for the last chapter. Boy, when you think you have problems, there is someone far worse off than you. Be careful, Susie. From what you've told us about Adnan's family, I don't think you would encounter such problems. My prayers are with her and her children.

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  21. This has me crying, it's so sad!What an strong woman Asima must be.
    I have to wonder about a country that can seem so wonderful and interesting, yet so incredibly cruel and callous toward it's women.

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  22. Hi Kay - My pleasure. And thank you too. I just want to point out that not every love story here ends in tragedy. I am álways surprised at the number of women I meet here who have been here happily for 10 to 40 years!

    Hi Anon - Thanks so much for your comment and for mentioning the driver. Asima calls him one of her heroes.

    Hi EMo - Thanks! And Welcome!

    Hi Erin - It's definitely challenging to live here and it's not for everybody. There is so much that women living here have given up and sacrificed for love.

    Hi Ajnabiya - I actually thought of you while I was writing Asima's story. Your case turned out so differently. I hope it wasn't too painful for you reading her story.

    Hi Yoli - You're so welcome. Asima certainly is a very special woman.

    Hi Gaelyn - Thank you so much. Hopefully we'll hear good news about Asima in the near future!

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  23. Hi Chiara - Thanks very much. I used to tell people I was lucky because all my in-laws were on the other side of the world so I didn't have any in-law problems. I'm happy to report that I still don't have any in-law problems!

    Hi SanAntonioCicily - My hubby has actually gotten a little more domineering since we've been here. But not so bad that I want to leave or give up on my marriage.

    Hi Aalia - Thanks from Asima!

    Hi Anon - I'm so sorry to hear your story. It's so hard marrying someone from another culture. My hubby started slowly changing in the US after 9/11. I wish you the best and hope the old hubby that you fell in love with and married returns to you.

    Hi Alex - Thanks and Welcome! And YES! The traffic I got on my blog this past week has been phenomenal because of Perez Hilton's mention! I can only imagine what his numbers are!!!

    Hi Anon/SirodUmmUmar - I so appreciate your kind words. Thanks.

    Hi Anon - If Asima had only daughters, they would likely never have been allowed out of the kingdom. Possibly Asima would have been allowed to leave, but her in-laws would have had the say so. All women here cannot travel without permission from their legal male guardian.

    Hi Anon - I'm so happy you enjoyed reading Asima's story, and welcome to my blog!

    Hi Helen - Thanks so much...

    Hi Victoria - Wow - Your story sounds really interesting, and your dad must be a very special guy. Youa re so lucky!

    Hi Ruby - I'm so happy you found my blog and are enjoying it. Thanks!

    Hi Anon - Thanks for your good wishes for Asima and her kids. She appreciates it.

    Hi Jeannine - Asima's story does put things into perspective, doesn't it? Thank you for your comment.

    Hi Always - Sorry I made you cry. I actually cried a little myself as I was writing it because I couldn't help but thinnk - there but for the grace of god go I.

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  24. Thank you again Susie for sharing Asima's story, and a million thanks to Asima for sharing it to you (and the rest of us by extension). Asima and her children have been through hell and back after her husband's death, and it is good to know there are good people (her driver, the kind lawyer, friends) that were able to help. It's a nice reminder that while some places do have a bad rap (like Saudi Arabia does unfortunately) humanity still prevails no matter where you are and there will always be those who truly do care around. Asima, her children, and the heroes that helped them represent the best of humanity and we should all be thankful they exist. Bravo!

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  25. I'm so sorry Asima has had so many difficulties in Saudi Arabia. It would be hard to deal with such a different culture and not speak the language.

    It sounds like the sun will shine soon!

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  26. An amazing and sad story, God be with Asima and her children always.
    You did a great job in bringing
    the story to your readers.

    Thank you.

    AnnMarie

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  27. The bond between mothers and their children is not something most mothers take lightly...which is exactly the reason fathers/husbands use that bond to exact a punishment or in force to get what they want from the mother...now and then that abuse comes from extended families for what ever messed up reasons they come up with.

    I admire her ability to stand firm...most men would not tolerate such circumstances...many would hightail it leaving children behind...thats no lie.

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  28. Hi Susie
    Thanks for sharing the story! How sad.

    Can I ask a question about women's work in Saudi? Lets say that a foreigner is married to a Saudi, and she wants to work. Is it legally possible for a woman to rent an office space and provide a professional service like accounting or transcription etc?

    As an outsider its hard to understand what a woman could accomplish independently.

    So I'm just wondering, like can a woman open her own business and deal with male clients in the course of business?

    Are women employed professionally outside the home outside education and healthcare?

    Thanks for the blog

    V from Canada

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  29. Off-topic question: Are you on Twitter under the name @susieofarabia ?

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  30. Oh my, Susie! I have just read all four parts of this amazing story. I have tears in my eyes... but am so happy that Asima has fought for her family - and won!

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  31. Hi Susie -- I'm going to be late for work because I couldn't stop reading this series. Please tell Asima that there are people around the world wishing her happiness. If you know that wonderful driver, please tell him the same thing.

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  32. I do not understand why a family behaves like this. Family means union, love, care, no matter your colour, faith or sex gender. Sometimes misunderstanding happens. But that family had a wrong family conception. They should have thought above all she and the kids were all he fighted and cared for, and only for that should have fight for her, not against her. I'm sorry for all what Asima had to go through.

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  33. Hi Mel - Thank you very much for your comment. Asima is very humble and gives much of the credit for her survival to a few good friends and her driver. I think many people would have crumbled in her shoes - she is a very strong woman.

    Hi Postcards - We are all rooting for her and hopefully I'll be able to write her final chapter soon.

    Hi AnnMarie - Thanks so much for commenting...

    Hi CoolRed - You are so right - Abusers know what buttons to push and where/how to inflict the most hurt possible. I think you and Asima are cut from the same cloth.

    Hi Anon/V from Canada - There are a few Western women that I know of here who do have their own busineses. One is a photographer, another had a catering business, etc. If the religious police were alerted that there was contact between men and women going on, there could potentially be trouble. Women are not allowed to hold sales positions, with a few exceptions. There are very few women employed outside of education and healthcare. I know of some in news reporting and a few other fields.

    Hi Ralph - Yes, that's me, however I am brand new to it and haven't really started Twittering yet, but I should be soon.

    Hi LadyFi - Thanks for taking the time to tell me how much you enjoyed reading Asima's story.

    Hi Michaelle - Asima is reading the comments, so she knows... thanks so much.

    Hi Puca - I agree - real families come together in times of crisis and support each other. Thanks for what you wrote.

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  34. You got an award waiting :) please pick it up here ..

    http://desertrosebooklogue.blogspot.com/2009/04/lets-be-friends-award.html

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  35. Well done Susie, my heart goes out to Asima and her children... I do believe karma comes back around.

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  36. Susie - great posts on an important topic - thanks.

    I'd like to add one note - a resource some (American) women here in Kingdom might not be aware of and might need at some point if they find themselves in a situation like you described.

    There's a group called American Domestic Violence Crisis Line that helps (American) women in abusive or dangerous domestic situations here in Saudi. They can help with legal issues, financial issues, escapes, child custody - you name it.

    I posted on the group awhile back. Their toll-free number from Saudi is 001-866-879-6636 and everything is kept confidential. They also have an email (crisis@866uswomen.org).

    As you said, we all hope for happy endings, but they don't always come to pass. When that happens, it's nice to know there are places you can turn for help.

    Please let Asima know she (and you) did the right thing in putting her story out there. Information and knowledge are power - and empowering.

    God bless you both and good luck!

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  37. Excellent story. So overwhelming. Unfortunately men all over the world, in all walks of life, feel entitled to abuse women. Not all men . . . just some men. Ilse.

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  38. It is heartbreaking to imagine the wives of these men who ended up not protecting the kids, and leaving on their own. I have met one of them here in Austin. And she spends most of her days crying about what could have been.

    I am so proud of you Asima, and you too Susie for not being afraid to share. I love you both dearly and can't wait for your happy ending.

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  39. Powerful writing. Reminds me much of the story of Carmen bin Laden. Excellent tale teller you are, Susie!

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  40. Susie, I found your blog today through Global Post. I was fascinated with Asima's story, and I pray that the end of her troubles really is in sight. Thank you--and Asima--for sharing such an important story, and thank you for sharing it in such a sympathetic, gripping, and all-around well-written way.

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  41. I have just read Princess by Jean Sasson.. which sparked me to do some internet searching and I found your site. Asima's story is heartrending to say the least. Let us all pray and fight for womens rights around the world!

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  42. Saudi Arabia needs a Suffragettes action like Mrs Pankhurst and others were successful with.

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  43. I cant wait to hear that Asima left the KSA. I am praying for her!

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  44. I’m a Saudi woman from jeddah. Both my parents are saudi. 27 of my 29 years I have lived in Jeddah. I had to move to the united states (after my American husband decided he wanted to go back home, we’ve been married for 10 years now and have a son & he never gave me as much of a hint that living anywhere but Jeddah was a possibility). The day he told me of what he’s thinking, was the day something in me broke. I knew him too well, this is not just a thought, it’s not a suggestion.this was a decision, no room for negotiations or discussions…and it was just that, he said it loud and clear just a few days afterwards: “you either go along with it or I’ll make your life miserable” .I would have asked for a divorce right then without second guessing myself. He wasn’t more important to me than my family, my home, who I am. But divorce is a luxury I cannot ask for at least for years to come, i had a son. My husband is a good father, no matter how bad a husband he is, as long as my son needs him I’ll stay, I’ll try, I’ll make it work. that’s how I ended up in the US. From that day he told me we’re moving, my life went downhill. I have never felt so worthless, so unloved, so disrespected. simply, so depressed & miserable as I do when I’m with him. My life in the US is my worst nightmare come true (due to some discriminating behaviors I faced due to my faith as well as my nationality not to mention my husband who dropped everything arabic the moment he set foot on American soil)I came to realize that I was genuinely & truly happy & fulfilled back home in Jeddah beyond my thought. I didn’t fully appreciate the great parents I had who never dictated a single thought or behavior on me…they provided me with great education (private Saudi schools, not English speaking international ones) that I have a BS and a masters degree among about half a dozen certificates & diplomas, I can speak 4 languages, I practiced diving, horseback riding & played the Oud (my father taught me that)…I had a very active life back in Jeddah, from social gatherings to social work & volunteering…not once in the 27 years I spent back home did I ever feel oppressed or disrespected or even limited….all which my husband & our stay in the US certainly made me feel every single day.I guess what I’m trying to say is that “bad stuff” happen everywhere despite the country. And to be honest, reading your blog made me cry vigorously…maybe because I, in my perfect little life, blocked out the horrible things in my Jeddah that existed in parallel with the wonderful side I was blessed to enjoy. Even though I was involved in volunteering in some social services facilities and met with people in distress all the time…it seems to me now that I managed to leave those stories behind me once I stepped into my life at home, your blog reminded me of all of the good I miss and yearn for and all the manipulation of Islamic laws practiced by selfish sick people and corrupt politicians I, among others, were working to fix as well as heal. I pray for Asima’s family to find peace&love. I pray they dont end up hating Islam or Saudi Arabia,I pray they do not leave Jeddah and never look back, I pray they come back and give it another try someday. I pray the kids do not reject everything Jeddah cause they’ll be rejecting a part of who they are, even who their father was. Having said that, I also pray her in-laws answer to God on judgment day for all that they’ve done to her family, and I pray all interracial marriages start up on complete honesty and careful calculations and considerations not only from both but from their families as well:when you get married, you don’t hook up with 1 individual, u dive into an existing full life with a whole bunch of people. Asima, if you’re reading this…please forgive me if anything I said hurt u in anyway…I pray for u and your children 5 times a day…and I ask u, if u can, squeeze me & my son in yours (regardless of what your faith is, I’m not sure if u’re muslim or not).

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  45. I’m a Saudi woman from jeddah. Both my parents are saudi. 27 of my 29 years I have lived in Jeddah. I had to move to the united states (after my American husband decided he wanted to go back home, we’ve been married for 10 years now and have a son & he never gave me as much of a hint that living anywhere but Jeddah was a possibility). The day he told me of what he’s thinking, was the day something in me broke. I knew him too well, this is not just a thought, it’s not a suggestion.this was a decision, no room for negotiations or discussions…and it was just that, he said it loud and clear just a few days afterwards: “you either go along with it or I’ll make your life miserable” .I would have asked for a divorce right then without second guessing myself. He wasn’t more important to me than my family, my home, who I am. But divorce is a luxury I cannot ask for at least for years to come, i had a son. My husband is a good father, no matter how bad a husband he is, as long as my son needs him I’ll stay, I’ll try, I’ll make it work. that’s how I ended up in the US. From that day he told me we’re moving, my life went downhill. I have never felt so worthless, so unloved, so disrespected. simply, so depressed & miserable as I do when I’m with him. My life in the US is my worst nightmare come true (due to some discriminating behaviors I faced due to my faith as well as my nationality not to mention my husband who dropped everything arabic the moment he set foot on American soil)I came to realize that I was genuinely & truly happy & fulfilled back home in Jeddah beyond my thought. I didn’t fully appreciate the great parents I had who never dictated a single thought or behavior on me…they provided me with great education (private Saudi schools, not English speaking international ones) that I have a BS and a masters degree among about half a dozen certificates & diplomas, I can speak 4 languages, I practiced diving, horseback riding & played the Oud (my father taught me that)…I had a very active life back in Jeddah, from social gatherings to social work & volunteering…not once in the 27 years I spent back home did I ever feel oppressed or disrespected or even limited….all which my husband & our stay in the US certainly made me feel every single day.I guess what I’m trying to say is that “bad stuff” happen everywhere despite the country. And to be honest, reading your blog made me cry vigorously…maybe because I, in my perfect little life, blocked out the horrible things in my Jeddah that existed in parallel with the wonderful side I was blessed to enjoy. Even though I was involved in volunteering in some social services facilities and met with people in distress all the time…it seems to me now that I managed to leave those stories behind me once I stepped into my life at home, your blog reminded me of all of the good I miss and yearn for and all the manipulation of Islamic laws practiced by selfish sick people and corrupt politicians I, among others, were working to fix as well as heal. I pray for Asima’s family to find peace&love. I pray they dont end up hating Islam or Saudi Arabia,I pray they do not leave Jeddah and never look back, I pray they come back and give it another try someday. I pray the kids do not reject everything Jeddah cause they’ll be rejecting a part of who they are, even who their father was. Having said that, I also pray her in-laws answer to God on judgment day for all that they’ve done to her family, and I pray all interracial marriages start up on complete honesty and careful calculations and considerations not only from both but from their families as well:when you get married, you don’t hook up with 1 individual, u dive into an existing full life with a whole bunch of people. Asima, if you’re reading this…please forgive me if anything I said hurt u in anyway…I pray for u and your children 5 times a day…and I ask u, if u can, squeeze me & my son in yours (regardless of what your faith is, I’m not sure if u’re muslim or not).

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  46. hi anonomous, i sure will pray for you and your son, the reason for me bringing to light my story was to warn other women to prepare and not be naive like i was moving here. I had an awesome saudi husband, but in jeddah when things go wrong our human rights arent there to protect us. I will never regret bringing my kids up here, ive had opportunities I wouldnt of had back in the Uk, but interracial marriages between two such very different cultures need comprimise on both sides we cannot give up how we were brought up and who we should join two cultures together as me and my husband did, sadly his family were not as accomodating. the blog is not meant to destroy saudi, ive spent half my life here, but as a warning when we marry we marry for love but we must be prepared for the worst and protect ourselves and hopefully stop cases like mine and worse happening. Iwish u as much luck as me in a country that is as alien to your ways and that allah gives you strength to be happy, and yes I am muslim :)
    No partner should ever hold another hostage.

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  47. wow thanks a lot for sharing that.. i am in the position to choose in living in ksa, but i have always had doubts that my husband shoots down as lies.. but I can't imagin that story to be a lie.. Not saying that it should be my only reason to refuse moving there, but it is eye opening and shows me how much trust has to be in place to make the decision to make a move to ksa.. thanks a lot for sharing that ;p

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  48. yew...This blog post just blew me off for a moment. And I was very much moved by it. Indeed human beings could be the worst creatures and it is a shame that how often people forget they got to answer god one day for their deeds.

    Salaams to Asima and her family, may Allah protect her and her children.

    Thank you susie for this very much insightfull article.

    I am also married under almost similar circumstances, and yes your article has made me contemplate about the contigency plan for my wife too. May Allah protect my family and every one too.

    With regards to contigencies, I think it would be a good option for the husband to simply hand over his assets to his wife marked as Gift in his life time, this should help in many unfortunate cases.

    Apart from this the women (esp. revert muslim women) must realize that their mahar (dowry) is a way of social security so they must demand something better and use that money wisely by putting it away in Halal investments, real estates or gold, etc... And never touch that money until they are married.

    Asima, i am not sure about jeddah. But i suppose there is an organization usually called "Bait ul Maal" whose responsibility is to distribute aid and assistance to people like in your situations. (No offence to you - sorry... Also as per the Sharia it is the responsibility of the state to look after people like in your situations) Just check such organizations if you wish.

    May Allah Protect you and your family.

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  49. As an update, I am finally out of the country with my children and free in an undisclosed country. The help i did receive from saudi has been amazing , however for safety it meant i had to change all our identities and lose contact with my old life and all the people i knew. The battle still goes on for mine and my childrens inheritance, and it has been a struggle to restart a new life with no funds and culture shock, thankfully tho the children have settled in well and now I can see a future for them and myself.
    thank you for all the well wishes, and susies help in warning other women on what can happen.

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  50. Thanks for sharing this story,
    May allah protect her and her children

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    1. Thanks, Cheyenne - I'm happy to report that Asima and her children are doing well outside the kingdom. It was a long struggle but they are thriving and optimistic about their futures.

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