The sandy dust caught my abaya as we climbed the rocky slope. Bruised knees and bloody knuckles meant nothing. The abaya was of course only worn for fashionable causes. It catches the wind dramatically and “it makes me feel less like a tourist” K. added. It was aesthetic purposes. The black in contrast with the yellow rocks and blue-grey sky. I stood on the ledge and screamed. The echo carried by the wind. “I like to scream into the vast nothingness” I thought and the thought hit me that it was a long way down. I dangled a leg out of curiosity with an overwhelming fear of height creeping up my spine. We skipped back down, the feeling that we had conquered this magnificent place–what truly felt like the edge of the world.
I question the statement and some of the things shown are less funny. But I think it captures some funny and fascinating moments you’ll only find here in Saudi. The drifting in the end is what I’ve come across. Young men do it everywhere, in all types of vehicles.
Islam and Democracy. The notion is grand. Certainly to grand to even start to theorize about in something as futile as a blog post. However, the concept was the focus for todays “informal chat-session” at our embassy. After a brief presentation of a selective number of texts the floor opened for discussion. About 23 participants were included and came in forms of representatives foremost from the diplomatic society and the intelligentsia. Questions raised and attempts to conclude anything in this vast subject will not be presented here, however, it did raise some important questions in my mind. Why do we for example, always theorize about the subject from a dichotomous standpoint. Arguing in terms of compatibility or incompatibility.Why is the focus always on democracy as a Western notion in relation to “otherness”–the undemocracy of this region? Why have we still not learned that democracy or liberalism can not be imposed as a set structure on societies? Should not all societies be seen as organic structures in which progress needs to grow roots and establish before flourishing? After the debate I of course also needed to reflect on my own part when theorizing about the subject. I wonder about my own ability to theorize about questions of this sorts in relation to my own “western-centered” academic background. Even the core discourse that I use to frame my theories and analysis is inevitably colored by my subjective and western-centered prism.
Björn and I was fortunate enough to be invited along side the Ambassador and his senior adviser for lunch with the minister of culture and information the other day. One might say it was a small gathering to celebrate the end of the ten day long book fair. Greeted as a success the mood was jolly. I sat with a hand full of women in the women section during the pre-lunch speech, all prominent scholars and professors. (The network for Saudi prominent women is actually quite impressive, but of course, also quite exclusive, the all seem to know each other quite well. Perhaps they can also serve as a lesson to us, women of the “westerland,” and our ability to constantly work against and not towards each other.) Anyway. All seemed to be like a typical Saudi event, mostly men, some women, until it was time for lunch. At the VIP – seating I sat down to dine at a table with 50 guests, 49 men and I. The absence of women not as noticeable as the presence of one–me, yours truly–abaya wearing of course, but refusing the hijab, seated across two members of the “haiia,”–mutawwah. And it was, truly astonishing. Me, Haram in my every being, sat there and shared a meal, with all the men. The debate surrounding the lack of women in public space and the oddity in excluding all the prominent female members of society and including me will be left for a later stage. Now I just felt the amaze of being the only girl in the world.