Book Review: The Bro Code of Saudi Culture

The Bro Code of Saudi Culture is a book written by Abdul Al Lily and is available on Amazon.

Living in the GCC for about 12 years and being married to a man from Kuwait for the past 6 years has allowed me a very intimate insight into the bedoin culture still embraced by many. It was my belief I had a firm grasp of the ‘ins and outs’ of the culture and was even well versed enough to answer the numerous questions I get about being married to a man from that region. Therefore, when I was asked to read and review ‘The Bro Code of Saudi Culture’ by the Author I was flattered but didn’t expect I would learn anything new. I was wrong.

The first thing I noticed about the book was the way it’s written. Abdul Al Lily has taken incredibly interesting information and put it out to the reader in ‘tweet like’ format. In today’s society, social media demands that we read, and read often. We’ve all learned to read for specific content, seeking out the most important keywords. We skim over material subconsciously avoiding every conjunction and adjective as if they’re inconsequential. And, for the most part, that’s true.

In ‘The Bro Code of Saudi Culture’, Abdul Al Lily has managed to turn an expansive topic into an ‘in your face’ type of book while maintaining organization. It answers questions everyone in the region (especially expats) might have, but without unnecessary backstories and explanations. It’s an easy read filled with great information and lots of laughs along the way.

As for me, the woman who thought she knew it all, I found myself educated and entertained. I would read a few sentences and suddenly have questions for my husband. His response was often a smile or laugh and sometimes even a look of, “Yes! I remember that”.

With all the division our country (and the world) is currently facing, ‘The Bro Code of Saudi Culture’ is a good start to bridging gaps. With all the misconceptions and misunderstandings, this book offers answers to questions everyone has, but very few would ask. And, due to cultural etiquette, couldn’t ask. So, if you’re living in the region or plan to visit there for work or vacation, definitely grab a copy of this book and spend some time reading it on your flight. You won’t regret it.

Finally, I would like to personally thank Abdul Al Lily for giving me the honor of reading and offering my honest opinions of his work. I have a great deal of respect for him as a professional in his field and admire him as someone who truly makes a difference.

 

Dr. Al Lily is a Saudi international consultant on Saudi culture, a bestseller, an Oxford graduate and an assistant professor of education, technology, and sociology at King Faisal University. He has worked with impact-factor journals and the largest academic publishers: Elsevier, Springer, Taylor & Francis, Wiley, Sage and Oxford University Press. He has written in different languages, for academic magazines (Australasian Science, Italian Journal of Geopolitics and openDemocracy) and non-academic magazines (Your Middle East, Green Prophet, and Vocativ). He has pioneered an innovative approach in academic research, called crowd-authoring. He is the initiator and first author of an article by 99 authors; the first article in the social sciences to be written by such a large number. He was a top-0.5% researcher on Academia.edu in 2016. Whatsapp: +447946674377. Twitter: @abdulallily. Email: allili55@hotmail.com. Website: https://abdulallily.wordpress.com

 

Kuwait; racists who can’t hide

More often than not, when mentioning to people from the Middle East that my husband is from Kuwait, I’m told that GCC Arabs are seen as arrogant, prejudice, and pretty much viewed as the armpit of the region. I’m aware of this reputation and I can even understand it to a degree. However, regardless of how they’re viewed, it’s a form of racism. And, well, that’s just nasty.

Even worse than ‘local racism’ are the Westerners who move to places such as Kuwait and take on that mentality. For the most part I like to believe Westerners are raised in a world where racism is only practiced by the less intelligent, not formally educated, culture lacking cretins. Anyone with a sense of self respect is above and beyond disrespecting someone based upon the color of their skin or their nationality.

So what changes? Why do some of the white faced expats move to Kuwait and adopt their entitlement attitude? Well, for the most part they become obsessed with a lifestyle some locals pretend to be living; large villas, expensive cars, and meals at the finest restaurants every day. For the Westerners who grew up thinking Toyotas were luxury cars and Dairy Queen was a quality meal, you can see how the less fortunate could get starry eyed.

But does this also include becoming a shallow racist? It doesn’t have to.

Insecure people have a tendency to treat others in a disrespectful manner as a way of making themselves feel better. It doesn’t make them better people and it really highlights their own flaws. So, when the less fortunate Americans move to places such as Kuwait and realize they too can be racist assholes, it makes them feel better about their real existence.

Recently, in a facebook group I was asked a question about my husband. The other member was incorrect in their assumption but their question was incredibly racist and reminded me of why my husband and I have distanced ourselves from that lifestyle for so many years. We focus on offering support to the less fortunate, rescuing animals in need, and respecting people just because they’re people. We don’t judge people on the color of their skin, where they’re from, or how much money they make. We live a life that we find to be emotionally fulfilling. We don’t compare ourselves to others or attempt to compete. We want to see others be the best they can be and if we can play a role in that then we’re all for it. (sidenote: the woman in the facebook group is divorced, has a number of children, stuck in Kuwait, and is bitter towards others — not just us).

So while Kuwait is viewed as a country full of arrogant jerks, it’s really a misconception. While living there I surrounded myself with some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met in my life. Many of who are still my best friends. My husband is from Kuwait and he’s generous, kind, compassionate, and hard working. He’s not dishonest or disloyal, nor would he divorce me with a half dozen kids and offer no financial support. So while it’s always easy to point fingers and make assumptions, rarely are they accurate, and often they only reveal who you really are.

Changes…

Though I rarely blog anymore, it’s still something I would love to get back to doing regularly again. About a year ago I made the decision to give it up all together and then soon returned only to post a handful of times. I had also once decided to close this blog and start a new one covering topics I felt passionate about in hopes of raising awareness or meeting like minded local bloggers. But starting all over from scratch almost felt daunting. I found myself spending hours thinking of names, looking up domains, etc. It was just too much for something I may not be as invested in as I hoped.

Over the years blogging has been replaced by micro-blogging, insta-bloggers, and other social media forums. People don’t often reach out to blogs for information or insight the way they once did. Which leaves us bloggers feeling as though we’re just typing away without a real purpose. Especially if we’re hoping to reach a target audience or share some insights into topics we’re passionate about.

For the past few days I’ve been reviewing some new themes. Simple and clean. Nothing fancy, nothing that stands out. I like clean lines. I prefer to have a point and make it without all the distractions. Which is what I suppose I’ll continue to do. I’ll do my best to share more often, even if it’s topics which may not be so interesting to my current readers. Perhaps I can start over without completely starting over? Here’s hoping!

My open letter to Rosie

Note: Though I stopped blogging a while back, recent events prompted this unexpected post.

Dear Rosie,

Over the past several days your real identity has been revealed and for some reason you like to believe I’m behind this ‘outing’. However, if you must know, I’ve known your real name for well over a year. I’ve also known the real story — the job loss, the fake marriage, the pretend-a-vacations, and the fake bags you purchased for yourself. So, why, if I’ve known it all for a year did I opt to keep it to myself? Well, what purpose would it have served to share that information with others? One other person knew, we discussed it, observed the outrageous lies, and concluded you’re a very lonely middle aged woman who quite possibly needs psychological help. What more could we do? Especially since your hatred for me has been evident for quite some time… even when you pretended it didn’t. But, rest assured, Rosie, had it been me who outed you, I wouldn’t be ashamed to admit it. However, doing so would have been malicious, and that’s just not my style.

For well over a year, Rosie, you’ve invested not only a great deal of time into creating an online fantasy life, but also into stalking my real one. And, well, honestly, I’ve never thought too much about it until now with your recent libelous statements against me. You’ve even gone as far as to utilize copyrighted material belonging to me without permission. Instead of spending countless hours thinking of ways to attack me or save face, why not accept that you simply went too far? Issue an apology to those who deserve one and let it go. Stalking, harassing, and attempting to defame me are never going to make you who you pretend to be. I’m not your enemy, Rosie… you are.

Since your identity has been exposed (2-3 days ago now?) it appears as though you’re spending every waking moment either covering your tracks, fabricating Facebook accounts, deleting social media accounts, or generating more fake silliness in an attempt to divert the attention from your 4 year long fraud. Relax. Yeah, you’re probably panicking right now while scanning every lie you’ve told in your mind, wondering how you even managed to keep that story straight. It’s possible you’re even questioning your own sanity. But again, relax. As you’re feeling as though your world is crumbling around you, it’s really just beginning. Now, instead of faking vacations, husbands, and outlandish gifts all while scurrying around location spoofers on Instagram, you can actually focus on the real you for a minute. Yeah, the real you. The Rosie who actually has family and probably some real friends who care about you. You can embrace your time back home with your family instead of spending hours a day thinking of new ways to make random strangers believe you’re still living in Kuwait… or married to a ‘well known’ Kuwaiti.

As for me and your attempt to divert the attention from your fraud; why bother? Regardless of what you say, post, generate, create, or fabricate at this point it doesn’t take away from your blatant dishonesty and deceit. And chances are, after your years of lies, no one will believe you anyway. Furthermore, many of the people you’re attempting to discuss me with actually know me in person… they too are laughing at your efforts. Again, relax.

So, if I’ve known who you are all these years why wasn’t I the one to ‘out’ you? Well, to be honest, as silly as your lies were, they never affected me personally. As a matter of fact, the only problem I had with your deceit of so many was your target audience. You made a mockery of a culture that many of us hold very near and dear to our hearts. You created an unobtainable fantasy and shoved it down the throats of young Kuwaiti girls who long to have what you pretended to have. You faked a fairy tale marriage that just doesn’t exist. And in a culture where marriage is such an important factor, and divorce is quite frowned upon, you left young women who idolized you questioning themselves and their self worth. You left them wondering why they weren’t worthy of an ‘H’ — especially when ‘H’ was from their very own culture. Those same young women, some who were married while being a fan of your blog, possibly endured the normal ‘roller coaster’ most relationships go through and wished they had been so fortunate as the American who married the perfect ‘H’. You created unrealistic expectations in their mind by getting lost in your own fantasy. Little did they know that same American was a 43 year old woman living in her parents house in Florida blogging in secret from the rest of her family.

As a blogger, especially one in a country as small as Kuwait, there comes a certain responsibility. Unless, of course, you had prefaced your posts as “fictional reading purposes only”. But you didn’t. You went to extremes… unhealthy extremes, in an attempt to defraud an entire nation. Or at least anyone interested in reading your posts.

Being discovered as Rosie, the 43 year old liar who lives with her parents in Florida and was never engaged or married to a Kuwaiti should be the least of your concerns right now. Instead of pulling your hair out while trying to cover one lie with another and another, why not contemplate the feelings of the people you’ve hurt with your fraud? Or consider reaching out to the numerous women who write to you for marriage advice, or advice on relationships with a Kuwaiti man and extend an apology for guiding them with lies? Or, what about the people who accepted you into their private lives via social media? Those who allowed you to view their private Instagram accounts and see photos of them, their families, friends, work, etc? Those who shared their real name with you while you hid behind a curtain of fabrications? Why is it you’re rushing around to protect yourself from further humiliation but aren’t even thinking of how you must have made so many others feel? Shame on you, Rosie. Shame on you.

And though you’re certainly feeling intimidated right now, it doesn’t mean you’ve been ‘bullied’. It simply means, that somewhere deep down inside, you always knew that I always knew. But rest assured, I wasn’t the only one. However, playing the victim card right now doesn’t bode very well. While you attempted to write the memoirs of an imperfect angel, you really generated enough material for a Lifetime Movie with a bad ending.

Quite sadly, the real you was probably a fairly normal, easy to relate to person. But that’s neither here nor there. Anything that once resembled ‘normal’ has long since been lost in the myriad of lies and extensive perpetration of deceit.

You, like so many other typical contractors, were offered a job in Kuwait. And though mediocre, it was still far more than you could have hoped for back home. You moved to Kuwait with zero travel experience and little knowledge of the culture yet soon became consumed with what you saw on the surface; Bugattis and maids. You never took a moment to learn or understand what was real. You got sucked into the material life you were never afforded as a typical, middle class American. And with that, you were lost. Yet what you failed to realize was behind all the ‘glitz and glamour’ portrayed on the surface of Kuwait is a very deep rooted culture. One that you never understood… or cared to understand. You felt that displaying lavish gifts you pretended ‘H’ purchased for you was evidence to random readers of his ‘true love’. Yet if you had any understanding of the culture you would know far better and you would realize how foolish it all looked. You would also realize by claiming a desire for privacy due to your pretend-a-husband’s ‘well known family’, then posting Whatsapp messages of a sexual nature for all to see was a direct contradiction. But who can blame you? You were lost in a world even you had no control over. You had obviously been hurt, mistreated, and probably dumped by a number of men and started feeling quite foolish as you looked back over your ‘He wants to marry me!’ posts. You had to connect the dots in some manner.

Unfortunately, Rosie, had you stepped up and said, “Hey, peeps, here’s the deal… ” you would have been respected and probably even liked. Women all over Kuwait could have related to you, sympathized with you, and extended a hand. But instead, you allowed your pain, bitterness, and obvious jealousy to become a tool to deceive so many with. Again, shame on you, Rosie.

Finally, don’t fret. There will always be another expat in Kuwait City… it just won’t be you.

British Airways Kuwait Documentary

This is the first of a four part documentary about Kuwait that British Airways will show on board their flights. Etihad does the same thing for the country to which you’re traveling. It’s a nice way to give a brief introduction to the country you’re preparing to visit as the plane lands, and it certainly highlights some of the more interesting aspects of the country. The video below is absolutely gorgeous and presents Kuwait in such a positive light.

I found this video on 2:48AM blog. You can check it out for other posts about the British Airways short films on Kuwait.

 

Updated video emailed to bloggers. Enjoy!

My expat interview.

As people are contemplating a move abroad they often seek out a number of available resources in hopes of getting a little insight into their new ‘home’. I get a number of emails from those preparing to take that plunge and jet off to the fabulous land of sand I call home; Kuwait. Over the years I’ve hoped my blog has helped out some of those expats in finding a sense of comfort in Kuwait. The readers are the reason I’ve continued to blog as long as I have… and as boring as I’ve become. I don’t check stats, I’m not in a numbers competition, I just enjoy knowing I might be helping someone out there in the cyber world. Whether it’s someone who is taking a new job in Kuwait, or someone who’s considering marriage to a Kuwaiti — I hope I’ve helped.

Recently I was contacted by the lovely Erin at Blog Expat and asked if I would be willing to participate in an interview about my life and experience as an expat in Kuwait. Though I’ve never been into self promotion, blog promotion, or any type of ‘look at me’ behavior, I was honored by her request because I have such a great deal of respect for their site. It really is the go to website for expats planning a move to any country! I truly admire the effort they’ve invested in putting together such a fabulous wealth of information.

So yeah, if you’re interested in reading more about me, my life, my experiences, and what life in Kuwait as an expat (from my perspective) is like, you can find my interview here. Or on the badge to the right, near the bottom of the page titled ‘expat interview’.

Ramadan TV schedule [Jacqui — CouchAvenue re-post]

Every year one of the things I really look forward to during Ramadan are the fabulous (that’s debatable) television shows. I prefer the ones that are filmed locally in Kuwait so I can say, “Hey! Look! I lived there.” or “Look, honey! There’s our favorite restaurant”. They feel more personal to me. And though I don’t fully understand everything they’re saying, I understand enough to get a solid grip on what’s taking place. The acting is often mediocre, the story lines are sometimes silly, and the production isn’t Hollywood standards by any means… but they’re awesome!

A few weeks ago I asked my husband if he could start Googling what programming we could expect this year (especially since the titles are sometimes written in Arabic), and I had planned on asking my sisters in law if they could give me some insight as well. Then it dawned on me… Jacqui!!

Each year Jacqui invests a great deal of time and effort into creating these incredible programming guides for the Ramadan shows. She even separates them into Khaleeji and Arabic categories. She makes similar lists for American programming, new shows, cancellations, etc. It must be quite time consuming but she clearly does it because she enjoys sharing this information and she’s great at it.

Below is 1 page of the Khaleeji Ramadan program guide she’s prepared, however, there are many more listed on her blog which can be found here. Definitely worth checking out!

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this list and how I’ve obviously come to depend on it. Thanks, Jacqui, for your time, effort, and making my Ramadan in America feel a little more like home.

*Click image for source

*Click image for source

The Instagram life.

It’s no secret that my blogging habits have changed dramatically over the years. Especially this past year. With the move, the businesses (I’ve just expanded and in the process tripled my workload), and now… the MBA studies (my 2nd Masters, go me!), blogging has really taken a backseat. I’ve also found Instagram to be a much simpler way to share bits of my life with those who might be interested. I’m also toying with the idea of a regular Podcast but face the same time restrictions.

No, this isn’t the end of the blog. I’m not going away yet. But, I really can’t continue to invest as much time as I once did. However, I will be more active on Instagram — until the next ‘big’ thing comes along. I believe it’s referred to as ‘instablogging’. I can certainly understand the appeal; one click posting, make an impact statement, and tie it together with a relevant photo.

I’ve always blogged for my own therapeutic reasons as well as the hope I might provide some insight to a random reader. Blog stats have never been important to me (I’ve actually never once even checked them). For that reason I’ll continue to randomly post when I really need to vent, and I’ll also answer emails. Though please be patient, my plate is a bit full right now.

Feel free to follow me on Instagram. Especially if you love super duper adorable pets 🙂 Looking forward to seeing you there!

Kuwaiti Word a Day [blog]

A few days ago I received an email from a lovely Western woman who is also married to a Kuwaiti and has actually started a blog to help her learn Kuwaiti Arabic and possibly help others who want to learn.

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Every post is a new word as one would expect. But she also breaks each word down by using it in several sentences, providing the proper pronunciation, and even the tenses (past, present, and future). I asked my husband to look over it because me trying to read words and phrases to him with my horrible accent just wasn’t working. He was quite impressed with the effort and the fact that it is true Kuwaiti Arabic.

So if you’re interested in learning or just want to pick up a few words or phrases, her website is a great place to start. She also has an Instagram and Facebook account.

www.kuwaitiwordaday.com

www.facebook.com/kuwaiti.word.a.day

www.instagram.com/kuwaiti_word_a_day

Blogging for closure

I was recently directed to a blog written by an American woman who is seeking a sense of closure regarding a previous marriage to an Arab man. She’s written several entries which outline her entire experience with her former husband as well as the abuse she endured. Her hope is that writing it and sharing her story will bring some closure to a very painful event in her life which ended as quickly as it started and with no explanation.

You’ll notice through each ‘chapter’ of her relationship the changes she points out which I’m sure she would now consider red flags. At one point she mentions smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, sitting and talking with his male friends… only later to be condemned for these behaviors. She also shares the emotional ups and downs so many Western women involved with Arab men complain about.

I found her blog to be very interesting, touching, and filled with raw emotion. I’m sharing it in hopes it might help other women in a similar position,

Remember, women, if something doesn’t feel right then it’s just not right. Don’t allow a man to impose a set of rules on you. Don’t allow a man to tell you what you can or can’t do. If your man is always changing his stance on something (drinking alcohol, certain friends, etc.) then beware. If you find your relationship to feel more like a roller coaster then evaluate the reasons. If you’re in a constant state of confusion and emotional discombobulation, then chances are something just isn’t right in your relationship. Don’t allow a man (or anyone else) dictate your self worth. True love comes with respect, compassion, empathy, and trust. True love isn’t confusing or painful. And true love doesn’t keep you on an emotional roller coaster filled with rules.

Hoping her blog brings her the closure she’s seeking while perhaps helping another woman along the way.

[link]