“You learn, that names are names and stereotypes are stertypes, but ignorance goes both ways” Jon Stuwart
I was talking to a few colleagues last Tuesday and they told me that the school year is over, even though there is one more week to go until finals start.
When I came home on that night my son was sound asleep, and I didn’t wake him up, naturally I wanted to deliver to him the good news, his first year of school is over
When he woke up Wednesday morning the first thing I told him was “you don’t have to go to school today” in which he replied with the biggest smile and a loud “yes!”
A couple of weeks ago I was explaining to him what summer vacation is, thankfully Phineas And Ferb already gave him an idea, and he is looking forward to the “hundred and four days of summer vacation”
Except his summer vacation is not only around 90 days.
When I first heard about the men from the Emirates being asked to leave the Jenadriyah festival for being too handsome I just knew it was going to be the type of news that makes it to international headlines (Arabian Business has an article about it… because it is good for doing business I guess).
Why? One, not every day do you read about men being too handsome. Two, it is about Saudi Arabia and gender mixing and segregation. Three, every man and woman would want to see what too handsome looks like. At the same time The Economist just published an article saying woman have unrealistic expectations about what they deem attractive (we all know men always were like that…so no study needed).
So, what would the Hai’a know about being too attractive? You know, they just allowed women to sell to other women at women’s stores… so all those years they didn’t care about men handling women’s undergarments and selling it to them in those stores and they decide to single out three men doing an ancient traditional dance next to farm/desert animals? Hmmm… maybe it was the animal attraction that was in the air, except I do not think animal smells cause arousal… but I could be wrong… you know how it is… different strokes for different folks, and I’m not one to judge.
Now I have seen Brad Pitt’s eyes pixeld out, and I did post the picture a while ago on twitter, but to think that Hai’a might ask men to leave… well, unless those men were famous or looked like money, I doubt women would flock to them in drones… oh wait… I think I found the reason… they might have had on that axe deodorant… sorry, I’m cutting this post short because I need to go buy some.
Ok, now I’m back… and that axe thing did not work, either that or my wife chased them away when I wasn’t looking… anyhow, the story is probably missing some details, the Hai’a does escort men out when not accompanied by families during family time, and if the men were flirting with women… then preventing vice is part of their job description… even if those men were part of the show, cuz there is no chip and dale in Saudi.
I am saddened by the bombings that happened in Boston, I have a couple of friends over there who were very close to the events and I have read their recollections of the events. One (Wael Moathen) had his events quoted by many news agencies, the other (Mohammad Bokhari) whom I met and worked with while helping with the Jeddah flood relief activities a couple of years ago, both are on scholarships from Saudi universities studying towards getting their PhDs, and you know this is a story they will tell their students over and over each year.
Like the rest of my world I was holding my breath hoping it was not a Saudi, and you cannot blame me for doing so, most news outlets kept insinuating that it was Arab or some middle-eastern looking guys, and just as much as the DC sniper got Dave Chapelle hoping he was not Black (which Chapelle says he knew because the sniper took the weekends off)… that pressure cooker story got me worried… yet I know my people won’t let a good pressure cooker go to waste like that, cuz nothing makes a kabsa faster than a pressure cooker does, and my people like their kabsa.
Then the events kept on getting stranger in Boston, a shooting at MIT? What’s next? Some Harvard graduates will F-up the world economy? oh wait… they already did that.
I live in a society where going out of the norm is not welcomed, almost on any front, improving the existing is ok, but it also depends. Example: a car instead of a horse/donkey/mule/camel is not a bad idea… again, things being what they are, whoever was riding the animals when the machines came in, is whoever is driving the machines now, and this is stating the obvious of course.
Forming a new hierarchy of this, that, or the other is frowned upon, and including women in the shura council is something that requires committing a forbidden act (according to the religious establishment) to show discontent.
Because rebellion itself, is an act of rebellion, no matter what the rebellion is about.
Music, one of the forms of evolving creativity, is stagnant for as long as I can remember in the region, even knockoff shows like Arabs Got Talent or Arab Idol, require that contestants be as close to the real song as possible, which makes them all similar to Elvis impersonators in Vegas… Elvis of course, has left the building.
Young guys now all have the same unkempt haircut, the same pants, the same everything, depending on the cluster they fall in… and now the mohawk, which comes from the soccer player, because there is no other sport in Saudi.
So how do you move something like that? and I do not mean the superficial facade of western civilization of fastfoods and products with planned obsolesce, all of that made even the jungle animals fat (well in an animation anyway), and our kids as well.
Now, this is the measuring stick, everything from political to artistic is measured with it, the rest, is just variations on the theme.
(source of picture: business week article)
King Abdullah appointed women to the shura council (advisory council), a historic move in modern day Saudi Arabia, which was founded by King Abdulaziz who is known to have to call himself “brother of Nora”, his sister, a woman he often consulted for her wisdom, and recently had a university built in her name.
The role of women is steadily and surely increasing, and King Abdullah is making sure it happens as fast as it can, even though it might seem slow, but remember, it took us a while to get here. Women were given scholarships to study abroad, able to stay in hotels without needing a male guardian, now have more opportunities to work, and many more things that women regularly do and probably take for granted in other neighboring countries with similar conditions.
Women now represent 20% of the shura council, and according to the pareto principal (the 80-20 rule, or the law of the vital few) let’s hope this 20 percent is more effective at targeting issues.
At least now their voices are being heard, and some of the names I read are very inspiring and influential in Saudi.
Of course this did not stop people from mocking the whole thing, sexism is alive and well in the most open of societies, ask Julia Gillard the Australian prime minister, or check American politics, no one is immune.
Whoever says this step is not huge, do not know what they are talking about.