Muslims are called to pray five times a day, roughly at dawn, midday, midafternoon, sunset, and early evening. Really.” There are no movie theaters, music venues, clubs, bars, festivals, parks, participatory sports…honestly, I can’t think of everything you can’t do. In addition, men and women are strictly segregated, with separate entrances, facilities, or even hours for “singles” (men) and “families” (women, or women with men) in most public places.
In Dhahran, Malik can drive, ride a bike, and photograph her hometown.
But, if she steps out of the compound, she cannot enjoy the same range of freedoms without being accompanied by a male relative, and must conform to the country's stringent rules.
When people learn I live in Saudi Arabia, the first question tends to be, “So what’s it like there? But given enough time (say, a meal, rather than a cash-register transaction), the conversations generally cover the same ground.
Here, then, are the basic answers to the basic questions about what it’s like in Saudi Arabia so you don’t have to dig through a dozen cryptically-titled blog posts to find the answers.
Yes, it’s hot in the summer, but when it’s seriously hot you’re not spending time outside no matter what, so it doesn’t make much difference. The gesture is appreciated, and I would just as soon not be responsible for further angering some passerby who already thinks the country’s values are under assault.) Most Arab women of the Najd (the central part of the country, where Riyadh is and where dress is the most conservative) wear a black headscarf (hijab) and face covering (niqab) when in public.
Women are also supposed to cover their hair, but non-Arab women typically only carry a scarf and put it on when a muttawa (religious police officer) asks them to. There is no requirement for men to dress a particular way, though Arab men typically wear a thobe (white long gown) and ghuttra or shemagh (headscarf, white or red-checked).
The ambitious blueprint aims to fight unemployment, which continues to rise at alarming rates among Saudi nationals.
The kingdom has passed several orders under the plan, including one The ever-transforming Vision 2030 also aims to develop non-oil industries, support small and medium enterprises, increase the participation of Saudi women in the workforce and create a broader investment base in the country.
“Sure, [Dhahran] is in Saudi Arabia, but it’s not really Saudi Arabia,” Malik tells TIME.