The Surprising Lives of Women Inside Saudi Arabia

The Saudi women living in Riyadh face a daily conundrum, a restrictive and confining modern world where they cannot do what most women of the world are able to. Simple things, like drive a car, hang out with unrelated male friends, study subjects they want to, pray to Allah with her husband. Their life is segregated. Some younger women call for change, others return from going to school abroad and no longer can tolerate it, so they move to a free society. Others, practice their freedom in secret. But, then there are those women who love their way of life, love the restrictions on what they do or where they go.

Everyone in Saudi Arabia stops what they do several times a day for 30 minutes to face Mecca and pray to Allah at the sound of the muezzin. Since women cannot pray in mosques like the men, Saudi women pray at home or in their office. No matter where you are, like droids, Saudis stop what they are doing and pray, even alongside of the road. I cannot even imagine this, talk about disruptions!

Many women wear a dark, covering-all, black abaya, hiding all features of being a female. Essentially, transforming them into a dark blob except for a small opening for eyes. Other women, wear a more modest abaya wear the entire face is seen. Many Saudi women share their lives or homes with a man with two wives, they see him a few times a week (the other times, he with the other wife). Sometimes, their broods are large with seven kids from ages 5 to 20. So, if both families are combined, the same husband would father 15 or so kids. One family frequently lives close by, maube even downstairs of a two story home, other other, upstairs.

There are many women in Saudi Arabia that very conservative and think all the freedoms women have (or people have) in the West are dangerous. Most of these are devout Wahhabi, a strict, repressive, communist-like, form of Islam. Their homes have no family photos. They have one TV with access to only a religious channel that bans women on it. They think seeing a women's face on TV (like, a news reporter) is sacrilege. They have one computer for homework or studying the Quran. It is closely monitored. As the woman of the house, all they want to do is to please and obey her husband, do housework and pray to Allah. In Islam, she has failed if her husband cheats on her or is unhappy with her performance. Serving Allah means serving her husband.

Music must have no rhythm nor contain a woman's voice that is heard by a man. There is no make-up on their faces, in fact, a young Saudi woman was led out of a shopping mall for wearing red nail polish. The Saudis, ironically, also had a problem with women working as salespersons in a lingerie store! This was the case until 2006, when women were allowed to do this. Abuse of women from their husbands use to be a man's right to do so, but King Abdullah's daughter, Princess Adelah, obtained a fatwa stating that is no longer the case.

In the Wahhabi faith, when the husband comes home, the wife should go to her room and devout male followers never converse with unrelated females even veiled. For devout women, they have no desire to drive a car because they feel it's a man's responsibility. Any decoration on the black abaya is frowned upon for it attracts a man's eyes, women are servants. Wearing pants or sweaters is forbidden.

The Wahhabi sect of Islam believes that it is very bad to believe that God had a son, in this case, Jesus. Accordingly, one must believe in Islam because Allah has said so. If you do not, you are an infidel and doomed.

The enemy.

More by this Author


Comments 18 comments

aethelthryth profile image

aethelthryth 3 years ago from American Southwest

I personally had no desire to drive while I was in Saudi Arabia. In fact, it appeared cautious drivers were the most likely to get into accidents, as it took a rather wild driver to fit in with the flow of traffic.

Also, if you think abayas turn a woman into a blob, then you haven't seen what can be done with an abaya. I liked my abaya and still have it.

The rest of the article I can't comment on because I did not have much chance to get to know Saudi women and what they really think, but I would be interested to.


zainab zarrar 3 years ago

prayer - not a disruption - is part of our islamic religion, all muslims do it and there is a time for it varying from 2-3 hours. how can you judge a religion? if you feel its wrong, then the people who follow the religion don't. if you are a muslim and feel its wrong,then simply change your religion.

we wear dark abayas because we are women and we have some body parts that are attractive and alluring. we are allowed to wear normal respectable clothing in front of blood relatives and our husbands. think of it like a pearl, the pearl stays inside its shell, no one sees what's inside except for the gainer of the pearl. also wearing disrespectable clothing outside the house can lead to many illegal relationships and other things...

if a husband cheats on his wife, the wife is not the one who failed but rather the husband. she has the right to divorce, and he will be punished severely in the court and hereafter. again, serving allah doesn't mean serving husband. serving husband pleases allah alongside many, many other things that can be done to please allah. so, we can say, that a women who marries SHOULD please her husband as along it doesn't lead to the displeasure of allah.

as for music, it itself is forbidden in religion as we have something better: the quran.

a women's voice is forbidden for singing and unless necessary to males other than blood relatives because islam realizes the fact that a women's voice is beautiful and may lead to illegalities. the same goes to make-up as it makes the women more beautiful to males who are not her blood relatives.

computers are monitored by parents in both a man and a women's case. this is to prevent them from doing illegal things as sometimes a person can be attracted to them.

women are not allowed to talk to men except her blood relatives) unless necessary ex. business, work job.

decorations on the abaya is forbidden as it destroys the purpose of the abaya itself.

women are not considered servants in islam and the proof of this is that the heaven keys lies under a women's feet. this just means that a mother's pleasure is necessary in order to enter heaven. wearing pants is forbidden because they show the shape of the legs, and a women can as well be naked.


perrya profile image

perrya 3 years ago Author

Thanks for that perspective, but as you might suspect, many natives that go to school in Western countries for years and then return find it too restrictive and confining. Basically, Islam wants to make a woman plain and unappealing and restricts what she can do-this is the opposite of what women do in non-Islamic countries.


zainabzarrar profile image

zainabzarrar 3 years ago from Sharjah, UAE

this just shows that you don't understand islam. please read about it before passing jusdgement


perrya profile image

perrya 3 years ago Author

I understand, like you, just disagree with the premise. Women should be free to do what they want and not be confined. They are no different than men. Islam has a definite bias against women.


zainabzarrar profile image

zainabzarrar 3 years ago from Sharjah, UAE

But Muslims are happy with it! Also men have certain parts they need to cover. It is just that women have more attractive bodies than men do, and I think everyone agrees on this fact


perrya profile image

perrya 3 years ago Author

Yes, there are many Hot Muslim women, of course, but if you cannot even see the face, it is uncomfortable to even hold a conversation, As to the rest, I suspect there are times Muslim women would like more freedom.


zainabzarrar profile image

zainabzarrar 3 years ago from Sharjah, UAE

Well I'm perfectly fine with my amount of freedom.


perrya profile image

perrya 3 years ago Author

Muy bueno, amiga!


Carl 3 years ago

@ Zainab

In civilized countries, we refer to your condition as "Stockholm syndrome."


zainabzarrar profile image

zainabzarrar 3 years ago from Sharjah, UAE

well, its not. if it was a disease or a 'syndrome', i don't think a whole nation will have it; also referring to the fact that we all are from different countries. it doesn't make sense if you say that.


perrya profile image

perrya 3 years ago Author

Well, I will say that in many Western countries, Muslim women who live have a choice- either to adapt their dress and customs to those of the country they live in or a more modest Islamic dress, like younger women in Iran. if they choose the full covered dress, they should only expect issues in daily life because most westerners find that irritating to deal with, They should not expect the customs of a western nation to be altered or accepted. It is no different with western women going to SA or iran, the look the part and adapt.


Joseph 2 years ago

Here we have two blokes being taken on (and very successfully at that) by a do called suppressed oppressed mozlem woman. She has substance to her argument whereas the gentlemen speak conjecture without knowledge or evidence. One comment id like to make guys, bring to me your sisters and daughters so I can chat with them about freedoms and liberties, maybe even offer them a practical lesson in practicing uninhibited speech and actions. When they return to you let me know if you like for them to be living in a world of free expression of thought and action. Your views are scizophrenic manifestations of the hatred you have for the likes of Jesus who taught modesty and a poisonous rage for Islam that ordains the women of such a religion to dress like Mary, the mother of Jesus. An irony it is, that the only place on the planet where you will find the practice of the likes of Jesus and Mary is in the lives of the hated Mozlem..... When you reject you own messengers how can anyone expect your approval of another? What the internal policies of one country are to a European colonists, I don't know. Your fathers and fathers brought the Americans to extinction. They took on the identity of the Americans and called them 'Red Indians' they gave birth to you and told you of your title and you are too blind to see that this stolen title has on it the blood of an entire nation. Your European relatives rape their own daughters forcing them to give birth their own grandchildren, and you complain about the freedoms of the women in other countries? Seems like you're done shagging your cousins neices & nephews that you want to move on more exotic pastures. You are facing the biggest identity crisis that the European colonist has ever encountered. You have thrown out any acceptance of Christianity....even the diluted, false modified form of the modern day, you can't trace your genealogy without having to face up to the fact that science tells you that you were fathered by a black African man, you have no moral ground to walk on and chances are your ex wife is more oppressed due to your actions than any other person in life.

Mate....give it up. Take a bottle of dettol and give your principles a clean. The most oppressed people on the planet are the ones in the west. Governments fuck their people over on a daily basis, interest rate, tax, economic slavery models starting from kindergarten, and by the time you are dead, you're lucky if your kids have a house to fight over after the taxman takes his share of your inheritance. Welcome to the civilised world! You have a lot to learn yet about freedom.... For you, freedom is allowing marketing companies telling your kids to drink coke, eat Mcdonalds, buy gucci and become fat, physically and mentally abnormal to the extreme and hope that if your lucky you only get mildly abused when in full time care. Bravo! Keep your civilisation and let it bend you over..... Its a disease that has caused the complete degeneration of society within one generation in the so called west.but it is acknowledged that certain individuals favour such degeneration for it creates vulnerable people to prey on. And to top it all, you could not bring a single thread of substance to the table in rebuttling the comments made by the very free and able zainab.

Man you are an embarrassment to your nation. Just you keep your comments to Jerry Springer or other western daytime quality entertainment vehicles.


perrya profile image

perrya 2 years ago Author

@joseph, you need to learn better English to communicate with intelligence, that said, Yes, Iran and Saudi Arabia are very free to all citizens, they can express their views and dress as they like without fear of internal police or religious courts (if you believe this, they have brainwashed you) yet, they embrace the Western culture-the technology, cars, fashion and such. These cultures repress all women rights by keeping them second class citizens to men and have stupid laws restricting their movements unless with a man. As I said, Muslims who move and live in Western countries have to adapt to that culture in many ways, just as those Westerners who live in Muslim countries must do.


taha 2 years ago

I read the blog and all of your subjects and I am doing job as a driver you know its fucking irritating I am here from last ten months not getting paid as they promise even not in time and some days some nights I sleep and work without food that's the hilarious decision I ever made to came here... lean could you have any way to getting out from this shit you can inform me @ yasamplifire69@gmail.com


perrya profile image

perrya 2 years ago Author

What other details can u give?


Skye 2 years ago

I do not see how any adult would be happy knowing they had to wear clothing that gave them full body cover whenever they went outside their home...winter, spring, summer, or fall. I do not see how an adult could be happy with not being allowed to talk to a member of the opposite sex that was not a relative. I don't see how an adult could be happy not being allowed to drive a car. And how could anyone be happy not being allowed to sing! People in this situation MUST PRETEND and BELIEVE they are happy and it is quite all right. If they had to face the truth about their lives and how they are spending this brief moment in time they have to dance upon this beautiful earth,......well, I think they would spiral down into a depression, knowing there was nothing they could do about it, and they would wither away from a broken heart.


perrya profile image

perrya 2 years ago Author

Thanks skye for that airy critique, I agree.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working