Thursday, January 19, 2012

I See Pink, People

Pink houses, pink villas.
Pink trousers on fellas.

Pink in the bathroom pink in the garage.
Pink at the mosque, is this a mirage?

Pink at the gas station!
Is this a pink nation?
Men with pink shoes, shirts and jeans, 
can you tell me what all this means?

Is there pink in masses,
or is it just my rose colored glasses?

Pinkness seems to be everywhere in the Magic Kingdom. Surprisingly enough it doesn't look like Saudi men have any problems living in pink houses, wearing pink clothing, going to pink mosques, pumping gas at pink gas stations or even driving in pink cars. Coming from a culture like mine where men are too "macho" to even glance at pink stuff, this strikes me as odd to say the least.
Call me weird, but I find this fascinating. The more I have started to think about it, the more I've begun seeing pink stuff! Everywhere. Maybe I'm just a nutter and this whole pink fixation is in my head. Or then it's those rose colored glasses on my head?
I don't mean to say ALL Saudi men dress in pink clothes but it's not totally uncommon to spot pink items on men. Unlike in the west, it seems to be socially perfectly acceptable here.

Also, pink houses and buildings are common. I started paying more attention to it on our road trip to southern Saudi. Special mentions go to Abha, Kahmis Mushayt and Gizan for men living in pink accommodation. What's up with that? Did Saudi-Arabia just get an enormous amount of pink paint for free? Do the wives love pink so much they insist on it?

This got me thinking.. What might be the reasons behind the use of color pink in so many places? I mean I have never seen men so comfortable with pinkness anywhere in the world before or so much pink being used on buildings.
For example a man driving around in a baby pink car in Finland would get VERY long stares, perhaps disbelief and laughter from women and in worst cases even land him in a fight.
Paint the house bright pink and people will think this dude also sees flying pink elephants. Or alternatively that he is a mere doormat and the wife obviously made the final decision on the paint color.
Showing up at an ice hockey game in tight pink jeans and pink tennis shoes would be almost suicidal. The cultural differences of  how people perceive pink are striking!
So are men in my country and in the west in general just so insecure that they are terrified of using the color pink in fear of it somehow diminishing their manhood?
Are Saudi men more secure in their manhood?
Is it a cultural thing? Is pink just perceived as a gender neutral color in Saudi-Arabia?
Why so much pink but not for example red, another "feminine" color?
Is it only in the west that pink is perceived as a women's/girl's color?
This pink mystery reminds me of a true story that happened to my american friend who lives in Riyadh. She was in a shopping mall with her 1,5yr old son. His hair is a little longer which is unusual in Saudi but many parents in the U.S. find cute.

A Saudi woman with a baby stroller stopped to talk to her asking, is this your daughter? My friend said no it's a boy. So this Saudi lady dramatically threw her hands in the air looking toward the sky and began praying: "Oh Allah guide this woman to the straight path!" "Guide her to cut the sons hair!" "He looks like a girl, guide this poor woman!"

She told my friend she MUST cut his hair because he looked like a girl.

My friend was appalled at the woman's behavior. Nevertheless she tried to be polite and said pointing to the woman's baby dressed up in an all-pink outfit "What a beautiful girl you have mashallah".
The woman replied:
"It's a boy."
My friend asked why is he dressed up in PINK?

She replied: "Oh, I don't believe in colors being gender specific."

Btw my friend is an Arab Muslim.
So long hair on boys=big problem, haram, makes boys look like girls=haram.
Pink outfits on boys=no problems, doesn't make boy look like a girl at all.

Maybe Saudi men are dressed in pink as babies and get used to the color as being part of their wardrobe?

So what do you think? Have you noticed this phenomenon? Why do you think pink is so popular?

P.S please note this post is labeled under humor and not to be taken overly seriously :)


عبدالله said...

I don't pay attention to colours but from now I will start to take notice of pink people, houses, etc. Pink issue never came across my mind and I never heard people talking about someone who wearing pink, I mean mocking him. I can't remember seeing any one wearing pink but as I say I don't pay much attention to colours. In the photos you included, I think these are normal apart from the boy's trouser and the sport club.

Why they wear pink?
I think they may be board and want to do something unusual and new. Or they may want to prove that they don't care about any one and they are brave. Or they may want some attention.

I think in saudi many people have no problem with looking like foolish they enjoy it and even if people look at them and laugh they will enjoy this and the people who laugh will understand why those doing unusual things. But in the west they are very careful and don't want to be in the spotlight where people may laugh at them. I can see this deference in classrooms where western students don't accept to be laugh at while saudi students enjoy it. Looking like a stupid and behaving like a stupid is prised by ancient arabian poets, When a man give an impression that he is fool.

F said...

What a funny story! She sounds like a real hypocrite judging your friends boy and seeing nothing wrong in her own actions.

I think men in Saudi might wear pink because they want to show they are gay? Lots of gays! Every once in a while I notice pink clothing but also other bright colors like yellow or orange. Maybe it's considered trendy?

But why the other stuff I have no idea!

Funny post!

Arafat said...

Pink or other feminine coloured houses or whatever isn't too unusual. I don't think it ever really was.

However, not too long ago you wouldn't see men in pink, orange or other "feminine" colours in Riyadh. You'd get stared at and maybe picked on because people thought you were gay. But since its become more and more acceptable to be wearing flashy colours and the various hiphiop designers are using them in their lines you see it more often on the "gangsta" kids. We all know how people here love western designers :D

Neon/hot pink shoes and t shirts is quite normal now. Although I have yet to see people in pink jeans XD

Anonymous said...

I think pink blends in or matches sandy colors better than green. Maybe it's a more natural choice for a building in Saudi Arabia than it would be in a greener environment. The long hair vs. pink clothes conversation about babies made me laugh. :) I doubt most of us fully appreciate how much our opinions are shaped by our culture.
-Jenny from

Pia said...

Did you know that pink used to be boys colour and blue girls colour! It was because pink was seen as a more decided and stronger colour, and it was more suitable for the boy, while blue was seen as more delicate and dainty, and it was prettier for the girl :)

Anonymous said...

Pink is more popular in the UAE too. I've seen pink cars (and pink taxis for women with female drives) and pink houses. One of your neighbors lives in a pink house

Anonymous said...

I noticed that some shades of pink look strikingly attractive against the tan Middle Eastern skin.

On another note: my Finnish-American uncle proudly declared pink to be his favorite color and would wear gumball pink polo shirts while he tended to his farm. : )

Layla said...

Abdullah-thanks for the very interesting insight! Had not heard of this phenomenon of making oneself look like a fool could be something to aim for! Wow and it comes from ancient arabian poets! Even more intriguing Thanks for this I will do some further reading about this for sure :)

Layla said...

Namnai-thanks for the comment, yes the clothing is more common now than say 5 years back! But still I've never seen so many pink buildings anywhere else than Saudi :)

Layla said...

Jenny-thanks for commenting, maybe the pink does contrast better, but one of the most pink areas Abha is mountainous and very green area :)

Layla said...

Pia-no I did not know that about the colors! Thanks for sharing very interesting :)

Layla said...

Alice-wow really pink taxis for women? I'm loving it! So it must be a Khaleeji thing then huh, this pink fixation!

Layla said...

Stephi-LOL at your uncle and the pink polo shirts :)Have to agree with the skin tone thing, my husband has a pale pink tshirt and he looks soooo good in it (I got it for him years ago but he doesn't like it too much)

Layla said...

F-well I would have to agree about the gays. Sometimes I see men walking around holding hands and I wonder..are they?

Qusay said...

How about a pink thobe, sunglasses, watch, and ghutra? :)

I do not want to think about the underwear

Layla said...

Qusay-OMG this is pure AWESOME! Can I please attach it to this post? Pretty please:)

Anonymous said...

Salam Laylah!

I traveled to Lebanon with my husband this summer, and I was also ASTOUNDED by all of the pink that the men wearing--especially pink skinny jeans. When I asked his teenaged nieces what was up, they just said that it's stylish there? So I guess it's just a gender neutral thing... :?

Also--guys went around holding hands--grown men---in Lebanon as well. BIZARRE! But I think it's just cultural as well! But sooo weird coming from the west!

Unknown said...

Salam aleykum Leila,i am new blog user without a blog wow! I also live in KSA and i am new here ,also from Europe but from the souther Europe ,anywayz pink ,are u kidding me guyz ?That's not man's colour at all! Yeah it came across my country too before and men were wearing pink ,in that time even i thouhgt it was! just pink is for girls come on! Wear something black and blue ,be guyz and grab an energy drink or something! For masajid and builddings is okay to be pink but man's clothes Oh my gash!

Unknown said...

Salam aleykum Layla ,i am a new blogger and new saudi expat living in Riyadh ,i also came from Europe but southern ,i like reading your blog u sound an intersting person and very intersting topics your posting ,about the pink colour that is never manly colour ,it used to be fashionable in Europe before but for special kind of man! lol anywayz here is my skype ,very cool to know u ,and keep with the intersting posts!
c a l i e n t e _ 8 6

bigstick1 said...


What is wrong with being gay? Next being gay doesn't make you a pedophile. A pedophile is someone who likes children. There is a difference.

Next the same can be said of Arab men treating others this way.

In other words two wrongs don't make a right.

Her focus on Saudi is due to her being there in Saudi and it affecting her. People tend to write about things that have direct impact upon their lives.

Next Laylah is not American, so she could care less about American's defects as she is currently dealing with Saudi's defects.

Here is my American assessment. :)


Layla said...

anime van-thanks for the hilarious comment I really loved it :)

Layla said...

oh and anime van, notice how you mentioned the word GAY a grand total of EIGHT times in your comment, yet I didn't mention it even once in the entire post.
Wonder why you're so obsessed with GAYS?

Affinity for Modesty said...

Homosexuality is forbidden in Islam. But accusing someone without proof is even worst. Wearing pink doesn't make a man gay, in fact the day my husband wore a pink tshirt was the day i finally gave birth to our daughter after being long overdue. Funny coincidence there but nothing gay about my husband.he was beside me like my knight in shining (pink) armour.

ava said...


Nanie said...

Originally, pink was designated for boys, as it was thought to be the stronger color. In Christian tradition, red was associated as male, and its ‘little’ sibling pink was used for boys.(source) Blue was associated the Virgin Mary and therefore considered feminine.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. This long hair - in some Levant countries there is a tradition to dress little boys as girls and put eyeliner on kids in any case to scare the djinn from stealing them. Of course, who would believe in djinns these days...

As for the color - in Russia "gay" is denoted calling someone "galuboi" which is "light blue". Well, they also call caucasians "black", so it all depends... what is the color of mourning in different parts of the world.

And what comes to pink being a macho color, actually it was used as war camouflage paint in the desert as it blends in with the shadows, also in war ships and reconnaissance spitfires.

But pink pants - oh Layla have you seen the picture of Swedish King and Nalle Wahlroos a few years back? Pink pants is in vogue!

Anonymous said...

i've seen many saudi guys wearing pink superman t-shirts......ia that a sign for sumthing?

Jean said...

Instead of focusing on sexual orientation and meaning of pink, maybe a better explanation:

If Saudi women normally wear dark abaya, then she is not wearing pink in public.

So pink becomes less important as "feminine".

Anonymous said...

You must have noticed Jizanis and their colorful skirts..