I have no idea how I came across this job but I applied and they have asked me to write a couple of blog posts for them. Bonus is I get paid. I don’t know about other bloggers but I struggle with what do I write and inspiraion doesn’t come easy to me. The job sends me a topic that I have to write about. Below is my first article, it is a subject that I don’t know very much about but I enjoyed the research.
The culture of Saudi Arabia
As a woman living in a western country, the Middle East and Saudi Arabia seems very exotic. With its exotic looking people, beautiful coloured clothing, bright sunshine and desert lands. But can a Western woman really live there.
Business in Saudi
Saudi Arabia is the largest country in western Asia. It was founded in 1932 by Abdul Aziz bin Saud. In 1932 this area was very poor, relying on agriculture and pilgrimages, until the late 1930’s early 1940’s when vast about of oil was discovered. By 1976 Saudi Arabia became the largest oil producer in the world.
A US owned country set up Aramco which set about to develop the oil fields since then Saudi Arabia has benefited imensely, however as oil is a large proportion of the income of Saudi Arabia the price of oil dramatically affects the money that comes into the country.
Politics in Saudi Arabia is dominated by the royal family. There are no political parties or national elections. Women are currently not permitted to vote though this is due to change in 2015 when they will be able to vote in municipal elections. Women will also be able to be elected and nominated to the Shura Council. Currently government is in the form of traditional tribal rule. Where there are a number of tribal leaders or sheikhs that meet, these meetings are called majlis, where, the policies of Saudi Arabia as discussed. The king is also the prime minister and as the family is vast are large number of the important posts are occupied by princes.
Making new friends
Saudi Arabia has a fairly good relationship with the western world. It joined the UN in 1945 and plays an important role in the World Bank and joined the World Trade Organisation in 2005. This is evident in the fact that there are 9 million expatriates registered in Saudi Arabia.
Is Saudi Arabia out of reach for women?
Saudi Arabia treats women different from what we in the Western world has come to accept and expect. Saudi Arabia follows Sharia law or Islamic law. Women cannot drive so doing some simple tasks such as going to the supermarket or going out to meet friends are not that simple. It is not impossible it just need planning. Women in Saudi Arabia are expected to be completely covered only their eyes and hands are allowed to be exposed. Women cover the whole of their bodies with a abaya (black cloak) and a hijab (head covering) with a veil called a niqab. Women are required to have a male guardian, normally a father/brother or once married their husband. This can provide security and protection for women.
800m or a far greater distance
In London in 2012, at the Olympics in front of millions of people an extraordinary event was happening. Not talking about the opening ceremony, but the fact that two women were taking part for the first time at this event. Wujdan Shahrkhani took part in judo and Sarah Attar took part in track and field. Of the two women Attar took her place in history as the first Saudi Arabian women to compete in the Olympics. She finished last in her heat of the 800 metres with a significant distance between herself and the athlete that came first, but that 800 metres received a standing ovation and Saudi Arabia noticed as a country whose attitude to women is changing.
What’s on the menu?
Throughout Saudi Arabia Islamic dietary law is enforced. This means the drinking of alcohol and the eating of pork is forbidden. Any meat that is butchered is butchered and blessed to Halal . As well as western supermarkets that are appearing within the Kingdom there are plentiful markets that appear in most towns and villages where you can get an array of fantastic fruit and vegetables. Traditional foods include lamb and chicken and also falafel.