My Culture

In the Middle East where the three religions were born, religion is the essence& flavour of our life, Christians or Moslems, even if we are not practicing and obeying the commandments to the best.
With this religious flavour to our life we live our daily life.
Family is important, though big families are shrinking.
Arabs love sense of humor, Egyptians more than others. Saudi are very conservative & very generous by nature. Lebanese are the most fun loving of all Arabs.
We all speak the same language, Arabic, though in different dialect.
We are nostalgic, romantic and arabic songs are played in the background of our mind.
Salam ulikum means peace on you. Islam means submission to the will of God.

I have always considered Egypt, Libya and Sudan as parts of Africa. Would Ethiopia and Somalia be considered the Middle East or is the definition based on whether the country has mostly ethnic Arabs?

Kurt,
I do not know about the classification. In Arab countries we are not ethnic because we are all Arabs. In Saudi Arabia we do not consider any Arabic speaking group ethnic, whatever the religion or sect
I sat in a coffee shop in London with my sister exchanging recipe of Egyptian dishes and here a gentle man started chatting us in Egyptian Arabic. Later I asked: where are you from (in Egypt), he said he is Israeli, I added Israeli Egyptian and we went on & on about our favorite dishes.

How is life in Saudi Arabia?
We celebrated recently Saudi National day,75 y since the kingdom is united on the hands of late king Abdel Aziz. The moving from a Bedouin society towards a modern state is great, what I like as Egyptian married to Saudi (my best friend & colleague in same year in Cairo university) is the Saudi culture, it is unique, still the tribe is the solid foundation for life here and I do love originality and smooth modernization while keeping the flavour and scent of Arabia.

Sohair, the reason I ask is that certain parts of Africa ( Darfur ) are at war with itself and reading up on that got me interested in what is an Arab.

I found this on Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab

Darfur is sad and shameful story,I am ashamed of what is going on there.The south of Sudan poeple of different race,have own language,but Sudan is their country and there should not be any dicrimination,at the same time Sudan should not be divided to two separate countries.People used to live happily for centuries hope peace will prevail and justice take its course there…

Women in Saudi Arabia:
Saying that we are a new state relatively that jumped to modern life,we are moving in the right direction maintaining our identity as conservative moslem society which I support very much.
We work,have equal salary like men,but we cannot travel without the permission of men in our life( I remarried my husband after we got divorce,though he remarried, to facilitate my life and to be free to travel,but mainly because he is my best friend,thanks to our relegion who permits that if women agree)
We do not drive ( women in all moslem countries drive).Our government strongly support women but leave it to the society to decide the right time.I spent lot of money hiring drivers as there is no public transport like in Egypt.

About my relegion:
Many friends ask me in a subtle way about important issues,I asked a very dear friend if it is a taboo to talk about relegion or politics,he said no but sensitive issues devide poeple and he does not like misconcept or conflict.
As a moslem ,we all beleive in the same God who created the whole universe.Our holy book is Quraan.The basic commandments sent to Moses are the basics of the three relegions.
It is up to the individual to beleive or not,to worship or not,you cannot make me beleive in God or worship him if I do not want. I pray five times a day,I fast Ramadan.We pay Zakat,2.5% of any money kept for a whole year,plus any assets to the needy and the poor.
Gehad is defending our nation or family when attacked.
The fanatics are our enemy,they have political reasons to destroy our peaceful life. We suffered on their hands in Egypt&Saudi Arabia as the whole world suffered on their hands including Hitler and his wars against the whole world and the shameful holicaust.

No one can forget his country, his memories, these childhood memories that go to rest in the back of our soul to keep coming forward when we get old, feel lonely, or fed up
Have I forgotten Egypt my beloved country,never.My first school was in Beirut,Lebanon,a very beautiful country, with mountains,rivers,and the sea, with lovely people who all have lovely voice and can sing!!.
Egypt, my father’s family village, the peasants, the river, the fields and Henna fields with its beautiful flowers, the fishing at afternoons, the smell of food, every thing fresh from the farm…

My God
My God is every body’s God, this universe has one. I remember being on top of a mountain in Montreal, as if I can touch the sky, I wanted to pray and kneel, then put my forehead on earth and just pray…Felt that He who created this magnificent universe deserves our love and obedience
I feel complete combining religion with my daily life. I do not have to lose my way looking for Him…He is there for all of us…

Egyptian or Saudi,
Global with middle eastern flavor.From Egypt after finishing my internship to Kettring in Northampton,first visit to Uk,visited Greece only before ( great poeple,they lived in Egypt before and we do love them very much).
I had to prepare for my liscence exam.I went sight seeing,impressed by the beauty of England.I had my 2 children there,my daughter in Sunderland,my son in the Isle of wight.
Met poeple from all over the world.The most interesting when we had two friends,Israeli and Plestenian,it was helarious to watch TV in doctors room with these two,I wish if I will see them again.
6 y in UK then to Saudi,first visit for me.The first friend who came to say hallo was Karen,American,her husband works with my husband.I met Americans,Asians and other Arabs.United Nation that what it was,

Women in Saudi Arabia:
There are too many unmarried girls now; there are many causes for that: girls are keen to finish their education first, then postgraduate qualifications. Then they will be over 25y old or touching 30.Young men prefer a younger wife, the cost of wedding is high, dowry the man has to pay the girl, a present, gold or diamond, preparing a house, and the cost of wedding party.
Girls who are above 30y and desperate to get married may accept to be a second wife for a married man as long as he can make a home for her. The first wife has the right to get a divorce if her husband has another wife,
Islam does not approve of living in sin and illegitimate children, so no mistresses who live in the dark with no rights.
Some Bedouins and the very rich have 3 or 4 wives. But this is very rare now.

So each wife lives in a separate home, as opposed to a community home with all the wives and children living under one roof?

If men can afford, it has to be a home for each, actually this polygamy solved the problem of girls who cannot find husbands full time. No woman loves the idea of her husband having another wife of course, but all these highly educated saudi women who are 30+ are willing to marry married men,part time husbands are fun, that what they say so they can continue having time for themselves, a legal mistress and legitimate children with full legal rights.

Divorce:
Divorce rate is rising in Gulf states in alarming fashion,among the newly wed and among professional women.Women now if not happy they ask for divorce.Many female doctors are divorced,they support themselves and their children.Many doctors are second wives,they own their homes,hire a driver & maid and then hire a husband !!! for friendship and holidays!!! Tmana,wish if you will join one of these women gathering…Women here are strong headed and play their culture to their advantage…Women Power!!!

That’s the side we don’t get to see in the media… the power that can be wielded by women within a “male-dominated” society. If you look, you’ll find it in many places where men and women understand the physiological requirements and limitations of their gender and use them to the entire society’s advantage, rather than to pretend these differences do not exist. Unfortunately, a number of societies that pretend to be this way end up treating women as little more than walking wombs, with their virginity treated as commodity. On the other hand, we’ve gone completely in the other direction in the US (and I understand the non-Haredi Israelis are similar in “gender equality”?). US history probably sets us back 200 years or more from being able to draw back enough to recognize that “equal partnership” can be “separate but equal” where the genders are concerned.

Tmana,
When I was young I believed in women liberation and I was an advocate, as I grew older and learnt about life and the differences between men and women, I got to learn it is a partnership with roles are clear. I have friends from all over the world, when we sit together we wish for the same things, a happy marriage and to have children. Not all Muslims follow God’s rules, but while not obeying we do not dismiss it as irrelevant. I had great respect to the late Pope, because he was adamant not to issue changes of basic teaching of Christianity. As a Muslim we have to believe in all prophets, judism and Christianity.The world does not know anything about Islam,the fanatics gave it a bad reputation.

Indeed… and that is why I ask questions, pose analogies, and try not to have too many preconceptions. Though I’m beginning to suspect that the arranged marriage (parents decide whom the children will marry; children have very little – if any – say-so in the matter) is no longer a Saudi norm?

No, it is not arranged marriage for most of families, and in Islam, the girl has to agree, or the marriage is not valid.Judism,christianity and I slam basically are the same, coming from God, the creator of universe.
Actually arranged marriage is arranging a suitable date if men and women did not meet the right person yet.
In Egypt, for girls who did not find the right guy, friends and families may arrange a casual meeting for them. I and my sisters fell in love with our husbands and got married.

There are a couple of different things with arranged marriages… in most modern orthodox Judaism, a matchmaker arranges introductions just as in Islam. But a lot of marriages are arranged and contracted by the families… my father’s maternal grandparents’ marriage was arranged by their mothers when they were pregnant (“If one of us has a boy, and the other a girl, they will marry when they grow up”) and enforced by the families (i.e., family pressure keeps the marriage together even when neither husband or wife wants it). My mother’s paternal grandparents were “set up” by their siblings; however, her grandmother’s mother was married (at age 11) to a man she didn’t know at all and was extremely afraid of.