What it is like to be an Oriental wife of a Saudi.
"Worse still, people aren’t even embarrassed by their derogatory behavior."
One of my friends, a Saudi, announced that he was leaving the country. I must say I was a little taken aback by his sudden plans for departure because he was very successful, from a merchant family and appeared to have a bright future ahead of him.
“But I thought you loved it here?” I asked amazed at his decision.
“I did,” he replied sounding unconvinced by his own admission.
“Well then,” I said, “you’re being stupid. I think you’re too idealistic about what life in America is all about. And besides, you could do so well in your own country and supporting your own people.”
He sniggered at my optimism and finally apprised me of what it was that had made such a move essential.
“Lubna,” he began, “ever since I got married things haven’t been the same.”
I found this odd as he had tied the knot with the love of his life. They had met at university in the States and his wife was a smart beautiful Oriental woman whose uncle was the president of a Far Eastern country.
“Oh,” I sympathized. “These things happen, you know.”
“No. You have misunderstood. I am extremely happy. But I am just sick to death of the way we are treated as a couple. Whenever we go out, people here instinctively assume that I am with my servant! In restaurants they have attempted to seat her at a different table to the rest of us. I don’t need to tell you how some people here are accustomed to bringing their maids and drivers to dinner as glamorous accessories and then shoving them into a corner because they are not fit to share the same space as them.
“At the immigration she is always treated like a domestic helper and they love to question her rudely and act as if the status on her visa is a mistake. I mean how can someone with Oriental features aspire to the heights of marrying a Saudi? Surely they have given the maid the wrong visa? This kind of blatant disrespect is incredible.
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you some of the stories. At a family wedding my wife was not even allowed into the main hall and ended up sitting in the section with the maids until one of my sisters went to fetch her. I am just finished dealing with this sort of rampant humiliation. Worse still, people aren’t even embarrassed by their derogatory behavior. They look at me as if I have issues. As if it’s fair game to treat my wife badly because she is Oriental. Even members of my own family treat her with a sort of indifference and find her presence hard to swallow.”
“That’s weird,” I said, “because your brother is married to a foreigner. It’s not exactly new to the system then is it?” I commented.
“Yes, but she is a pure white American. Come off it, Lubna. Whether you like it or not, a Katie from the great US of A is any day more preferable to any woman regardless if she happens to be from one of the top families of Asia,” he retorted in disgust.