Saudi Alchemist: Murtadha Al-Mtawaah

Murtadha Almtawaah

Thank you Murtadha! Tara Umm Omar

SAUDI ALCHEMIST BLOG QUESTIONS

Who is/are the creator(s) of “Saudi Alchemist”? It is a personal blog created and written by me- Murtadha Almtawaah

How and why did you create “Saudi Alchemist”? I started my blog first to explain myself and to understand everyone around me, and to observe how my thoughts evolve as I know more, think more, and discuss more! It also represents my life’s journey, an exploration of how I think, feel, and react to many issues. So basically the ultimate goal of the blog is to conquest myself publicly.

In the alchemist novel, Paulo Coelho talks about a story of a young man who travel in the desert and encounters danger, opportunity, pain and love in his way of finding his treasure and that is why I picked the name Saudi Alchemist for my blog. I am looking for my treasure too.

What are some examples of the main topics you write about? I classify my topics into main sections:

Monthly Panorama: a collection of sentences or pictures that represent my observation of people around me. It summarize people’s thoughts and reactions to many issues like religion, freedom, sex, knowledge, thinking, politics, and so on.

An Observation from Inside: it represent my analytical view of certain behaviors or actions. It seeks to provide an objective answer for questions like why and how this person or society behave this way or another.

Book Review: a summary of what the book is about, my thoughts and reflection on the book and finally a collection of my favorite quotes from the book that I feel important and influential to me.

Open discussion: I provide my reactions and my thoughts about an important issues and open the discussion with my reader about my conclusion

Personal Posts: important events of my life, a review of my interest and other personal things that I like to share with my readers.

What benefits do you expect readers to get out of your blog and/or your writings? Defining what is beneficial and what isn’t, is always subjective to a person’s interest and thoughts. I honestly don’t spend much time thinking of what benefits can people get from my blog, or how they react and think to what I write. I worried more about whether what I write reflect my true self and thinking, and whether it helps me change, improve, & think more. Thinking about other people, what they like, and what they don’t like, can be a distraction to the true nature of writing and can possibly change you from what you want to write , to what they want you to write.

However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t value my readers. I actually think of my readers as more than just friends. I feel emotionally bound up with people who think critically of what I think and write, and who share their views and disagreements openly with me. I hope that my blog would inspire them into self exploration and observing critically the universe and the people around them.

What are your hopes for “Saudi Alchemist” in the future? I have many hopes for “Saudi Alchemist”. I hope that I get the opportunity to interview interesting people and share their stories in the blog. I also hope that I can read more and more so I can write a book review and reflections for each book I read. I hope that I can represent more challenging discussion and get improved intellectually through my blog. However, I don’t hope for increasing viewership or posts on my blog. I mainly hope for increasing value to what I write.

Is there anything else you would like others to know about your blog? I am a Saudi and some of what I write discuss my culture and my society. Everything I write in blog reflect my observation of the culture and my view on the society. I really encourage readers to read to more than five sources or bloggers when they want to make a judgment on a specific culture or a society. I also think that it is wrong to take what someone’s write as an absolute truth. So, always question what you read regardless of who the writer is. Questioning are highly encouraged in my blog 🙂

PERSONAL QUESTIONS

Your nationality and country of residence: I am a Saudi and I live between Alhassa, Dammam and Riyadh.

What are the things you like about Saudi Arabia? I like the simplicity of the people here, their greetings when they pass each other and say Aslam Alikom “peace be upon you”. I like their generosity and their strong connection with their families and friends. I like the food, the rice, the kabsa and the 100% natural milk that I drink from my neighbor’s farm :). I like the spirituality of the holy mosques in Mecca and Madina.

What are the things you dislike about Saudi Arabia? I hate how contradiction becomes norms in the country, I hate how people waste their time and effort on hopeless discussion or on tiny issues and leave the important ones. I hate the bureaucracy of many communities and governmental agencies. I hate when people don’t question their traditional beliefs and norms and when they give up their vision of change just because change takes a lot of time. I hate how people here believe everything they hear, and how they turn stories into assumptions and assumptions into facts. I hate it when people just complain and complain and complain and never do anything else other than complaining. I hate it when people here interfere someone’s else personal life, assuming that they have the right to interfere and judge. I hate the authority of religious people when they control some aspects of life here, like forcing people to pray and controlling how they behave.

Do you feel trapped in Saudi Arabia or do you feel comfortable living in the country? I adjust myself to be comfortable with every place and environment. Sometimes, I feel out of place here, but that is natural. It is all about perception (how you perceive the place and how the place perceive you).

Do you think non-Saudis should change anything about themselves in order to fit into Saudi society? Yes, I think everyone who is planning to live in a different society and culture, will need to change a lot of things to adjust to the new society. The difficulty or the ease of adjusting to a new society depend on the level of diversity in that society. American society and many western societies are very diversified and so everyone can fit easily in the society. Saudi society is different though, the majority of people here are assumed to follow a specific traditional lifestyle and they all believe in one religion. So, everyone who doesn’t fall in the same category will have a hard time in the adjusting process.

Coming to Saudi is very much like an adventure, regardless of how much you prepare yourself for the life here, you will always get surprised by the differences between what you hear and what you see. Think of it that way, and you will have fun 🙂

Do you think a non-Saudi man/woman can be happy in Saudi Arabia? It is always wrong to confine happiness on a time or a location and so it is really hard to say whether people will be happy here or not. Happiness is a relative issue. I met some foreigners who are very excited and happy about their lives in Saudi, and I met some foreigners who truly hate the life here. It all depend on your perception of happiness and your acceptance of Saudi reality.

As a Saudi, how do you feel about Saudis marrying non-Saudis? I highly encourage diversity of faiths, races and cultures in my country and one way to achieve that is by marrying someone from other cultures and countries. However, there are some restrictions and difficulties that the Saudi, and the non-saudi have to be aware of before taking this step. For example, the government here highly discourages people from marrying outside and has impose many restrictions and law to prevent people from looking outside. There are also cultural and religious restrictions that many foreigners aren’t fully aware of. For example, Muslims, just like Christian and Jews, think that it is a big sin to marry someone who doesn’t share the same faith.

Photo Credit: Murtadha Almtawaah

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Tara Umm Omar

American married to a Saudi.

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