Monday, December 17, 2007

but do they have starbucks...

I'm slightly obsessive. Obviously.
Currently, I'm highly into several ongoing news stories, including the "Girl of Qatif" case. This is all about the 19 year old Saudi girl who was gang-raped by 7 guys (twice) because she met a man who was not her husband. Oh, and then she got sentenced to 6 months in jail and 200 lashes. Well, today she was pardoned by the King.
Thanks a ton, Abdullah.
In reading about today's development, I realized that I really don't know that much about Saudi Arabia. And my go-to place for self-education is Wikipedia.
Did you know that Saudi Arabia didn't even become a country until 1932? And it's the only country in the world where women aren't allowed to drive!
Anyway, this morning I'm sitting here getting all riled about about this poor Girl of Qatif and then reading all about the history and culture of Saudi Arabia and I finally announce, "I'm going to Saudi Arabia!"
Yeah. Why not? I'm goin'. Where's my passport?
I found my dad in the kitchen.
"Hey, dad. Let's go to Saudi Arabia."
"We can't."
"Why not?"
"Uh, it'd be stupid. And we're not allowed."
"Seriously. We're not allowed."
"Perhaps you're unaware of King Abdullah Economic City, a city being built for tourists."
"Yeah, it's not built yet. If you want to go to Saudi Arabia so bad, google it and see what the rules are. I've got a friend that's lived in Riyahd for the past 15 years. You figure it out."
Awesome, Saudi Arabia, get ready for the Spotswoods.
So I googled "American travel in Saudi Arabia."
Most of the time if you google travel somewhere, it's all Sandals resorts and bus tour pop ups. They can't wait to get your wacky foreign money.
Yeah, not so much for the old SA.
The first Google result is a warning from the US Government. The very government which, according to basically everyone and CJ Cregg, kisses Saudi ass like Hybrids don't even exist. And this warning carries the very verbiage I need to stop my Saudi travel planning and look into a nice Radisson in Honolulu.
Check this shit out:

American citizens who choose to visit or remain in Saudi Arabia despite this Travel Warning are strongly urged to avoid staying in hotels or housing compounds that do not apply stringent security measures including, but not limited to, the presence of an armed guard force, inspection of all vehicles, and a hardened security perimeter to prevent unauthorized vehicles from approaching the facility. American citizens are further advised to exercise caution and maintain good situational awareness when visiting commercial establishments frequented by Westerners or in primarily Western environments. Keep a low profile, varying times and routes for all required travel, and ensure that travel documents and visas are valid. American citizens are also advised to exercise caution while driving, entering or exiting vehicles.

On a side note, I have a very good friend currently serving our fine country thereabouts, and I would normally e-mail him for his thoughts on these developments, but we've decided to be the only ones who maintain actually letter writing in times of war, and thus, all correspondence takes 2-4 weeks. All of his letters start with, "Thanks for the mail. How very WW2 of you."


beatrize said...

My aunt actually worked there as a biotechnician back in the 90's and early 2000 before she came here to work. I didnt realize it was like that out there. And she wasn't a citizen there at all, but from philippines and was hired to work on projects at some lab. Intresting none the less.. I can ask her some stuff if you want.

Evan said...

Your Evite to your 30th birthday party is hilarious! I am SO there!

Anonymous said...

OMG I want in on this party.

Christin said...

I love this blog, don't ever stop.

Jerry said...

:-O A Spotswood Birthday Evite is out in cyberspace?? :-(
SIGH. Must be nice to be on that list.

Spots said...

E-mail me...

chris said...

I can't believe you invited 140 people to your birthday. I hope they all show and then I can stand out in front Studio 54 style and only let hot people in. Mike and I will need walkie talkies and a taser, please.
PS. I'm crashing at your place unless I hook up.

Becky said...

Beth, Starbucks is everywhere.

Chris - you are my favorite.

Jack said...

I just saw the Evite. You sent it at noon and you have 25 RSVP yes in 5 hours? Popular bitch.
I can't wait!

(You'll be drunk by 9, I promise.)

Be_Devine said...

"Drunk by 9"? Spots is drunk by 9 on any given Tuesday. Her 30th birthday celebration day? I predict she will not be sober all day.

Anonymous said...

Call me racist. Call me paranoid. Call me crazy. STAY AWAY FROM BIN LADEN COUNTRIES. They are hazardous to an American's health. Just ask Daniel Pearl. Oh...yeah that's can't. Besides, I hear their Vanilla Lattes suck and they don't understand what extra hot/no whip means.

Anonymous said...

I have been working here in saudi arabia for three years now and i am based in jeddah. The first year was really difficult for i was used to the normal life (arent we all?) i mean, driving, going out with friends (male & female of course), clubbing, watching movies... (i was deprived of life and i am still) you might be wondering what keeps me here, well because aside from the fact that i need the fulus, the dinero, the money, my job takes me to places where i can do things which i never had the courage to do here (i.e. beer beer beer). Yes, some of my female colleagues here are brave enough to break saudi laws, like going to parties (usually done in embassies) and dating. I know a few who got caught and was terminated. Im no goody goody im just so chicken sh*t and I always keep in mind what my dad told me before setting foot here, he told me to be careful for they have strange laws for women in saudi arabia.

I have come to love this country despite of the things which make it undesirable. Ive always wanted to see the city of Taif and Abha but never had and will never have the chance to do so (female should have a mahram when travelling, mahram is a husband, a brother or a father).

The Qatif girl case is really saddening, but unjust verdicts happen in developed and developing nations as well. (by the way, Cheers to King Abdullah!)

I can say that Saudi Arabia is not a dangerous country. It is not like Iraq or Afghanistan or Pakistan where kidnappings and bombings are rampant and where talebans are everywhere.

I dont know if its easy for tourists to come here, my boyfriend (who's in CA) inquired about it months ago (i wanted him to see saudi arabia) and i guess he dismissed the thought of coming here because of all the hassles he has to go through.

Spots said...

Wow. That's so interesting! Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I'm all over Project SA. We'll have a latte at 'Bucks as soon as I arrive...