Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Marriage Permission Process—Saudi Anonymous/non-Saudi: Update

By Chiara


We last met Anonymous, in the post The Marriage Permission Process: Is either of you a non-Saudi?. He was waiting for medical approval so that he could marry his beloved, who was born and raised in Saudi, from the same ethnicity, but because of the vagaries Saudi citizenship, unlike himself, was considered a non-Saudi. He had all his documents ready except his fiancée’s birth certificate, as he mentioned in a comment on September 8. Anonymous will update us in his own words on what has transpired since then.


Having waited patiently for Ramadan to elapse so that I might get on with my application, I was anxious for September 26 to arrive. This was the day on which the government offices would once again resume their hours of business. Finally the day arrived, but before heading to the Provincial Government (Emara) we went first to the Al-Burj Attibi (the Medical Tower) where we had blood samples taken--for testing to verify that there were no genetic abnormalities or incompatibilities, and that we were both STD free. However, with my fiancée being Non-Saudi, I could not hope to get the results sent or given to me. As our application came by way of the Emara, I could only head to the archives, have them issue the case number to me, and then head to the Emara so that I might know the next steps needed to conclude this circus.

Getting there, and barely finding a parking spot that wouldn’t condemn me to being either boxed in or fined, I made my way to the Department of Civil Records and Foreigner's Affairs. I waited as the gentleman in charge of my papers finished his chat with his cousin (who, he later happily explained to me, was in Riyadh), about his latest Winning Eleven match tournament (Popular PlayStation Football game that is very addictive).


He then asked, "Do you have all your papers in order?" I said that, with the exception of my fiancée’s Original Birth Certificate, everything was in order.

All we had to do was ask for a new one to be issued in place of the lost one. Yet my fiancée's family thought otherwise, and sought to put to work every Wasta they could think of. A word to the wise, you will not find Wasta very effective everywhere, not even within the Emara, as her younger brother was to learn. The Manager of the Department I had mentioned earlier is a stickler regarding details, and he has put forth fines that are, at best, detrimental to favouritism--either existing, or playing a role in expediting a certain case. I was told later by my now brother-in-law that the fine for not verifying an Original document, and accepting a copy of it is SR 6,000,000. Yes, that number is real, and has been since verified by several government employees we are familiar with.


My mother, being the careful and organized woman I've always known, suggested that maybe my fiancée might check her folder from school, which might still have most of the original documents, and among which might be the original birth certificate. I told my fiancée, and she and her family turned the house upside down, opening old boxes and crates. She said that, ever since they had moved into their new house two years ago, lots of things still remained in boxes. Thankfully, the case with the original documents in it remained relatively untouched by the ravages of time. Lo and behold, it turns out that’s where the elusive original birth certificate was!

With new vigour and confidence, I made my way to the Emara-- armed with the birth certificate and a sense of utmost satisfaction. I handed in my papers, and was asked to come back in a week. The week passed by uneventfully. When I went back what I picked up was a simple piece of paper, handwritten not printed. To see it you'd think it was the most unimportant document ever, but to me it was the most valuable piece of paper I had ever received in hand since my Watheeqa (University Degree). Immediately, I made my way to the Ministry of Justice courts complex, conveniently only two streets behind the Emara. I made an appointment, and was told to come back on the 26th to be married.


In order to be married at the court, the future husband and wife must be present, as well as her guardian (her father, uncle, brother), and two witnesses, both of whom must be unrelated to the future husband or wife.

On October 26th, at 11:42, I picked up my grandfather from home, as he wished to accompany me in my father’s stead. My father couldn't be present as his boss insisted he be elsewhere, out of the city, to attend to a meeting. It would've been nice, but as my grandfather and I are very close (I'm the eldest grandchild and we've always been closer than grandfather and grandson), I could ask for no better man to stand at my side.


At 11:57, we were on the road to Dammam after picking up my grandfather from Al-Khobar, when one of my witnesses called me, and hit me with a problem I knew could arise, but had not anticipated. He had never collected his new National Identification Card, and therefore could not bear witness to my marriage. Fortunately, I had planned for any contingency, and had put another witness on stand by. Quickly, I called him, and he dutifully arrived and was of great assistance. At 1:30, we all rolled in. The judge presided, recited some verses from the Qur'an and then some relevant Ahadith. We then recited after him. I recited that I was to marry, with a Mahr of such and such. She recited that she agreed to marry me, and announced if she had any conditions. Her father then recited that he agreed to marry his daughter to me. We stepped forward, signed the document, the witnesses signed, and that was it.


Yesterday I went and collected the Watheeqat Al-Zawaj (Marriage Document). I was shocked to notice they had changed it, as I had expected it to be a huge scroll of paper, just like a land deed. I understood when I turned to the last page and realized it said in Arabic, "This document is relevant only in the case both married parties are Non-Saudi, or one is Saudi and the other is not”. No matter, the ordeal was over.


We went over to her family's home yesterday for dinner along with my family and some of her family's friends, so they might get to know my uncles and brothers. It was a fun occasion, but all the while I was anxious to know when all these people might cease with the congratulations (generous as they were), and then I can slip away and enjoy the company of my wife, lol. It sounds strange to say “wife” at this moment in time. It’s all a bit surreal, but I'm very excited.

I honestly wish everyone who is in my same position the best of luck in their endeavors.


I can now reveal that Anonymous is Aziz, a man who has commented on various blogs, including Saudi Jeans, about the marriage permission process, and given such excellent advice  and support to so many.  He will also be a translator for the multilingual set of posts on The Marriage Permission/Iqama Processes.


We wish Aziz and his lovely bride a long and happy, prosperous and fruitful marriage.


It is very encouraging I’m sure, to others in the same situation, or thinking about it, that there are happy endings!

Your comments, impressions, thoughts?
How important is it--personally, politically, socially--that the wedding certificate is different and non-descript for Non-Saudis?
Are you surprised at the fine for “finessing” a birth certificate?
Are you surprised that wasta has less power than some may think?

Join us in celebrating with Aziz and his bride!

37 comments:

NidalM said...

Is there cake? Can I have cake? ;P

Congratulations Aziz. Alf Mabrook! May you and your wife have a long and prosperous life together. :)
November 9, 2009 10:56 AM

Abu Abdullah said...

As Salaam Alaikum,
Congratulations on your marriage and may Allah bless you both with a good and everlasting life...

Meanwhile I was wondering if the rules for Saudi/Non-Saudi marriage are different if both parties are staying in the kingdom? or is it not?
November 9, 2009 11:00 AM

Caraboska said...

Masha'Allah to Aziz and your new wife! I am very happy for you. Insha'Allah you will enjoy many years of health and happiness together.
November 9, 2009 11:48 AM

Aziz said...

Thank you Abu Adbullah. I would

like to point out that yes, it is

different and lends itself well

because it shows the intent of

the non-Saudi party that they are

serious about making it their home

long term. Fortunately for me my

beloved wife was born, raised

and has resided here all her life,

therefore she had demonstrated

that she is committed. If she had

been coming over from either

The Levant or East Africa ( both

areas from which she draws her

parentage ) it would've been

time consuming at best and costly

at worst ( thats when payment

becomes inevitble ). It could stall

for as little as 3 months or as

much as a year. Had it not been

Mid-Ramadhan when I first started

the process it would've taken as

little as 10 days. In this case

though I would like to highlight

the favortism that is shown if

the Saudi party is male, ingrained

discrimination, possibly.

Thank you Caraboska for your well

wishes and I wish you a prosperous

and happy life as well and success

in all your endeavors.

And last but not least,

Thank you to NidalM, and heres

wishing you a hopeful happy future

when you decide to get married as

well. From one KFUPM alumni to the

other, I can only be happy for your

continued success at home and

abroad. Keep taking those

captivating pictures and delivering

those memorable posts of your

travels, you have me as a dedicated

fan already.
November 9, 2009 1:21 PM

Aziz said...

The milkah, where my mother, grandmother

and aunt and my mothers friends, along

with my wifes friends, her mother, and

her friends are there to make it official

as if it werent already, but that

evening I will be actually put on the

spot, as the only man in the house.

I will have to adorn her with her

Shabka ( wedding jewelry ) and I will

be the one putting it on her.

Ring, ear rings, necklace and bracelet.

My beloved mother was of great help as

she acted as a live mannequin in order

for me to practice, now practice and

actual application are different mind

you, lol. After that, we'll take a

couple pictures. Then, MORE pictures.

After that I'm allowed to leave and

the ladies can carry on the festivities

as they see fit. The Wedding proper

will be taking place in late April 2010.

Wish me luck.
November 9, 2009 9:23 PM

Add said...

Aziz!!

Alf mabroooook! Wallah min jid I was so happy from the bottom of my heart to hear things fell in the right places 7amdulilah! May Allah bless you both and bless your future generation. Ameen!
November 10, 2009 9:42 AM

Aziz said...

Add,

Allah yibarik feek and Inshallah

things go your way soon as well.

I hope your future father in law

has worked his way around your

request and things are proceeding

well.

Let me know how things are going.
November 10, 2009 1:16 PM

A Muslimah said...

Sallams and hello,

Masha'Allah and congratulations to the happy couple. I ask Allah to bless their marriage with goodness and righteous offspring. Ameen.
November 10, 2009 5:45 PM

Chiara said...

NidalM--yes of course you may have cake! Tassa ghawa bil halib? Atay?

Abu Abdullah--great question!

Aziz--Mabrook! and thanks for continuing to share your insights and support for others. Give us an update on the milqah!

It is a little sad that the non-Saudis aren't welcomed with a paper that is as prestigious as the Saudi one. However the actual permissions and legal certificates are what matters most. I guess it is easy to support the idea that those who have shown their ability and willingness to live happily in Saudi be given an easier time (rather like points for immigration) but it is unfair to those who might do just as well but haven't had the chance to live in Saudi yet.

Caraboska, Add, and A Muslimah--thanks for sharing your best wishes.

Anyone, is this something that prospective non-Saudi husbands and wives should keep in mind? eg. take Arabic language courses, Islamic studies courses, Saudi history/culture courses, Near Eastern studies courses etc at their local uni to prove that they are interested in integrating well in Saudi as well as just facilitating their actual integration process? NB this does not imply converting/reverting to Islam. In short, would it help the marriage permission process to have proof of attempts to be more knowledgeable and better suited to life in Saudi?
November 11, 2009 7:39 PM

Add said...

Aziz - Just hoping for a clarification on something.

When you submitted the required documentation at the Ministry of Justice, did you merely have to show the original documents to be tallied against the photocopied ones, or were they submitted and eventually returned when you went back a week later?
November 13, 2009 11:52 AM

Aziz said...

Just wanted to let to give a quick update Wednesday evenings event went off without a hitch and smoothly. No accidental piercings and it was a unanimous decision that I went through the shabka ceremony well. At first it was a daunting prspoect of being the only man in a room of 30+ women. After that it was a lengthy photo op session and then I was given permission to escape so that the ladies would be able to dine and enjoy the festivities further.

It was uncomfortable sleeping with the
ring on the first night, but I seem
to have gotten used to it.


@ Add - You take the original documents
along with you and they shall be
compared ( tallied ) against the copies
and will be handed back to you whilst
you are there. It would be madness to
give them such vital documents and
expect them to keep them from getting
lost. Dreadfully sorry for the belated
reply, but I dont have internet access
at home at this moment in time.

Thanks to all for your fantastic
support and I shall endeavor to help
in any way I can in the future.
November 13, 2009 8:43 PM

Chiara said...

Add--good question.

Aziz--good answer. Glad to hear there were no accidental piercings. You will soon feel odd when your ring is off. That said I think sleeping with it on is optional, and only to be done if it is snug enough not to travel in the night, and loose enough to accomodate fluctuations in water retention--or maybe that is only for women, and men who eat salty meals. LOL :)

Your support is greatly appreciated!
November 13, 2009 11:04 PM

Addo said...

Aziz-Thanks for your reply :)
I hope you can answer another question regarding this matter:

Q. Did your Mrs. have to attend an 'interview' at the women's section of the office where marriage permission papers are submitted? That seems to be the case when the Non-Saudi is male and the bride to be is Saudi. Any ideas what that interview entails?

Thank you :)

And thanks Chiara :)
November 14, 2009 3:08 PM

Add said...

Wooops! That should spell Add without the 'o' hehe.

Chiara said...

Add--Good question to Aziz, I'm sure he will answer soon. It does seem that the gender of the non-Saudi and Saudi result in different rules, and procedures.
Oh, a typo, and here I thought you were an Italian Saudi :( :) LOL :)
November 14, 2009 7:42 PM

Aziz said...

I am at your service and

only wish to help others in my

situation now that I've been able

to navigate around the labyrinth

known as the Saudi Beaurocracy and

reach the finish line regarding

my case. As I've been granted

Allah's favor, why can not others.


Add- No My Mrs. did not have to sit

through any interviews. Although I

am aware that the rules pertaining

to the gender of the non-Saudi

spouse do change depending on the

whim of the official involved, I've

yet to hear of this " Interview "

type requirement, at least not

here in the Eastern Province. Fear

not though, the most common

questions will most certainly be

1.How long have you known the man

who is to be your husband?

2. Are you pleased with his

character? Is he a man of Good

Standing?

3. Are you two related in any

way? ( If I do recall, you two

are related are you not, this does

aid your case alot, what with their

preference for keeping marriages

in-house ).


4. Is he in a well-paid position

and can support both of you?


5. Do you guarantee he will NEVER

ask for Saudi citizenship?


Ofcourse they can come up with

a few new entertaining ones but

nothing that would get your fiancee

flustered or put on the spot.

Best of luck friend and may Allah

see fit to put righteous men on

your case to facilitate its

resolution.
November 15, 2009 9:58 AM

Add said...

Lol @ Chiara for thinking of me being a Saudi-Italiano :p

I'm quite happy being a Canuck :D
November 15, 2009 11:26 AM

Chiara said...

Aziz--wonderfully helpful as always. It sounds somewhat like the questions the Canadian Embassy asked my husband for immigration purposes, though their concern was mostly how long had we know each other/ been together. He started from the 1st day we ever knew of each other's existence, included all time even apart, added on another 25% for good measure (or maybe it only felt longer :( ), and gave a dismissive answer in terms of years. Other than worrying about a fake marriage they were impressed with language skills, degrees, and work experience. Sometimes it seems to me that the Saudi marriage permission process rolls in a lot of immigration type considerations.

Add--A CANUCK!!! You've been withholding your canuckitude? from this Italiana-Canuck? I'm SHOCKED!!! LOL :)
Oh, and I expect Canuck-like comments on my upcoming post. NO HIDING! :P
November 15, 2009 9:57 PM

Aziz said...

Glad to be of help in any way I can.

Chiara- Immigration implies one eventually becomes part of the country they move onto. If not culturally then at least officially. This does not apply to Saudi Arabia, where if your father was not a Saudi, you've almost no hope of being one yourself. Unless of course you're deemed important in a certain field the country is already lacking in or have financial ( and therefore political ) clout to lean back on. Even those who've tried to take advantage of the so called " Point " system have seen it no better than most. I know people who've been waiting for over 20 years, some even 30, and they tick all the boxes. Univeristy Gradates, Muslim and upstanding citizens who have no interest in living anywhere else. Yet here they are, having to renew their Iqama's every 3 years and all the red tape that comes along with it. Even I, a citizen who has known no other land and hold love for no other country get the hesitant look sometimes at check points.

Policeman " Show me your Iqama "

Me " I think you'd prefer the Ahawal "

Policeman " Oh sorry, I didnt know you

were a citizen "

Happens all the time, purely because
you dont have the sun washed hue most
Arabs in this great land of ours has
disqualifies you from being remotely
Saudi according to most, surely not,
I must be a Somali national who has
absconded with some REAL Saudi citizens
Ahwal, lol.

It gives me a good laugh though and
a story to take to my grandparents house
for Friday Lunch.


Hopefully this changes in the future and
those who would love to become citizens can.
November 16, 2009 9:44 AM

Add said...

Aziz!

Thank you so much for replying with your insight! You are such a help! Unfortunately, everytime I logon to this post I seem to come up with new questions to pose to you, if you don't mind. (grin)

I was wondering, because I can't seem to find a step by step count of the "75% of the application procedure" that you were able to carry out before Ramadhan (if I recall correctly from the first post); is it possible for you to publish the steps and places you had to visit and with what documents, if its not too much trouble? I'm sure it will not only help me but, others in the same situation to get some clarity as to where they have to begin and an idea of where they stand along the journey.

For example, I've successfully completed the medical requirements. From your post I deduce that I am very close to the finish line? It seems when the government offices reopened that you were able to get the permit within 1 week of submitting the documents? Was the medical requirement one of the final stages? Thanks in advance for your reply :)

Chiara - perhaps my canucktitude has been diluted whilst living in Saudi lol. But I will be sure to revive it for your post =)
November 16, 2009 1:23 PM

Aziz said...

Add- I'm here to help in any way
I can. As long as you've done the medical requirements, then all thats left is for a few things. However, as you're not a Saudi national, some documents maybe additional, although I hope not.
Anyway, heres what I had to submit after being given the number of the medical case results.

1. Letter of Recognition from my company stating I am infact a working employee there and am salaried.

2. Print out from the National Identifcation Agency that I have a clean record.

3. Copy of my National ID

4. My wife's Iqama and a copy to compare it with.

5. Her original birth certificate and copy, again for comparison.

In your case, it will be the opposite, with your Iqama, your fiancee's passport and your birth certificate most likely the documents necessary to expedite the permission.

Last but not least, I had to sign a document stating I was the man intending to marry and all the documentation I submitted was true. You will probably sign this too, and most likely a waiver that you will not apply for Saudi nationality in all likeliness.

You need keep in mind you will only visit two places. The Emara ( Provincial Government ) where all these documents will be presented and processed and for the permission to be granted and then passed on to the next port of call.

The courts of justice, where you will have the number of your case and the case itself ready for a judge to preside over. You will go there twice, first time to get the appointment with the judge, and the next to be officially married.

Wishing you all the best.
November 16, 2009 3:26 PM

Chiara said...

Add--good to hear that your canuckitude is only comatose not dead, and can be revived, at least for commenting purposes.

Nice British "whilst" btw LOL :)

Aziz--thanks for all your help in comments, posts, and translating. You have a lot of "street cred" on this topic! :)
November 16, 2009 6:36 PM

Chiara said...

PS Aziz--indeed the issue about living in a place longterm, and the marriage permission process almost being a preparation for that, and attitude toward foreign workers/immigrants and even "non-original Saudis" is a fraught one, and I suspect one that is initially foreign to Americans with their melting pot, and Canadians with our multicultural mosaic. In fact it was one of my few culture shocks in France, as Arabs informed be of what the immigration policy there was like, eg. long stay, no citizenship, or citizenship for a parent but not both, and non- automatically for children born on French soil. This has changed somewhat but is still not in the same spirit as North American style immigration.
November 16, 2009 7:29 PM

Aziz said...

Chiara- The issue of nationality will always be sketchy here, least not because to be a Saudi citizen, one must be a Muslim.
November 17, 2009 9:35 AM

Add said...

Aziz

Thank you so much for the clarifications!

Just wondering though, at any point, does your application, or yourself as a matter of fact, travel to Riyadh? Or are they all done at the local Emara?

Thanks again Aziz, you're a gem. Jazakallah Khair :)

Chiara - looking forward to the step by step post :) Although I must say I will probably only read the English version - the Arabic would take time to decipher and my French is practically non-existent lol.
November 17, 2009 10:23 AM

Aziz said...

Add- Neither you nor your application make the arduous trip to Riyadh. Thanks to Allah, Interior Minister, Prince Nayef, has seen it fit to allow regional Governors to judge the cases within their regions borders without having to defer to the Ministry of Interior. Of course there are exceptions, but I'm praying you wont have to make the trek all the way inland to reach the dreaded " Devil's Horn ".
November 17, 2009 1:16 PM

Chiara said...

Aziz--Taking citizenship and nationality does seem very fraught, but it is my understanding that most long term expats are Muslim. Perhaps there are economic interests as well as cultural ones in keeping the Saudi citizenship lower in numbers.

It does seem that mixed couples should choose their region of Saudi extra carefully, especially if they are less observant, or more impacted by specific regional norms.

Add--stay tuned!
November 17, 2009 9:05 PM

Aziz said...

Chiara - It probably has a little to do with economic considerations but mostly with just being selective.

No self respecting Eastern Province man would suffer living in Riyadh forever, and even if they hailed from there as some of my family and a few good friends do, they're not of the mentality of that area. I love everything about the Eastern province, its alot more relaxed, the people are actually jovial and social, and women do have it better here, doubtful my lovely mother and grandmother would've been able to do alot of what they achieved here had they been in that den of scorpions. I also was born within the walls of Aramco and know a little about other cultures and had the benefit of learning English at the feet of our neighbor, the lovely Mrs. Vicki, she gave me the basics and I was on my way.

Also, I love that we're as diverse as the Hijaz and celebrate it, and dont need to defer to our clan heritage and all that crap thats so cherished back in Central. Keep your multitudes of restaurants and questionably shaped architechture Riyadh, we've got a province thats got what you lack and will NEVER have, people with substance ( and a hefty dose of humor, LOL ).
Most of all though, I love that even though I loathe, LOATHE swimming in the ocean, I love when all the family gather we can just go down to Aramco's beach and enjoy a hearty meal and laugh at the many wonderous moments and maybe even bump into a friend or two or just meet and greet happy strangers who do smile here. I can never imagine living anywhere else in the country, let alone the world.

November 17, 2009 10:06 PM

Aziz said...

Chiara - wanted to add that you are correct in your assessment, if the couple are not as stringent as some, it would be better for them to reside either in Jeddah or the Dammam/Dhahran/Khobar area. My wife and I do observe our tenets, however, she does not cover her hair abroad and even here she does it half heartedly. Its her choice and not something that bothers me. You get no hassle from the Hay'a as opposed to what she got in Riyadh the one and ONLY time she visited when she was followed by one of their number for over 45 minutes under the pre-text that she better cover her hair for her mortal soul's sake ( I'm sure it was only such a noble cause and not that he might've wanted to add her to his own probably existing retinue of wives, lol )

And dont give me grief about being on the Mutawwa's case, its well known they're pioneers in the national sport thats all the rage these days, eating bottomless pots of Mandi ( spicedrice and chicken dish ) and polygamy. I'm just stating the facts.

Anyway, even if they did manage to give us grief here, we can always head over the causeway and breathe a little sigh of relief.

In the end, it will never be the case of the guy in Riyadh who got roughed up infront of his apartment building AND wife because he couldn't produce the family card to show evidence she was indeed his wife ( it was in the apartment at the time ), only in Riyadh,
our fair capital. Lets just hope Roland Emmerich finds a befitting fate for it in his next craptastic disaster movie, cause if he thought 2012 was fun, it was, only for the first 2 scenes of wanton destruction, then it got tedious ( even for a dedicated man of chaos and destruction as myself, lol ).
November 17, 2009 10:21 PM

Chiara said...

Aziz--MOI? Defend the excesses of the Muttawa? Jamais! I am sure if I ever lived in Saudi it would be Jeddah or the EP. A Saudi woman I met told me that I should live in Aramco, as she did! She is divorced, and an MBA with a good job at Aramco itself. I'm sure it is the most comfortable world for her.
Oh disaster films--I am totally ignorant of them! :)
November 18, 2009 3:53 AM

Aziz said...

Chiara - I agree, Aramco would be a good place for you to reside here. As it does offer you some respite and a semblence of a normal life you're used to. I'm a big proponent of expat-only compounds. These people are coming here and offering their expertise to help push the company forward, most certainly they're not coming for the culture or the spectacular array of lifestyles on offer. Therefore they deserve at least to have a life resembling the one they left behind, couple that with the fact that the native populace as a whole is not one that is open to engaging outsiders, and you see the NECESSITY of such havens. This way, they're happy, and the religious establishment can sleep easily in the knowledge that whatever these dens of enquity ( as they all believe, lol ) are up to, at least its within the confines of their walls.

I will become an Aramco employee inshallah in the near future and aim to give my future children the same upbringing I had. Plenty of trips inside to use the stately football pitches, teaching them tennis and taking them to the gym, followed by a spectacular chili cheese burger at the dining hall, ah, so nostalgic.
November 18, 2009 11:38 AM

Chiara said...

Aziz--yes there do seem to be advantages to compound living, but I wonder if it doesn't feel something like a ghetto, or a gilded cage at times?

I would think it would be particularly important for those who wish to drive, drink alcohol, and worship in a non-Muslim faith. However, I do understand that some sports activities are more readily available, and particularly for women and children, on compounds.

If we are ever in Aramco at the same time you can have my chili cheeseburger allotment. LOL :)

Abu Abdullah said...

I really wish to move over to Jeddah if i continue to live in Saudi Arabia next year...

Would love to go to Makkah every week end :)

Thats one of the many reasons why i came here in the first place...

Any comments on how life's in Jeddah?
November 21, 2009 1:29 PM

Add said...

Aziz- Thank you for the clarification! I am glad the application won't be making its way to Riyadh.

I am currently visiting Riyadh for work, and I tell you, the only thing I'm liking so far is the weather hehe. Glad I'm only here till Wednesday. I miss Jeddah

Speaking of Jeddah, Abu Abdullah, what exactly would you like to know? I know there is plenty of material out there for you to read about Jeddah, but if you have any specific questions, I'd be happy to be of assistance.
November 22, 2009 3:10 PM

Chiara said...

Hmmm I'm getting definite Riyadh is the least preferable option vibes!

Tara--It sounds like the feeling one gets in other gated communities even in North American, with a little extra claustrophia thrown in. However, I am sure there are advantages especially for some whose own life preferences clash more dramatically with that of Saudi, or for the extra sports and clubs, or if one is living in the Devil's Horn!! Interesting observation for conservatives about living in Jeddah.

Add--I have a couple of Jeddah questions. How easy would it be for a Western woman to swim on the beach, or scuba dive nearby? What would be an acceptable degree of cover for a Western woman in the city or in a professional setting? How common are mixed couples? Stare worthy or part of the crowd? LOL :)
November 23, 2009 7:24 PM

Aziz said...

Chiara - In regard to your questions.

1. You can swim as freely as you want in
some areas, as they are designated as off limits to the religious establishment and are for the use of the well minted and expat community alike, I know this because some of my friends do visit regularly and the pious ones would never go near these " Dens of enquity " LOL. As for Scuba diving that is a non-issue.

2. With regards to walking around Jeddah you would have to don the abaya but not cover your head, in any professional setting you can drop the abaya but conservative clothing on your part would be preferred, regardless of whether it is an all-female institution or mixed.

3. This is the one which needs no commenting, Jeddah is as mixed as any place you can imagine. People of all backgrounds inter-marry and I've seen and know of several who have heritage from the Western coasts of Africa and the deeper regions of the Urals in Asia. You will not be stared at, if anything you'll blend right in. As opposed to other regions that shall henceforth remain nameless.


As for the issue of people being Arab-centric, its what comes from being programmed for AGES by the Establishments, and although I do respect other cultures and languages, I must say I'm as Arab-centric as one can find. Its an authoratative language, yet poetic and lends itself well to prose, and it is also the language of the Qur'an, thereby lending it divine sanction. As you would know, Chiara, Somalis are of Cushitic stock, but as we do speak Arabic we are automatically Arab, the prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, said in a Hadith of his, that those who hold the Arab tongue are Arab regardless of their ancestral origins, which would be why most would favor it above any alleigance that may be in conjuction with it.

Am I Somali, Yes, am I an Arab, Yes, am I in support of the extra curricular maritime activities that have brought us both shame ( yet much needed international recognition, lol ) No.

And apologies for not being as prompt as always with translation, I've not had access to the internet for the past several days, but will get on it soon.
November 26, 2009 1:47 PM

Chiara said...

Aziz--thank you for your comprehensive answers. Well-minted, expat, and den of iniquity sound about right! LOL :) :P I take it scuba diving would not be a problem.
The covering options sound livable, especially as I have more familiarity with long and conservative than with head cover.

I take it heading east but not as far as the Eastern Province will increase the stareworthiness of a mixed couple. It seems the hinterlands of all countries share a greater conservatism and homogeneity as opposed to the greater heterogeneity of the coastal regions.

Your explanation of Arabness seems to coincide with that adopted by the Canadian Arab Federation in their research on the Arab population of Canada. One of their surveys asks whether one considers oneself Arab by ethnicity (race), place of birth, or language and culture.To me this legitimately broadens the definition of an Arab Canadian to include those who have come to their Arabness by a variety of routes, and aims to meet the needs of all.

As for your seafaring Somalis, while not approving of some of their extracurricular activities, it seems the world has to take some responsibility for the conditions making it seem to be a viable lifestyle option for some.

No worries, about the translation, you are still 200% ahead of the others!
November 27, 2009 5:14 AM

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