Saudi Complex #1


A gentleman told me that wearing Saudi thobe maybe illegal for expatriates. The funny thing is that this guy has lived here for 30 years.
I told him that there is no such thing and that I have been wearing thobe since I was 2 years old AND have often even gone to government offices wearing it. AND, in fact, have been appreciated for respecting the official clothing of the land!!
He said this : Well..what scares me is when someone speaks to me in Arabic and I am wearing Saudi clothes..and I reply in broken will be embarrassing. COMPLEX!

I had this to say: Do you not feel embarrassed when so many millions of Asians speak lousy, broken and even hilarious English wearing suits and western clothing? No reply.

You see..I do not get this!

We have a serious issue about the language of our Holy book..the clothing of our own lands and respect for our traditions and brothers. Yet,we shamelessly ape western styles of living and dressing.. in a lousy way to be honest. My sincere apologies to the people of the West..we have mocked your language and clothing long enough dudes…

It is not about good and bad. All cultures and clothing are nice..interesting and even beautiful.

I am writing this blog in an effort to counter this stupid perception and complex about Saudi clothing and language. Asian/other expatriates have nurtured baseless and idiotic views in their minds and hearts thus giving birth to the Saudi Complex! Ridiculous!

Saudis, on the other hand , have no such complex. If in Pakistan, they will wear Pakistani without a thought and love it..And, they will appreciate you wearing their clothing while helping you with their dialect of Arabic.. if they see you have interest in it.

They will wonder what hit your head in childhood if they see and understand the complex you hide in your silly little mind!

Instead of being embarrassed..learn, appreciate, honor and share.. No..there is no law in Saudi Arabia that says an expatriate should not wear Saudi clothing….DUH!!

Enjoy your weekend..

13 thoughts on “Saudi Complex #1

  1. Ali, the reason is that we have built fortress around our cultures and only fools think that it is protected. There is no encouragement to teach local cultures & languages. Thats why in every Muslim country Muslims themselves feel like aliens we have only great nationalistic feelings and past historic glory to share and nothing else. While if you go to any Western country you feel like you can belong to the place thus you feel encouraged to learn their culture & language. Whereas in a Muslim / Asian & Arab country you will be labelled with your nationality.

  2. Good morning, Ali. So, over coffee let me process – the gentleman thinks it’s illegal for ex-pat males to wear thobes. But ex-pat females must wear the abaya and head cover in public. Does he think that’s illegal as well? Doubt it. You’ll likely argue that that’s a religious law.

    I agree with your comment re the splendid clothing of other cultures and showing respect when ex-pats wear it appropriately. Seems jeans and T-shirts have become the world’s national costume. And that’s neither good or bad.

    And how long does a person have to live in a foreign country where they can’t become a citizen before they are no longer considered an ex-pat? Never?

    Complex indeed. Saudi is a riddle wrapped in an enigma. Can’t wait to return.

  3. SA: your comments are interesting to a western female such as I and I think I agree with you. What I’ve read and observed – rightly or wrongly – is that your schools have stressed the teaching of Islam, not dissimilar to the early schools in the west that began as religious based institutions for males of the upper classes. But that changed a century or two ago. I think your schools are changing as your educators realize your students are being left behind and the best and the brightest are sent out of the country for post-secondary education. How does a country measure the success of it’s education system? The number of Nobel Prizes won? The number of application for patents? World respected leaders in medicine, sports, the sciences, & politics.? The percentage of female population attending post-secondary education? Equality for all? The number of foreign students your country attracts? I love visiting Saudi, you have a long history and much to see as a tourist but it is basically closed to the world. Open doors lead to open minds. The fear seems to be a watering down of Islam and creeping Westernization.

    The major advantage of living in North America, at least for me, is that we are all from somewhere else, except for our Aboriginal People. We have had to learn to co-exist with different skin colours, religions, customs, and languages. Is it perfect? No. But It makes for a healthier culture, especially for women, in my opinion, than one such as exists in very closed Saudi. I also wonder what the hell is going on in Pakistan when a young girl is shot for encouraging girls to attend school. This is the kind of action that prevents most of the world from trying to understand Islam and blow most of you off as being a bunch of nuts.

    Boy, would I like to spend a month talking face to face with a couple of Saudi males and females.

  4. @Ksinks2 I agree with you that we should have a good education system, we should have an open mind, a mix of cultures living permentately in Muslim countries, fairness for all which gives rise to healthy enviroment and growth. This is what Islam teaches us & this is what Islam taught the rest of the world pre-colonisation. What you see today are mainly politicised capitalist systems. At all costs we should not import, imitate & adopt Western style systems because importing & adopting Western & socialist systems is what got us to where we are today. As for your point on girls education it has imensely improved all over the Muslim world and majority have access to education we just need to improve the levels which will come from more cultural interaction. Islamic education in Arabic has to be compulsory in all Muslim countries and should be taught by Muslims scholars from all over the World (American, British, Chinese, Indian, Arabs, Germans, etc.)
    The incident that occurred in Pakistan is a lone incidence that western media loves to propagate. Who knows what was the politics behind it. As for your ‘face-to-face talk with a few local males & females’ is just another way of telling people how good the western system is compared to theirs. Well its far from being perfect. And boy, how I wish I could have a face-to-face healthy discussion/ debate on this subject with Westerners.

  5. Hi SA – I agree with most everything you’ve said. And, if my facts are correct, there are now more females attending university in Saudi than males. Sort of agree with Muslim scholars from all over the world teaching in Saudi but I remember the impact of a visiting prof from Jordon when I was at university. I found his course on the history and contributions of Arabs positively changed my attitudes toward Arabs and Islam. A few non Muslim scholars might provide an interesting dichotomy between Saudi and the rest of the world. Intellectually I know that the Pakistani incident is not a common event just as drive-by shootings in North America are actually rare. I just get very upset when children are harmed and I weep for what is happening in Gaza.

    I’ve had face to face talks with Saudi female English students as well as with a couple of males. Some had studied in North America. Yes, they admired or wished for some things from western society – driving for women, dating, movies, not being covered, alcohol, and something vague called more ‘freedoms’. I don’t think they understand that with freedom comes an awful lot of responsibility. But, in the end, few wanted to live permanently in the west. Family was one of the reasons but they felt Saudi was personally safer, a better place to raise children, physically healthier, a better life style (women were shocked I didn’t have at least one servant), and an easier place to practice Islam. They would rather stay in Saudi and be agents of change from within the Kingdom. Good for them.

    Want to talk face to face? I’ll be in Saudi in early 2013 for three months.

  6. @Ksinks Since you agree to most of what I said then there is nothing left to debate about. :-). Let me tell you that not all Muslims are ideal Muslims be it Arabs (Saudis), Asians or Muslims of any other origin. If I may say so many Americans and Europeans that have reverted to Islam are sometimes much better Muslims than those who just happened to be born in Muslim families or countries & had no choice but to follow Islam and consider themselves Muslims. The Essence of Islam needs to be understood and followed in every aspect of life. Islam does not belong to to any particular race or sect. Rather its message is universal and is for the whole of mankind. Its message is to stop humans from oppressing other humans and it grants freedom and justice to humans in the best possible way. It’s message is same as what all prophets have been sent with through out history, including what Moses bought to Jews at that time and what Christ brought to Jews again at the time and then last Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon them all) brought for Arab pagans, Christians, Jews and whole of mankind. The protector of this message is God (Allah) Himself He guides whom He wills. So I would describe it as a way of life for Mankind ordained by one Almighty. A Muslims responsibility is to relate this message to every human verbally without bias and then it’s upto that person to choose they way of life He/She wants. So never think that if a certain person belongs to a particular Muslim country he is ideally representing Islam. Islam teaches hardwork and high moral ethitcs & politness when dealing with people and not be lazy and be oppressors.

  7. Oh, sunshine, there is always something to debate or discuss. :)) Not all Muslims are ideal Muslims? Same problem in all religions. If I converted to Islam would it be better for me to be a bad Muslim than not to be Muslim at all? I have Muslims in my immediate family which is why I’m learning about Islam. Between the Catholics, atheists, Muslims, and a Protestant or two our family gatherings are never boring. We’ve learned tolerance. Would you agree that the basic tenets of all religions are pretty much the same?

    • Well if you converted to any religion why would you want to be bad. Why not take good things of that religion and why convert if you want to be bad??
      Well very basic tenets of Islam are the believe in Oneness of Allah, He is without any partners (no Son or daughter or other things associated with Him), He is to be worshiped alone and that Prophet Muhammad is the His last messenger. Also the believe that all prophets brought the same message from Adam to Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon them all). All other religions associate partners to God which is fundamentally wrong. Besides, Islam like other religions not only forbids evil and encourages doing of Good but it goes a step further. It actually shows humans the practical ways to stop evil and to do good.

  8. I wouldn’t be a bad Muslim, or anything else, on purpose. Islam has many positives but I think I’d fail at meeting its expectations, particularly living in a non-Muslim society. All religions have some form of the Ten Commandments, prayer, belief in a God, promote peace, goodness, avoidance of evil, creationism. Maybe I see these similarities as I live in a multi-cultural society. I hope that understanding one another will lead to peace. Seems like a near impossible goal but I am an optimist.

  9. @ksinks2 Take one step at a time. Once you except that there is no God worthy of worship except Allah alone and that prophet Muhammad is His servant and messenger. Then no one expects you to become a prefect Muslim or an angle. We all make mistakes and Allah knows this and He is the most merciful who forgives all our sins all the time when we ask him for forgiveness. The only thing that He does not forgive is associating partners with Him. Many people in the West are following Islam in a better way than many in Muslim countries. So don’t worry about that.

    If you want I can send you links to lectures that scientifically prove Islam is the natural religion for Mankind. My email is

  10. I just finished reading the Qur’an and have been overwhelmed with suggestions of books, Youtube videos, and websites. My exploration of Islam is turning into a full time job! I will contact you but warn you that I am somewhat of a skeptic about any religion.

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