The preservation of these 500 houses surrounding a souk marks an attempt by the Saudis, whose oil profits turned them into bling addicts, to appreciate the beauty of what they dismissively call “old stuff.”Jidda means “grandmother” in Arabic, and the city may have gotten its name because tradition holds that the grandmother of all temptresses, the biblical Eve, is buried here—an apt symbol for a country that legally, sexually, and sartorially buries its women alive.(A hard-line Muslim cleric in Iran recently blamed provocatively dressed women for earthquakes, inspiring the headline SHEIK IT!Armed with moxie and a Burqini, the author confronts the limits of Saudi Arabian hospitality, as well as various male enforcers, learning that, as always, it matters whom you know.I wanted to know all about Eve.“Our grandmother Eve?He wanted to encourage more outside contact and to project an image other than one of religious austerity (with bursts of terrorism).
Crown Prince Abdullah—now the king—was a radical modernizer by Saudi standards.
I had visited Saudi Arabia twice before, and knew it was the hardest place on earth for a woman to negotiate.
Women traveling on their own have generally needed government minders or permission slips.
A Saudi woman can’t even report harassment by a man without having a or male guardian, by her side.
A group of traditional Saudi women, skeptical of any sort of liberalization, recently started an organization called My Guardian Knows What’s Best for Me.