Saudis and Sex (Extract)

Extract from an article in Issue 9, August 18, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report. To subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here. Khaled said to Abdulrahman, "The summer season has begun. Let's go to Arar and watch the women." Arar is a little town on the Saudi side of the Jordanian border. Khaled and Abdulrahman love Arar because there they can see women without a face veil. These are mostly Jordanian or Syrian women who live in Saudi Arabia and stop over in Arar on their way home with their families for the summer vacation. Where Khaled and Abdulrahman live, in Buraydah, a strictly conservative city of over 500,000, in the middle of Saudi Arabia, all women cover their bodies from head to toe. The majority of them have never been seen by a non-family male without their black veil. Khaled El Enezi, 22, works as a clerk for the local municipality. In summer, he drives 500 miles to Arar with his cousin Abdulrahman El Enezi, 20, to see the unveiled faces of women. The only female faces most Saudi boys and men are allowed to see are those of their mothers, sisters, or aunts. The others are strictly veiled when males, family members and others, are around. In most parts of Saudi Arabia, men can see unveiled women only on television, or in some malls. But most of these women are usually non-Saudi, who are not required to wear a veil. Buraydah offers young men very little in terms of entertainment, with no cinemas, no theaters, and no sports facilities. They spend most of their leisure time sleeping, meeting with their friends, watching satellite TV, or fiddling with their mobile phones. Khaled is a macho male with an aggressive temper and fondness for teasing others. Abdulrahman is soft-spoken with a timid smile and inclination to follow rather than lead. They are more than friends and confidants. They are among several dozen El Enezi male cousins who since childhood have spent most of their time together. Boys and girls, even as cousins, never mix, especially after the age of five. Both Khaled and Abdulrahman have the requisite mustache and goatee, and most of the time they wear the traditional ankle-length white garment, and cover their hair with the male headdress called shmagh. But, today, on their trip to Arar, they are wearing Western-style clothes; running pants, tight short-sleeved shirts, the kind of dress code which non-Saudi women prefer. Saudis who wear the traditional dress are avoided by expatriate women for their lustful looks. The sun was already low in the sky as Khaled and Abdulrahman arrive in Arar. Tired and hungry, they entered a restaurant. While they were eating a woman without a veil entered the restaurant alone and sat at the only free table near Khaled and Abdulrahman. They looked at her derisively. Khaled pretended to toss his burning cigarette at the woman. She looked uneasy. "Look at her. She is without a man!" Khaled said, disgusted not only with her, but also with her male relatives. "Thank Allah, our women are at home." Abdulrahman let out a sigh of relief. Then the muezzin called for prayer. Khaled and Abdulrahman stood up and left. On their way out, they gave the women a nasty frown. I was in the restaurant and witnessed how Khaled and Abdulrahman treated the woman. I was curious and engaged them in a chat on the way to the mosque. I said, "You didn't like the woman, did you?" Khaled interjected, "Of course not, we love the woman, maybe for sex. A woman, who hangs around in a public place without a member of her family, must be a whore or an infidel. She is looking for a man to screw her." I asked, "Who told you that?" "The Prophet, we learned that at school." The barriers between sexes in Saudi Arabia are the highest in the world. Men and women talk about the other sex as if they were a special species. According to a study by Bielefeld University in Germany conducted by the Department for Sociology of the Third World, in 2006, it seems that the majority of Saudis, male and female, young and old, accept the strict sex separation as normal. The education system and the conservative authoritarian Wahabbi religious establishment have managed to inculcate this kind of life style. Their own women are locked up behind their veils and in their houses, and those who are not are chased like wild prey. Rapes of females and young boys are common. Wahabbism preaches that "women are the source of all evil." Women can easily seduce men and make them commit sin. Besides, women are weak and naïve creatures who can easily be taken advantage of, driven to bed and hence blemish the honor of the family. A repressive regime like the Saudi, awash in billions of petro-dollars, espoused by oppressive theology (Wahabbism), accepted by a brain-washed population, and tolerated by the West, does not need to fear being toppled in the foreseeable future. • Dr. Sami Alrabaa, a sociology professor in Germany, is a commentator on Arab affairs. Extract from an article in Issue 9, August 18, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report. To subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here.