Saudi Gazette has today run an opinion piece about the "Big Do's and Don'ts in Saudi Arabia".
On my first read of this piece, I thought that the author, a Saudi Academic had done a pretty good job of covering the basic aspects of Saudi Culture and some of the better ways to approach topics you had questions about. However, as I thought about it, and gave it a second look, I realized that pretty much his opinion of the do's and "don'ts" was a little bit skewed. It seems that in the authors eyes, the "do's" are to visit and work in Saudi Arabia with an open mind, and to ask questions about select topics i.e. Islam from the perspective of one who wants to learn rather than one who wants to judge. The Don'ts however, were a much larger section: Don't ask about multiple wives, women driving, Israel, etc...
On my third read of the piece, I realized that this was basically a piece that said "Welcome to Saudi Arabia, if you want to convert welcome, otherwise stay out of the kitchen for the time that your here."
Here's my problem...this guy is way out of touch with his own populace. Forget the fact that he basically just gave a nationalist speech in the 21st century, forget the fact that he seems to be one of the people that harbors the opinion that expats such as myself are here not because of our expertise but strictly because the Kingdom was kind enough to hire us...forget all of that. This "Saudi Academic" lumps his entire Kingdom's population into one group. He ignores the most basic differences such as Gender, Religious sect, Tribe, Wealth and Social Status and whats worse he completely ignores the fact that some Saudi's might feel differently than other Saudi's. Apparently in this man's mind, despite being educated in Major Saudi Universities, the UK, the United States, Germany, Japan, etc. Despite reading books, watching television, and watching world news. Despite the millennial generation being the first one in Saudi History that HAS to work, and despite a growing class of impoverished Saudi's...Apparently despite all of that, Saudi Arabians have emerged with a single collectivist brain and uniform thoughts. Therefore this man can write an "Us vs. Them" article lumping all Saudi's into one group and the rest of the world into another.
A gross ignorance to or misunderstanding of ones own changing culture is dangerous. If any threat to Saudi Arabia exists, this is where it will come from. It will not come from outside, Iran will not start a war, The US and our "Rock n' Roll" and "Loose Women" won't bring you down. Failing to understand the situation facing the millennial generation, and failing to see how they are changing and take steps to understand their concerns, to listen to their voices...that will be where your problem begins. Or maybe "began" is a better way to describe it.