We hardly ever hear the candid voices of Saudi men in regards to relationships, marriage and thoughts of living in a tribal society.
The following post is written by an anonymous Saudi man. He could be anyone, his thoughts and feelings are probably shared by many others out there. I came across this post on Facebook and found it so interesting and compelling I felt it should be shared with more people. I asked the author and he agreed to share his thoughts on Blue Abaya.
In his post, which he says was written as a sort of apologetic letter to all the women he hurt in his life, the writer goes through tribalism and its deeper meanings in the society while trying to explain to himself, and to the women who came across his path, the reasoning behind his actions. The piece has very insightful analysis about tribes, “meta-tribes” and the complex matter that is marriage in Saudi-Arabia.
The problems that arise from tribalism are numerous and seemingly only negatively effect the Saudi woman. In reality the strong tribal practices in Saudi-Arabia today have negative effects on everyone on all levels of society.
Read more about tribalism in Saudi-Arabia here.
More from Anonymous Saudi: Darbawiya-The Saudi Punks.
Another reason I want to share this post is I often feel like the western media is portraying a false image of Saudi men. The illusion is of somewhat brain washed, rather boring men going about their monotonous days without much feeling or thought about life or how it would’ve been had he been born without the y chromosome.
The truth is Saudi men have hopes, dreams and fears just like any man in any other country. Especially the new generation seems to have a lot of frustration toward the contradictions and hardships they face in their every day lives living in a tribal society such as Saudi-Arabia.
What I thought makes this post special is the fact that Saudi men are usually private about these personal affairs and we hardly get a glimpse into the depths of their minds.
It’s long, but a great read. Feel free to share it.
“Why am I not married, or in a serious relationship and the Meta Tribe”
Plain and simple, the reason why I am not in a serious relationship of any kinda goes back to 1 reason, reverse tribalism or Meta Tribalism. It might not be a term you can google as I have coined it lately. This is, of course, my own perception and reality might be a little different or inconsistent with it since this is not a research paper. But in this post I will try to explain what Meta Tribe means and how it affects my love life and how I chose to deal with it.
Intro to tribes
So why does the need for tribal societies to marry off their young to other “compatible” tribes exist? its kind of a known fact that tribal marriage rituals were created as a system to insure money doesn’t fly far off a group of people, as well as to minimize threats on a group of people and to minimize the influence of a stronger tribes and groups of people on this said family or tribe. This is also a criteria of what is considered a ”compatible” tribe. If a family or tribe has the same power amongst other tribes, or the same financial level, this will insure that money doesn’t fly to others who are greedy or that the other tribe aimed to take advantage of the other tribe’s social status or power, also this makes sure that civility dictates when conflicts arise as so much more than just 2 people are involved. Of course all these hazards could be minimized if the marriage happens between two of the same tribe.
This of course rises from weak judicial systems and weak civil society institutions as well as the lack of insurance and retirement plans and social security where people are forced to huddle up in “tribes” to protect themselves. This is also why we see a high dependance on the young in a family to taking care of the elderly of these tribes. The elderly depend heavily on the young to survive. Of course these reasons might look like they disappeared now days to some or they are under a layer of ignorance and tradition, but I assure you that those are some of the reasons why marriage rituals in tribal societies exist and why they continue to exist.
What is interesting in my opinion is the backlash that non-tribal families had because of this. Since tribes have a strong political and financial power, non-tribals fearing for their well being around much more powerful groups started grouping together. Non-tribals started creating Meta Tribes amongst like minded and financially compatible families around them for the same reasons that Tribals created tribes. Similar marriage and partnership rituals grew out of this too. Families will choose to reject suiters for a lady from an “incompatible” because of the family’s social status, religious values, financial situation, association with other families that might or might not be of compatible nature. This is just about talking about neighboring families in the same city, imagine how it would be if a suitor was from another country. This also applies if a man decides to get married from another “incompatible” family, the family of the man would object almost as much as a lady’s family would, even though its easier for a man to do what he pleases legally, but a woman would need the approval of a legal guardian. This is what I call reverse tribalism, or Meta Tribalism, and it does exist.
Me my family
So before I come to the conclusion, a little bit about me must be communicated. I am a proud person, I hate begging for acceptance. I grew up being a non-tribal geeky nerd kid in the center of all Saudi Arabian tribalism. I was called gay for having a softer west saudi arabian accent, this explains why I learned to merge accents and adapt my language. I was picked on for being different and a geek and a person of higher grades. I was also picked on for being more westernized as I grew up on lots of american TV and media. I was an easy target for everyone. When I lived alone in my college years I learned to be proud of who I am, be an individual and not care about what others think, I found acceptance between a great group of friends. I know what I want to do and who I want to be. I can’t go back to that fool was begging for acceptance from a society that rejected him. I learned to be proud and bend for nobody. I also learned that I don’t like most people. Dont get me wrong, I don’t mind most people, I am pretty social, but the people I like close to me are very rare. It takes me on average a 2 year relationship with a person with constant hanging out to even consider them close friends., if they manage to be my friend for that long. I also have a very specific way of life and a set of beliefs that finally made me a happy person. I won’t go into details as some of these believes and choices might get me killed or put one of my family members in danger. I know what I want to accomplish in live, I have specific goals in life and those goals are my compass and will bend over and down to have them accomplished. If I cant get them accomplished, then I will die trying. I want to create a sustainable game industry in the middle east, and I want that to be my legacy.
I also met many women in my life of course, some were saudi and some were from other countries, and I know my taste in women now. I know what I want in a life partner and I know what emotions to look for in myself as signs of compatibility and chemistry. I know my skills as a person and I recognized my faults as a human and I do look for a partner in life that completes these faults to create a solid unit. A person that shares my believes and enjoys being part of my way of life. A person I can be part of their lives and a best friend amongst their friends and a friend to their friends too. I am not a kid falling in love and I am not a naive brat who just wants to piss off his family. I know what I want and what I need. This being said, most of the women that meet these criteria for me are women who are not from this country, and I have met a lot too, but chose not to persue them.
My family is a simple family from a non-tribal decent. My mom is from a simple family from makkah and my father is from a simple family in Madina. Two holy cities, the pressure I feel to be a good human being. My two parents focused on their education, got scholarships to go to the US and get their higher degrees from esteemed US universities, amongst them is UCS. They both got their PHDs and during their PHD days is when I was born. They have achieved high status in the community and they are known to be trust worthy and they are respected by everyone. They provided a life that is unimaginable to a young non-tribal in saudi. The house was full of love and acceptance even though the world outside the house didn’t accept me or love me. They offered me the best education, the best nutrition and care as well as everything they ever could give me to make me feel comfortable while in saudi. I have never mentioned their name is shame, EVER. I have high respects for what they have accomplished in their lives and I love them unconditionally as they loved me unconditionally. Nothing is perfect though.
The issue with my family does rise with their commitment to the Meta Tribe I spoke up earlier. Due to their experience in life they have seen many people dealing with the backlash of marrying from outside of the meta tribe as well as deal with some complicated political and sociological problems after a divorce, especially if kids were involved. They have seen the pain that people went through and have seen how much damage that has caused not to the married/divorced people themselves but also for their direct and indirect families as well as for their kids. Those negative effects do happen from time to time and solving them is never easy. They don’t want their baby, me, that they have nurtured for so long to be in pain or suffer from such issues, and that is understandable. They want me to have the life they have found to be the best for me, with nice daughter of their friend’s. They have expressed firmly mamy times that they would never accept a non-saudi or a girl that is not from a compatible family.
Some of my experience
As the nature of Riyadh’s ultra conservative social structure (capital of Saudi where I live currently), I am not really in contact with many saudi women, except virtually online. I met people in real life that I have known virtually for a while, knowing someone virtually doesn’t count in the bigger picture of “knowing them”. The social structure doesn’t allow me to observe their behavior around their friends, and it wouldn’t allow me to observe their behavior around my friends. I don’t consider that “knowing” someone at all. Not that I judge people who do, I just know myself and know how I feel about it, it just doesn’t suite me. The women that I do meet in my social circles are not really my type too, its already a rare occurrence to meet a saudi woman in my circles, and the ones I meet are not my type at all.
So why don’t I venture into other cities in saudi you say where people are dominantly less tribal? It just doesn’t serve my goals, other cities just don’t have the jobs or opportunities that Riyadh has. My goals come first. I tried to get to know a person that lived in another city once or twice though. For instance, I knew this one girl for a while online and we were good friends and she was from a “compatible” family, but once we hungout in another neighboring country for real and not online while we were traveling, it just didn’t fit in inside my head, the whole experience was weird, I wasn’t myself and she wasn’t herself that I knew online. It was a complete mess, I didn’t feel the relationship at all and it felt like I was digging myself a huge hole. I ended up panicking and doing something that I will always regret, I called her fat just to break up with her. I will always be a horrible human for what I have done. I don’t want this type of crap to happen to her or anyone else so I will save the whole world my crap by going far away from the online saudi dating scene. If that lady was reading this, I am forever sorry.
I once met a person that I thought could have been the one here in Riyadh, geeky, intelligent, strong woman, ambitious and has high hopes and plans for herself that had the same believes that I had. We dated for a bit before she decided to break it off. Her reasons? She was tribal and she already had an experience convincing her family to be in a relationship with a incompatible tribal guy. She decided to spare herself and myself the pain of dealing with that again especially since I was non-tribal. I don’t know if that was an excuse or if she was lying or not, I don’t care anymore. There was other big issues with both of us that would have broken us apart regardless, but it sucks that an external force was the cause. what I do care about is the possibility of that ever happening again in Riyadh. When will I ever be able to meet someone who is compatible with me on that level? I never had in the last 5 years.
So how about arranged marriage right? How about my family choosing and introducing someone to me right? Not that I have anything inherently against this approach. different people, different methods. Arranged marriages tend to focus on compatibility beyond anything else, it does have a high rate of success due to the reasons I mentioned way earlier in this post. On the other hand, this method does depend on the son or daughter sharing the same values as the family, which is not the case for me. Even if I did go that route just to date and get to know the person, I would be reluctant to share with them anything that is considered perverted, blasphemous and weird by the status quo, and I am full of those and all about them. They are the basis of my personal believes and personal structure. Sharing any personal information about myself would put my family in danger, physically, or maybe just socially if any of that information seeped out to their “friends”. I really want to protect my family from any harm, they have always been nice to me and I am not an ungrateful bitch. I also don’t let my family buy underwear for me, its really awkward to think they are choosing where my penis will go.
I have met some non-saudi women that were amazing, and I almost fell in love with one of them as I was trying to test out the waters and see if my family would approve of someone from a neighboring country that had similar cultural background. The attempt ended in very passive aggressive fights and it only boiled more aggression and late night crying of my mother according to my own sources. I decided to save that girl the trouble of dealing with all of this, and in turn inflicted same pain that the saudi girl once inflicted on me before. The circle of paid and hurt keeps going around. It has to stop.
Dealing with it
dealing with not having a partner is becoming a huge hurdle in front of my own goals, Its really hard to focus on work when your heart is empty. You need a life partner, a cofounder, for your life, someone that would accept the things your family rejected about you. This is the source of my current depression as my emotions started to be a hurdle in front of my goals, and I feel trapped.
One might debate the usefulness of Meta tribe in a civil society that is developing in saudi, but its completely irrelevant to my believes and my way of life. I am not planning on being in saudi for a long time as I do want to move somewhere else and I do have the means to do it and plans are already in motion. In those other places, civil societies do exist and the need of a meta tribe is completely irrelevant and is instead replaced with a smaller social circle of friends that share the same values and you best of all, you get to choose them yourself. And as I am not an ungrateful brat to my family, I promised myself never to get married to anyone they don’t approve of. Its the least I could do after all the great things they offered me to be who I am. That leads to never meeting anyone they approve of, hence the decision not to get married.
Their decision to commit to the meta tribe does push me away from them, and does their inability to ever accept my way of life and my own believes, but thats another issue and I am ok with that. What I wonder sometimes about is my ability in the future to withstand dealing with them and caring for them due to giving me so much but taking away the most important thing away from me right now, the freedom to choose who to love. I will refrain from getting married and see me go into a downward spiral of bullshit and they will feel me being pushed away from them as time goes by. We will see if they stomach to see their little boy be alone in his life due to their commitment to the meta tribe.
I am still struggling with the fact that I will remain alone the most of my life though, never allowing myself to fall in love again. Wondering if a person able to not fall in love? Am I destined to fall in love over and over again and then continue to break hearts along the way? Mine as well as others? I now live my life clinching to any piece of love I could find, any hug and kiss counts to keep me alive, every cuddle and every sigh and moan adds a day or 2 to my heart. I don’t want to hurt people around me, but I need the blood of your hearts to survive. Share some with me willingly, and I will share some of mine in return before we both move on. stay around as long as you can.
Maybe things will change in the future, maybe it won’t. I don’t want to over think it when I am with someone, but its completely unfair for the other party not to know the truth about what goes on with me. I know this post started very informative, but then turned into a sappy bs whiny story, I just really had to get it off my chest. I also know that women have it worst 10 folds but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still hurt for us men. I know you feel even worst and that you get the shit card, but that doesn’t mean that the source of our issues is not the same. Regardless, women problems are worst by far, just having a legal guardian is messed up enough. With this attitude, if I was a woman, I would have committed suicide a long time ago. Bravo for being so strong.”
By Anonymous Saudi man
If you wish to contact the man who wrote this post, please email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Hello there, I’m Laura, the author of Blue Abaya, the first travel blog in Saudi Arabia established in 2010. I’ve been traveling around and exploring Saudi Arabia since 2008.
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