Appearing in public with out a veil is just one of the things you aren’t supposed to do in Saudi Arabia. To avoid confusion we have compiled a list of things you aren’t allowed to do in the happiest Kingdom on Earth to avoid any unwanted arrests, imprisonments or socially embarrassing be-headings.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that bans all women — Saudi and foreign — from driving. The prohibition forces families to hire live-in drivers, and women who cannot afford the $300-$400 a month for a driver must rely on male relatives to drive them to work, school, shopping or the doctor. They cannot get an education, mingle with men in public unless family, travel or check into a hotel without a male guardian’s permission.
Cats and Dogs
Saudi Arabia’s religious police have banned selling pet cats and dogs and walking them in public places in the country’s capital Riyadh to preserve public morals.
Saudi Arabia’s most senior Muslim cleric recently denounced birthday parties as an unwanted foreign influence. The Saudi ban on birthdays is in line with the strict interpretation of Islam followed by the conservative Wahhabi sect adhered to in the kingdom. All Christian and even most Muslim feasts are also prohibited because they are considered alien customs the Saudi clerics don’t sanction.
Saudi Arabia has banned imports of female dolls and teddy bears, and shopkeepers have been given three months to dispose of any stock. The ban also applies to non-Islamic religious symbols, such as crosses and statues of the Buddha.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that completely bars women from any sports activity. In the eight summer Olympic Games in which the kingdom has participated since 1972, it has sent a total of 166 men, and no women.
Anything Red / Valentine’s Day
Saudi Arabia has asked florists and gift shops to remove all red items until after Valentine’s Day, calling the celebration of such a holiday a sin, local media reported Monday. Every year, officials with the conservative Muslim kingdom’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice clamp down on shops a few days before February 14, instructing them to remove red roses, red wrapping paper, gift boxes and teddy bears. On the eve of the holiday, they raid stores and seize symbols of love.
Until March 1, 2004, the official government website stated that Jews were forbidden from entering the country. Saudi officials deny there was ever any such ban in practice however visas from Israeli passport holders are routinely denied. According Saudi policy for tourists, it is not permissible to bring Christian or Jewish religious symbols and books into the kingdom and they are subject to confiscation. (This was removed but here is what appeared on the Supreme Commission for Tourism’s website:
* An Israeli passport holder or a passport that has an Israeli arrival/departure stamp.
The Bible in Saudi Arabia may get a person killed, arrested, or deported. In September 1993, Sadeq Mallallah, 23, was beheaded in Qateef on a charge of apostasy for owning a Bible. The State Department’s annual human rights reports detail the arrest and deportation of many Christian worshipers every year. The Saudi Embassy and other Saudi organizations in Washington have distributed hundreds of thousands of Qurans and many more Muslim books, some that have libeled Christians, Jews and others as pigs and monkeys outside of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the region that still bans the building of churches and all forms of open Christian worship.
In an effort to; "Protect the Muslims’ ideology as well as their morals and their money" they’re banning Pokemon from the country. You can’t bring any more Poke-stuff in and if you’ve got any Poke-stuff they’re going to seize it. Gambling is illegal in Islam and since Pokemon is all about winning cards from your opponent – which counts as gambling – Pokemon is illegal.
Books & Movies
Censorship is common practice in the country of Saudi Arabia, where authorities in the conservative kingdom frequently tear out pages from newspapers and magazines before they are allowed to hit the newsstands. The ban extends from popular Hollywood films to Forbes magazines and anything remotely pornographic.
The Qur’an is the only religion on the face of the earth that allows men having up to four wives, Allah says in the Holy Qur’an. Experts say there is more polygamy in Saudi Arabia than anywhere else in the world. Saleh al-Sayeri has married 58 women and has forgotten the names of most of them. ‘I’m the happiest man in the world,’ he was quoted as saying.
Last year, at least 2,800 Sri Lankan housemaids ran away from their Saudi sponsors, claiming they had been overworked, sexually abused or physically mistreated by jealous wives. They are among the countless foreign "guest workers" in Saudi Arabia who live and work under conditions that are sometimes compared to modern-day slavery.
There are no laws in Saudi Arabia defining the minimum age for marriage. Though a woman’s consent is legally required, some marriage officials do not seek it. For example, a father can marry off a 1-year-old girl as long as sex is delayed until she reaches puberty, said one marriage official, Ahmad al-Muabi. The prophet Mohammad’s favorite wife Aisha was six or seven years old when betrothed, but the marriage wasn’t consummated until she was nine. Mohammad was in his fifties.
The practice, which is widespread beyond Saudi Arabia and is especially common outside of the big cities, often has economic implications, in the sense that elderly men buy child brides from their fathers. But there are also cases of marriages involving young boys, like the one that took place a few weeks ago between 11-year-old Muhammad Al-Rashidi and his 10-year-old cousin, out of family interests.
There are no laws in Saudi Arabia that protect women from gender-based violence, domestic violence, or marital rape. These acts are not accepted grounds for divorce, and one woman’s testimony of violence is often not accepted as evidence against her husband. Women who report sexual abuse or rape, whether perpetrated by an employer or otherwise, are unlikely to find a sympathetic hearing with judicial authorities. Instead of protection from the perpetrator, women may find themselves accused of illicit sex. Usually the burden to prove rape charges is on the woman victim, who must produce all required witnesses. The only basis for a rape conviction is a confession or the evidence of four witnesses.
About 70 "Muslim dignitaries and scholars" met for a week to deal with vital moral issues, including those raised by technology. They concluded, for example, that the use of verses from the Koran as cell phone ring tones should be BANNED "because it impinges on the sacred character of the the Holy Book" and not, surprisingly, because it’s super annoying.
A royal decree allowing pictures to be taken in many public places was issued about a year ago and the interior ministry enacted it this week. Permission is still needed to photograph private property or individuals. But some changes have come too fast for religious conservatives. King Abdullah, under pressure from clerics, told media in May not to publish pictures of Saudi women.
One of the most criminal travesties committed by the commission’s foot soldiers, the Mutawaeen, or religious police, was dramatically reported by the muzzled Saudi press itself on Friday, March 15, 2002, when the Mutawaeen forcibly prevented girls fleeing a burning school from leaving the building because they were "improperly dressed." The day after, the Saudi Gazette newspaper quoted witnesses as saying the police stopped men who tried to help the girls, warning the men: "It is sinful to approach them." Of the 800 teenage pupils in Mecca, 15 burned to death and more than 50 were injured. Yet, the commission and its royal enablers thrive.
Saudi Arabia excels at banning the construction of houses of worship — other than mosques — even though the majority of the 8 million expatriates working in the kingdom come from Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist faiths. Indeed, celebrating a private Sunday Mass inside a home could lead to jail, public lashings, and expulsion.
AME Info reports that the Saudi Ministry of Health has banned the advertising of baby milk powder and food substitutes, including the handing out of promotional samples at hospitals, in a bid to promote breastfeeding.
Despite Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on stores selling camera phones — that were banned in September 2002 — retailers still are selling them, but not keeping them in the shop.
Hold off on the brokeback camel boy action: all sexual activity outside of a traditional heterosexual marriage is illegal. Punishment for homosexuality, cross-dressing, or being involved with anything that hints at the existence of an organized gay community will range from imprisonment, deportation (for foreigners), lashes, and sometimes execution.
Coming to your neighborhood soon!