I would rate Saudi-Arabia as one of the safest countries I've been to. Crime rates are very low and security forces are present everywhere, I've never heard of violent attacks on westerners during the time I've lived here. The only thing to worry about has been the traffic!
However during the past week, there has been attacks on western women occuring next to the main entrance of the Kingdom Mall. So ladies in Riyadh be aware and watch out for expensive jeeps full of teenagers!
What happened is a western nurse from the hospital I work in was attacked about a week ago outside Kingdom Mall, she was waiting for her driver at the main entrance, there is a ramp that goes up from Olaya rd to the entrance of the mall. There are security guards present, they usually tend to the traffic so it doesnt get jammed up. Apparently she was waiting for her driver to arrive when a car full of young saudi men (teenagers) drove up and started shouting at her. They got out of the car and started kicking her, she then ran down the stairs to Olaya and took a regular taxi. The guys followed in their 4X4 and forced the taxi to stop on King Fahad rd. They pulled the woman out of the car and started kicking and hitting her in the middle of the street! The driver did nothing to help her, and this was going on while people were just watching! Luckily a saudi man came to her rescue and the guys drove away. To my understanding they have not been captured by the police, nor did the security at Kingdom do anything to help the woman..She was brought into the hospital and alhamdulillah she is ok now.
The other incident involved a group of expat women arriving to Kingdom at the same entrance. While they were exiting their van a group of young saudi men arrived in an expensive jeep and started shouting at them to get out of Saudi-Arabia and at the same time threw large rocks at the women!One of them got hit badly and started bleeding from her head. Yet again the security or men standing around did absolutely anything to help! The security didnt even call the police let alone an ambulance for the wounded woman. The guys drove off and I am amazed how they managed to escape since there is always so much traffic on Olaya. The woman was taken back to her compound to get stiches on her head.
There has been numerous other incidents involving young saudi men in expensive jeeps (I would ASSUME Hummers) verbally harassing women outside Kingdom mall. Is this the same group or just random, nobody seems to know. But it looks like its best to avoid that entrance at least or exit from the Ladies only section upstairs.
I'm surpised they are targeting this mall which is owned by prince Alwaleed bin Talal. Its full of high end stores and frequented with upperclass saudis, royals as well as expats. The third floor is womens only. You would assume this mall wants to keep a good clean image, but it looks like the security isnt doing anything to prevent these attacks. So please be alert, and if you see any kind disruptive behaviour report it to your embassy so we can know if there is something more serious going on! I would advise women to wear headscarves for your own safety!
My question is: Where is the muttawa when women REALLY need them??
Why didnt bystanders help? Where they too afraid?
Inside Kingdom Mall
Thsi issue was also discussed on britishexpats.com and americanlawyerinsaudi-blog and american bedu:
I just wanted to add that I feel this shouldn't imply all saudi teenagers or saudi men are evil women harassers. These things happen everywhere around the world. By these things I mean harassing minorities. It happens in western countries all the time. It just seems to be so OUTRAGEOUS to westerners if we are being harassed by muslim men. But if its a western man harassing a muslim woman, its not a big deal really.
Some examples that occured this spring from Finland: A gang of boys aged 14-15 throw rocks at a muslim woman when she is on her balcony. They are driven away, but return to throw more rocks and shout at her later. They are not arrested because they are under aged according to Finnish law, thus not responsible legally for their actions!
Another upsetting occurence: Muslim women get smashed between bus doors on purpose by the drivers in Helsinki. The drivers are given a warning.
I will add the link when I find the news headlines for the above.
So these couple incidents at Kingdom mall are rare and in general western women do get treated with courtesy in Saudi-Arabia! I cannot unfortunately say the same when it comes to treatment of Muslim women in Finland..