Monday, May 14, 2007

Hair, Hair, Everywhere

***to be sung to the tune of "Old MacDonald"***

In Dammam we have expats
Ee ei ee ei ooh
And these expats they show their hair
Ee ei ee ei ohh
With some blond streaks here
And no veils there
Here is hair
There is hair
There’s no Muttawa anywhere
EP is a laid-back place

Thank you Shaymaa for your inspiration in the car on our way from Dhahran Mall.

We don't have much of an western expat community in Al-Hassa, so the sight of all these uncovered white folks on my short trips to Dammam is kinda strange for me. I'm glad I live in the EP with our beaches, oases, and relaxed attitudes. Despite all the modern commodities of Riyadh, it sounds a bit too uptight for me with roving bands of Muttawa and "tribe pride".


Saudi Jawa said...

LOL! That made my day SSW. "There’s no Muttawa anywhere" is stuck in my head.

Cairogal said...

I didn't realise the muttawa were only in certain parts of Saudi.

pootsiwoootsi said...

Finally, Ive wriiten everything so I wont forget it,,I should of put my name as forgetful.
Matawa's are everywhere I think.
I was in qatif (at a thursday market)yrs ago wearing hajaab and a shoulder abya, matawa came up to me and my bedwoin freind (she wore a bergaa) and told me to put my abya on top my head, I had no idea what he was saying, THANK GOD
I probably would've cried.

Saudi Jawa said...

Muttawas are everywhere in Saudi. They're just not as uniformly strong. They tend to be less strong in the coasts for some reason

Ann said...

Assalaamu alaikum,

I don't know how many times I've written this or tried to tell people this, but basically, every news report about Saudi Arabia has this standard line that all women are required to cover themselves from head to toe - so I don't think anyone believes me.

And I don't live there, so I certainly don't know everything, but I've been to Al-Khobar probably at least 20 times, for visits of 2-3 days each, and gone to the malls, the corniche, the beach, etc. - and I never saw mutawa. (But I did see plenty of women with no hijabs or abayas.)

Actually, last time, the kids and I were in the car waiting for my husband to get us a pizza, and I was entertaining them with stories of what everyone believes about Saudi.

Like, "They say that all the women have to be covered from head to toe" - And they laugh. "What? There's a lady right there who's not covered."

And "they say that women can't go out without being escorted all the time by male relatives" - Laughter again. "What? There's a bunch of ladies right there with no men."

And "they say women can't eat in restaurants". "But women are going into restaurants right there in front of us. And you ate in Chili's last night... and in that Chinese restaurant the day before.. and at the mall the other night."

I did see mutawa in Abha, but all they ever did was make sure the shops closed for prayer times. I've never been to Riyadh though - I guess they're more strict there?

Kathryn said...

I live in al-Khobar (Eastern Province)and the only time I have seen the muttawa is in the Rashid Mall, they wander about there quite regularly. The only time I have seen them in action is to scream at Saudi MEN to go to prayer. A couple of times I have seen them with sticks, poking at young Saudi men who are sitting about during prayer time clearly not intending to go to the mosque. If they don't immediately leap to their feet, the Muttawa make their stick attacks more vigorous until they get up and head off to prayer. I have several Western friends who have been politely asked to put on head scarves but the only Muttawa horror stories amongst my friends seem to come from Riyadh. Thank goodness we don't live there. The Eastern Province seems to be quite a relaxed place. I loved the song, sang it to my family from my seat at the computer and they all thought I had gone mad!!! Thanks for the giggle.

Umm Adam said...

Katheryn, that's interesting. I was told that the Muttawa are not allowed to patrol Rashid Mall, hence all the vice there. However I have witnessed a high speed chase or two through the mall where the Muttawa were chasing guys who were harassing women (there was an elevator booty snatcher). Once while there we had a regular security guard near the food court advise my dh to have me take my cell phone from around my neck, because people would bluetoth me. I took it as a compliment because I was very pregnant pushing a toddler in a stroller and calming down a tantrum throwing 5 year old at the time. I told by dh, "dayum I still got it going on" lol!

saudi stepford wife said...

I've been in the kingdom for 9+ years and rarely ever see Muttawa around Al-Hassa or Dammam (except the helpful ones keeping creepies away from the souks during crowded times like Um Adam describes). I sometimes see them in their "Muttawa-mobiles" around Maghrib/Isha prayers reminding the businesses its time to close through a loudspeaker in the men's souk....that's IT!

I have seen a Muttawa in Rashid Mall in the past, many years ago since I absolutely REFUSE to go there unless there is no other alternative and that's the only place I MUST go to buy a certain item. And yes, the flirter's are THAT agressive, kids in tow, pregnant belly and all.

Saudi Jawa, Pootsiwootsi(cool name!), Cairogal, Ann, Kathryn, Um Adam-

The thing that sticks in my mind is all the Muttawa stories from Riyadh, of which I've confirmed some with my Najdi friends. Yes we have some Muttawa around but they're generally nice guys with some exceptions I'm sure. EP seems really expat friendly and from what Saudi Jawa says, Jeddah seems to be more mellow too.

Anonymous said...

My question is,are the mutawwas *police*,ie paid or just *good samaritans?*. Have heard stories about them,hitting pple and such,is that allowed??Well, if to keep creepy,grabbing men away,I vote for them, btw,if some guy grabs someone and that woman fights back,or hits him or something,is that ok???Just wanted to know, coz that would be my reaction. I *cursed* and *swore* at this guy in sharjah and he kinda left in a hurry. Is it because most women rarely *react*? Just asking. sf

Saudi Stepford Wife-Daisy said...

SF- Here in Saudia only, the Muttawa are an actual government organization with powers sanctioned by the government.There are also well meaning religious guys who may be mistaken for Muttawa but are not. As you may have guessed by the comments so far, Muttawa and their presence differ from area to area, apparently most active/aggressive in Central Saudia. There is currently a lawsuit pending where two Saudi women are suing a Muttawa for his actions against them. Many people are fighting back, which has resulted in 'lynching-like' attacks on unsuspecting Muttawas, although these are mainly from wayward teen boys. I'm not one to completely discount the bad Muttawa stories although I, and all my friends and family, have only had positive experiences .

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I understood that,but was wondering about other men(not mutawwas)who *grab* women or flirt with women who are not *welcoming* these *advances/attentions*. If some woman *fought* back ie,hits them with something,you know what I mean,LOL,will it be like a big issue there(saudia/Middle East)or are more and more women *fighting* back?? Wouldn't it be nice if women weilding whips and such went out just to whip these horny men. sf ;)

Saudi Stepford Wife-Daisy said...

**chuckles while envisioning Islamic butt-whooping of naughty flirters carried out by whip-wielding Abazons***

Ah, I wish, unfortunately for the average flirter, telling them off only eggs them on, kinda like opening the door. They expect you to put of a 'front' of being decent so the best route is complete silence. They get bored and leave.

Now for butt-grabbers and gropers...I suggest a special punishment for them. I think a short group-shower stint in the average Saudi jail will give them the chance to get groped themselves (like in most jails round the world) and see how they like it.

Umm Adam said...

They do get punished. Public lashings!

Saudi Stepford Wife-Daisy said...

Um Adam- I wished more of them would get lashed but alas, it's usually reserved for someone who's a repeat offender or in other cities. I've only seen one lashing- more like a public spanking (we were all laughing at him, it didn't hurt anything but his pride) when we were in Mecca. I'm all for lashing...if I hadn't seen it myself I might think it's cruel but in was hilarious! I hope all lashings were as gentle physically but as brutal socially as the one I saw.

Nzingha said...

a whip??? hmmm that gives me some ideas.

I don't go to Rashid mall because the hormonal boys get on my last nerve. Last time it was a creep old guy (just plan nasty) hitting on a saudi girl in the elevator. Yes I did make the security chase him up and down flights of stairs.

I had the mutawwa stop us once (yes I wear it like a badge of honor) Me and Mr. Man.. after having lunch pulled into Jarirs and some guy came out asking him for ID and who I was yadda yadda. "See" I told Mr. Man "the mutawwa don't think a black man can get a white chick"

I rarely see them, i think i see their vans more than the guys themselves.

Saudi Stepford Wife-Daisy said...

Nzingha- I've made sure we have our family card in tow whenever we go to Dammam on our "dates". Apparently, as you've mentioned, it's just plain weird to 'go out' with wives, that's reserved for clandestine relationships only:)