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Old 02-09-2009, 11:56 AM   #21
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I remember reading about the difference between black and white robes etc. in the middle east... they said there was no difference to the wearer as they are designed to allow airflow to the body... do not know if it was the mens robes or the womens... and it was awhile back... so, take it or leave it...
I think there was a study that the black robs create an updraft moving air from the feet up producing a cooling effect.

It's a dry heat in the desert so ... it doesn't count.
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Old 02-09-2009, 11:59 AM   #22
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It was comon to see outdoor laborers wearing baggy flannel shirts in the 105 degree dry heat of Tucson. I picked up the habit (with a tech type shirt, not flannel) when I knew I'd be out in the sun for more than a short time.

The protection from the sun provided far more benefit, and the baggy fit let plenty of air circulate around.
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Old 02-09-2009, 12:44 PM   #23
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I have spent quite a bit of time in Saudi Arabia on business, although I avoid it as much as possible

On whole, I have found it to be the most tribal, socially repressive, and intolerant place I have ever visited. Religious extremism is the norm, and pervades every aspect of everyday life. The weather and religious police are equally brutal. Not a pleasant place to visit or work.

The hypocrisy is astonishing. When the plane clears Saudi airspace, the veils come off, the abayas are stuffed in a bag, the Gucci, Prada, and makeup goes on, drinks flow and the oppressive Saudi societal restrictions are long forgotten. The reverse is true on the way in- when they enter Saudi airspace, the women all look like BMOs (black moving objects) and the men are drinking coffee and popping breath mints to cover up the alcohol they had on the flight.

Israel has been removed from every world map in the country. Many Saudis openly celebrate 9/11. Their support of terrorism in the name of religious extremism is hard for most Westerners to fathom. If you are a member of the ruling class you can do no wrong. If you are not, you just don’t matter.

Without major changes in government policies, some sense of social justice, and markedly different business practices, when the oil runs out the country will quickly revert back to a cat boxsandbox. Most Saudi nationals are spoiled dilettantes who don't want to work and don't care that they are totally dependent on foreigners for technology, infrastructure support, and labor.
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Old 02-09-2009, 12:59 PM   #24
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Y'all might enjoy this book if you enjoyed Meadbh's post:

Amazon.com: In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor's Journey in the Saudi Kingdom: Qanta A. Ahmed: Books

I read this book a few months ago, and enjoyed it.
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Old 02-09-2009, 02:10 PM   #25
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Meadbh....

Thank you for taking the time to post your trip report. It captivated and stimulated my mind.
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Old 02-09-2009, 02:32 PM   #26
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Thanks for this. Friday afternoon our company strongly suggested many of us consider some long term contracts in Saudi Arabia as a way to stay busy during this economic cycle. Your report pretty much confirms what I have heard elsewhere, and I will NOT be going to Saudi Arabia.
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Old 02-09-2009, 03:58 PM   #27
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Mead, as the one who first asked you to post about your experiences on the trip, I am extremely appreciative of your post and descriptive narrative.
At the end of the day, though, I agree with you--I find the culture very interesting, but I could not live there.
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Old 02-09-2009, 04:05 PM   #28
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At the end of the day, though, I agree with you--I find the culture very interesting, but I could not live there.
Didn't you say you usually dress all in black?
If so, it shouldn't be that difficult of a transition.
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Old 02-09-2009, 04:08 PM   #29
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Me, dress in black? That must be someone else. I am a fan of brown and other "earthy colors". I do have 5 dogs whose predominant shedding color is black, so maybe I should start....


The "not goth" Sarah
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Old 02-09-2009, 04:09 PM   #30
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Here's a CNN report about a 47 YO man marring an 8 YO girl...

Video - Breaking News Videos from CNN.com
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Old 02-09-2009, 04:54 PM   #31
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Agree,very interesting. How about a photo?

Ha
This is the only one you're going to get: me trying on a niqab in the souk. Obviously the storekeeper is not a Saudi or he would not have touched me like that. Wearing a niqab, even for 5 minutes, made me feel very anonymous and depersonalized.
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Old 02-09-2009, 05:07 PM   #32
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This is the only one you're going to get: me trying on a niqab in the souk. Obviously the storekeeper is not a Saudi or he would not have touched me like that. Wearing a niqab, even for 5 minutes, made me feel very anonymous and depersonalized.
Formidable, Madame.

Ha
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Old 02-09-2009, 05:17 PM   #33
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Does the Abaya have to be all black? Did you cover your hair?

How do women get to work? Are they driven? Bused? How do women end up on a professional track? Are they unmarried? Or do married women work too?

(Sorry for the third degree. )
Well, I can see Martha is captivated!



Abayas can be any color, but in Saudi Arabia (to quote Henry Ford) you can have any color, so long as it's black. They can be very pretty with lots of embroidery and decorations. The operating specs are: black, covers ankles, sleeves cover wrists. Abayas come with a shayla, which is a rectangular scarf, often georgette, with trim matching the abaya. This is meant to be draped in any number of ways that satisfy hijab (covering hair which is required for Muslim women) but can be draped anyway you want if you are not Muslim. I wore mine around my neck except when meeting with people who might expect more, in which case I covered my head but made no attempt to cover all my hair....similar to Laura Bush on her visit to KSA to promote breast cancer awareness.



Below would be a typical hospital scene:



Getting to work: if you are an expat living in a compound, there will be a bus to your place of work. Otherwise you have a personal driver, or you get your close male relative to drive you.

There are professional schools in education and health specifically for women (no co-eds here!) Once they graduate, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc, have to work alongside men. Some female doctors from other Middle Eastern countries have admitted to me that the opportunity to meet men and work as equals with them is a big attraction to medical school. There is equal pay for equal work and no obvious obstacle to married women working.
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Old 02-09-2009, 06:06 PM   #34
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Several years ago, the new next door neighbors were a just retired Army officer and his wife and 2 kids. He accepted a position as a contractor working directly for the KSA and went over by himself. Wife and 2 kids followed and lived there for about 1 year. I remember her stories of feeling like a bird in a gilded cage.
I can totally understand that feeling. Somewhat akin to being transported back to Victorian times and forced into a corset and bustle, and being expected to be "dainty".

I suspect that in 100 years it will be very different.
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Old 02-09-2009, 08:59 PM   #35
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Interesting post , but the fact that there's NO BEER means I'll never go there
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Old 02-09-2009, 09:01 PM   #36
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Very interesting Mead. I'm sure I'll think of even more questions.
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Old 02-09-2009, 09:36 PM   #37
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Meadbh ,
Thanks for a peek into Saudi life ! It is so fascinating !
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Old 02-09-2009, 10:52 PM   #38
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No need for a cough or sneeze mask if a lady is coming down with the sniffles....

My recollection is that the writer of "Not Without My Daughter" found that some wearers didn't wash their niqab often enough.
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Old 02-09-2009, 11:39 PM   #39
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I must say the niqab gives those ladies with extra sexy eyes an unfair advantage.
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Old 02-10-2009, 11:06 AM   #40
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Meadbh ,
Thanks for a peek into Saudi life ! It is so fascinating !
There is an excellent blog by an American woman who recently moved to KSA with her Saudi husband of many years.

susie's big adventure
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