Friday, March 15, 2013

An American in the Saudi Harem cage!

 

http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2004/week-35/11-american-saudi-harem-cage

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Article title: 

11. An American in the Saudi Harem cage!

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Year: 

2004

Week: 

35

Article number: 

11

Article pages: 

p. 9

Date of source: 

2004-08-30

Author: 

Yusra Zahran

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Article summary: 

The American journalist Sandra Mackey was known in the 1980s for her book on how the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia changed from a desert unknown to many into one of the major powers influencing the fate of the world. McKay lived in Saudi Arabia for four years in which she dealt with the authorities there as the peaceful wife of an American diplomat. The end product was a book called "The Saudis," in which she announced that she was able to penetrate to the core of the "desert kingdom," as she called it, and she was able to reach "where no Westerner could have reached."

Article full text: 

In his latest film, "Fahrenheit 9/11," American director and filmmaker Michael Moore asked an important question: What is the size of Saudi investment in America? The question was simple and clear: A trillion dollars, which is a thousand billion dollars, which makes up almost eight percent of the size of the American economy. This means that Saudi Arabia is capable of dealing a blow to the American economy at any moment if it decides to withdraw its investment and its business there.


Many articles since then have been published in an attempt to analyze the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States. The question of the relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia became an even hotter point when many looked at the link between the Saud family and the Bush family and when the investment numbers became known to every one. This led to the soaring business of consumer books dealing with the topic. Many people read such books for fun or because they are upset by such news.


In the midst of all this, American journalist Sandra Mackey attempted to outline the characteristic of the Saudi personality. McKay was known in the 1980s for her book on how the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia changed from a desert unknown to many into one of the major powers influencing the fate of the world. McKay lived in Saudi Arabia for four years in which she dealt with the authorities there as the peaceful wife of an American diplomat. The end product was a book called "The Saudis," [full title: The Saudis: Inside the Desert Kingdom] in which she announced that she was able to penetrate to the core of the "desert kingdom," as she called it, and she was able to reach "where no Westerner could have reached." What is more important is that she was a woman who was able to access places in Saudi Arabia most women could not, especially Western women.


Her book achieved reasonable success when it was released in the 1980s, but the book was not considered a particularly serious work for those looking for facts or detailed [analysis] information. But suddenly McKay was brought back to the spotlight in recent years and has been witnessing a success that she would not have even dreamed of achieving in the 1980s. The Americans rediscovered McKay's book in the wake of a national fever looking for anything related the September attacks. McKay did not hesitate to publish a new edition of her book, to which she added a new introduction and an epilogue that is suitable for the "spirit of the era." [The American] public viewed the book as "one of the most important books that has penetrated the hidden life of the heart of the Saudi society and revealed it," as the New York Times described it.


Some might think that the details McKay mentioned in her book accurately describes Saudi society, others might dismiss the descriptions as mere fantasy that have nothing to do with reality. The main theme that ties the whole book is McKay's attempt to explain the schizophrenia that characterizes the Saudi character. The Saudis, according to McKay, were a country lingering in the shadow and not expecting the world to turn to it. But suddenly, Saudi Arabia found itself in the spotlight with all countries trying to woo it. As a result, the Saudis found themselves in a dilemma that they to this day, cannot solve: Should it respond to the demands of transformation to modernity on its land or should it hold on tight to its ancient traditions and customs that have united it but without allowing it develop?


In one chapter, McKay analyzed why Wahabi salafist http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/intro/islam-salafi.htm] thinking has dominated Saudi mentality. One of the most intelligent observations made by McKay is the difference between Islam in Saudi Arabia and Islam in Egypt.


She argued that the Saudi family found it necessary to keep its "union" with Islam, prevent the appearance of any religious movements and maintain its Bedouin pride in order to protect itself from falling victim to coups like in Iran or from any revolts against it like the Wahabi revolt itself. The discovery of oil even amplified that Bedouin pride: Oil gave Saudis an overwhelming feeling of strength; that they could force others to submit to their will. But the fluctuation of oil prices caused Saudis to suffer from more instability in their psychology and their character. According to McKay, they no longer knew if they controlled the world or if the world plays with them.


McKay claims that Saudi Arabia uses its oil not to achieve economic gains as much as to dominate the world. The arrogance that characterizes the Saudi mentality angers Westerners and prevents the Saudis themselves from moving forward. It also imprisons Saudi women behind cages for fear that they [women] might squander the honor of their men. Each time Westerners go to Saudi Arabia, they are shocked by the strength of the chains imposed on women. McKay explains that these chains are an attempt to prevent Saudi women from committing vices and is not aimed at protecting them. She describes Saudi society as a society obsessed with sex and that imposes dozens of taboos on itself only to break them. That it is a society that tries to get everything without losing anything. Youth are trying to break everything imposed on them by their elders and the seniors are not willing to admit that they have lost control over their youth. For McKay, Saudis are people who excel at hiding their fears and doubts behind masks of civilization, but this ability to hide quickly disappears with the appearance of any sign of threat to their future and their financial security.

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