RacismCategory Archives

Advice for Women Visiting Saudi Arabia

Women Saudi Arabia
You will feel the difference after you land on the Riyadh airport. However it’s not just the heat that you’ll experience the difference especially if you’re female. For there are huge cultural differences that you’ll be best to prepare for before you even board a flight to Riyadh. It’s a rare event for the employees there to see a western woman and you certainly won’t see many out on their own. The western females who are here generally prefer living in their compound houses or are found in shopping centers.

So here are some immediate differences you’ll feel. Well one thing that may come as a surprise is that there’s no automobile driving for women. No arguments I’m afraid, you simply can’t drive a vehicle. Don’t whatever you do try and get into an argument about the moral values behind this, it’s the law and you’re not going to change it from street level!

Shopping is actually excellent and it’s worth noting that opening times are more flexible than in Western shopping centers. One large difference you will notice is that in Riyadh you are able to go purchasing very late into the night and it’s totally normal for people living there.

For those of us who use the internet for all aspects of our lives, there might also be an issue.  The Saudi authorities heavily filter and restrict access to the internet and you may find access to many sites blocked.  These are for a variety of reasons usually cited as religious or security based, but they can be very restrictive.  The usual fix for this is to invest in some sort of VPN or proxy based in another country.  For example if you connect directly to a German proxy like this then you’ll have no filters or blocks applied.   You can even use this sort of technology to keep up with the news, accessing a UK VPN server for example will allow you to watch the BBC News streaming abroad – check here for information.

This is one big advantage you will have finished the western countries, since largely the dinning and shopping in these countries closes early. If you’re in Jeddah then there’s absolutely no time at all limit. The malls are mainly open until midnight and eating you may do all day long. In the month of Ramadan, the stores are open until the dawn prayers. In whole of the nation, all the stores are closed for prayers. If you are within a mall purchasing, then the doors will be shut and you’ll remain inside for 30 mins until the prayers are over. No outdoor entertainment is allowed at all at this time.

In religious and holy areas, there are no cinemas, bars, clubs etc. If you’re with a family it does have a positive side, you are simply able to spend more time with your children and husband. Being a women in Saudi Arabia does take some getting used to one of the first things you’ll notice is that you will be having lots of time at home. Additionally if you are living in a western compound area then you might discover some facilities and amusement there and these are available without a gender difference.

There are places women can’t travel to, for example you can’t go to Makkah and Madina. For men it’s easier, you can travel throughout the whole country, but if you’re a non muslim then you won’t get permission to enter these Holy cities. Remember though, no alcohol for anyone and narcotics are strictly forbidden in Saudi Arabia and carry severe penalties.

For Christians worship can be difficult, there are after all no churches anywhere, In fact you won’t find any church in Saudi Arabia so you’ll have to confine yourself to your home if you wish to practice any religion other than Islam. One season all year long and the weather doesn’t change that much mostof thetime it’s hot in Riyadh, but there’s winter for few months where you may need a light jacket while moving out during the night. There’s one experience you must not miss out on and that’s the famous desert safaris. Riyadh is situated right in the center of the Arabian desert. Unfortunately for a woman you’ll need to find a male partner to drive or you won’t be allowed but there worth doing and most people enjoy a lot of desert safaris. These safaris are planned independently but also can be booked though the tourism department. The reality is that Saudi Arabia has lots to offer the traveller or tourist however the cultural differences can be challenging especially for women travelling alone.

Social Injustice for Foreigners in Thailand

The civil rights movement in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries in Europe and America did a lot to protect the rights of vulnerable minority groups. These groups include foreigners. In many parts of Asia foreigners are still commonly perceived with distrust, and are denied the same rights as citizens. The civil rights movement in Asia has not developed along the same lines as it did in the West. A good example of this is Thailand.

Thailand is seen by many as a paradise country. The weather is great nearly year round. The cost of living is cheap. The people are friendly. The infrastructure and medical services are on a par with many Western countries and the crime rate is low. While welcoming foreign tourists, many Thais have a hypocritical attitude to foreigners living in Thailand. Foreigners are called ’farang’. They are viewed as a source of income. Those farang that try and integrate into Thai society are faced with a number of difficulties.

One of the most common phrases in Thai is: ’the farang knows too much’. Those foreigners who become too aware of the scams, the scandals and the extra legal way that many communities operate are often shunned. While learning Thai opens the door to communicating with locals, it also arouses suspicion and puts many Thais on their guard.

The law does not help. A good example of this is the visa system in Thailand. Even if married to a Thai person a foreigner will still have to leave the country every 2 months to make a visa run. This is the height of bureaucratic racism. There is no point to exiting a country and then immediately re-entering. Nothing is achieved except a regular income for those involved in the ’visa run’ business. It is a system designed to remind foreigners that they are only begrudgingly allowed to stay in the country.

Another injustice for foreigners in Thailand involves owning property and land. The law is a mess in this area. Foreigners have to buy through  their spouse’s name. This leaves too much room for cheating. Foreigners not married to Thai nationals can only buy 30 year leases on land, but have permanent rights to anything they build. This is illogical. At the same time the Thai government allows Thai businesses that have minority foreign ownership to buy freehold property.

On the Thai island of Koh Tao the confusion of property law is exploited very cynically. Estate agents sell land and property to foreigners and then at whim they take the property away under the legal loophole that Koh Tao has no land titles because it was once a prison island. It is possible to get recourse in the courts, but a foreigner is always taking the risk of physical threats if they pursue their rights.

If Thailand wants to really attract foreign investment and increase tourist revenues it has to do more to protect the rights of foreigners. At the same time the police force has to be fairly paid so they spend more time upholding the law and not collecting ’fines’.