Ihave a hard time trying to be upbeat and positive here in a country that is so restrictive for me as a Western woman - which makes it even harder to try to write about positive aspects of this society. There are many good things about living here. I feel very safe here, although I wonder why my husband is so paranoid my safety, for example, that he doesn't want me taking a taxi by myself just to go to the grocery store five minutes away. Overall I believe there is much less crime here than in the USA, but I wonder if that is because people live in fear of the severe penalties doled out for "crimes" that aren't even considered crimes in most of the rest of the world.
Public Displays of Affection (PDAs) are strictly prohibited here in Saudi Arabia. While being overly affectionate in public might make others feel uncomfortable and may push the limits of bad taste, are PDAs so bad that a person should be arrested, thrown in prison, and be lashed?
Al-Yom, a government owned newspaper here in Saudi Arabia, has reported that a Saudi man has been sentenced to 4 months in prison and is to receive 90 lashes for being caught on camera hugging and kissing a woman in a shopping mall in Riyadh. Another term of his punishment is that he will be banned from going to shopping malls for two years. It is not clear from the article whether the man and woman are related. Men and women are not allowed to date, not allowed to work together in most settings, and not allowed to socialize with one another in this country because of strict interpretations of Islamic law regarding gender segregation.
The religious police here have been known to whack a woman sharply with a stick on her ankles if her black cloak isn't long enough and routinely make sure that women are not wearing makeup out in public. There have been many reports of the religious police chasing down vehicles with men and women inside to make them prove that they are related. The religious police also object to women exercising and have closed down many women's gyms here in the Kingdom because they are "decadent" and only women "with no manners" would go to gyms to exercise - I still don't understand these reasons why and apparently neither do many Saudis.
This country still conducts public beheadings. So it's perfectly okay for people to view a spectacle like a beheading, but to witness a little peck on the cheek is too scandalous for anyone to bear here in this country. I read that a man who kissed his wife's forehead (because she had a headache) as he dropped her off at a mall was jumped and beaten up by the religious police. Is that just? Is that deserved? Something seems very wrong with this whole picture. Which is more offensive - seeing someone's head chopped off or witnessing a man kiss his wife on the forehead?