Thursday, 27 October 2011

Emptying Dining Spots

The Bearded Ones have been emptying dining spots throughout Riyadh recently.  I'm not exactly sure what their goal is with this strategy.

Since the King graciously gifted them their huge, ummm, payout they've kept busy driving around in their flash new wheels ....

 ....ensuring eateries in Riyadh are empty for daytime salah's.  Previously it was possible to stay in a nice dining spot to wait out prayer time.  In fact, such places of refuge were sought by women specifically for that purpose. 

Now it seems it's not OK.

The staff say that the Spiritual Guiders turn up to the premises frequently around prayer time to check that no-one is there. 

One wonders if those who lead the Bearded Ones (BO's) have given this latest move a lot of thought.  Not that I'm an expert in the area but the ladies I have been with both times we were asked to leave our coffees, are. 

They believe in this religion. 

It annoys them that extremism means they aren't allowed to live it.

You see, the majority of patrons in cafe's during the day are women.  Shafting women from the safe comfort of a cafe during prayer time is doing a number of things.

Firstly, it's keeping women out of eateries until after the last salah, which during the summer months is 9.30pm.  The afternoon we went for coffee at a popular spot the place was empty. I did wonder why, till we were asked to leave.  The drop in customers must be affecting the bottom line of businesses.

The BO's might think they're doing a great job keeping women at home during the day. 

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Ummmm.  Not really.  I gather all they do is trawl malls more often, visit each other at homes more often or go to hotels to have coffee because, presently, you can't get turfed from a hotel lobby coffee lounge during salah.

Just today we went to a hotel for coffee.  The place was chokka with women....and men.  Let us not forget the male of the species like to meet over green tea and cake as well.

Those women who don't know about this latest tactic of the BO's are actually forced into dangerous situations (from a Saudi-Muslim point of view anyway).  If their chosen diner is not located at a Mall, (most of my favourite coffee spots are not at Malls.  Mall Food Halls tend to serve junk food and crap coffee neither of which I'm partial too for health and palatability reasons) and they don't have a driver waiting outside (which we didn't once) they are left to wander the streets making frantic calls to their significant male to come get them now or they must search out taxi's (driven by unrelated men) to drive them to the relative safety of....well any place they can get into, which is usually a mall.

The other day when my friend and I (a different local lady this time) were requested by staff to vacate our comfy dining seats we headed out to her waiting car and drove to my place because, one, it was closest and, two, I could guarantee that our coffee and important discussion on educational planning would not be interrupted.

It is not uncommon for women to have business meetings and due diligence discussions about potential mates for their close male relatives over coffee and a spot of lunch.   The BO's latest endeavor has thrown a spanner in that little practice.  (My friends say potential mothers or sisters in-law like to suss each other out at coffee shops.  Undercover reconnaissance is easy in this country when you're constantly wearing your black disguise).

You may ask why the women aren't going to pray at prayer times? 
Well, many do.  At home.  Whenever I'm visiting the ladies at their homes they have excused themselves to go pray.

As for those not at home, my friends have told me it is not a requirement for women to go to mosques to pray, so why The Fervent insist on shooing women out to a mosque is contrary to common accepted practice.

Also, although there a specified prayer times,  it is not absolutely necessary to pray at those designated times.  In fact, my friends said when they choose to pray is between themselves and God.

Apparently, if a Muslim is indisposed at a prayer time (as in, at a meeting in a nice place that serves lunch) they can make up that prayer at another time that day.   The men do this all the time when they are working or at conferences.  The Religious Vice Seekers are actually, say my friends, interfering in women's right to practice their conversations with Allah as they choose.  They should, in short, be keeping their sticky beaks out of other peoples' God relationship. 

I also think the Religious Leaders need to learn to trust their fellow Muslims.  The majority love their religion and know how to do the right thing.  Those that don't....well Allah has warned them.

The other reason women are not praying during Salah is that menstruating women are unclean and are not allowed to pray.

Given there's a population of about 4 million Saudi women of marriageable age running around Saudi Arabia, with the majority of those apparently residing in Riyadh, that's a lot of Aunty Flo's not allowed near a prayer mat.

As an aside, If you're an expat woman coming to Saudi and want tampons, bring your own, about a years supply.  They're extremely hard to find here due to the risks, I've been told, of hymen damage and, more importantly, women getting pleasure from their insertion and removal.......Yep, I "ooo baby" over my used tampax all the time!  (Sorry about that visual guys, but the Bearded rational really is sick, don't you think?  It's like saying men get pleasure every time they grasp their Tallywhacker to bleed the lizard.  Who know's, maybe you men do and just haven't told us that yet!)

Does a woman have to explain her menstrual condition to an unrelated man, even if he's part of the Bearded New SUV Club?  Does she need BO's permission to miss prayer because she's bleeding.  Absolutely bloody not!  What is going on with her body is between herself and her creator...and possibly her female relatives and her husband.

I get the feeling not being able to sit in a coffee shop when it is their right to do so, is starting to annoy many women, but what can they do?

Yet again, the reputation of this country being totally patriarchal and extreme is highlighted with the Bearded Ones latest crusade to interfere in women's business and empty dining spots throughout Riyadh at prayer times.

Ka Kite,

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