People from Al-Hassa (aka Hofuf, Al-Ahsa) are some of the loveliest people you’d ever want to meet. They’re more rural (this is an oasis town with a lot of agriculture), less jaded, and are pleased with some of the simpler things in life. Having said this, there are certain characteristics that make Hasawis distinctive from anyone else in the kingdom and have long made them the butt of jokes. I had originally planned on posting this after my blog got more of a Saudi fan base (because only Saudis could appreciate most of this post) however, I decided this would be a way to give outsiders a glimpse of Hasawi life.
So, in the tradition of the comedian Jeff Foxworthy (you know you’re a redneck when…) here’s how to identify a Saudi hillbilly…
You know you’re a Hasawi when…
- There’s a pile of chewed-up/spit-out seeds next to you on the ground.
- you picnic on the side of busy roads
- you and/or most of your family have takeser (sickle-cell anemia- we have more cases in Al-Hassa then than in the entire rest of the kingdom combined)
- you go to your uncle’s house to find a bride
- You drive either a white Chevy Caprice or GMC Suburban (I have a max count of 12 Caprices on one block of road!)
- You use one hand to steer your Caprice while using the other hand to pick your nose.
- you’re at the farm a couple days a week hanging out
- you consider going to Dammam traveling (it’s barely over an hours drive)
- Your Suburban or white Caprice gets into a fender-bender with a Qatari driving a white Toyota Land Cruiser. (You’d think there’s nothing in Qatar, lately Al-Hassa is full of Qataris. Good for the local economy though.)
- you can tell the difference between a Mubaraz accent and a Hofuf accent (two main urban parts of Al-Hassa not including the villages)
- You change your accent to a Najdi accent when dealing with people other than Hasawis in an effort to sound more professional.
- you must have a bag of seeds, della of tea and beyalas to “travel” to Dammam. (Dellas are vacuum thermos flasks and beyalas are little glass tea cups).
- You visit the camel/sheep market with your kids in the car for a family activity.
- If you can fit 17 people into a Caprice.
- Like a fish, you can only live outside of the Al-Hassa fishbowl for short periods of time and have to return often to survive. (Many Hasawis who live/work in other towns like Jubail and Dammam, sometimes come home to Al-Hassa every weekend.)
You know you’re a Hasawia (female Hasawi) when…
- a wedding invitation is the hottest ticket in town
- Your hands are 5 shades darker than your face (due to generous applications of powder in an attempt to look “white/beautiful”).
- You take off your burqa and on the inside is an exact print of your face made of powder and eye shadow.
- an abaya from the shoulders is for “bad girls”
- You think Vicks can cure everything from baldness to rheumatism, oh yes- it can help a cough too.
- You think an a/c causes most illnesses
- You think drinking cold water or eating ice cream causes most other illnesses.
- There are at least 2 boxes of Kleenex in every room of your house.
- your relatives in the village have a worse accent than you
- If your fart smells different than usual you run to the hospital.
- Your kids are awake all night jumping around like monkeys and go to sleep immediately after getting home from school at noon.
- You know who your new neighbor is, what their dirty laundry is, and any and all gossip associated with them before they’ve even moved in.
- You measure your cloth for the tailor in finger-lengths, hand-lengths, or arm lengths.
- You expect 5 lanes of traffic to stop dead for you as you casually meander across the middle of the street in the souq, or any other street for that matter.
And finally, you know you’re a Hasawi if this post pissed you off.