Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Princess Souq

The Princess Souq! Sounds like a souq for princesses right? Glamour, glitter and gorgeous gowns?
Not exactly.
This is actually a second hand souq located near to Batha the infamous "ghetto" of Riyadh.
It's like a huge open area marketplace, fleamarket, garage sale, whatever you call it, it's worth a visit!

At first visitors might be taken aback by the set up, looks like a shack village with all the ugly metal sheets, dirty carpets, and general uncleanliness of the area.
But this is a place where women (and why not some adventurous men!) can make incredible bargains and make some surprising finds.

The name of the souq comes from rumors that the clothing was donated there by royal family princesses. This might be partly true judging on some of the items that can be found there but the majority of the clothing is normal everyday brands (not saying real Princesses wouldn't wear such but..) also some of the evening gowns are interesting. Take a look at the pics below and you will see what I mean. Would an Al-Saud Princess step out to a gala dinner in something like this for example:
I highly doubt it, although, you never know. Check out the dude in the right lower corner. I will tell you about him later.

Princess souq is open everyday but the best days to go are weekday mornings. Not too much of a crowd and you can actually see the clothes! Sometimes at night the whole area might be out of electricity and even if they do have it, the lamps are ridiculously bad quality! The shops start opening at 9-10 am and close at Dhuhr prayer sharp. Muttawa roam this area frequently so shopkeepers will promptly close their shops in fear of getting arrested. Next the shops open after Asr and then close after Isha'a prayer. On Fridays the souq is closed in the morning.
The Princess souq is also called Haraj bin Gassem and most taxi drivers will know it by this name. If you want to venture out there on your own vehicle, be prepared to get lost a few times as the area can be confusing. Take the exit 22 ask for Haraj or carpet souq which is next to it and you will be pointed to the right direction. 
 When you get to the souq the amount of clothing will be overwhelming. It's good to ask the salesmen who are mostly Indian and Pakistani and speak some English to point out the best evening gowns for you, if that's what you're looking for. Many of the nicest gowns hang from the ceilings and might be hard to spot. But there are some stunning evening gowns out there! This is also an indication of how many parties Saudi women attend (gown can only be used once then thrown).
The vast styles Saudi ladies wear to weddings and parties is really interesting. There are simple elegant ones and way over the top ones with the motto of "you cannot put too much lace, satin, bows, beading, crystals, ruffles and embroidery on one dress". It's amazing what women will actually wear! Reminds me of Christmas somehow..hmm..
 Browsing the souq you will come across the weirdest things. Here some pretty raunchy panties hanging among other underwear. I will leave it to your imagination what else can be found there..
 One of my favorite things to search for are children's clothing and little girls party dresses. They will go for as cheap as 5-10SAR a piece and the more you purchase the more discount you will get! I bring these back home to my nieces who love to dress up as little princesses. In Finland raw silk and handmade gowns like this would cost anywhere form 100 euros up, so getting them for a mere fraction of the price is totally worth the hassle.
^^Saudi Haute Couture anyone?
 There he is again! The down side to shopping at Princess souq are the perverts. I also call this place Pervert Central. I would not advise women to go here alone but always in groups or preferably with husbands. If you absolutely must go alone then take a trusted driver to walk around with you. I have been groped here in full daylight by men walking past and just taking a go. Another tactic they use is lurking behind the clothing stands.
One of my friends actually caught a guy masturbating behind the racks. My tactic is to take their picture and shout at them. Sometimes they need serious actions! The above creepy creepers were following us around on different occasions.
The first guy pretended to be purchasing something. I told him to take a hike and he started asking if we were Russians and wouldn't listen to me telling him to piss off, he just continued his game.I finally shouted at him very loudly and he shouted back F**k you Russians! He left cursing us.

The perv #2 was just staring at us. I tried to take his pic but he kept turning around. So next I told the salesman about his behavior (they know these guys sometimes) and he just picked up and old shoe from the ground and threw it in the perverts direction! The slimeball ran away.

So if you find yourself in these situations it's best to make a big deal to expose him and do ask the salesmen for help, they are very friendly and polite.

For once the Hai'a who are strongly present in this area would come in handy but guess what? They only concentrate on shouting from their megaphones for women to cover and men to close shops for prayer and go pray. Sometimes they even beat people to go pray. One of my Asian colleagues got shouted at and beaten on her legs for wearing an abaya that had small butterflies on it. She was forced to cover it with a plain black one from the souq.
That's the priorities of the religious police for you..
 So what about the prices? It's an absolute MUST to haggle here! Prices range according to the color of your face. No joke! Western women might get asked 100 SAR for something Indians or Filipinos might get for 10 SAR. I never paid more than 50SAR for an evening gown and that was only once! Usually they will go for 20-30 a piece, children starting from 10-20 a piece.
Normal clothing is much cheaper, you can get three shirts or skirts for 10 SAR. If you find an expensive brand name don't mention it to the seller, sometimes they are not even aware. The above blue evening gown cost me 15SAR and it's flawless and looks stunning! If you are not getting results with your bargaining skills, simply WALK away. 90% of the time the seller will run after you and sell for the price you asked.
 You will not want to buy anything with a stain on it, but sometimes some stains have slipped my attention. Some do come off in laundry but the salesmen will try to convince you everything comes off. I always take the evening gowns to the dry cleaners in Saudi because it's really cheap here and they will iron the gowns for you too. The rest of the clothes I just wash in the washing machine. It's always a good idea to check that the zippers are working.
You can find the most beautiful wedding gowns here as well. Most of them have been custom made. The above dress came down from 750 to 220 SAR. It has intricate lace and beading detail and is high quality silk, the veil is simply breath taking! Below one of the beautiful gowns more my style that I found for 20SAR:
So is it worth the dust, traffic, perverts, sometimes heat and all the hassle? In my opinion it's a definite YES! But I like little "adventures" and don't mind a few setbacks. This place is surely not for everyone. I took my mother and sister there when they were visiting Saudi and they really liked it.
Here are my little nieces fascinated by their new REAL Princess dresses :)


Anonymous said...

Aww the photos of your nieces are too cute!

An interesting post - are there many shops such as these in Riyadh or in Saudi in general? This is the first of its kind which I've heard of. I was always under the impression that a shop like this would be hard to find given the notion of always buying new things, wearing once and throwing it out, and that the idea of a well to do Saudi woman shopping at a second hand store would just be ridiculous. Who are the main types of customers? Could the store be possibly run by women?

I think its a great initiative actually, its a good way to give back to the community and to encourage others to donate their things.

Farooq said...

mashallah very cute neices. easily the best pictures of the lot.

Interesting to know of such a place. There are bargains to be definitely made in such places. Though as you suggested, women do have to be careful when they visit these markets. Preferably in the morning on a weekday when there are lesser crowds. My wife had a very bad experience in Batha once in the evening of a weekday even though I was with her. Not that I came away unscathed, my wallet got pick pocketed as well. But that's another story :-)

Anonymous said...

I´m moving from Finland to Riyadh 3 March and will working KFSH :)

Noor said...

OMG I can not believe what women here have to deal with and us Western women have to deal with it times 10000. This is why I always take my husband with me. My husband and I went through Batha but I was like ugh lets get out of here lol. And now after hearing this and the above comment I am scared even more. BUt wow that blue dress is really nice mashAllah I may have to go there. Actually now that I think about I think we did go there but we never got out of the car. It was all men and like you said they seemed weird and I did not want to deal with their crap that day.

Layla said...

Huda-there are not many "shops" like this anywhere in Riyadh. This is actually a huge area with maybe hundred shops.
Saudi women do shop here, but they are the poor ones..You would NEVER see any other Saudi woman here that's for sure.
Only buy brand new stuff.
Main types of customers are the poor Saudis, Pakistani, Indian, Filipino and other Asian expats..Some westerners..

Layla said...

Farooq-Please do tell us what happened! Strange things happen in Batha sometimes! It's the city of men so women usually feel VERY intimated there, plus the muttawa are just horrible there.

Layla said...

flying finn- How cool!! Where will you work there? Do you know some Finns here in Riyadh already? Let me know if you need any help :)

Layla said...

Noor-I understand that feeling! Sometimes you just can't be bothered and other times I could kill those staring men, I can't tolerate the rude behavior AT ALL! That's not a good time to go of course..

bigstick1 said...

I just can help myself: Okay well, women are forced to wear the black bat sacks so that they are not seen as sex objects but men go out of their way to tell women they are sex objects. In fact, from the sounds of many that I have blogged with in the middle east this type of behavior is typical where women are harassed more often than not.

Now I just have to ask what is the purpose of the black bat sacks again? Isn't it to cover the awrah? So that women would be respected?

Okay, Laylah. I know you know where I am going with this. Admit it. Saudi is oversexualized to the nth degree.

Affinity for Modesty said...


Laylah, I loooove your blog.

bigstik1, I happened to wander on your blog and I find that you seem to have a strong prejudice towards anything Saudi,Islam and Muslim men? U boldly stated Abrahamic religions are enemies of women? That all Saudi men are women-oppressing barbarians? The Quran and its problems? Certainly I can safely say that you are a very aggressive hater when it comes to our beautiful religion-Islam. I am a muslim woman and I wear the abaya and I find it very rude of you to call my daily attire,mmm what was it, a black bat sack? certainly freedom of speech is very much appreciated but with freedom comes responsibility. I suggest you read back the Quran but before you do that, kindly take off your narrow-minded thinking hat. I'm sure most of the visitors on this website are Muslims and we would appreciate if you could hold your sarcasm towards Islam.

Btw Laylah, your blog is one of my top reads and I love the way you write. My husband is from Jeddah and we have a 4 month old daughter. Your daughter is beautiful mashaAllah!

Lots of love,
Umm Gamar

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Danielletrini said...

This place sounds great. My god daughter would love those dresses. And so cheap too!

Heli said...

Hei Leylah! Sinulle on blogissani hyvän mielen haaste :)

Layla said...

Huda-take that back. Apparently the Pakistani women in Riyadh DO NOT shop here. No way. Too demeaning, It's too dirty and disgusting to buy used clothes! You might get a disease! Or it might have been used by a DEAD person! It has nothing to do with recycling and in fact supports Princesses splurging on more dresses for themselves! You cannot believe the stuff some ppl said about this souq has certainly been an eye opener. No green values whatsoever!
And I thought it's only the Saudis who are too prude, ignorant or just lack environmental awareness altogether to shop here..I was wrong, it's very widespread in countries like Pakistan and India. But then again those countries are a complete mess so why am I even surprised here? LOL
Sorry for the small rant. I have a hard time dealing with ignorance, I've noticed.

SO my reply to you is simply who shop here:
A)Poor people who can't afford much else.
B)Middle class people who want to make savings and recycle.
C)Rich people who are environmentally conscious and want to support the cause.

bigstick1 said...


Your right, they are not black bat sacks. They just make women look like bats. They are black awrah sacks. These wonderful sacks have been responsible for so many deaths and so much agony of women. To me they are a symbolism of death and opression, nothing more. So from my point of view they represent something truly vile and disgusting. Similar to a hangman's noose, KKK uniform or the confederate flag to an African American.

If you really would like to discuss more on the subject. I will be glad to do so on my blog as I doubt Laylah wants too much of this discussed on her blog. I promise my bark is far worse than my bite. I am always eager to speak to people so long as you understand that the likelihood of me offending you is there. I will even discuss the oversexualization statements you touched on.

However, I will not apologize to you or anyone for having this opinion. I could ask you to take the oppressive piece of cloth off as to me it represents death, torture, hatred, gender apartheid, degradation, the list of vile thing just go on. But, I don't.

I have read the quran, hadith, fiqh, life of muhammad, other apologist for Islam, as well as the opposing and archeological understandings of both muslim and non-muslims. I have also read several studies of the archeology for the origins of Abrahamic religions dating back before Judaism to the formation of Judaism and how Yahweh was taken from a number of pagan gods to form "the one." I will be happy to discuss this with you as well on a different blog.

I really don't care to much about muslim's sensibilities particularly lately as just about any little thing can set them off in death spirals. Hey don't feel pick on though. I really don't care for Judaism, Christians, Pastafarianism, Scientology etc. either. Although Pastafarianism sound very interesting.


Are you going to answer the initial question regarding Saudi Arabia being oversexualized to the nth degree or are you waiting to see my reply to the two bloggers?

bigstick1 said...

Sorry Laylah, for whatever reason I never did see your comment. Actually, there are a number of men who will go after the woman who is completely covered up for a few reasons.

1) She is from a culture or religion that places the blame of such an attack on a woman thus he knows the following:
a) Her reporting the incident is highly unlikely as it will reap great tradegy to her life.
b) She has typically not had self-defense classes or is self aware enough to fight to inflict serious bodily harm to her attacker.
c) The amount of clothing actually can inhibit her escape.
d) The other women are more proned to reporting the incident as the shame of the attack is on the attacker not the victim.

2) He wants to know what is under the cloth more than that which is shown because:
a) it is a mystery
b) it is a conquest

Next, if you know anything about Egypt and their harassing techniques then you will know that it doesn't matter what you wear. Your are going to be harassed until you teach men that there are severe consequences to such actions.

Now that being said for others it doesn't matter what a woman wears as the attack is not about that. It is about there need to feel in control and power. It has nothing to do with sexuality and everything to do with power.

Farooq said...

Well I was in Batha trying to buy some stuff with my wife, who was about 5 days old in the kingdom. Looking back on it, I realise it was extremely stupid but well I learnt my lesson. Everything was ok while we walked along the shops in the main street for Batha. Suddenly there was a big rush of people selling something and in that hustle, i lost my wallet with all my cards etc and she got groped. In the crowd, couldn't really make out who it was. She was very traumatized as you can imagine. While she stood in a relatively open part of the street, I looked around for my wallet where I lost it (Was hoping it fell out of my pocket coz of the rush but no such luck)

A policeman noticing her looking agitated asked her what happened. So she told him that someone took my wallet. And he shook his head saying, "very bad people here" and left. lol

After that the first thing I did was to call the bank to cancel my credit and debit cards which I did after waiting for something like 3 minutes listening to, "you'r call is important, please wait for representative" grr..

After canceling the cards, I called by boss to tell him about the loss of my iqama. He advised me to go to the police station and report it. I didnt know where the nearest police station was so I resorted to asking the cab drivers for directions. First guy I asked, he started asking me questions. "Why do you want to go to the police station?", "Where did you lose your iqama?", "Did you lose it or did it get stolen?", "Where exactly did it get stolen", "How did it get stolen". I was boiling with anger by then, finally he says, "oh i dont know where the police station is".

After a repeat of the same conversation with another cab driver, I finally managed to get directions. We got into the car and started driving there. In the time it took for me to cancel my cards, talk to my boss and get directions from the cab drivers my father kept calling me from back home. I wasnt picking his call coz I was too stressed out to talk to him without him knowing something was wrong. So while we were in the car driving to the station, he called again and this time I picked. After the inital greeting, the first thing he said was, "have you lost your wallet there?"

I was lost for words for a few seconds and then said yes. He told me that he was getting a call from someone in Riyadh telling him that they had found my wallet and his number inside it. He gave me the guy's number and I called him up. He/They met me and handed me the wallet. They told me that they found the wallet missing all the cash but with all the cards inside lying under a car.

I thanked them and we left. Lesson learnt at the expense of about SAR 2500.

My apologies about the length of my reply.

Affinity for Modesty said...

Bigstick1, I must say you are a very arrogant person, hailing proudly that you will continue to speak your mind EVEN if it offends other people and their beliefs. My 'sack' is something i am proud to wear without pressure from anybody but myself and the need to obey my God. Sometimes I do wear other kind of clothing besides the abaya (I live in Malaysia, a Malaysian married to a Saudi) but i make sure my awrah is covered. I used to be a non hijabi in my university life, I would wear skin tight clothing albeit donning a scarf on my head. I realised the difference in terms of treatment I get from men and people in general from my past and now. I received plenty of stares, sexual gestures and plenty of times I would get remarks such as "Your lips are so sexy" and once a guy even said to me that he thought I looked really horny.( I don't know where that came from) but i came up with the conclusion that maybe something is not right. my "sexy" body was on display and those men were just being men. After my bachelors degree, upon rediscovering my own religion, I started to don some more modest clothing, it was a gradual effort but hamdulillah. And let me reassure you my dear Bigstick, there has never been a single incident of sexual advances from any men other than my husband! i decided that i cannot control those perverted men, but i CAN control myself and thats my personal experience on the benefits of covering my awrah with my "sack". I don't think I look like a bat but if you see it that way, hmm, maybe you need to see an optitionist?

And i agree with Laylah that most probably those perverted men would prey on the uncovered lady although in some rare cases there may be men who would prefer the fully covered women but seriously, those cases are so isolated (I mean men would opt for the covered lady rather than the uncovered one). As Huda said, men will be men and I'd rather be all mysterious and unknown to him while he is doing business with his big stick than to allow him to see my body and actually imagine how he can touch it and fantasize every detail of my body. Pertaining to your concept that sexual attack is more about power than sexuality, i agree partially. and that is another reason why modesty is essential here. Based on a study conducted by the University of Missouri, men reacts negatively towards images of "sexy" women. From the research, they found that most men becomes self concious and their self esteem dropped. Low self esteem added to the fact that these are men with perverted desires would equate to struggle for power, to dominate. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network) every 2 minute , someone in the U.S is sexually assaulted. Why is that? According to over 3 million reports of child abuse are made and out of that horrific number 7.6% are sexual abuse. Sexuality and power is not only restricted towards adult women but children are not spared.why is that? have a look at this link and you will see why -

Affinity for Modesty said...

Islam teaches not only women but men to guard their desires and to lower their gaze among other vast yet simple commands. Combine and obey all the teachings of Islam and we will see no perverts, alas that can only happen in a perfect world. You stated that you have "read" all the Islamic books yet you are not convince. I pray Allah give you hidayah. Yet, millions of reverts will choose to disagree with you and the number of people turning to Islam is growing despite people like you who are cynical about this perfect religion. Do I doubt any Muslim man abusing his wife? No, but that has nothing to do with Islam and everything to do with backward culture and the man himself. Believe me, those men who abuse their women do not fear Allah thus making him lost from religion. you can take away the Abrahamic religion yet you will still see backward people! All I can really say is that you are among the minority of Americans who cannot tolerate Islam and are prejudice towards religion, hamdulillah.

About Saudi, there is a few things I dislike, among them are extreme gender segregation, dress code enforcement. However, tell me, which country is perfect? People love to point out the "flaws" in Saudi but come on, tell me which country is so perfect? In the U.S you have organizations such as NAMBLA, LGBT etc. The immigration law in U.S, don't even get me started. Apart from these "flaws", Saudi Arabia has a lot of wonderful things to offer as can be seen in Laylah's website here.

in conclusion,

“Man in the early times was almost naked, and as his intellect evolved he started wearing clothes. What I am today and what I’m wearing represents the highest level of thought and civilization that man has achieved, and is not regressive. It’s the removal of clothes again that is regressive back to ancient times” - Nobel laureate, Tawakul Karman

bigstick1 said...

First, let tackle your University of Missouri study. The study provides photos of sexy women and men in to male participants. It should be no surprise that men focus in on women. They rate themselves as self-conscience as they feel that they would not be good enough for these women. That doesn't mean that men will go out and attack a woman. Now here the part of the study you failed to convey. They then continued the study . This time they split up the two groups with one group with the picture only and the other with the capition of Good looking women like normal guys. Guess what? The second group had no self-conscience problem. So, what does this tell you? It tells you that your intellectual and image preception is governed by your understanding . In other words it is about the utilization of your mind. This study in no way helps support your position.
Now, lets talk about sexual abuse number s that you want to beat the US up on. First 28% of sexual abuse are by those people call intimates. In other words, this would be a husband or boyfiend who is already involved in a sexual relationship with the women. Next is relatives which include mother, father, sister, brother, etc. and that is 7%, the next is 38% of friends and acquiences, leaving 27 % as actually stranger attacks. By the way these figures from the organization doesn't distinquish between men, women, boys or girls. So just so you know men can be in this grouping as rape or sexual assault vicitms. It then goes further and states that 46% of the offenders are serial criminals. Again, SERIAL CRIMINALS. What that means is opportunitist who don't give a flip for any law or anyone let alone modesty codes. Let's go further 40% of victims of this occurred inside the victims home. Inside the home, now think about that. Now 20% of this occurs in relatives and friends homes. Interesting don't you think. Now for getting attacked in a parking lot you have about a 7% chance of that.

bigstick1 said...

Now your claims seems towards me seems to indicate that I hate Islam and that is not the case. I dislike all religion. Islam just happens to be in the grouping.
Next, you take about the USA on organizations such as NAMBA and LGBT.
Let start with NAMBA. They are an extremely small group of demented individuals who generate a great deal of disgust by most Americans.
Now let's talk about why it is not necessary for such a group in the Saudi and most muslim countries. Because the Prophet married a 6 year old and it is accepted in the country. So it is a widespead practice whereby a lot of parents sell their daughter legally for bride money to old men.
Next lets talk about abuse allowed by muslim men. They are allowed to thigh an infant. Here in the US, that is called sexual abuse and you get to go to jail. Remember you prophet thighed Aisha and then married her at 6 and consummated the marriage at 9. All of this is currently practiced in many muslim countries.
Now NAMBA talks about it but MANY MUSLIMS are doing this with children. Children or Age of Consent in the US is 18.

Are you aware that the fiqh allows children to be married and that includes very young males? Maybe you should really read Reliance of the Traveller. This is what Saudi professes to abide by and it is where at least 80 % of the sharia is derived from. Interesting read, I assure you.
Of course I would hate to be a boy in many muslim countries. You have heard of Bachi Boys haven't you.
Next LGBT is an organization about people who have a preference of sexual orientation. This is not abnormal behavior is a minority behavior and it is normal. This is how the individual was born and it their preference. There is nothing wrong with them. However, you do show your homophobic tendency by calling attention to this organization.
You should know that Saudi Arabia is well known for it's homosexual activity.
Next, lets talk about immigrations laws in comparison to Saudi. Oh wait, children not born to a Saudi parent doesn't even have Saudi citizenship. This is even if they have never lived anywhere else. Oh, yes women have a difficult time ever getting Saudi citizenship. Hmmmm. .........what about non-muslims? Nope, not them either. Amazing..... I see a trend here.
The Nobel Laureate Tawakul Karman is an activist who has an opinion on attire. However, that opinion doesn't not provide much as far as society construct in the forms of gender designed degradation, subjugation or degradation which is generally supported by religion.
Point of Issue: No where on my blog have I stated that all male muslims men did XX. I generally don't like make such board statements. Now, if you feel that you are right. Then by all means given me the article and I will look at it.
Next, religion has systematically harmed men, women and children in numerous way with the very least by allowing sexual abuse and physical abuse. As we unchain ourselves from this scourge of religion we are left to re-evaluate the damage done and the scars of religion. We then must re-craft a society based upon common equality, respect and dignity. This evolution will take some time and their are many hurdles. The biggest hurdle for many is taking off the blinders, stop hiding behind curtains or sacks, and dealing with what taught. This will then allow us to deal with the damage that is being done to us as humans and openly discussing the issues some of which are offensive as it goes against teachings which have been held up by culture, tradition and religion which will, has and is currently abusing us as humans.

bigstick1 said...

Here are some ways that some are attempting to re-craft our thinking:

Now, Laylah is going to cyber kill me for this long response. So again, if you want more come to my website.

Sandy :) said...

I would like to point out that part of why men would harass the more uncovered woman is because they've been TAUGHT that her dressing that way indicates availability. In the quest to encourage women to where black sacks they have created an understanding that women that do not do this are choosing not to in order to indicate availability. Also if they see a westerner doing it, after all their remarks about how western women all sleep around they assume what they've been taught is true.

Bigstick as a Muslim I don't find your calling abayas "black sacks" at all. That is pretty much exactly what they look like and you are under no obligation to respect them. Personally I think women have the right to wear them to the same degree they have NOT to wear them.

Affinity for Modesty said...

Hi Bigstick1

About the University of Missouri studies on sexy images and its impact on the human mind, exactly my dear bigstick1, once the men where told that they would have no problem in establishing relations with these women, their self conscience were not affected. Now tell me, would you say those PERVERTED men out there are in any way near to being understanding? Women are never to be blame in any sexual crimes against them but as I said, I cannot control those men but I can control myself.

Next about our beloved Prophet Muhammad SAW. If you take the time to study a little bit about the history of the tribes in South America, Middle East, Africa, India and the far eastern Oriental countries 1400 years ago, you would find that many TRIBES even until today allow the marriage of females at a very young age.Child brides were common among the Byzantine emperors and nobility. It is important to know that girls during the Biblical and Islamic days used to be married off at young ages when they either had their first periods, or their breasts start showing off. In other words, when they turn into "women", then they get married.The culture back then and in many third world countries today (NON-MUSLIM ONES TOO) is quite different than what you live in today.In Ancient Rome, it was very common for girls to marry and have children shortly after the onset of puberty.The American colonies were also not exempted. For example, Mary Hathaway (1689) was only 9 when she was married to William Williams.We all need to understand the culture that we are talking about. Life in the rural Middle East is a very simple one. It is a lot simpler than what our brain can imagine, because the simplest to you in America may be a very difficult or complicated thing to those folks who live in tribes in the rural areas where they don't have TV, electricity, or any electrical equipment. They live on natural water and survive on what they have available from fruits, vegetables and animals as food.
Parents look at the girl's physical appearance when they prepare her for marriage. They don't care about her age. She could be 9 or 13, it doesn't matter. Now, I am not saying i agree with the matter, simply stating the facts and their circumstances. Pertaining to today's Saudi Arabia society, the Justice Ministry is working on new regulations to control marriages involving very young girls. Many members of the Shoura Council are calling to make the marriageable age to 18. Gradual efforts alas still an on-going effort. Many Saudis agree that setting an age of consent is very important in the modern age.

Affinity for Modesty said...

The other statements you made are just too ridiculous (Bachi Boy, selling daughters, etc) because perhaps they are being done by "Muslims" but no way are they associated in the teachings of Islam. Again you prove to show difficulty in differentiating between Islamic teachings, culture and individuals. "And their business is (conducted) through consultation among themselves." (Quran.42:38)

You stated that you dislike all religion. I believe once we dislike something, it hinders us from seeing anything good that thing has to offer. I for one do not dislike any other religion or culture as I believe tolerance is vital. Once we start to dislike, we end up being disrespectful, arrogant, narcissistic and we become blind to everything else except our own narrowed mindset. The only things I truly hate are lies, exploitations of any kind and child abuse.

I do not know so much about other religion but I could safely say that you are on the err when it comes to Islam. You mention once that Islam encourages killings, raping, oppression, apartheid. Please show me one verse in the Quran to support your claims and please play nice (do not skim the Quranic versus by taking some parts and leaving other parts). Islam clearly abhor these issues-
1) Killings - “And do not kill any You shall not kill any person – for God has made life sacred – except in the course of justice, and whoever is slain unjustly, We have indeed given to his heir authority, so let him not exceed the just limits in slaying; surely he is aided.” (Quran.17:33) “And if you punish, you shall inflict an equivalent punishment. But if you resort to patience (instead of revenge), it would be better for the patient ones. You shall resort to patience-and your patience is attainable only with God’s help. Do not grieve over them, and do not be annoyed by their schemes.”Q. 6:126-7

Rape/oppression - “… and do not aggress; God dislikes the aggressors.” (Q.5:87)

apartheid - “.., we decreed for the Children of Israel that anyone who murders any person who had not committed murder or horrendous crimes, it shall be as if he murdered all the people. And anyone who spares a life, it shall be as if he spared the lives of all the people. ..” (Qur’an 5:32) “O mankind ! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly, the most honored of you in God’s sight is the greatest of you in piety. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” (Q.49:13)

Again I ask you, please re read the Quran without prejudice. Therein are history, lessons and a teaching for a complete way of life. May Allah give you hidayah.

bigstick1 said...

We are done with this topic on this blog site. I will leave a response on my site under rant page in the next day or two.

Farooq said...

Funny how a blog post about a secondhand clothes market can turn into a big debate about the evils of religion.

Someone earlier mentioned about the Prophet marrying an underage girl. I wanted to share a very well written article about this. I suggest that everyone reads it with an open mind.

Layla said...

Sandy-Some men that grow up in certain cultures will always think the western woman is "easy" no matter what she wears. But I still think her walking around in abaya vs in tight jeans would generate a different response from such men..

Layla said...

Bigstick-I thought I sort of did answer by stating how gender segregation makes matters worse and creates problems such as harassment and perverts.In other words, yes of course Saudi is oversexualized because of these idiotic practices.

Layla said...

Bigstick- LOL I won't cyber kill you as long as you remain respectful to other people.

Layla said...

Farooq-ya I know it's funny! I'm too tired to participate fully as sometimes it seems like fighting against a windmill ;)

Yazzie said...

This looks like a great place to treasure hunt! Do you know if there's a used books section?
It's a good idea to take pics of the men who harass women if you can do so safely. This is what some women in NYC have started doing.

I grew up in NYC and have encountered my fair share of gropers and flashers on the subway but I would've been too shocked or scared to even think about snapping a pic.

Layla said...

Texas-LOL I know this place is full of surprises!

Layla said...

Yazzie-It certainly is! Nearby there are so many other used stuff souqs like furniture, other home stuff and appliances. But now that I think of it, never saw books. Next time I go I will ask someone and try to find out!

Noor said...

I think it may be somewhere else we went is there a place called hamam or something?

Noor said...

LOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL this cracked me up

Noor said...


Desert Housewife A. (The Canadian in Jubail) said...

Layla, you're awesome :-D

BigStick1 all I got from your long @ss comments was "Pastafarians" and "bat sack" something X-D

Bob said...

Went there yesterday to buy more weights for my home gym. I was with a friend who is quite buff from being a gym rat. HE got groped by a young Arab man while we were trying to get through a crowd, so However, that was a first for both of us.

I would suggest going in the morning after 8:00am or after Asr on a weekday as quite a lot of the market is open air. Come Mhagrib time it becomes a ghost town as it's too dark to do business and most people leave. Only the store/tin sheds there remain open but they are just a fraction of the souk. We made the mistake of going there on a Friday, BAD IDEA! the traffic is really bad and there was a sea of people who seemed to be picking the place clean.

Most blogs seem to talk about clothes but no one ever mentions that you can find practically whatever you want; furniture, carpets, kitchenware and electronics also make up a HUGE proportion of the stalls there. However, with electronics goods becoming more and more affordable most people just go out and them new.

The downside is that you may have to wade through a lot of junk as it varies quite a bit from time to time. Most things are second hand but not everything. A lot of times it's goods that distributors want to get rid of, but this is rare.

You must be prepared to haggle really well, the merchants will size you up and charge you accordingly. It's what merchants have always done, they want to make a decent profit so be cool with it. I know people cringe and say "Oh no I make a lot more than these people so I can afford what they charge" often the price is a fraction of what they ask. Always ask prices and compare between stores to get a rough idea of how much the going price is.

Happy Hunting...

Dcs said...

indeed, just like Don Quexote ;)

Saadia said...

I'm so fed up of these groping perverts!!! They scare the shit out of me. Please do a post about dealing with these sickos.

Anonymous said...

Those countries are a complete mess because of essentially being robbed by European colonizers for over 200 years. Everyone was out looking for India cause of its wealth, resources, education, and the legendary beauty of the women to marry. Now after all these time it is recovering from a history that people from countries such as Europe and the Middle East have not experienced. The practice of not using recycled clothes comes from the Victorian era through which these countries were occupied, as some of these habits were introduced by the European colonizers.

Taher Kagalwala said...

Dear Laylah,

The more I delve into your blog, the more I am in complete love with it. I stay alone here in a small village about 600 km away from Riyadh on the route to Jeddah. I visited Riyadh last week for an exam that I gave there. I have thoroughly enjoyed this post, as well as some of the others. My own blog is, and you are welcome to visit it. I am greatly inspired by your writing - the content as well as the tenor of your comment and your brave renouncing of the negatives of this country.

P.S. The comments section on this post was too good. I enjoyed the sparring between the American guy bigstick1 and the lady who replied to her so bravely. Kudos to you!

Layla said...

drtaher- Thanks so much for the comments and sorry for not getting back to you earlier!

What village is it that you live in? That must be very challenging, but also sounds very adventurous to me! Are there any historical sites near you? What do you do there if you don't mind me asking? Sounds os interesting :)

Hope to hear back from you soon,

Unknown said...

I would definatelly go to the souq,I need gown for a wedding party! As revealing and flashy the better! hahahhaa!