13 marzo, 2017
Fernando and Ana Armada are a married couple that lives in Saudi Arabia, in Riad which is the capital city of this country. With this interview we are going to be able to know how is it to live in a country like this.
Fernando is a businessman that works in a petroleum company named Aramco, which is an American company settled in Saudi Arabia. This company created an enclosure where currently thousand of people, that works for this company, lives. This precinct is called Campaú, the life inside it is different from the one outside, they have hospitals, schools, pools and all types of activities to ensure the commodity of the workers and their families.
One advantage that the Aramco employees have is that the company gives them a certain amount of money that guarantee the education of each one of their children.
I asked Ana, Fernando´s wife, how was her day a day, generally she hangs out with her friends that also lives inside the Campaú, they do lots of activities, they can take classes of Arab, go to the pool. This is not the typical life of Arabia Saudi, but the company wants to ensure that the employees stay there for a long period of time so they give them all kinds of facilities. The life there is similar to the one we have in Madrid, but not in the social aspect, they do not have the same joy as Spain. She said that the life outside the Campaú is not very appetizing, they rarely go out, only when they need to do so.
Women have lots of limits in these types of countries, they are not allowed to drive, they can drive inside the Campaú but not in the outside of the precinct. It is also very dangerous to go alone, if they can, they are always in a friend´s company. They have forbidden to talk to Arab men, in hospitals there are separate waiting rooms for men and women. Women in general stay at home, when there are dinners in someone else house they don’t go, but this is not the case inside the Campaú. Also, women have to wear a type of dress that covers all their bodies, it can be black or dark brown, but they do not have to wear any type of veil because is something religious.
The first thing that we think of Arab women as Europeans is that it is a complicate society, they cannot hang out with another man who is not her husband, brother or father. They have also a lot of social pressure, anything that they do wrong or that are seen as an inappropriate act, is their fault because they incite it. Marriages are arranged, the family decides who they have to marry, if the women wants to divorce, they have to ask for permission to their husbands and generally men stay with the children.
Saudi Arabian women have been allowed to work for 4 years now. If a foreign women want to work outside the Campaú is very difficult, there are some limitations, inside the campaú they have it easier because is organized by the Americans, they only have to present the curriculum. foreign people only can enter into this country if they have work permits.
Saudi Arabia is one of the countries with less equality in the world according to a BBC documentary. They showed a list of the gender equality of each country, Saudi Arabia was in the 134 position, so I asked them what did they think about it, if they think that these numbers were right. They told me: “of course, women are very different from men, they are treated if they were less.” Saudi Arabia is an Anarchic Monarchy, the government wants to have control over all things, including private conversations.
People are not allowed to speak through Facetime or Skype, and generally all the conversations are watched and controlled by the government, in case someone says something that they are not supposed to say.
Ana has been asked to wear a veil in one case, she was in the mall with one of her sons, and a man came up and told his son to tell his mother to put the veil on, I asked her how she felt about it, she replied that she felt really bad principally because of the way the man told her.
Saudi Arabia is changing little by little, now women are allowed to study and work, in a near future this country will make a change in the sense of society.
Alejandra Torres Maldonado.