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Mohammed Abdullah, a Saudi national speaks candidly to Mark Ulyseas on life in the Wahabbi Kingdom
What is your name?
Mohammed Abdullah. I live in Riyadh where I graduated from King Saud University.
And what are you doing here?
I am free here. If I was in Saudi I would have to wear my thob with an Aogal and Shumak. Here I can wear jeans and a T-shirt and relax. In Riyadh men cannot visit the Mall unless they are accompanied by a female relative or wife. We are not allowed in by the police. Only women have free access to the malls. And I can roll a joint and smoke it without fear of the police catching me, putting me in jail for six months and/or giving me 60 lashes.
Is that all?
No. In Saudi we cannot be seen with a female unless they are a relative or wife. If the religious police (Hayaa) catch a young unmarried couple even walking together, sitting in a car or having coffee in a restaurant they will send the girl home and give the boy a good beating, sometimes even lashes with the cane. On more than one occasion I have seen a young man being beaten in the street by the Hayaa. In spite of this young people meet secretly. There is a rapidly growing Gay and Lesbian community.
We have secret parties in an “Esteratta”. This is usually a house situated far out of the city. It is a big property with very high walls, a large garden and in the middle is the house. This shields it from all prying eyes. I have an Esteratta outside Riyadh but it is not very big, you know. The Saudi princes (3000 odd) and other very rich people have huge properties. Here they have lavish parties. Prostitutes are flown in from Morocco and Lebanon.
Flogging and amputation of limbs are used extensively in Saudi Arabia as judicial punishments. They are prescribed by Saudi Arabian law despite the fact that such punishments contravene the UN Convention against Torture. They are applied to many offences, ranging from alcohol and “sexual offences” to theft, and can be handed down by courts with little regard to fair trial procedures.
Other than parties at the Esteratta what else do the young men do for entertainment?
Drugs, making homemade Arak and watching movies at home. The popular stuff is Hashish and the different types are:
Jamila (beautiful) very good quality about two years ago, now it’s not so pure.
Shaitan (Satan) is the latest which comes from Israel.
Samarkand is okay, and Shepra is from Morocco.
Prices range around 200 Riyals per stick – length of the index finger and thickness of two fingers.
Hash per kilo is around 17,000 Riyals approx. depending upon supply from Morocco and Israel.
Home made Arak is made with water, sugar and baking powder. Fermentation is around 3 to 4 days and then it is distilled. The Arak is very strong so when we get together and drink it, fights usually break out. But no one reports this to the police. It is friendly fights, you understand? Many young people have got into this habit and it is now becoming a major social problem but no one talks about it.
All this happens because we are bored. We cannot meet girls, nor hang out with them in public places for it is dangerous. And those who have a little money like me and my friends, we come to Asia. It’s cheap here, we get girls and can smoke Hash !
Social media like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace etc. are monitored by the police and the Hayaa. Many youngsters have been caught for unIslamic behaviour…and many of these have been let off because of ‘Wasta’ – Vitamin Wow i.e. knowing an important person.
Do you have any restrictions while travelling abroad?
My country does not allow us to visit Israel, Afghanistan and Thailand (I have to check my passport for other banned countries). It is stamped on the passport. Sometime ago one of my friends visited Thailand and when he returned to Riyadh he got into a lot of trouble with the police. He was interrogated and an investigation followed. But he paid his way out.
The junior police are honest and helpful because they are paid 7000 Riyals salary per month, which is high by our standards. But their top officers are very corrupt and take huge bribes, some going into a few million dollars!
And what about women?
Hahahaha…women are paid a higher salary than men in all jobs but less than those expats from Europe and America, they get paid much more. Do you know we men have to pay a kind of dowry to the father of a prospective bride? The minimum Mehar is 70,000 Riyals. If I wanted to marry a Saudi girl I would have to pay her father about 400,000 Riyals plus gold jewelry etc.
Are there complaints by pilgrims to Mecca?
Yes there is rising crime like theft, cheating and violence. Mecca has many problems now and this is because years ago when Africans came for the Hajj they remained in my country and quietly settled down. These people are not like the Arabs, they are unscrupulous. Not all, just this scum who give the people of Mecca a bad name. And what is shameful is that Hajj pilgrims with European and American passports are treated very well unlike those from India, Indonesia and other Asian countries. And this is not Islam.
But this happens as a direct result of the Wahabbis and their interpretation of the Koran. No where is it said in the Koran that one has to shut one’s business five times a day when one prays. Yet the Hayaa enforce this practice and usually people are beaten in public for not adhering to this law.
So is there anything else you would like to share with the readers?
The Saudi Royal Family are Wahabbis as you probably know and these people are the cause of creating the wrong impression of Islam. Our people hate them and if they do get a chance they will revolt. But I don’t see a revolt being successful as there are around 3000 princes behind the family.
Water is more expensive then petrol.
One litre of water costs 2 Riyals while a litre of petrol is less than 1 Riyal.
There is no free medical program for the poor.
And lastly, if you want to be as rich as Bill Gates, open a Bar in Riyadh.