Ever Decreasing Circles – look no hands!

Well Al-Humdulillah as we say here in Saudi when something good happens. And something good has happened we women are allowed to take to our very own wheels!! Freedom at last I hear you shout, women can drive, there really is a God in his heaven and the women can get out and about. It has been declared that women here in the Kingdom can ride bicycles!
saudi-riding-bike
Okay so it’s a bicycle, two wheels good, four wheels bad! Still an Orwellian landscape but it is progress. Or is it? Carefully cutting through the rhetoric of edicts, laws and declarations what we have is this – women can only ride in designated areas and only if accompanied by a male guardian. They will have to be ‘modestly dressed’ in this case the full abaya, head to toe shroud! They must have no fixed destination in mind, cycling is purely for pleasure and not to transport them to a place of work. They must avoid areas where men gather as this might invoke excitement and lead to them being harassed. As one official put it, “the new policy stipulates that women may not use the bikes for transportation but “only for entertainment” and that they must not ride near men “to avoid harassment.”  So a bike is not a means of transportation but of entertainment – makes sense now of Boris’s bike plan for London avoiding his bikes is a bit of a joke!

So just when we thought we would be free to move, to take to the open road go where we want, commute to a job if necessary it’s thanks but no thanks we are still restricted and still going round in circles and getting nowhere fast. Ah to be a woman in Saudi!

Holidays are exhausting

Roger Harrison, photographer, waldorf hotel, ras al khaimah, golf course,

Waldorf Golf Course RAK

Well here I am on holiday on the beautiful island of Mallorca. I say ‘holiday’ a word loaded with meaning, AND different meanings depending on who is using it. Today I am doing a Blogging course in Son Vida beside the golf course, no time to nip out with the iphone for a picture so you will have to look at the golf course behind our new home in RAK!

Go back a few months….there I was in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia finishing my teaching contract with all that an approaching end of term involved: report writing; graduation ceremony; Year 6 disco; classroom tidy up; leaving parties etc etc. added to that we had to pack up house for our move down to RAK in the Emirates. (Moving from Saudi now that is a whole other blog.)  Anyway my mum and sister decided that 3 weeks of my summer holiday would be spent taking mum from London to stay with said sister. Sounded like a plan and the best part was that we didn’t have to stay with her but in a friend’s house just across her street!

What they didn’t tell me was that it meant that staying in the house meant looking after a dog and 2 cats as well as watering the plants and grass twice a day!