Friday, 4 September 2009

The Frankincense Trail

We watched some TV last night.

Kate Humble, a blond female BBC TV presenter went to Saudi Arabia.

That might sound perfectly normal to you but it isn't. Kate had to have a male escort, a Saudia Arabian called Dewi.

This is because no woman is allowed to be in the country alone with our a male relative or a male escort approved by the Saudi government. She had to wear an abaya, a black robe that covers the whole body.

All the other women she met were all wearing beautiful skirts and sexy blouses! But not in a public place..

Kate met a Royal Saudi Prince, one of the richest men in the world. She followed him into the desert where she met his fourth wife. They didn't mention that he is still married and living with the first three!

This Royal Saudi Prince gave money and goods, like cars, to the people who live in tribes in the desert. A huge queue formed and he gave away thousands of pounds or riyal of his own personal wealth.

His wealth comes from investing in businesses all over the world including The Sun newspaper, CNN and Citibank in the US.

Kate went to visit some arabian women who were playing basketball, in public in Jeddah. Apparently there are 20 female teams that play on private land in Jeddah.

The men disapprove but fortunately this doesn't stop them. The Koran doesn't say that women must not play sport so where does this disapproval come from?

Kate questioned Dewi about this and was close to insulting him. Did he deserve to be insulted for having different views of what was acceptable for women?

Saudi women aren't allowed to speak to any men other than relatives. If they are found by the religious police to be alone in the company of a man who isn't a relative they are stoned to death.

This wasn't mentioned on the programme.

Kate followed the frankincense trail around Saudi Arabia but wasn't allowed to visit Mecca. No foreign or saudi tourists can go there, I didn't know this.

She went to the Red Sea and she dived on a shipwreck that has only once been dived on before owing, according to her diving escort, to the paranoia! As Kate stripped off her abaya and dived into the water she said it felt great to be out of that 'blinking abaya'.

Well done Kate.

Things are changing though in Saudi Arabia, mainly I think to 9/11 and the blame they received. The secrecy of the country made them easy scapegoats.

Women are allowed to own a car now, but aren't allowed the insurance to drive it, but they do. Freedom is improving particularly in Jeddah but not so much in Riyadh the capital.

I wish our Queen would give away her private riches she makes through investments to her people as the Royal Saudi Prince does every month. They share their wealth.

In my humble opinion, if Saudia Arabia treated women equally it would be the best nation in the world, by far.

These are my views are not a reflection of any company or person I work for


Tabitha Bird said...

Sad to say though, that the day Saudia Arabia treats women equally may also be the day that pigs start flying. There is just so much going in there behind the scenes and the issues are anything but simple. Grea post :)

Jessica said...

Wow, that's really interesting! I didn't know half that stuff.
Even with the women thing I wouldn't want to live there. But I'm American. :-) I don't like the idea of being forced to share by the government, but rather choosing to share. I don't like the idea of the government being overly involved in my life, but rather I would like to enjoy the freedome to make my own personal and financial choices. :-)
I think it's awesome that their prince shares though. But I'd bet there's other issues we don't see, just as you knew some things that the program didn't mention.
Thanks for the informative post, and also for stopping by my blog. :-)

Wend's Place said...

Things are improving over there it is a long slow process owing to years of this regime and the older people not wishing to change.

I understand you wanting and needing freedom to make your own choice Jessica there are no strings attached!

However I reckon there is a balance in everything and one thing that makes us human rather than animal is our ability to share and work as a team.

Beth Dunn said...

Do you really believe he the prince gives his money away? I find that the hardest to believe. Sounds like an truly interesting tv night! xoxo

Lazy Writer said...

Ah, the oppression! It's hard to even imagine. I wish I had seen the show. Thanks for sharing.

Chief said...

I agree with you 100%. What a great program...I wish I could watch it!

Anonymous said...

I saw the first program - but from here in Oman cant se the 2nd. Kate seemen to walk in Saudi without a headscarf - was that only for her or have they changed the regulations

Wend's Place said...

Beth ~ the princes definitely give their money to the tribes of people living in the desert. Tribal culture is very different to western because they have a very strong sense of community, each other.

Susan ~ yes the oppression is huge why don't you try the BBC iplayer? you can watch it online then.

Chief ~ it is a great piece of TV because sending a woman (a blond) to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is truly difficult. I can't imagine the paperwork or how long it took to make this programme happen.

ynotoman ~ Out of curtesy/politeness Kate should have worn her head scarf.. yes and no the law hasn't changed yet but things are more relaxed but it may well do in the next 20 or 30 years but that is a long time to wait for freedom for arab women. Try the iplayer online for the second part.

Stephanie Faris said...

Is Saudi Arabia where most of the women in jail are women who have been raped? That's considered infidelity, so they are sentenced to life in prison.

Wend's Place said...

Haha! Yes Steph unbelievable isn't it!