Saudi Arabia: Choose Your Battles Carefully


by American Bedu

Saudi women are becoming more outspoken and visual for rights they seek.  But a country, such as Saudi Arabia with its steep pride and entrenched in its tribal roots knows how to manipulate and rule.  Anyone with a place or a desire for a new reform has to be equally cunning and thinking ahead. Sadly the example of a young distraught Saudi woman walking down a Makkah street without an ayaba or headcover did not think through her reactions.  Makkah is not the place where any woman should try and test such boundaries.  After all, Makkah is the location of the Haram and the Haram boundaries are clearly marked with the expectation that respect will be shown.
I realize that I was pushing boundaries during my time in Saudi Arabia but I like to believe I chose my battles carefully.  My boundaries were more oriented at preserving “me” as an individual rather than trying to dare change anything about a society in which I was a guest.  Yes; I took calculated risks which included some risks with the abaya.
A woman can have more “leeway” whether she wears or modifies a look of her abaya in the larger cosmopolitan cities of Saudi such as Jeddah or Damman.  Seaport cities have more an influx of people and cultures whereas a conservative capital such as Riyadh or holy cities like Makkah and Medina have their own rules of conformity and expectations.
Yet back to the forthcoming article, it is clear that the rash decision of a Saudi woman to go out without an abaya was based more on raw emotions.  It’s too bad she had to go through an ordeal of an arrest with what was already going on in her life though.  But…that’s part of Saudi Arabia.

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