When Sarah Moss, a physician in Madison, Wisconsin, falls in love with a fellow student, Ibrahim Suleiman of Khobar, Saudi Arabia, she is unable to persuade him to stay in the US. Instead, he persuades her to go to Saudi Arabia, where she obtains a job at the Suleiman Hospital in Khobar to see if she can adjust to Saudi life. What follows is a comprehensive exploration of Saudi families and Saudi society, especially the society of women and their roles in the larger Saudi world, and as Sarah learns more about the world of Saudi women, she must decide whether she can live among them forever as Ib’s wife. As the culture is explored, the reader can truly imagine what it would be like to be a woman living in this family. The way that women achieve levels of freedom on their own, despite the restrictions; their urge for independence but their flexibility within their culture; traditional bridal customs and marriage preparations; and the special society that women share with each other without the presence of men are both fascinating and well integrated into the story of Sarah’s life in Saudi Arabia.
Category Archive for 'Saudi Arabia'
If you have ever wondered what it would really be like to be a woman living in Saudi Arabia, then this novel may answer most of your questions. Confined to a black burqa which covers every inch of skin except for her eyes whenever she leaves her house, even when it is over a hundred twenty degrees outside, an unmarried woman must never be alone with a man. She must always be accompanied by a male member of her family, even, as occurs in one scene here, if the member of the family is only seven years old. Leila Nawar, whose grotesquely tortured body is found washed up along the Corniche in Jeddah as the novel opens, works as a videographer for a television station, but she is also secretly working on her own project about women and their sometimes miserable lives in Jeddah. Because she has made many enemies among those who do not wish to appear in her compromising videos, she keeps most of her film at home, storing it on her computer or on discs. When her body is identified, a rare event for women victims who have no fingerprints available, the police are anxious to study her recent films for clues to her death.
Saudi author Yousef al-Mohaimeed, whose book, according to Scott Wilson of the Washington Post, sold five hundred copies in just three days at one bookshop in Riyadh, is certain to gain western readers with his intense and often moving story of a love gone wrong. Munira al-Sahi, a beautiful thirty-year-old woman, has been studying for her graduate degree and working at a counseling center for abused girls and women in Riyadh. She also writes a once-a-week column for a local newspaper. Though she has heard all manner of terrible life stories from the women she counsels, she never suspects she herself will become another sad statistic: the man who has been courting her is an impostor, someone who is using her to gain revenge on one of her brothers by ruining her life and making her his legal and emotional prisoner forever. Through his focus on Munira, Yousef al-Mohaimeed reveals a much larger purpose than just a sad love story. Here he recreates the lives of many seemingly typical Saudi women in 1990, a time in which American Patriot missiles and Russian Scuds are streaking through the sky in response to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.