Saudi Arabia has a distinct issue with men and women being in the same place. Popular thought seems to have it that if the two are in the same place, sex is going to happen. Torrid, illegal sex. And that simply cannot be allowed.
As a result, the country has devised various wide flung schemes to keep the two apart, from sex-segregated schools to separate sections of restaurants that keep men apart from women and families (which may include male members, of course). This separation extends to shopping malls, among the few public, social recreation venues the Kingdom affords its citizens. But, people being people, what is forbidden becomes attractive.
And so, young men, banned from malls, find ways to get into them. It’s a challenge that they’ve accepted, be it for the simple sake of doing what is barred to them or taking whatever scrap of a chance they can find to put themselves in the company of females. Arab News reports on the issue…
Young Saudis invent ploys to enter family-only malls
NADIA AL-FAWAZ | ARAB NEWS
ABHA: Entering malls and shopping centers have become a real challenge for young Saudi men, who have innovated many ways and means to force themselves inside.
Under the prevailing rules, only women and families are allowed to enter malls. The young men are barred from malls because of fears that they may disturb families. The young men have considered this a challenge that they have to defeat and deal with one way or another.
Many young men dress like women in order to be allowed into the malls. Others bribe the security guard who controls the gates, while a third group pays money to young girls who will give them company to gain access to malls.
Most of these adventures take place over the weekends. Many young men gather at the gates of malls and shopping centers with the hope of being allowed to go inside. “Preventing young men from entering malls represents a real challenge that we have to overcome,” said Saeed Al-Amri, a young Saudi.
It’s sad, really, that millions upon millions of Riyals are spent in trying to maintain this separation. Schools, businesses, banks; restaurants, medical clinics, airport waiting areas… all are duplicated in the name of segregation. It would be far cheaper to teach men (and women, if necessary) that proximity does not equal promiscuity.