Tuesday, 1 November 2011

"A Wife: The Ultimate Saudi Accessory"

One of my favourite pastimes is reading blogs of others who have been or are in Saudi Arabia. Bloggers provide insightful and interesting commentary about life in the Kingdom that travel guides really don't address. Some blogs are serious, most are critical, and others are downright hilarious!

I recently came across "An Englishman in Saudi Arabia" who spent some time in KSA in 2006 and 2007. He moved to Riyadh (the Saudi capital) and 2 months later his wife's paperwork came through and she joined him there. (Sound familiar?! DH and I are going on two months this week with our wait).

I've been told that my arrival in KSA will bring DH some benefits. Here's a fun blog entry on that topic by "An Englishman in Saudi." He provides a humourous and enlightening take on the Kingdom's family-centered culture.

A Wife: The Ultimate Saudi Accessory
I had to spend two months alone in Riyadh before my wife was able to join me here. I was a lot happier (and less lonely) when she finally arrived. One thing about Saudi then became immediately apparent. It is far better to be a married man in KSA than it is to be a single one.What with immigration, customs and the Saudi queue (maul) I was expecting hassle and delays when my wife and I arrived together at King Khalid International Airport.
When we got to immigration it was packed. Things did not look good. But I didn’t fully appreciate the impact of my new power-accessory. Thanks to having a female on my arm, we waltzed through the very small “Families Only” queue, leaving an army of single men waiting in long lines.When we got to customs the queues were long and they were opening and searching all bags. It did not look good. But thanks to my WIFE 1000™ we were ushered to a separate area, our bags were only X-rayed (not opened), and we were swiftly on our way.
Of course, the same can be said about any restaurant, take away or coffee shop in the city, and (seemingly) any police check point on the roads. When you are married you also get to sit in the family section in restaurants which usually means that you get your own private room / area to eat in.
In KSA, married people have a higher status and singles suffer for it. But the lack of respect for family in the UK has meant high divorce rates and large numbers of children growing up in single-parent families. I wonder which attitude towards the family really causes the most suffering.

Sadly for him, DH has indeed experienced the limitations of not being able to go into the shopping malls so freely as he will be when we go together (the idea is that "single" men will harass poor, unsuspecting female shoppers).
Women shopping in peace. Shiny, fancy Saudi malls!
We women have priority when it comes to shopping securely and safely in KSA!
A sign from a mall in Riyadh where there is a "ladies only" floor in the Kingdom Mall!
In any case, I think we can safely bet that DH will be thrilled to shop freely with his WIFE 1000 lol Really, I jest. Poor DH. Now he will have no excuse to avoid the malls!
My favourite comment on the above blog is from a reader who turns the "oppressed female / advantaged male" dichotomy on its head. He points out all the things men can't have access to unless accompanied by their "female guardian":

DemonEyes said...
you lucky guy youuuuu :D
well as a saudi single:
1- no shopping malls (the only entertainment in this city)(or the japanese resturants in shopping malls) unless you have a female guardian
2-no theme parks without a female guardian
3-no parks without a female guardian
4-no jumping the queue in the supermarket without a female guardian
5-married men get raises alot faster....and i never heard of a single guy being the boss of a married guy.
6-you get treated as a sexually breserked beast by the society and your opinion is worth nothing to married people unless you are married.
just to mention a few :)
Some lucky men in the mall with their "female guardians."
As for us, DH and I have been married for just over 100 days, of which we've spent about 40 together. I am prepared to be an obliging "female guardian" and open DH up to all these new possibilities that he's been unable to experience during his 2 years in Jeddah. I'm also super excited to move into our new apartment in a few weeks, and to embark on married life together in a new and exciting culture! Power to married people!
Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal and his wife Princess Amira al-Taweel. The Will & Kate of Saudi Arabia?!

* * * * * * *
NB: I should mention that one of my readers, another Canadian who has been waiting for his visa to be processed, just informed me he received it exactly 45 days following his application. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this means November 18th will be my lucky day!! Hopefully I will be able to fly out on November 21st and arrive in Jeddah on our 4 "monthiversary."

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