Monday, January 7, 2013

A Male Perspective On Marriage, Tribes And Love In Saudi-Arabia

We hardly ever hear the candid voices of Saudi men in regards to relationships, marriage and thoughts of living in a tribal society. 
The following post is written by an anonymous Saudi man. He could be anyone, his thoughts and feelings are probably shared by many others out there. I came across this post on Facebook and found it so interesting and compelling I felt it should be shared with more people. I asked the author and he agreed to share his thoughts on Blue Abaya.
In his post, which he says was written as a sort of apologetic letter to the women he hurt in his life, the writer goes through tribalism and its deeper meanings in the society while trying to explain to himself, and to the women who came across his path, the reasoning behind his actions. The piece has very insightful analysis about tribes, "meta-tribes" and the complex matter that is marriage in Saudi-Arabia.

The problems that arise from tribalism are numerous and seemingly only negatively effect the Saudi woman. In reality the strong tribal practices in Saudi-Arabia today have negative effects on everyone on all levels of society.
Read more about tribalism in Saudi-Arabia here:

Another reason I want to share this post is I often feel like the western media is portraying a false image of Saudi men. The illusion is of somewhat brain washed, rather boring men going about their monotonous days without much feeling or thought about life or how it would've been had he been born without the y chromosome.

The truth is Saudi men have hopes, dreams and fears just like any man in any other country. Especially the new generation seems to have a lot of frustration toward the contradictions and hardships they face in their every day lives living in a tribal society such as Saudi-Arabia. 

What I thought makes this post special is the fact that Saudi men are usually private about these personal affairs and we hardly get a glimpse into the depths of their minds.

It's long, but a great read. Feel free to share it.

"Why am I not married, or in a serious relationship and the Meta Tribe"

Plain and simple, the reason why I am not in a serious relationship of any kinda goes back to 1 reason, reverse tribalism or Meta Tribalism. It might not be a term you can google as I have coined it lately. This is, of course, my own perception and reality might be a little different or inconsistent with it since this is not a research paper. But in this post I will try to explain what Meta Tribe means and how it affects my love life and how I chose to deal with it.

Intro to tribes

So why does the need for tribal societies to marry off their young to other “compatible” tribes exist? its kind of a known fact that tribal marriage rituals were created as a system to insure money doesn't fly far off a group of people, as well as to minimize threats on a group of people and to minimize the influence of a stronger tribes and groups of people on this said family or tribe. This is also a criteria of what is considered a ”compatible” tribe. If a family or tribe has the same power amongst other tribes, or the same financial level, this will insure that money doesn't fly to others who are greedy or that the other tribe aimed to take advantage of the other tribe's social status or power, also this makes sure that civility dictates when conflicts arise as so much more than just 2 people are involved. Of course all these hazards could be minimized if the marriage happens between two of the same tribe.

This of course rises from weak judicial systems and weak civil society institutions as well as the lack of insurance and retirement plans and social security where people are forced to huddle up in “tribes” to protect themselves. This is also why we see a high dependance on the young in a family to taking care of the elderly of these tribes. The elderly depend heavily on the young to survive. Of course these reasons might look like they disappeared now days to some or they are under a layer of ignorance and tradition, but I assure you that those are some of the reasons why marriage rituals in tribal societies exist and why they continue to exist.

Meta tribes

What is interesting in my opinion is the backlash that non-tribal families had because of this. Since tribes have a strong political and financial power, non-tribals fearing for their well being around much more powerful groups started grouping together. Non-tribals started creating Meta Tribes amongst like minded and financially compatible families around them for the same reasons that Tribals created tribes. Similar marriage and partnership rituals grew out of this too. Families will choose to reject suiters for a lady from an “incompatible” because of the family's social status, religious values, financial situation, association with other families that might or might not be of compatible nature. This is just about talking about neighboring families in the same city, imagine how it would be if a suitor was from another country. This also applies if a man decides to get married from another “incompatible” family, the family of the man would object almost as much as a lady's family would, even though its easier for a man to do what he pleases legally, but a woman would need the approval of a legal guardian. This is what I call reverse tribalism, or Meta Tribalism, and it does exist.

Me my family

So before I come to the conclusion, a little bit about me must be communicated. I am a proud person, I hate begging for acceptance. I grew up being a non-tribal geeky nerd kid in the center of all Saudi Arabian tribalism. I was called gay for having a softer west saudi arabian accent, this explains why I learned to merge accents and adapt my language. I was picked on for being different and a geek and a person of higher grades. I was also picked on for being more westernized as I grew up on lots of american TV and media. I was an easy target for everyone. When I lived alone in my college years I learned to be proud of who I am, be an individual and not care about what others think, I found acceptance between a great group of friends. I know what I want to do and who I want to be. I can't go back to that fool was begging for acceptance from a society that rejected him. I learned to be proud and bend for nobody. I also learned that I don't like most people. Dont get me wrong, I don't mind most people, I am pretty social, but the people I like close to me are very rare. It takes me on average a 2 year relationship with a person with constant hanging out to even consider them close friends., if they manage to be my friend for that long. I also have a very specific way of life and a set of beliefs that finally made me a happy person. I won't go into details as some of these believes and choices might get me killed or put one of my family members in danger. I know what I want to accomplish in live, I have specific goals in life and those goals are my compass and will bend over and down to have them accomplished. If I cant get them accomplished, then I will die trying. I want to create a sustainable game industry in the middle east, and I want that to be my legacy.

I also met many women in my life of course, some were saudi and some were from other countries, and I know my taste in women now. I know what I want in a life partner and I know what emotions to look for in myself as signs of compatibility and chemistry. I know my skills as a person and I recognized my faults as a human and I do look for a partner in life that completes these faults to create a solid unit. A person that shares my believes and enjoys being part of my way of life. A person I can be part of their lives and a best friend amongst their friends and a friend to their friends too. I am not a kid falling in love and I am not a naive brat who just wants to piss off his family. I know what I want and what I need. This being said, most of the women that meet these criteria for me are women who are not from this country, and I have met a lot too, but chose not to persue them.

My family is a simple family from a non-tribal decent. My mom is from a simple family from makkah and my father is from a simple family in Madina. Two holy cities, the pressure I feel to be a good human being. My two parents focused on their education, got scholarships to go to the US and get their higher degrees from esteemed US universities, amongst them is UCS. They both got their PHDs and during their PHD days is when I was born. They have achieved high status in the community and they are known to be trust worthy and they are respected by everyone. They provided a life that is unimaginable to a young non-tribal in saudi. The house was full of love and acceptance even though the world outside the house didn't accept me or love me. They offered me the best education, the best nutrition and care as well as everything they ever could give me to make me feel comfortable while in saudi. I have never mentioned their name is shame, EVER. I have high respects for what they have accomplished in their lives and I love them unconditionally as they loved me unconditionally. Nothing is perfect though.

The issue with my family does rise with their commitment to the Meta Tribe I spoke up earlier. Due to their experience in life they have seen many people dealing with the backlash of marrying from outside of the meta tribe as well as deal with some complicated political and sociological problems after a divorce, especially if kids were involved. They have seen the pain that people went through and have seen how much damage that has caused not to the married/divorced people themselves but also for their direct and indirect families as well as for their kids. Those negative effects do happen from time to time and solving them is never easy. They don't want their baby, me, that they have nurtured for so long to be in pain or suffer from such issues, and that is understandable. They want me to have the life they have found to be the best for me, with nice daughter of their friend's. They have expressed firmly mamy times that they would never accept a non-saudi or a girl that is not from a compatible family.

Some of my experience

As the nature of Riyadh's ultra conservative social structure (capital of Saudi where I live currently), I am not really in contact with many saudi women, except virtually online. I met people in real life that I have known virtually for a while, knowing someone virtually doesn't count in the bigger picture of “knowing them”. The social structure doesn't allow me to observe their behavior around their friends, and it wouldn't allow me to observe their behavior around my friends. I don't consider that “knowing” someone at all. Not that I judge people who do, I just know myself and know how I feel about it, it just doesn't suite me. The women that I do meet in my social circles are not really my type too, its already a rare occurrence to meet a saudi woman in my circles, and the ones I meet are not my type at all. 

So why don't I venture into other cities in saudi you say where people are dominantly less tribal? It just doesn't serve my goals, other cities just don't have the jobs or opportunities that Riyadh has. My goals come first. I tried to get to know a person that lived in another city once or twice though. For instance, I knew this one girl for a while online and we were good friends and she was from a “compatible” family, but once we hungout in another neighboring country for real and not online while we were traveling, it just didn't fit in inside my head, the whole experience was weird, I wasn't myself and she wasn't herself that I knew online. It was a complete mess, I didn't feel the relationship at all and it felt like I was digging myself a huge hole. I ended up panicking and doing something that I will always regret, I called her fat just to break up with her. I will always be a horrible human for what I have done. I don't want this type of crap to happen to her or anyone else so I will save the whole world my crap by going far away from the online saudi dating scene. If that lady was reading this, I am forever sorry. 

I once met a person that I thought could have been the one here in Riyadh, geeky, intelligent, strong woman, ambitious and has high hopes and plans for herself that had the same believes that I had. We dated for a bit before she decided to break it off. Her reasons? She was tribal and she already had an experience convincing her family to be in a relationship with a incompatible tribal guy. She decided to spare herself and myself the pain of dealing with that again especially since I was non-tribal. I don't know if that was an excuse or if she was lying or not, I don't care anymore. There was other big issues with both of us that would have broken us apart regardless, but it sucks that an external force was the cause. what I do care about is the possibility of that ever happening again in Riyadh. When will I ever be able to meet someone who is compatible with me on that level? I never had in the last 5 years. 

So how about arranged marriage right? How about my family choosing and introducing someone to me right? Not that I have anything inherently against this approach. different people, different methods. Arranged marriages tend to focus on compatibility beyond anything else, it does have a high rate of success due to the reasons I mentioned way earlier in this post. On the other hand, this method does depend on the son or daughter sharing the same values as the family, which is not the case for me. Even if I did go that route just to date and get to know the person, I would be reluctant to share with them anything that is considered perverted, blasphemous and weird by the status quo, and I am full of those and all about them. They are the basis of my personal believes and personal structure. Sharing any personal information about myself would put my family in danger, physically, or maybe just socially if any of that information seeped out to their “friends”. I really want to protect my family from any harm, they have always been nice to me and I am not an ungrateful bitch. I also don't let my family buy underwear for me, its really awkward to think they are choosing where my penis will go.

I have met some non-saudi women that were amazing, and I almost fell in love with one of them as I was trying to test out the waters and see if my family would approve of someone from a neighboring country that had similar cultural background. The attempt ended in very passive aggressive fights and it only boiled more aggression and late night crying of my mother according to my own sources. I decided to save that girl the trouble of dealing with all of this, and in turn inflicted same pain that the saudi girl once inflicted on me before. The circle of paid and hurt keeps going around. It has to stop.

Dealing with it

dealing with not having a partner is becoming a huge hurdle in front of my own goals, Its really hard to focus on work when your heart is empty. You need a life partner, a cofounder, for your life, someone that would accept the things your family rejected about you. This is the source of my current depression as my emotions started to be a hurdle in front of my goals, and I feel trapped.

One might debate the usefulness of Meta tribe in a civil society that is developing in saudi, but its completely irrelevant to my believes and my way of life. I am not planning on being in saudi for a long time as I do want to move somewhere else and I do have the means to do it and plans are already in motion. In those other places, civil societies do exist and the need of a meta tribe is completely irrelevant and is instead replaced with a smaller social circle of friends that share the same values and you best of all, you get to choose them yourself. And as I am not an ungrateful brat to my family, I promised myself never to get married to anyone they don't approve of. Its the least I could do after all the great things they offered me to be who I am. That leads to never meeting anyone they approve of, hence the decision not to get married. 

Their decision to commit to the meta tribe does push me away from them, and does their inability to ever accept my way of life and my own believes, but thats another issue and I am ok with that. What I wonder sometimes about is my ability in the future to withstand dealing with them and caring for them due to giving me so much but taking away the most important thing away from me right now, the freedom to choose who to love.  I will refrain from getting married and see me go into a downward spiral of bullshit and they will feel me being pushed away from them as time goes by. We will see if they stomach to see their little boy be alone in his life due to their commitment to the meta tribe.

I am still struggling with the fact that I will remain alone the most of my life though, never allowing myself to fall in love again. Wondering if a person able to not fall in love? Am I destined to fall in love over and over again and then continue to break hearts along the way? Mine as well as others? I now live my life clinching to any piece of love I could find, any hug and kiss counts to keep me alive, every cuddle and every sigh and moan adds a day or 2 to my heart. I don't want to hurt people around me, but I need the blood of your hearts to survive. Share some with me willingly, and I will share some of mine in return before we both move on. stay around as long as you can.

Maybe things will change in the future, maybe it won't. I don't want to over think it when I am with someone, but its completely unfair for the other party not to know the truth about what goes on with me. I know this post started very informative, but then turned into a sappy bs whiny story, I just really had to get it off my chest. I also know that women have it worst 10 folds but that doesn't mean it doesn't still hurt for us men. I know you feel even worst and that you get the shit card, but that doesn't mean that the source of our issues is not the same. Regardless, women problems are worst by far, just having a legal guardian is messed up enough. With this attitude, if I was a woman, I would have committed suicide a long time ago. Bravo for being so strong." 

By Anonymous Saudi man

If you wish to contact the man who wrote this post, please send me an email and I will forward it to him. blueabaya @


Noor said...

Bravo what an amazing letter. I really loved reading it. This man sounds a lot like my husband. My husbands family is a HUGE tribe here in KSA as well as his moms. HE is the only one in the family married out of the tribe and to an American at that lol.

It was a really big issues for everyone at first but after they got to know me they all love me and tell him that he chose the best person. Bc I love him and I love his family and I make sure to never let them down. BUT my husband fought for me at first and he was willing to loose it all for me and know look everyone is happy.

Layla said...

Noor my husbands family is also very tribal form both sides and like your husband, he is the only one to have married outside the tribe. Even choosing a Saudi wife from the "wrong tribe" would've been a huge issue for them, let alone a foreigner :)
It was hard at first, it looked like it wasn't going to happen but he fought and stayed strong..and here we are..
So there is hope :)

Anonymous said...

My father (a tribal Saudi from the north) married my mom (a foreigner) over 30 years ago. For as long as i can remember, my dad's family had absolutely  no problems with my mom and everyone gets along fine.
Although I'm not sure how complicated the situation was when they first got married.. I know that my grand parents from both my mom and dad's sides weren't very supportive of the marriage, but they got married anyways while they were both studying in college away from their families. And both families learned to accept the marriage. I'm sure in many cases the parents will accept the marriage if the guy is determined, even if they didn't approve of it. 

Its hard to marry someone from a different background, but I know that people are much more open nowadays than they were 35 years ago... I think the anonymous guy shouldn't wait until his family feels guilty enough to allow him to marry the woman he wants...

From what he says about his family, they seem nice, educated and open enough to accept the woman he chooses even though they disagree with him. They won't be mad for ever. And if you choose right, you're future wife will try to make them accept her with time.

Most Mixed Saudi's I know have a great family relationship even though some parts of the family didn't support the marriage at first. However, I have heard of a case of a Saudi tribal guy that married a foreign lady and his mother (old fashioned, and uneducated) still disliked his wife and treated her grandchildren badly and the whole family bullied and labelled them as 'the children of the foreigner'. But this is extremely rare in my opinion.

I say follow your dreams...

Affinity for Modesty said...

I second Anon's comment. Tribalism is a problem which even our Prophet disliked as Layla rightly wrote on her 2010 article. In Islam, Allah has created us all as equals so the fact that tribalism is still practiced shows how paradoxical Saudis are in regards to its understanding of Islam. Hopefully you find your future wife Anon Saudi Guy. And hopefully it comes without any grudges from your parents.

Anonymous said...

Maa sha Allaah

This is a great story. It made me think of my son (25) and our family. No, we're not Saudi nor tribal, but we do hold certain values when it comes to marriage. We desire for him to marry someone who comes from a certain background and values. I think the person he'd prefer to bring home may be a little off from that. I understand his frustration. But after seeing so many failed marriges first hand, due to the couple only seeing themselves in the marriage, I decided I didn't want to put my family through that. I pray that he continues to understand and have patience.
I didn't marry until my mother approved of her dear son in law, alhamdulillaah, our marriage is decades strong. But being from a Western background, when I had kids, I decided to be a little softer on them. That turned into two failed marriages for two daughters with children being seperated from parents and the rest of the family. This all due to marrying them to people from different backgrounds, for love, so they thought. The spouses values didn't jive with their upbringing nor our expectations.
Marriage can be for love between the couples and love for their families. Marriage isn't just the coming together of two people, but the coming together of families. I guess, to some extent, we're tribal or Meta tribal in our own way.
Every parent from the time the mother becomes aware of the presence of her child in the womb, she wants what she thinks is best for them and that doesn't go away when the child becomes independent due her sacrifices, nuturing and caring for them when the couldn't care for themselves.
So, my son sits unwed, because of our Meta tribal rule. I pray that Allaah provides him with a good mate for him and us, but most of all him. That she's someone we can accept, even though she may be from the outside (and I don't mean that to be in a negative way.
In the meantime, I'll, we'll work on a compromise, a possible solution, insha Allaah.

Please thank the author for sharing with us the readers.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

I really enjoyed hearing his reasoning.

As a Westerner, I guess, I just say, don't follow your parents in anything they are wrong in. They wwill eventually accept what you chose if you chose the right thing because tey DO want to see you happy.

-wife of an Omani man whose entire tribe and nuclear family at first rejected him but then accpeted and now like us all;) now that they know me and my daughter.

Noor said...

My husbands mother and father are from two different popular tribes and his family ALWAYS gave his mom a hard time and caused problems for her now even after 31 years of marriage.

❤ αmαℓ said...

That was so interesting to read. I sympathise with him but at the same time am disappointed he's seemingly submitting to the system he hates. And I also think it's a bit childish to make yourself an example so he can tell his parents "look at how my life is now" when he never really fought in the first place. I know you don't want to hurt your parents, but it's YOUR life. It doesn't make you ungrateful if you marry who you want. It makes you an adult in control of your own life. I think the author should man-up and communicate with his parents. At least try before you submit defeat and subject yourself to a miserable life.

Affinity for Modesty said...

You gave a whole new and much appreciated outlook dear second Anon. Marriage is not just about two people, true...May Allah guide us and give us the correct choices.

Layla said...

Thank you all for the excellent comments. I have a message from "Anonymous Saudi Man" which he sent to me after reading the comments:

"in tribes, for a man to marry someone from a less powerful tribe, or a foreigner, is usually less of an issue, since men are dominant in the saudi society, a tribe looks at a situation like this as their tribe dominating a lesser tribe.
also lots of tribes look at one of their boys getting married to a foreigner is much more acceptable as it doesn't put shame on a family, as its similar to a male conquest in some sort so it doesn't give the tribe shame as much.
which this is not how meta tribes acts, since meta tribes are much more paranoid about their safety, they reject foreigners even more.
i hope that didnt offend you in anyways, its just that in the comments i have seen people give examples of that situation, where situations can be a lot tougher for meta tribes men and women"

Layla said...

Of course all Saudi families are different and we cannot generalize anything..I know of mixed families that have taken the foreign wives under their wings and treated them as part of the tribe, but on the other hand I know those who have been rejected and remain to be so after many decades.

I would say from my observations that something in between these two extremes is the norm, whereas the foreign wife and children are accepted, but they are not treated the same as the tribe members.

Anonymous said...

I'm non-saudi and my parents had a hard time when i told them of the saudi guy i wanted ot marry, they had certain expectations an dreasoning of whom i would marry, his parents did too.

we still went ahead and got married, after when you find your soulmate you have to grasp it with both hands.

my parents accepted our decision and celebrated with us, his didn't till date we are civil with them, but never close, they still see me as the outsider and i in turn have tried a bit to accomodate them and in the end gave up why change . they have to accept me for who i am, just like my parents accepted my husband for who he was.

my in-laws worry about their tribe's talk, they choose IMO their tribe over the happiness of their son. and now after 2 decades+ they want to be a part of our lives, our children are grown and with no contact with them they will not find it easy to mix as they do with my family. sad , so sad.
i think there are both extremes in saudi but most cases fall in between the love or hatred as acknowledge the marriage but the wife could never be one of them???

Jerry Mc Kenna said...

The man sounds lonely. It is too bad that Saudi Arabia doesn't allow young people meet each other and socialize.

How To Loose A Guy said...

Salaam, I loved reading this post. It gave me a real insight from a males prospectus. I'm from the UK and a muslim, and its not only Saudi's that have these issues. These issues affect everyone. My mom + pops are from big cultural tribes and they are not very cultural in comparison to many others. I mean they are hugely supportive of my siblings decisions to marry 'out'. So in that sense we(me + my siblings) are fortunate but me being the youngest it is strange for me to say but they are oddly more 'stricter' on my choice of a partner... Which I haven't yet discovered why! But I'm not married yet, surely they'll lighten up if that time ever comes. As for my uncles/aunties they are somewhat VERY tribal and BIG on culture with some silly views.

But Inshallah this Anonymous Saudi Male will find his perfect other half!!

P.S. You can always have more than one missus ;)

M.Kaitaniemi said...

As salam alaikum.

Long time from the last time. But this was writing what did stop. The writer of the letter and I have same thoughts in here.

"I am still struggling with the fact that I will remain alone the most of my life though, never allowing myself to fall in love again. Wondering if a person able to not fall in love? Am I destined to fall in love over and over again and then continue to break hearts along the way? Mine as well as others? I now live my life clinching to any piece of love I could find, any hug and kiss counts to keep me alive, every cuddle and every sigh and moan adds a day or 2 to my heart."

I don't know if other can understand what that does mean.

And shukran to keeping your blog.

Sara T. said...

This was so amazing to read. I never would have thought about a male perspective on this matter. It is so sad it has to be this way. Islam fought with tribalism. It's such a shame...two holly cities and yet their habitants chose tribalism over what their religion.

Sara T. said...

it's not common only in Saudi Arabia. It's common in Algeria as well. There are so called "people from the mountains" and "people from the sea" The dislike each other and are forbidden to marry to one another. It's also common in some families in Turkey. My husband is Turkish and his family was strongly against him marrying someone whom they did not choose. Luckily he is a strong man and could decide for himself so the had to accept. Now they seem happy and feel ashamed of their behaviour. I think my husband's family is an exception from the rest.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, amazing!

Teresa in America

Anonymous said...

I am from a very very tribal family and my sister married a non tribal man from another Arab country. My parents were totally fine with the idea it was everyone else who has hissy fits. In the end she's married and has a child and is happy and everyone will just have to deal with it. I think by stopping ourselves doing something that is not illegal or against our religion just to please other people is wrong. it will keep your life stunted and for what? To stay alone? Since her marriage 4 other people from our tribe, mostly women, married the people they wanted to and some of the families were happy and some weren't but the world didn't end. they werent shunned or hated and people just dealt with it.

Layla said...

thanks mama B for the insight, you're right people just think too much about what others will think about them, while wasting their lives in the meanwhile
..So maybe the one that does it first in the tribe has it the roughest, and sort of paves the path for others..

George Hamilton said...

I could feel the pain the strictures of your society are putting you through. If more are prepared to voice it like you, then surely change must come. As others have said, if you follow your heart and choose the person that is right for you, there is a good chance that your family will eventually accept your choice.

Anonymous said...

It is sad that to this day and age such issues still exist in societies. I belive this happens in other tribal regions, eg. pakistan, africa, india ( the caste system), etc

It is time that more effort is put into educating societies to a more globalised, non-tribal viewpoints for their own progress.

Anonymous said...

assalamualaikum wr wb,

who takes all these photos? is it u?
is ur husband ok with u taking photo's of random men?


Layla said...

wa aleikum salaam,

Yes it's me, who else :) I'm a photographer and I shoot just about everything, including men.

And don't worry he is perfectly fine with my photography and in fact very proud of me :)

Dianne said...

While reading this article, I only have one person in my mind, my saudi ex. He's a player, but I wonder now if he's in the same situation as the author of this wonderful yet heartbreaking piece of work. My ex did a really great deal of damage to me emotionally, and of how I feel about my self. We broke up because of this so called Meta Tribalism (now I know what's it called). He basically told me it's because he's dating "someone" else, because I'm not a saudi girl, and "because you're a ________ (insert my race). Hearing those is very painful that I'm typing this with tears on my eyes. If only my ex would admit and explain all of the BS he did to me like the Anonymous Saudi Man, I would understand him more and I would come into terms with my feelings for him and the self doubt and anger that I have inside me.

I feel so bad for this man. I'd like to give him a hug. Laylah, please send a hug to him from me :)


Layla said...

Dianne he wanted to send you this message:
"its really hard for us to accept our emotions, we are ashamed of them because we cannot break free out of them. its hard to admit these things sometimes as we feel like people would never understand them. I am sorry you had to be on the other end of a relationships i have been in. your hug is very precious."

erin S lee said...

This is an amazing story. I am an American Jewish woman and cannot pretend to understand the plight of women and men in Saudi Arabia. Women are not the only one's who have feeling and emotion. The greatest of men must as well. I too know what it is like to search for someone who will not turn away because your ideas and beliefs may be outside the norm of what you are "supposed to think". I cannot pretend to be someone I am not, nor can I accept those who wish for me to be. We love our parents and our families, we feel we owe them. In truth, we owe ourselves. One life, one life to be happy. If I never find my happiness, I will know that I stopped at nothing to try. This man must try to find happiness. Sometimes happiness is not in the box we thought it would be. You can be yourself and there is someone who will love you for it, not in spite of it.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Anonymous Saudi, this song is for you.
I feel you, brother, I feel you.

Laylah, that was interesting. You know, men have a problem write about "their feelings", and this backward society will remain a backward society since it prohibits debating his stupid values openly and publicly. Thank you very much for conveying his view, which is also my view and shared by many people from my generation, to the world.

Now a little about myself too.

I graduated from college with high grades, like this guy. And due to shyness and good upbringing, I haven't had any interaction with women except online, and even then it was intelligent conversations only. I am non-tribal, have immigrant parents, and an atheist since 18. I was born lonely and my beliefs and school forced me into more loneliness. With that background, and since they are out of sight and out of mind, I have never seriously considered the thought of marriage.

Then, as I said I was very good at school, I thought why not get a PhD and run the hell out of this country? It turned out to be the worst decisions of my life. I realized that I have forced myself to even more loneliness, and more hard work and pain. And for what? For being right and trying to do something good. Anyway, I decided to go home after my master's and here I am now, accepting defeat, considering marriage and adapting to a normal Saudi life, and kissed my dreams goodbye. And here, I wrote this blog, which is a bit vulgar and angry (I worked hard to move some personal details, and change the address to be able to share it with you even though my friends will still recognize me, lol, I reached a point where I don't care anymore). Enjoy.

Noor, you know what's funny they would accept you more than a non-tribal Saudi.

You know, my family is full of such marriages. But you will have some social and financial issues, if your family doesn't support your marriage. And in the end, it is the same thing.

Anonymous said...

No one is as desperate for feedback as a writer. Ever since I wrote the previous comment I have been ocd- checking this page for a response, i guess for how much this issue means to me. It turned me from a dreamer to a cynical realist, from a positive nerd to an angry punk..

And let me be clear about something the writer might be reluctant to admit. A big part of the issue, to me at least, is having to 'fake' religion. There is no way I can possibly hide this from my future wife and there is little chance any Saudi family would accept me if I made this fact known before marriage. That's how we were raised and what we were taught. And I don't wanna cheat or think fooling ppl would work. That's why, I want a chance to talk and get to know the girl and her family informally and before marriage (maybe then they'd like me?). But no one is open to discuss that, I hide it even from my mother who thinks she is supposed to get me a god-fearing wife!

"I don't know what you want". that's how our "find me a wife" conversations usually ends. I wanna run, but I don't know how and I got mentally tired of it. Like the writer, I find the idea of arranged marriage very lame in any case but it is likely to cause disasters in my case.

That's a topic I would love to see debated: "Practically speaking, how should atheists in this country, who we all know exist and in increasing numbers, get married?".

The denial of the conformist conservative society is behind most of our problems. I end by this funny quote by a famous twitter celebrity:

السعار الجنسي هو المسؤول الأول عن تعطيل التنمية


Layla said...

Thank you anoxx so much for taking the time to comment and sharing your views, I did read your posts on marriage :) I've given a heads up to Mr. Anonymous and he will be replying to your comment soon inshallah he's on vacation right now!

Anonymous said...

Inshallah. :)

Anonymous said...

Great post and great comments. We often get to read woman's point of view, but it is interesting to know what are the thoughts men have about these issues. As female, not married, educated, I can understand some of those points the Anonymous Man wrote. He sounds like a very mature grounded person, and I wish him all the best. It takes courage to put these thoughts into words.

"Anoxxx"- I had a look at your blog too. I was once told "fake it until you make it". Living as kind of an outsider in your own society is hard and there are things you can't fake or hide.. You can get better at that with practice though. Question remains; how does one meet and locate those people, whose views are very much like ours? As you said, certain topics need to be debated, and I can add my own view here: key is to find those people, who share your way of thinking. We all need to decide for ourselves how we live our lives, guided by beliefs, traditions etc, but to what degree exactly, that's up to us. From what you wrote I can gather that you are not alone.
I don't feel so alone now either.

Layla said...

Anon Saudi reply to anoxxx;

hey buddy, I am sorry to hear you were going through the same things I was going through, I just didn't want to say it in the post as I didnt know who would be reading it. You are right by the way, tribal families do except foreign "western" ladies into the family much more than excepting a non-tribal saudi into it. I am sad to hear that you are giving up, stay strong to your believes and never settle. take a long vacation just like i did and come back strong for another round of the fight., wish you all the best

Layla said...

Anon Saudi to prettyinblackandpink:

thank you very much for your compliments, i really appreciate them. i am glad you dont feel alone with Anoxxx and I around. we are a buch and we operate in the shadows.

Layla said...

thank you everyone for all your comments, i really didnt expect such a response. it really encourages me to write more. I also dont want to appear whiny and I am trying to write more analytical articles, i really hope you like them more than this sappy story.

to all who told me to follow my heart, I would love to, and I am trying. But seriously not able to find a place to rent in a compound because I am saudi (even though I do hold dual citizenship status with an american nationality) is really getting in the way of my happiness, and paying over 100k for key money or a bribe to get a place in the DQ is just out of the question. Thank you all

Anonymous Saudi Man