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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Some Slighted Readings

The NCUSAR has provided me with a huge reading list for the trip to Saudi Arabia.  I have not exactly completed the list, but I believe my efforts were noble, given the dryness of a few of these pieces.  The purpose of the readings was to better prepare us new to the kingdom for enlightened conversations with the various people we're going to be meeting with.  I don't really see myself recalling this information during a discussion, but I'm keeping it with me to reflect on during and after the trip.

In addition to the NCUSAR literature, I've made a few selections of my own.  I read, for my Middle Eastern History class, Inside the Kingdom by Robert Lacey, which ranges in content from the royal family of Al-Saud to the Saudi 9-11 hijackers.  I intend to bring it to glance over again on the plane.  I really enjoyed the book when I read it before, but at the time I really had no fascination with Saudi Arabia and little of the information was retained.  
I've also been reading a few books on my Kindle by Jean Sasson.  Sasson is an American woman who moved from Alabama to Saudi Arabia in the 70s.  She began a career of writing true stories about women she met in the Middle East. Even her autobiography, American Chick in Saudi Arabia, was largely comprised of stories about a few women she met in her earlier days in SA that left significant impressions on her.  She wrote stories about women forced into marriage as young girls, spending difficult lives under the rule of men.  The veiling of women and older girls seems to be a topic she keeps coming back to.  Her stories range from a woman forced by her husband to keep having children even though the couple was related and could only produce disabled or stillborn babies to a Bedouin woman in a souk who embraced her life and culture, relishing talk of her veil, the men in her life, and her country.  Although Sasson's autobiography touches on some heavy subjects, it doesn't seem to come close to the gripping and terrifying aspects to her better known Princess Sultana trilogy, which I haven't finished but will comment on later.  Sasson's autobiography was engaging and informative, but Princess Sultana cuts the breath out of my lungs when the author describes horrors inflicted on Sultana and the women she loved.  

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Troy, AL, United States
I am a Political Science student at Troy University in southeastern Alabama. I have been given fantastic opportunities to travel to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, among other brief trips, to study and glimpse other cultures. I believe there is much to be learned about other people while studying, and I want to share my experiences with you.