Monday, March 25, 2019


It's something I have been wanting to write about for some time now, so eventually after literally months of thinking about it I have put pen to paper so to say.

Living in the Middle East has it's challenges for all of us. There are many things that we fail to understand in our daily lives. Nothing is in black and white and there is always the "but it's a cultural thing" comment thrown in when the black and white explanation doesn't actually make any sense.

Last night I watched a short documentary about women veiling in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is my understanding that there is nothing in the Quran that says a woman has to veil, and conflicting websites say that it is not compulsory to wear an abaya. However in Saudi Arabia, the wearing of an abaya is compulsory to all women, veiling however isn't and is left to the individual, though the majority do choose to veil.

When we discuss Saudi Arabia I think I am safe to say that it is one of the most extreme Muslim Countries in the Middle East, and is often described as the Biggest Women's Jail in the World. Women historically are not allowed to work but over recent years there has been a small improvement in local media and women are slowly moving into radio and television work. This appears to me to be the right of the rich and high ranked Saudi's and not offered to those lower down the ranks.

As women aren't normally allowed to work, there are a few exceptions like teaching and the medical profession but these jobs are mainly undertaken by expatriate woman as opposed to Saudi's. It was interesting to see a local lady and her guest entering what appeared to be La Senza. What was even more interesting was that the male shop assistant would be serving these ladies and taking their measurements. In a society where women are not allowed, due to cultural reasons, to show their body to men outside of their immediate family, I did find this very difficult to get my head round.

Modesty in Islam is a much talked about subject around the globe and we as expats in the UAE are no different when it comes to the intrigue that surrounds veiling and dressing conservatively. I know girls that veil; girls that don't; girls that abaya; girls that don't; girls that shayla; girls that don't. There are Muslim women who neither veil or abaya and wear Western dress at all times, as that is how they have been raised "culturally". It is a decision that only they can make, it is for them to be comfortable with.

But what I particularly like is a trip into the toilets at any Mall here in the UAE where you will always find those modest, abaya'd and shayla'd ladies applying as much mascara as is possible and a nice splash of luminous pink lipstick, via their perfectly manicured red fingertips, after all they have to remain modest at all times ....

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