Iam an Egyptian where I was living with family in Saudi Arabia since Iwas born. I was raised in Riyadh for 14 years where I studied ininternational school for 13 years. The school had two streams one forboys and the other for girls where there were strict rules of notintermixing the genders. Saudi Arabia and mostly Riyadh has a hotclimate associated with the desert and inadequate rainfall creatinghardships in living. The young, teenagers and unmarried boys andgirls were not allowed to interact or associate freely with eachother. Only the siblings were allowed to associate and relate freely.The interactions were regulated and prohibited to prevent earlyrelationships which could result in unwanted pregnancies or earlymarriages. Both men and women were only recommended to get marriedwhile still virgins.
SaudiArabia is a very conservative Muslim country where traditional roleswere highly respected. There are no laws which forbid people topractice other religions, but nature controlled the citizens to havecommon religion practices. Saudi Arabia is a continent which hasstrong governmental rules and regulations which must be followed.Religious subjects and Arabic language were widely represented in thesyllabuses, but they were not taught in traditional ways. Thecountry’s legal system is based wholly on Sharia law, the HolyQuran and Sunni school of Islam as stated in the Constitution (House34).
InSaudi Arabia, men and women did not mingle much unless they wererelatives. I did not have a problem with the Muslim religion sinceeven my parents were Sunni Muslim at Egypt (Wilson 22). I had a greatproblem in social life since my parents used to lock me around thehome compound so that I do not associate with other people fromoutside. Intense family and kin-based socialization at home are amemory to me until today. Most social interactions took place ingroups of the same gender and age. During social interactions, peopleof the same sex and age could relate and interact well and learnabout cultural and religious practices. I was once slapped by myfriend when I gazed at a stranger since it was regarded as being rudeby Saudi Arabian. In public places, people would avoid direct eye toeye contact with passers- by. If at all a girl was noticed to haveengaged in sexual intercourse during a marriage, she was consideredas an outcast to the society.
Ienjoyed wearing the long clothes that covered the whole body and acheckered head cloth which was known as the keffiyeh. The groomingmade me feel like a real man and have a sense of belonging in SaudiArabia. Women would wear a full-body abaya which was entirely black,niqab and a black headpiece which would cover the entire face andhead only leaving a small slit for eyes. The other thing that Idisliked about the Saudi Arabian was their food and drinkingcultures. They had dietary restrictions which they strictly followed.The haram food and drinks were not allowed, for example, pork andalcohol. Most of their common foods were rice, meat, grilled chicken,fava beans, shawarma, and falafel. The purchasing, consumption andimporting of restricted food was illegal and punishable.
Regardingrecruitments and employments, women who worked outside theirhouseholds would ensure that they do not have contact with otherunrelated men. Women were employed in girl’s school orinstitutions, banks whose clients were female and hospitals wherenurses and doctors were female. The development programs were alsogender-based with restrictions on recruitment or employment ofdifferent genders (Wynbrandt 18). Women were not allowed to drive ortravel abroad without the presence of a male guardian. I could drivemy mother and sisters to town as their security personnel whichraised my self- esteem.
Traditionalmedicines were widely in use at Riyadh that time where diseases weretreated by use of herbs and plant’s roots (Long 40). I couldremember a moment when I was fatally sick and was unable to walkwhere the father brought a plant’s root, and my mother boiled todrink the extracted juice to get cured. The juice was very so sour,but unfortunately, I did not get healed. It was not long after when Isaw private and public hospitals being established throughout theArabia. As a community, Saudi Arabians would interact and participatein their affairs. The issues of race, country’s origin or ethnicitydid not form the basis of social action, economic organization orpolitical behavior.
Myexperience of living in Saudi Arabia shaped my life in many ways. Itmade me aware of many rules that I had to abide even today. I knewhow to pray while I was in Saudi Arabia since prayers were done fivetimes a day. During the prayer’s time, everything would stopoperating for a while for people to engage in prayers. For example,the store and businesses would be closed, and people go to pray inthe mosque, streets and even in offices. Conclusively, despite thetight rules and the hot weather conditions, I submit living in SaudiArabia as one of the enjoyable times in my life.
House,Karen E. OnSaudi Arabia: Its People, Past, Religion, Fault Lines-and Future.New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012. Print.
Long,David E. Cultureand Customs of Saudi Arabia.Westport, Conn : Greenwood Press, 2013. Print.
Wilson,John A. TheCulture of Ancient Egypt.Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011. Print.
Wynbrandt,James. ABrief History of Saudi Arabia.New York, NY: Facts On File, 2010. Print.