Thursday, April 14, 2011

Saudi Arabia + the Burkah- The Stiflement of Expression versus Jordan

Saudi Arabia versus Jordan- Female perspective
Before leaving for Jordan’s top tourist attraction, Petra, I go to check my email at the Internet CafĂ©. A twenty-two year old is the only one working. I catch her staring at me a few times. I halt my work to converse with her.
She asks me how I like Amman. “I love the people I tell her, but frankly, I find the city dirty and ugly.” She nods and agrees.
She is originally from Saudi Arabia. I note that she is wearing only a hajib (head scarf) “In Saudi Arabia women are forced to wear a full burka,” I remark, “but here you choose to dress in only a hajib.”
She LOVES the fact that she has the freedom to choose. She detests that the Saudi government forces the burka on women. “Women cannot do anything in Saudi Arabia,” she tells me, “They cannot drive, leave the house without a male family member, go to the movies, there is nothing we can do! In Jordan it is very exciting, because I can drive, although I don’t yet know how …  I can choose what I wear … I can do anything!” she  exclaims. “In Saudi Arabia they are soooo religious. Everything shuts at the time of prayer. Even the stores ALL close. Five times a day. If they do not shut, the police come.”
The Muslim hajib
You don’t want to be in trouble with the police anywhere in the Middle East. In America, you at least have some rights. In fact, I wonder for a moment who has more rights, American prisoners, or Saudi women.  
“You are going to Petra alone?” she asks me flirtatiously.
“Unless you wish to come with me.”
Her eyes light-up. “I would love to, but my family … not so much.”
Familial bonds in the Arab world are far stronger than in the West. In the Middle East, Jordan is second only to Lebanon in openness, but it’s still taboo here to kiss your spouse on the lips in public, much less have sex outside of marriage.
I'll be going to Petra alone ...


  1. It is called "hijab", meaning something like "clothes according to the holy rules. A "burqa" is hijab, too, in that sense.
    And in Saudi Arabia women are not forced to wear the burqa at all, just to wear "hijab". They commonly do show their face there, although many women also wear something called a "niqab" which leaves the eyes open.

  2. Yeah, I dont think what "she said" was accurate. Women are not forced to wear a Burqa. Heck teenage girls at the mall dont even wear one. They are allowed to leave and do whatever they want without a male companion. Almost every mall in Saudi were made for women and families. If you ask me the guys have it the hardest. In addition, the fact that they are not allowed in a movie theater is completely false because WE DONT HAVE ANY. So please if you do find a movie theater that wont allow women, please tell me because as a male I would love to go. And to compare Saudi women to American prisoners is just laughable, so I wont even take up the room in the comment section to respond to that. Therefore, at the end you only have the problem with women driving, since the rest of your premise is either false or absurd. I agree the fact that women dont drive suck, and I'm with women driving. However, to draw a whole country with a broad brush with false accusations is not how you should go about it.

    1. well, thank for your comments. I am just reporting what she told me. Maybe it was her family that forced her to wear the burkah when she went out and she blamed the state.
      However, I have heard from others that women aren't allowed to leave the house without a make member of the family. But all this, she did tell me. Thanks again for your input

  3. Rich, you were way more polite to that man than I would be.

    1. well, I've never been to Saudi Arabia, but in general, I don't feel the need to inflame unless I;m absolutely certain. :) Thanks for reading and commenting Joanna!


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