3 the misunderstanding to Saudi Arabia as a woman

In the past few years, I have been in travel, in the Middle East and other Muslim countries, so it is no surprise, every week, I received a lot of requests and questions cow force women want to the same place.

Because I am a man, all my articles are often dominated by men, not intentionally, but it’s just, sometimes I forget, women’s experience can be completely different.

When I upload all the photos and video visiting Saudi Arabia sets a story that people are actually surprised me to all parts of the people I met, they many miles away from all the stereotypes of the media to show us in the past ten years.

The pictures really created a lot of the interests of the travelers would not think of to go there, including many women.

Because Saudi Arabia is known for its extremely patriarchal state, however, I got more questions than I had ever received

3 the misunderstanding to Saudi Arabia as a woman

1 – As a female, I need a guardian to travel to Saudi and around Saudi.

No. No. No.

This common misconception needs to be eradicated as soon as possible. 

Women can travel to Saudi Arabia alone. I travel around independently all the time and, definitely, without a guardian.

The ‘guardian thing’ is more of a cultural thing, not the law. What I mean is that, in general, Arabs treat females as queens, something I am not complaining about, but the concept of females being independent is not something they can comprehend.

I am not saying they are close minded but it is a scene they are not used to. However, as things are opening up and changing, this is starting to slowly wear out.

I’m going to share an incident that happened to me on 4th January 2019.

I needed to travel from Jeddah to Riyadh. The flights were ridiculously expensive, and I missed the bus, so I went outside the bus station to hop in any of the carpooling services which are called “Kadad”. I got in one, slept comfortably throughout the journey until we reached the checkpoint to enter Riyadh.

The police asked us to pull over, took our IDs and asked standard procedure questions.

Keep in mind that I was the ONLY female in a car of 7 men; the driver and 6 male passengers.

Three policemen came to me one by one, asking where my guardian was and how could I travel without one. 

I simply answered: I do not need a guardian and I can travel around without a guardian

The police insisted that was an issue, so they wanted to hand me in and report me.

I said: What are you going to report me for? I did not do anything.

He was stunned and said that they would explain the procedure at the station.

I was NOT ONE BIT scared because I knew my rights and that that was not the law. This is just the culture he has in his house.

Long story short, the higher rank guy came out and instructed the policemen who were questioning us to let us go as long as our documents were legal.

There you have it, a proven and real-life situation with the man of the law that females do not need a guardian.

2 – I need to get a burqa aka ninja cover and a headscarf

While in the city, all you need is decent and long outerwear. It can be of any color and pattern. We love colors, patterns and unique styles!

Don’t be surprised when strangers come up to you and ask “Where did you get the abaya from?!” I get that a lot too.

As for scarves and burqa, they are absolutely not required.

During the questioning I mentioned in point 1, the policemen asked me to cover my hair and, of course, I did not cover my hair because, one, it’s not the law, and two, I didn’t have a scarf anyway.

Sometimes, this happens on the streets when random religious men yell out at you and ask you to cover. The best thing to do is to just ignore them and continue doing your thing.

Again, this is a culture, not the law. Please don’t take it that if we don’t wear a scarf is disrespecting the culture. It’s a personal choice.

3 – I need to be covered to avoid harassment

Harassment is an unfortunate worldwide issue that is specific to the person, not the country or culture.

6 years ago, I faced harassments here and there. In recent years, I have not experienced any harassment.

The worst one I get these days is someone coming up to me and slowly whispering “Mumken Snapchat?” which means “Can I have your Snapchat?”

Simply say no and walk away and that’s the end of it.

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