Sunday, June 24, 2007

Saudi Conservatism

If you do any amount of research on the Saudi people and their customs you will quickly learn that they are a conservative society that values privacy and the sanctity of the family. Nothing wrong with that in itself, however the manifestations of this attitude appear strange to the foreign visitor, are inconsistently applied, and sometimes verge on the ridiculous.

It is well known that women in Saudi must be fully covered at all times when in public, and that restaurants and cafes -- even Starbucks and McDonalds -- have separate Family and Men Only sections with the Family Section usually consisting of private curtained booths. There is also a ban on any exposure of female flesh in the media, and it is a common sight in book and music shops to see magazine pages or CD album covers "censored" by having any bare female arms, legs, and midriffs scribbled over in black or red marker pen.

I thought I'd seen this taken to its ridiculous limit when I passed a clothes shop in a shopping mall recently. The shop window was decorated with large posters of small children -- toddlers -- modelling the outfits, but some over-zealous official had ordered their eyes to be digitally blurred behind a pattern of pixels, in the same way they do when interviewing witnesses in crime documentaries on TV. I didn't see the point but accepted it with a resigned shrug and moved on. The next children's clothes shop I passed bore no such signs of censorship, proving that it all depends on whether the guy with the rubber stamp is having a bad day or not I guess.

Well believe it or not I've topped even that:

Who could these mysterious characters be, hiding behind their pixel-masks??


1 comment:

laura said...

And where is Princess Fiona???