Separation of the sexes
The strict separation of men and women is part of everyday life in Saudi Arabia. There are separate entrances for women and separate living areas, banks have their own department for women, there are also fitness clubs for women (we have them too) and different opening times for public institutions. For example, women visit a public library at different times than men.
For a long time women were not allowed to drive
For a long time, women were not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. It was not until mid-2018 that the ban was abolished, which also did not mean that suddenly all women could now use a car. Nevertheless, this change is a major turning point for many women, as a car makes them much more mobile and, above all, more independent of their husbands, fathers or brothers. There are also no changing rooms for women in shops. Women shop and take what they buy home with them. If it doesn’t fit, it will just be brought back. Salespeople often ignore women and only talk to husbands. However, men without a family are not allowed to shop in family department stores. It is different in shops where only women are allowed to shop; women can also show themselves here because they are among themselves there.
If you want to eat in a well-known hamburger restaurant, there are also those in Saudi Arabia, then the women have to stand in one line and the men stand in the other.
All of this only describes the side effects. In terms of women’s rights, this means that women in Saudi Arabia have no rights. You are not allowed to do business without the permission of your husband, not to travel abroad or to travel alone or to make your own decisions.
But slowly there are attempts to change this. Women demand more rights. In small, modern companies, women and men now also work together. And the young people get to know each other via the Internet, which allows them certain freedoms. These are the first small steps, but the path to an open society still has to be tread in Saudi Arabia. But it has to come from the local people.
What clothes do women wear in Saudi Arabia?
There are strict dress codes for women in Saudi Arabia. You can’t just wear what you want here, at least not in public. Women not only have to wear a headscarf in public, but also a black abaya. It’s a dress that covers the whole woman, from head to toe. There is also a face veil and a headscarf. You can see what such an abaya looks like in the photo opposite.
There are only a few exceptions
There are only a few exceptions, for example in cafes that are not open to the public, in hotel bowling alleys or in closed residential areas where foreigners rather than Saudi Arabians live.
Otherwise, only European women are allowed to do without headgear and do not have to wear a veil or a headscarf. But they also have to wear the full body dress! Only women with these black clothes can be seen in public.
And the men?
The rules aren’t as strict for men as they are for women, but they are there too. Men, for example, are not allowed to wear shorts but are not forced to put on the white cape that is often associated with Saudi Arabia. The robe is compulsory in civil service, but many also wear it in their free time.
That is why these white clothes dominate the streets and many men dress in long robes called Thawb and with a white cloth called Ghutra, which is also often red and white patterned and is then called Schemagh. The cloth is held in place by a black cord called agal.
And the sports?
Sport in Saudi Arabia is primarily reserved for men. You like to play football and appreciate horse racing. Women are prohibited from doing sports in public. But they are allowed to practice sports in a closed circle of women. So they can play football, but only in stadiums to which men are not allowed. All spectators there are women, as are the referees. For more information about Saudi Arabia and Asia, please visit neovideogames.
Some women start jogging in the streets. They wear sports shoes and sportswear under the Abayas. They are not allowed to run, but at least they walk faster, so jog moderately. Sport would be hardship because many diseases that arise due to a lack of exercise have also spread in Saudi Arabia, obesity, sugar and heart disease for example.
Women are allowed to travel abroad with a passport
Since August 2019, women aged 21 and over have been able to receive passports and can travel abroad, even abroad, without the permission of their guardian – this can be a father, husband, uncle, brother or another male relative. However, there is still guardianship, this has not yet been abolished.