Images of Riyadh: Burger King

A sign announcing that the meat is all “halal” and compliant with Islamic traditions. These signs are also visible in countries like Singapore where they are certified by the government.

Types of marriages in Saudi Arabia

Since coming to KSA, my awareness of different types of marriages has increased considerably. Other than normal marriages and the oft-quoted multiple wives (polygyny) there are also misyar, misfar and shigar marriages.

Disclaimer: This post is about marriage as people or news have described it. This does not claim to describe the norm in KSA or any other country of the world

  • Normal- between one man and one woman
  • Polygyny- between one man and up to four women
  • Misyar- between one man and one woman with the woman giving up her right to financial support by the husband
  • Misfar- between one man and one woman done for the sole purpose of allowing the woman to travel outside the country
  • Shigar- one man marrying another man’s daughter or sister in exchange for the other man marrying his daughter or sister.
  • Urfi- an undocumented marriage between one man and one woman (not as common in KSA)

Blog update

Today is cleanup day! All food related and personal posts have been moved off to their own blog. Categories have been consolidated and removed as needed. 


updated: Jan 18, 2009

Images of Riyadh: Lost in Translation (hot water)

I can’t imagine the water in this dispenser being hot enough to cook with- unless you’re in the mood for cup noodles 😀

Saudi women in medicine

There is a stigma against Saudi women who go into the field of medicine. It is hard to understand why exactly other than it being a cultural view.

The various comments that I have heard are the following:

  • The women will end up married to their careers
  • Women will work in mixed environments (medical facilities are not segregated like the rest of the work world in KSA)
  • The women will end up getting married late or not at all
  • Women in the field are considered “easy”
  • Men do not want their wives to be doctors

As you might have realized, these comments are not all reasons or even justifications for why women should not join this noble field, they are merely expressions of cultural opinions.

Considering that this is one of the few professions that hires women, and that so many women would prefer female doctors to be dealing with them, one wonders why it is not considered “good” for a Saudi woman to become a doctor. She would be serving a need and helping her country’s economy at the same time. Doctors and nurses are imported to fill most openings around here- clearly Saudization is not required in the field!

There is however a growing number of women who are enrolling in medical school and entering the field as doctors, dentists and lab workers (no nurses yet). Yet another indicator of change.

A sobering reminder of the hurdles in their path is this recent heart breaking news story. A father savagely murdered his daughter by stabbing her and slitting her throat because she was studying medicine.

Cinemas in Saudi Arabia

Cinemas are officially banned in KSA and people go over to Bahrain or UAE to watch movies in person (or buy pirated versions of all movies for home viewing).

Interestingly, last week the movie “Manahi”  was shown in Jeddah and Taif. It was a HUGELY successful and popular event that ran for some 10 days. The head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of  Vice, Abdullah Al-Gaith spoke out against it: “Our position on this is clear – ban it. That is because cinema is evil and we do not need it. We have enough evil already.”

What is odd is the about-face that showed up in today’s news. The official comment is now  “We are not against having cinema if it shows the good and does not violate Islamic law”.

“Manahi” was produced by Rotana Holdings, a media company owned by Prince Waleed bin Talal. The next movie,“Eyal Manfouha,” also by Rotana is already in the works.

This is one more indicator that the wind of change is blowing. It would be better if KSA started developing a good media/movie censoring/cleaning-up board that can set standards for what can and cannot be shown, and how to allow movies from Europe, USA and Asia to be shown. Resistance is futile- it’s a matter of time before assimilation is complete (don’t you love hijacking corny lines from Star Trek?)

UAE has already started investing in becoming the next Hollywood/Bollywood and given the global economy there is a huge chance that “Dollywood” will succeed to some extent. Maybe Jollywood (from Jeddah) will give Dollywood a run for their money in the future…

connectivity woes

3 of the 4 sub-marine cables that connect Saudi Arabia (and several other countries) were severed in the Mediterranean today. Internet connectivity is thus severely limited as are international phone calls. There might be considerable lags between postings as it is not supposed to get better until the end of the year.