Be careful what you say in KSA.
A slip of the lip can land you in deep, ummmm, kaka (Kiwi word for trouble).
There are some definite no-go areas of discussion that get people from the region all hot and bothered under the collar, particularly if you're being less than complimentary. So don't dis:
- the religion - not even if you think you're being constructive
- Prophet Muhummed
- the King or his 2IC
- any one else of lofty lineage
- Bearded Ones
- locals in general or the local modus operandi (a.k.a. their own quirky way of doing things)
It's Story Time
- One day a western man was called into the bosses office. He wasn't sure why he was summoned, but wasn't concerned at all. Perhaps the boss was going to congratulate him on the fine job he'd been doing since his arrival.
- He settles into the chair across the desk and they pass pleasantries. Then the boss clears his throat. We've had a complaint. You were heard using inappropriate language.
- The Western Man is somewhat taken back. He's a fine upstanding gentlemen who abhors profanity. A complaint ? For inappropriate language? Can I ask what it is I am supposed to have said.
You were heard saying 'Dance'.
Dance'? repeats the western man.
- Yes, that's right.
- After some discussion and a promise not to use such a terrible word again while explaining the difference in accents to students, the western gentleman returned to his office shaking his head in disbelief.
Here's another story:
- The teacher waited for her students to settle into class. Today there was a listening exercise and she wanted to explain the vocabulary and the process. Once she had dealt with questions and was sure the students were ready, she directed them to begin. After the class, the teacher was pleased. The students responded well to the listening exercise. She went to the staffroom to tell her peers. On the way she was stopped by the head of the school.
- I need to see you. Come into my office, says the head.
- Is there a problem? asks the teacher, somewhat nervous given the tone of the request for her attendance.
- There has been a complaint of inappropriate activity in your class.
The teacher is shocked. Inappropriate behaviour. I don't understand. All my students are very well behaved and you know I teach with attention to the highest standards. What is the basis of the complaint? asks the teacher.
- You were playing music in class.
Playing music in class? The teacher is confused.
Yes, that's right, replies the head.
After some discussion the source of the music was confirmed to be the trill in the listening exercises that indicate the beginning of different sections. The teacher promises never to use listening exercises without such abominable sounds contained within their recordings again!
Given words like dance and trilly sounds in listening exercises are off the list of 'acceptable' in Saudi, I do wonder how topics like 'reproductive activity that ideally takes place in marital relationships (for Saudi women, that is) and results in making babies' is covered.
And in case you're thinking that topics covering human anatomy and it's response to stimulation will obviously be discussed at university level where use of words and illustrations much more intimate than 'dance' and trilly sounds will be acceptable, think again. Both the above stories happened in universities!
The moral of this story - definitely be careful what you say in KSA.