It’s a bizarre story actually.
A Western woman (in this case a Finn) who marries a Saudi national, admits that she is extremely restricted in what she can do, even likes some of the restrictions, but we’re still lead to believe how courageous she is (becoming an entrepreneur in tourism) for living in a situation that she alone placed herself in.
The rest of the article goes on to tick off some of the restrictions she faces, and how she lives through them, as well as her respect and love for the country. She hopes that one day her kids, a boy and a girl, will be treated as equals. I guess during her time there she’s never read the koran, for it alone dictates equality, and her daughter will be faced with that “equality” her decision to live there. Thanks mom.
I can imagine similar stories run by YLE during the Cold War, of adventurous young woman who goes to Petroskoi Russia, falls in love with a Russian, has a family, then writes a story about how restrictive it is there and hopes one day to be free, yet lauds the system’s healthcare and schooling system, and starts a travel agency to promote tourism to the tyrannical regime. Yet all of us with common sense reading the story are scratching our heads why is she to be deemed as courageous at all, she placed herself there. She’s an idiot.
NOTE: In short, if you want to live in a tyrannical regime, go for it, but don’t expect any sympathy from me over the hardships you face, and don’t even dare try to propagandize me with your BS of how great its there all in the same breath. Yle is the worst of the worst, peddling propaganda to sell its world view in the form of a ‘human interest’ story.
Laura, a resident of Saudi Arabia, is looking forward to seeing herslef behind the wheel – “Here the rules are influenced by who you are”
Finnish Laura Alho had intended to be in Saudi Arabia for a short period of time. Now, she has been living in the country for ten years now and she’s supports herself by writing a blog.
Falling in love in a country where dating is controlled by the religion police is not very easy. Nor is it easy to enter a private entrepreneurship in a foreign country.
However, Laura Alho, a Finnish student, succeeded in building a career as well as finding love in the rigorous religious culture in Saudi Arabia.
Alho, who was originally a nurse, went to Saudi Arabia to work briefly in 2008. The adventurous Alho was interested in the country’s culture and wanted to find out what life in Saudi Arabia really was, outside the news headlines.
The stay turned out to be long. Six months after her arrival, Alho accidentally became acquainted with a Saudi Arabian patient who was being treated by a colleague. The patient and Alho were fond of each other.
Dating is not easy in Saudi Arabia because of the sharia law of the country. In Saudi Arabia there is a valid rule called the khilwa , which states that a man and a woman may not spend time with eachother if they are not married nor are relatives. Although today attitudes are a bit liberated, friendships or spent time with the opposite sex may have even lead to prison.
– This is how it happened with a Finnish friend who was in jail for two days. She left with a male co-worker to spend the evening and eat. At that time, a few religious police in the mawah happened to drive past and found out they were not married, Alho says.
Nor do the rules apply to everyone in the same way.
– In Saudi Arabia, how strictly the rules are interpreted is affected by who you are. What is your position and your citizenship, says Alho.
Technology has also broken dating loopholes.
Through Facebook, Snapchat and others, young people can communicate and explore each other secretly, without the supervision of religious police. According to reports, in Saudi Arabia social media, such as Twitter, is the highest in the world. Snapchat is also particularly popular with young people.
Another way, for example, is to open a bluetooth connection in the outside while waiting for someone to contact you through it. After that, young people can start communicating with each other.
The life of the woman is determined by the custodian
Saudi Arabia is often in news headlines, especially because of women’s rights. The sexes are separated from each other. For example, some of the shopping centers only women and family men can access them.
All women have to use a long-sleeved garment of the abaya extending to the ankles. Its style and color vary according to the conservatism of the area.
– I do not feel the use of abaya difficult. Different colors and patterns depending on the occasion. In fact, for myself and for many others, this is even easier when you do not need to start thinking about what to put on home, Alho says.
In Saudi Arabia there is also a “guardianship” system where a man has the right to decide over a woman. The man is either a father of the woman, a husband or an other close relative. A woman needs permission from a caretaker to travel to work and abroad, for example.
“The life of a woman depends a lot on how liberal her guardian is,” says Alho.
According to Alho, however, from the inside of the country, while women live, women’s status is more versatile than news stories. There are, for example, women who have made their way to high employment. More than half of university students are women.
– Much depends on who is being talked about. Part of their lives are completely happy, some may be very difficult, Alho says.
Not everyone wants to change.
“Some women are happy with the current system and even prefer to be a man to take care of them,” Alho points out. Other women are rebellious against the system, sometimes even with their own safety.
According to Alho, the restrictions on women, specifically, the driving ban have made life worse.
– I have to plan my life continually, depending on how I get a ride. Getting a taxi is not easy. That is why it’s just a matter of simple things, like going to a grocery store, to spare a lot of time, he says.
This also limits women’s employment. Half of their wages can go to hire a car.
Alho wants to raise his own children with Finnish principles. She hopes that both her daughter and her brother will have the same opportunities as they grow, without gender restrictions.
Now entertainment is on the way. Crown Prince Salman has promised that the movie theaters that are currently in the country will be opened again. In addition, there are even concerts in Saudi Arabia this year. Also breaking the driving ban is one sign of change.
The Conservatives have opposed the changes and invited, for example, music concerts to “call the devil in society”.
– Conservative people are opposed to this, but I think there is a shift in the country, where liberal and moderate people are in the majority and gain more power, Alho ponders.