I See Pink, People

Pink houses, pink villas. Pink trousers on fellas. Pink in the bathroom pink in the garage. Pink at the mosque, is this a mirage? Pink at the gas station! Is this a pink nation? Men with pink shoes, shirts and jeans,  can you tell me what all this means? Is there pink in masses, or is it just my rose colored glasses?

Pinkness seems to be everywhere in the Magic Kingdom. Surprisingly enough it doesn’t look like Saudi men have any problems living in pink houses, wearing pink clothing, going to pink mosques, pumping gas at pink gas stations or even driving in pink cars. Coming from a culture like mine where men are too “macho” to even glance at pink stuff, this strikes me as odd to say the least.

 

me weird, but I find this fascinating. The more I have started to think about it, the more I’ve begun seeing pink stuff! Everywhere. Maybe I’m just a nutter and this whole pink fixation is in my head. Or then it’s those rose colored glasses on my head?don’t mean to say ALL Saudi men dress in pink clothes but it’s not totally uncommon to spot pink items on men. Unlike in the west, it seems to be socially perfectly acceptable here.

saudi religious police muttawa

Also, pink houses and buildings are common. I started paying more attention to it on our road trip to southern Saudi. Special mentions go to Abha, Kahmis Mushayt and Gizan for men living in pink accommodation. What’s up with that? Did Saudi-Arabia just get an enormous amount of pink paint for free? Do the wives love pink so much they insist on it?

This got me thinking.. What might be the reasons behind the use of color pink in so many places? I mean I have never seen men so comfortable with pinkness anywhere in the world before or so much pink being used on buildings. For example a man driving around in a baby pink car in Finland would get VERY long stares, perhaps disbelief and laughter from women and in worst cases even land him in a fight.

Paint the house bright pink and people will think this dude also sees flying pink elephants. Or alternatively that he is a mere doormat and the wife obviously made the final decision on the paint color. Showing up at an ice hockey game in tight pink jeans and pink tennis shoes would be almost suicidal. The cultural differences of  how people perceive pink are striking!

So are men in my country and in the west in general just so insecure that they are terrified of using the color pink in fear of it somehow diminishing their manhood? Are Saudi men more secure in their manhood? Is it a cultural thing? Is pink just perceived as a gender neutral color in Saudi-Arabia? Why so much pink but not for example red, another “feminine” color? Is it only in the west that pink is perceived as a women’s/girl’s color?

This pink mystery reminds me of a true story that happened to my american friend who lives in Riyadh. She was in a shopping mall with her 1,5yr old son. His hair is a little longer which is unusual in Saudi but many parents in the U.S. find cute. A Saudi woman with a baby stroller stopped to talk to her asking, is this your daughter? My friend said no it’s a boy. So this Saudi lady dramatically threw her hands in the air looking toward the sky and began praying: “Oh Allah guide this woman to the straight path!” “Guide her to cut the sons hair!” “He looks like a girl, guide this poor woman!” She told my friend she MUST cut his hair because he looked like a girl. My friend was appalled at the woman’s behavior. Nevertheless she tried to be polite and said pointing to the woman’s baby dressed up in an all-pink outfit “What a beautiful girl you have mashallah”. The woman replied: “It’s a boy.” My friend asked why is he dressed up in PINK? She replied: “Oh, I don’t believe in colors being gender specific.” Btw my friend is an Arab Muslim. So long hair on boys=big problem, haram, makes boys look like girls=haram. Pink outfits on boys=no problems, doesn’t make boy look like a girl at all. Maybe Saudi men are dressed in pink as babies and get used to the color as being part of their wardrobe? So what do you think? Have you noticed this phenomenon? Why do you think pink is so popular?

P.S please note this post is labeled under humor and not to be taken overly seriously :)

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  • عبداللهJanuary 19, 2012 - 3:28 am

    I don’t pay attention to colours but from now I will start to take notice of pink people, houses, etc. Pink issue never came across my mind and I never heard people talking about someone who wearing pink, I mean mocking him. I can’t remember seeing any one wearing pink but as I say I don’t pay much attention to colours. In the photos you included, I think these are normal apart from the boy’s trouser and the sport club.

    Why they wear pink?
    I think they may be board and want to do something unusual and new. Or they may want to prove that they don’t care about any one and they are brave. Or they may want some attention.

    I think in saudi many people have no problem with looking like foolish they enjoy it and even if people look at them and laugh they will enjoy this and the people who laugh will understand why those doing unusual things. But in the west they are very careful and don’t want to be in the spotlight where people may laugh at them. I can see this deference in classrooms where western students don’t accept to be laugh at while saudi students enjoy it. Looking like a stupid and behaving like a stupid is prised by ancient arabian poets, When a man give an impression that he is fool.ReplyCancel

  • FJanuary 19, 2012 - 6:28 am

    What a funny story! She sounds like a real hypocrite judging your friends boy and seeing nothing wrong in her own actions.

    I think men in Saudi might wear pink because they want to show they are gay? Lots of gays! Every once in a while I notice pink clothing but also other bright colors like yellow or orange. Maybe it’s considered trendy?

    But why the other stuff I have no idea!

    Funny post!ReplyCancel

    • adamJuly 22, 2016 - 2:59 pm

      no its not about that its not easy to be gay in saudi arabia as saudi i see pink as normal color it doesnt mean its only for girls or something some times guys paint htere cars with pink to atrract people its hard to explain this cultureReplyCancel

  • NamnaiJanuary 19, 2012 - 8:06 am

    Pink or other feminine coloured houses or whatever isn’t too unusual. I don’t think it ever really was.

    However, not too long ago you wouldn’t see men in pink, orange or other “feminine” colours in Riyadh. You’d get stared at and maybe picked on because people thought you were gay. But since its become more and more acceptable to be wearing flashy colours and the various hiphiop designers are using them in their lines you see it more often on the “gangsta” kids. We all know how people here love western designers :D

    Neon/hot pink shoes and t shirts is quite normal now. Although I have yet to see people in pink jeans XDReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJanuary 19, 2012 - 3:38 pm

    I think pink blends in or matches sandy colors better than green. Maybe it’s a more natural choice for a building in Saudi Arabia than it would be in a greener environment. The long hair vs. pink clothes conversation about babies made me laugh. :) I doubt most of us fully appreciate how much our opinions are shaped by our culture.
    -Jenny from http://birthisbeautiful.wordpress.comReplyCancel

  • PiaJanuary 19, 2012 - 7:12 pm

    Did you know that pink used to be boys colour and blue girls colour! It was because pink was seen as a more decided and stronger colour, and it was more suitable for the boy, while blue was seen as more delicate and dainty, and it was prettier for the girl :)

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8401742.stmReplyCancel

  • AliceJanuary 20, 2012 - 5:10 am

    Pink is more popular in the UAE too. I’ve seen pink cars (and pink taxis for women with female drives) and pink houses. One of your neighbors lives in a pink houseReplyCancel

  • StephiJanuary 21, 2012 - 1:58 am

    I noticed that some shades of pink look strikingly attractive against the tan Middle Eastern skin.

    On another note: my Finnish-American uncle proudly declared pink to be his favorite color and would wear gumball pink polo shirts while he tended to his farm. : )ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 21, 2012 - 9:37 pm

    Abdullah-thanks for the very interesting insight! Had not heard of this phenomenon of making oneself look like a fool could be something to aim for! Wow and it comes from ancient arabian poets! Even more intriguing Thanks for this I will do some further reading about this for sure :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 21, 2012 - 9:39 pm

    Namnai-thanks for the comment, yes the clothing is more common now than say 5 years back! But still I’ve never seen so many pink buildings anywhere else than Saudi :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 21, 2012 - 9:40 pm

    Jenny-thanks for commenting, maybe the pink does contrast better, but one of the most pink areas Abha is mountainous and very green area :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 21, 2012 - 9:41 pm

    Pia-no I did not know that about the colors! Thanks for sharing very interesting :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 21, 2012 - 9:43 pm

    Alice-wow really pink taxis for women? I’m loving it! So it must be a Khaleeji thing then huh, this pink fixation!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 21, 2012 - 9:44 pm

    Stephi-LOL at your uncle and the pink polo shirts :)Have to agree with the skin tone thing, my husband has a pale pink tshirt and he looks soooo good in it (I got it for him years ago but he doesn’t like it too much)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 21, 2012 - 9:48 pm

    F-well I would have to agree about the gays. Sometimes I see men walking around holding hands and I wonder..are they?ReplyCancel

  • QusayJanuary 22, 2012 - 5:27 am

    How about a pink thobe, sunglasses, watch, and ghutra? :)

    I do not want to think about the underwear

    http://twitpic.com/p3j7gReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 22, 2012 - 6:28 am

    Qusay-OMG this is pure AWESOME! Can I please attach it to this post? Pretty please:)ReplyCancel

    • UnknownApril 1, 2012 - 7:41 am

      Salam aleykum Leila,i am new blog user without a blog wow! I also live in KSA and i am new here ,also from Europe but from the souther Europe ,anywayz pink ,are u kidding me guyz ?That’s not man’s colour at all! Yeah it came across my country too before and men were wearing pink ,in that time even i thouhgt it was sooo….pink! just pink is for girls come on! Wear something black and blue ,be guyz and grab an energy drink or something! For masajid and builddings is okay to be pink but man’s clothes Oh my gash!ReplyCancel

    • UnknownApril 1, 2012 - 8:47 am

      Salam aleykum Layla ,i am a new blogger and new saudi expat living in Riyadh ,i also came from Europe but southern ,i like reading your blog u sound an intersting person and very intersting topics your posting ,about the pink colour that is never manly colour ,it used to be fashionable in Europe before but for special kind of man! lol anywayz here is my skype ,very cool to know u ,and keep with the intersting posts!
      c a l i e n t e _ 8 6ReplyCancel

  • Leigh B.February 26, 2012 - 5:11 am

    Salam Laylah!

    I traveled to Lebanon with my husband this summer, and I was also ASTOUNDED by all of the pink that the men wearing–especially pink skinny jeans. When I asked his teenaged nieces what was up, they just said that it's stylish there? So I guess it's just a gender neutral thing… :?

    Also–guys went around holding hands–grown men—in Lebanon as well.ReplyCancel

  • anime vanJune 18, 2012 - 1:03 pm

    I am from Saudi Arabia.
    I just wanted to remind you That most of these men’s clothes pink Came from the West. Why you do not Ask your people why they make this???
    In Saudi Arabia is most saudi men do not dress these colors.
    But some do not mind that worn in some cases.
    I have 8 brothers males in Saudi Arabia. Only two of my brothers
    I saw him wearing the color pink And my father did not like this And at the same time we laughed.
    Frankly I do not know why you focus on the Saudis.
    ((Saudi men wears pink oh gay. Saudis men Holding their hands together oh gay. Men Saudis Dancing together oh gay. Saudi enters the bathroom . Saudi out of the bathroom>>gay..gay))
    Hahahahah.
    For this reason we think that most of the Americans Have a defect in their minds.
    In your west country gays Spreading in the your streets. And a lot of gay priests have raped children.
    And we did not forget the gay American soldiers And what they did In the prison of Abu Ghraib. And how they treated male Arabs.
    We are Arabs. We have a saying: the Who work dirty things the will Think of others like him.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahJune 18, 2012 - 9:02 pm

      anime van-thanks for the hilarious comment I really loved it :)ReplyCancel

  • bigstick1June 18, 2012 - 8:27 pm

    Amine:

    What is wrong with being gay? Next being gay doesn’t make you a pedophile. A pedophile is someone who likes children. There is a difference.

    Next the same can be said of Arab men treating others this way.

    In other words two wrongs don’t make a right.

    Her focus on Saudi is due to her being there in Saudi and it affecting her. People tend to write about things that have direct impact upon their lives.

    Next Laylah is not American, so she could care less about American’s defects as she is currently dealing with Saudi’s defects.

    Here is my American assessment. :)

    EnjoyReplyCancel

  • LaylahJune 18, 2012 - 9:07 pm

    oh and anime van, notice how you mentioned the word GAY a grand total of EIGHT times in your comment, yet I didn’t mention it even once in the entire post.
    Wonder why you’re so obsessed with GAYS?ReplyCancel

  • Umm GamarJune 19, 2012 - 1:38 am

    Homosexuality is forbidden in Islam. But accusing someone without proof is even worst. Wearing pink doesn’t make a man gay, in fact the day my husband wore a pink tshirt was the day i finally gave birth to our daughter after being long overdue. Funny coincidence there but nothing gay about my husband.he was beside me like my knight in shining (pink) armour.ReplyCancel

  • NanieJuly 19, 2012 - 5:59 am

    Originally, pink was designated for boys, as it was thought to be the stronger color. In Christian tradition, red was associated as male, and its ‘little’ sibling pink was used for boys.(source) Blue was associated the Virgin Mary and therefore considered feminine.

    http://hueconsulting.blogspot.com/2007/03/why-is-blue-for-boys-and-pink-for-girls.htmlReplyCancel

  • AnonymousAugust 7, 2012 - 12:58 pm

    Interesting. This long hair – in some Levant countries there is a tradition to dress little boys as girls and put eyeliner on kids in any case to scare the djinn from stealing them. Of course, who would believe in djinns these days…

    As for the color – in Russia “gay” is denoted calling someone “galuboi” which is “light blue”. Well, they also call caucasians “black”, so it all depends… what is the color of mourning in different parts of the world.

    And what comes to pink being a macho color, actually it was used as war camouflage paint in the desert as it blends in with the shadows, also in war ships and reconnaissance spitfires.

    But pink pants – oh Layla have you seen the picture of Swedish King and Nalle Wahlroos a few years back? Pink pants is in vogue!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousOctober 6, 2012 - 3:09 pm

    i’ve seen many saudi guys wearing pink superman t-shirts……ia that a sign for sumthing?…lol….ReplyCancel

  • JeanNovember 20, 2012 - 1:25 am

    Instead of focusing on sexual orientation and meaning of pink, maybe a better explanation:

    If Saudi women normally wear dark abaya, then she is not wearing pink in public.

    So pink becomes less important as “feminine”.ReplyCancel

  • anoxxxJuly 16, 2013 - 11:23 am

    You must have noticed Jizanis and their colorful skirts..ReplyCancel

  • SueJuly 30, 2014 - 1:39 pm

    Even in japan pink is seen as a very manly colour while blue is seen as more feminine.
    It would be important for people to realise that colours and mannerism might mean different things in different cultures.
    Another example, A saudi guy holding your hand while walking, really imagine how awkward and “gay” it might sound and look. But it actually here means that he trust you a lot and values your frienship extremely, so dont even thing of pulling your hand away, thats a great way of hurting him. Though nowadays i hear its evolving.ReplyCancel

  • […] scenery or to get some snacks. Here a man selling corn on the cob. Like I mentioned before in this post pink houses are very popular in this region! This one’s pretty lonely out there. The […]ReplyCancel

  • Saudi-Road Trip Top TenDecember 5, 2014 - 5:47 am

    […] We bought five jars of delicious honey in the Abha mountains from this friendly  Saudi man who told us the honey had been harvested in the Yemeni mountains. It was so delicious! Pink houses are very popular in Abha and Gizan, I really don’t understand why this particular color is so common. I’ve never seen so many pink houses and villas and all sorts of buildings anywhere around the world before. I think it’s funny so many Saudi men actually live in “princess pink” houses! Read my post about the popularity on pink color (especially among men) in Saudi-Arabia here: http://blueabaya.com/2012/01/i-see-pink-people.html […]ReplyCancel

  • AlyaniDecember 8, 2014 - 3:43 am

    It is just interesting how you noticed the Pink color and you searched and explained about it with a western person’s perspective.
    As a man in my 20’s I would explain this from my opinion, my family and I lived and grow up in south of Saudi Arabia (Asir) in a small town closed to Abha and I moved to the eastern of Saudi Arabia (Dammam) lately, I have not seen the pink color become a popular in my people interests in both areas. Back to my childhood when I was living in Asir, I knew and understood that if I use the pink color in my clothes, my family and my people in the community may even not let me get marred LOL :) I mean its shame unless the color come from candy or cranberry. Women, girls and (babies and girls more than boys) may wear shirts Thob (dresses)with little use of this color and it is acceptable. I agree with you and the other comments that some people especially teenagers or singles wear Pink these days in Saudi especially in large cities like Riyadh, Jeddah and East province’ cites . I believe those who prefer to wear and use it is only when they wanna act as (I’m COOLER than you)but still not a common thing that men wear pink in south of Saudi Arabia or even in north and other places in the country. The last 5 to 6 years I took my family to Abha City. Then, we hanging out around the city and we noticed the Pink Color been used a lot in some buldings. so my mom sisters liked that but me and my brothers make fun of how the city use this color painting buildings and appear as an ice cream lol . I also noticed some girls’ schools painted with pink color and purple!! which is not questionable for feminine, well its for girls so they may like it. But when it comes to some teens and men I would say they prefer it in their cars and shirts for some sneaky reasons; in order to been noticed by girls because they know that girls love pink so they well use it (im guessing) :)
    Anyway it is still not acceptable in our communities particularly from parents and mature people however I respect other people’s taste. from other experience here in USA, my American friends asked me why I’m not getting my hair cut!! however it was not long and they keep asking me if my family usually ask me to get it cut. I said yah especially when I went to school but it was not haram but bad when it become longer than it should be. They never let it grow and I was surprised too. it is also interested me, so I asked them why and they said this is how they grow up but others they don’t cut it. It is a globalization phenomenon that we consume from MEDIA and get affected badly with it.
    Thanks for this interesting Topic and ColorReplyCancel

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