Friday, February 17, 2012

Saudi women

A reader a few weeks ago asked me to do a post on Saudi women. I don't think this will be very good, considering that women in every country are so diverse... but I will give it a go.

The reader's main point was that a lot of Saudi women in foreign countries (on scholarship, etc) seem quite stand off-ish so it's hard to get to know them. I think that sort of perception is definitely a valid one but of course then we need to put ourselves in their shoes where they're living in a country that's very different to Saudi so we are coming at it with a different perspective than they are (social interactions, etc). 
So... forgive me in advance but here is my best shot at giving a very limited insight. Saudi women can be extremely shy & quite up-front as well. Most that I know are also quite blunt & strong. Remember that this is what has been shown to me, I obviously have no idea what any woman anywhere is actually thinking. I would say it's probably a fair assumption as well to say that many Saudi women know how to be patient (sabr) and definitely know the virtues of being so. They can also be very kind and giving - e.g., between friends in my own country, a gift could be some flowers or a small piece of jewellery. From my own experiences, it's not uncommon to receive gifts like expensive jewellery, mobile phones, etc from good friends in Saudi. That's not to say that only rich people give those things because I only know lower to regular middle class people and they would save to purchase that for a friend. So there's definitely a big importance placed on friendship/gift giving.

The reader also wanted to know (I'm guessing) how to befriend them coming from the perspective of a foreigner marrying a Saudi. My answer to that is don't overanalyse it! Saudi women are people just like us - there may be cultural norms/expectations that we don't obviously know about or practice but chances are they are feeling the same way. 

This is a poor excuse for a post but really I can sum it up by saying that Saudi women are women and you can't really present a post analysing a group of women, we all know what a huge post that would be (and that it'd probably be waaaay off the mark!) - so my point is that if you feel someone is stand off-ish, then break the ice a bit! It doesn't hurt to get out of your comfort zone, you can make some great friends for life out of it inshaAllah. Take the nationality out of the equation and you are answering your own question, really.


New Wife said...

lol it's like asking "what are American women like?" there is no answer!

I have met Saudi women of every temperament. Some are very quiet and shy, others are very outgoing. Some struggle with English while some find it easy. Some are really hilarious and some are sticks in the mud.

But most of the Saudi women I have met have enjoyed sitting around and talking, especially with snacks :-P They usually enjoy getting dressed up and feeling pretty for the sake of prettiness. They are probably expert shoppers, even if it is not their favorite thing to do. Once you have made friends with them they are usually loyal and very sweet. They aren't very good with keeping up with the time.

At first it is difficult to break the ice because she may not know the rules for approaching a "western" woman, or she may feel shy about using English outside of an academic setting. Also it might help her and you if you find something in common. I find that being an American Muslim gives me a lot of things to start a conversation about because she will be familiar with Islam and probably interested in my conversion experience and we can branch out from there.

New Wife said...

I asked my husband how do you describe Saudi women, he said they are all different but they all like to shop :-P

ellen557 said...

new wife, lol i like your thinking! i agree, islam is an easy thing to connect on. one of my best friends and i connected over her teaching me to read arabic for the qur'an, it's the smallest thing but can "build a bridge" (hate that saying, hah!). but i like your husband's analysis, sounds much like what my own would say haha! good to see you here btw, wasalam.

New Wife said...

Yeah thats very true, even something small can start a great friendship. One of my best friends is Saudia and honestly I can't even remember how we became such good friends, but it was just something small and random and then we sort of bonded.

lol short, sweet, and to-the-point.

thank you for the welcome! salaaam

Anonymous said...

salaams, as a sister who lived in Saudi for 1 year with her family, as western working expats in the eastern province I can say they are the same in Saudi. Just like every other group out there, some are friendly, some arent, some are talkative, some are quiet, some are open, some depends. I would meet just as many Saudi women who greeted me, asked me questions about who I was, what I was doing in Saudi and even a few I befriended and just as many that couldnt give a rat butt about me. So whats the difference between here and there? Nothing...a person who is outgoing in their native land will be the same when abroad. Ditto for shy!

DD said...

I LUV Saudi women! They are so girly and chatty and curious, the ones i know anyway. They must be the most feminine women on this planet, hehe

Anonymous said...

Maybe the question was asked because saudi women are a little mysterious with all those covers and you don't see them mingling with many other nationalities apart from their own when in foreign countries.
I think some saudi women seen stand offish just because they tend to stick together and don't like much change from what i have experienced anyway. I remember a friend of mine was mistaken for being a saudi..and once they found she didn't speak arabic they kinda shrugged her off and didn't' want much to do with her.
Like everyone said there is good and bad in every nationality but i know a lot of people ask about what saudi women are like because most of the time its not common to see them around conversing with everyone.

Anonymous said...

Salam..please post..we missss u!!!!!!!!!!!!!! its been too long

Zahra said...

Salaam alaikum sis :)

It's been so long that i visited your lovely blog. It's lovely to know that you have finally moved to saudi. Inshallah you're having a great time. Wish you all the best dear :)
Remember us in your prayers :)

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