Thursday, January 6, 2011

Whew!

This past week my hubby Adnan took me out to take photos. Photography is one of my hobbies, and since there's not much else for me to do, going out to take photos around the city has become a treat for me and has become one of my favorite things to do here. There is still quite an aversion to cameras in Saudi Arabia - especially by women. Photographs of uncovered women (with their hair, faces, or some skin showing) have been used to blackmail women for money or to force them to have sex with the blackmailer or other unseemly things. If they were to be exposed, the photos would bring disgrace to the women and their families. When out in public it is perfectly legal here to take photos now, although people are still uncomfortable about it. Taking photos of certain areas, like government buildings and the place where public executions are carried out, is prohibited. It's a shame because many of the government buildings are really beautiful. I don't quite understand why a photo of a building is a problem, but that's the way it is.

I had asked my husband to take me to an area of the city that has some sculptures that I haven't been able to photograph yet because it is so far away and we don't get down there very often. So we left the house bright and early at 7am on a weekend day because traffic would be lighter at that time. Many of my photos are taken from a moving vehicle because it's just about impossible to pull over and take time to lay up my shots when traffic is heavy. Adnan pulled over so I could get out and take some photos of some nearby sculptures. I told him that there was a sign that said "No Photography!" but he just said to hurry up and get my shots and get back in the car. As I was taking my last shot, a police car drove by. Damn! I got back into the car and Adnan pulled out into the street headed for the next set of sculptures. The police car slowed down, let us pass him, and then he put his flashing lights on and used the loud speaker to tell us to pull over. Uh-oh!

"Oh S#!T!" hubby said as he veered over to the right and came to a stop. When the officer approached our car, Adnan and he exchanged cordial greetings and shook hands. (I had never seen anything like this happen in the states before, that's why I am mentioning it.) My husband showed the officer his driver's license and vehicle papers, and the policeman asked Adnan to step out of the car. After they spoke for a minute, I was asked to get out of the car and show the officer the last few photos I had taken on my digital camera screen. Apparently there was a government building that I wasn't aware of, across the street beyond the sculptures I was photographing. I showed the officer the last dozen or so photos I had taken. Luckily that government building wasn't in any of the pictures. The officer smiled and sent us on our merry way when he saw this one:

22 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. haha! Sheesh, I don't know whether to laugh or cry, Susie! How ironic that sign is! The Arabian society is so restrictive, I think I would go crazy living there.

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  3. The paranoia in KSA is simply too much at times.

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  4. I'm glad you and your husband did not get in trouble. The architecture is so beautiful there, why don't they want it photographed. Typical. I could not accept the rules of the country and would be in jail. You must be a Saint to survive in that culture. I give Adnan credit for driving you around.

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  5. Hilarious! Gotta love a policeman with a sense of humor!

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  6. Ooopsss! Although I can't see why photographing a gov building is 'dangerous'...

    Love the shots you did manage to get!

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  7. I don't feel comfortable to shoot everywhere here in Casa. Areas with lots of people or tourist areas are ok but you never know what's behind the corner...
    Try to enjoy your hobby.
    (You can shoot macros at home; fabrics, food, shadows etc.)
    ps. Happy New Year!

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  8. Oh Susie, you always end up having an adventure. Thank god the officer had a sense of humor.

    The reason that photographing of govt buildings is forbidden is for security reasons. Don't forget that Saudi is fighting terrorism. The govt buildings are often targets of terrorist attacks, yes these terrorists believe the govt is too lax if you can believe it. Anyways as a precaution they don't allow people to take the pics so that they can't be used in the planning of any attacks. Hope that clears it up a bit.

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  9. Thanks for all the comments, everyone!

    Habeeba - Thanks for that info. That actually makes sense.

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  10. Wonderful pictures, I have quit a few of no photography pics from oman lol, and far to many from moving cars.

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  11. These sculptures are interesting. I'm glad you can show them to us.

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  12. Hi Djd - If you are interested in seeing more photos of the fabulous sculptures of Jeddah, I have posted many on my photo blog, Jeddah Daily Photo Journal: http://susieofarabia.wordpress.com/sculptures-of-jeddah/
    And if click on PHOTO LINKS right under the header image of this blog, there are three other slideshows of the sculptures that I have posted online as well.

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  13. Wow! I tensed up when I read that the policeman stopped you. What a surprise that he was actually cordial. Thank goodness! I'm sorry... but you do live in a scary country.

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  14. A Canadian ReaderJan 8, 2011, 6:19:00 AM

    Interesting pictures. Too bad you have had to return to your childhood and can no longer go out without being accompanied by an "adult", i.e. a man.

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  15. Mashallah nice shots you are doing great job.

    thanks for sharing

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  16. Hahaha, that's funny! and its great that you were able to get those photos! :D

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  17. Susie,

    That's a great story. I'm sorry you and your husband had some tense moments but I enjoyed the results.

    I continue to enjoy both the narration and the illustration of your adventure.

    Annie

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  18. The whole time I was thinking you need another memory card you can exchange if that happens again and if asked say "I guess the pic did not take".

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  19. That last picture is funny. It's nice that the policeman you met had good manners (the handshake) AND a sense of humour. Thank you. Mike and Ann.

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  20. I had a similar experience a year ago when I was taking pictures early one morning on my way to the Institute where I teach. I wanted a couple shots of two landmark hotels along my walking route. While I was shooting, I casually pointed the camera across the street at a certain government building -- not that it was that interesting at a distance but just so I could have a record of it for my journal. I went on my way and 2-3 minutes later two military SUVs pulled up and walked me over to the government building. Being new to the city, I didn't know if I would be put in jail or sent to Chop Chop Square. They examined my pictures which they judged to be innocent, served me some very excellent tea and a half hour later sent me along my way. I have to admit that I was aware of the restriction so I suppose I deserved what I got and was grateful for the military's tolerance. (Oh, don't tell my mother I was stopped by the police.)

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  21. Why u still take this picture, on there was said no photografy, but u are so cool.

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  22. hi susie,
    indeed, another adventure.
    i have been following your blog for awhile and i could say, you had a fantastic blog. im also an expat (filipino), a wife and a year now living in Jeddah with my family. Surely, there's of things to be discover in this huge sandbox an one unforgettable experience was the recent flood hit Jeddah.

    best regards,
    abby

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