Monday, October 05, 2009

A Prison Inside Out

Riyadh is a city that doesn't inspire, but it doesn't inhibit inspiration. It has its own way of making me see things. I go to work 7 days a week. I wake up at 8 to have a car pass by at 8:30 even on weekends. It makes life tough since I don't get this release at the end of the week. It makes Riyadh seem to me like a giant prison. Even without that prison car, it's a giant prison. It's not so much like Egypt, where everyone is watching you, where your freedom is inhibited by those staring eyes. It's a kind of modern day prison where you're allowed to do everything within the confines of that prison. Why does it feel that way? Is it because of the absence of alcohol and women? Though these appear to be important aspects of life, specially the female sex, yet the reason can't be this shallow.

I think it's the fact that rules are imposed, whatever they may be. And how is that different to the rest of the world? Maybe it's just that the values differ from place to place. I think at the end of the day it's the fact that these values are being enforced, and I find them meaningless and stupid. The difference between one country and the next is the degree of freedom to do what you wish, is it the degree of freedom to do what's wrong? Perhaps, but one man's wrong is another man's right. It's the certainty, that fake certainty that disturbs me the most. The air of unquestioning ideas and values.

I find this land skewed, different from what I see in other countries. In other countries, the outside is freedom and the in confines of walls and fences dwells imprisonment. But in Saudi Arabia, the outside is the giant prison, and if you manage to escape to the confines of an American compound then inside what you get is freedom. Maybe like peace, freedom also comes from within. Maybe you might find freedom within a prison of some sort. That might be the general explanation to explain this anomaly.

In compounds people act freely, there are women, there are drinks, there are pools, there is everything you may wish to find in a free society. Is Cairo a lot like Riyadh? I don't know, there's a prison within Cairo.. people, families, reputations and doormen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Im an egyptian girl who was born and raised in Riyadh,,i left riyadh 5 years ago to study at a uni in Egypt. I always go to riyadh in summer to renew my iqama and see my dad. I always miss it when im in Egypt. It does seem like a prison to so many people who are not used to it but to me its NOT. I enjoy it here. There's something about Cairo that is so depressing! too many fake people too