Stereotyping Saudi Men

Ellen557 of Steadily Emerging With Grace is letting me repost her article on Saudi Men & Stereotypes. She is an Aussie married to a Saudi and vents about the various stereotypes of Saudi men as portrayed in pop culture. Thanks Ellen557!

I have my own beef about stereotyping Saudi men as well. People assume that my husband is a rich Saudi and get more dollar signs in their eyes when I admit I’m American because they think all Americans must be rich too. Just for the record, all Saudis are not filthy rich and thank Allah my husband isn’t one of them! He also does not force me to stay at home barefoot and pregnant. He allows me to go out without him if it is necessary and I can work if I so desire. He does not force me to cover my face. I do this of my own free will to please Allah. And if Saudi Arabia permits women to drive, he won’t stand in the way of me putting the pedal to the metal. So that makes one more Saudi man besides Ellen557’s Saudi man that doesn’t fit into the stereotypes masha’Allah tabarakAllah.

If you are a non-Saudi woman who plans to marry a Saudi, please do your homework about him beforehand. There are both truths and untruths and it is up to you to find out which is which. You can start by quizzing your fiance, having someone you trust who looks out for your best interests to investigate your fiance’s background, reading this blog and the blogs of other non-Saudi women married to Saudis.

taraummomarsignature5

SAUDI MEN & STEREOTYPES
By Ellen557
13 June 2009

It really annoys me when all these stereotypes about Saudi men surround us. They’re on our TV stations, in our books, our magazines, our movies… Pop culture is full of these men.
They’re the ones you see beheading people and beating their wives. They’re the hasish smoking stoners, the out of work guys on welfare.

But have you ever stopped to think that these men are not all that we portray them as? Maybe they’re not all terrorists. Maybe they’re your neighbour – maybe all you have to really complain about is the level of noise when their friends come over. Maybe you’re friends with an Saudi man but have never even seen a shisha pipe.

Scrap out the ‘maybes’ and you have a “normal” man. Take my husband, for example. He is Saudi. But no, he doesn’t beat me. He doesn’t have more than one wife and he doesn’t have an oil well in the backyard. Better yet, he does not hate every Western person on the planet.
He cooks dinner one night and then cleans the dishes the next.

He washes clothes. He supports me. He doesn’t get annoyed when he notices that my bank balance is a little short – instead of complaining, he actually buys the groceries.

He protects me. He doesn’t mind if I sit in the same room as his friends, depending on who they are.

IF there is a man in the house who is not as modest as he is (thank God), he prefers that I stay in another part of the house. But is this his way of oppressing me? No, this is his way of saying to me: “You don’t have to be around that. I don’t want you to be affected by that. You are precious to me.”

And I would have done the same, were he not with me.

90% of the Saudi men that I have met are polite, friendly, helpful and beyond respectful. What prompted me to write this post was that a friend of Mo’s came to visit us tonight. He brought us both a gift of “Basbousa” that he brought all the way from Sydney.

He is falling for a friend of mine – and I will champion his cause with her. Why? Because he is a good man. He doesn’t even smoke. He is honest and kind. He once helped my husband move a mattress from one house to another – by sitting on the car window ledge, holding the mattress on the roof. He did that for my husband!

Once knowing the man’s story (which I trust my husband to look into), I would recommend a Saudi man to any woman. I am being completely honest when I say that I do not believe anyone could fit me better than my husband.

Yes, I will admit that those stereotypes are there for a reason. There really are men like that in the Arab world. More than I would like and we must not forget that, lest we agree to let these men continue to hurt women or ruin lives.

However, there are more men who are NOT like that than we know. There really are Saudi men out there who respect women! And guess what? Judging by my own personal experience, they number much more than 50%.

I can make my own statistic out of the men that I have met. At least 7 out of 10 men that I have met are respectful and kind.

There is a Saudi man who I do not particularly like – but his Australian neighbour is more rude than he is, choosing to call him derogatry names and ignoring his real name, Mohammad, in favour of “Manny”. This is said like a parent to a dirty child.

It is easier to make judgements than to believe the truth.

Dear readers, what other stereotypes have you heard regarding Saudi men and have you found them to be true or not? I’d like to hear especially from Saudi men too…come on, it takes being one to know one!

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Published by

Tara Umm Omar

American married to a Saudi.

12 thoughts on “Stereotyping Saudi Men”

  1. >Chiara- Thanks. Lol @ camels in the backyard. My husband is a cat person, sorry to disappoint lol. Good supplementary advice to this post.Anthrogeek10: Insha'Allah everything is ok. Email me!

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  2. >Anonymous- Welcome to FHWS and thanks for commenting. It sure is masha'Allah. By the way, in the future please include a name with your comment as I don't usually approve anonymous comments with no name.

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  3. >Thankyou for the welcome!I found this to be a very insightful forum, as I am currently in a similar position, and found this website, so decided to leave a comment!

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  4. >Ashlee- You're welcome. Masha'Allah thank you for the compliment! If you're married to a Saudi and wouldn't mind sharing your story (anonymously or not), please feel free to email me at taraummomar at gmail dot com for details. Thanks for stopping by again and take care.

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  5. >Assalaam Alaykum… I just want to say, may Allah bless you my dear sister, and that you are LUCKY to have a good husband! 🙂 What woman doesn't wish for a good man, regardless of her religion or culture? Your sister in Islam, Kristy S.

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  6. >helloI am glad that your husband turned out to be a good man. but i dont think you can take your experience and post here as an example of any woman's life maybe like is she marries a saudi. let me tell you a secretsaudi men treat you western women differently than they treat saudi women (that's in general with sweet expetions)all of a sudden they are mr. romance..they are so good and kind. WHY..because you are white and this is sexy to an arab man who thinks of any white woman as an amazing sex object. you know…I doubt your husband would marry you if you were black or asian. don't feel offended please. I am sure your husband loves you for who you are. it is just you need to consider some elements playing in this if you are addressing women about saudi men. saudi women are so pretty. I dare to say that many of them are much prettier than western women..but they are light olive skinned and not white and HERE is their problemlastly, not one word here is perosnal (about me or you since Idont know you)…it is somehting I felt I need to say as a general thing

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  7. >Anonymous- You are either addressing Ellen or myself. Ellen is White. I am Black. There are a lot of Asian women married to Saudis. I am not offended by your statements. Coincidentally, the same day I received your comment, I had a discussion with my (Black) Saudi sister-in-law. She was explaining that in Saudi society, it is common to see a Black Saudi man married to a White woman. But it is rare to see a White Saudi man married to a Black woman. Furthermore, it is NOT ok. Meaning that it is considered odd and is frowned upon by most Saudis. To choose a wife based solely upon her physical characteristics instead of considering her personality, is superficial. I'm trying to remember a proverb I once heard: You can have a beautiful flower with a bitter smell which translates as, you can have a beautiful woman but her personality is very bad. On the surface she is beautiful but her personality makes her ugly. Insha'Allah I hope I got that right.

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  8. >Salaam, To anonymous: beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There are beautiful women in all societies and in all colors; no one group is 'better' than another. Although it is a stereotype that Arab men desire White women, I know of several Arab – nonArab couples in which the woman is not white, but is Asian or Hispanic. In fact, I know some Saudis that actively discourage one another from pursing Western White women as it can be difficult to balance their individualistic mindset with the Saudi collectivistic, group and family oriented mindset. Many prefer to find women from African American, Asian, or Hispanic backgrounds as the culture matches more closely. Good post though; it is difficult to overcome these stereotypes that Westerners have of Saudis. When my mom first met my Saudi, she immediately (and in all seriousness) asked him about camels and quickly nicknamed him "The Desert Rat." He was pretty offended as he is from the city and hasn't even ridden a camel before, and most certainly didn't like her nickname! My parents still think he's a closet terrorist who is simply hiding his true beliefs of wife abuse, violence, and killing non-Muslims (I admit I thought that at first, until I realized it would be impossible for him and all the other Muslims I knew to hide these 'beliefs' so seamlessly and effortlessly, lol).

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