Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Stuff You Should Know...

Note:  This will be my last entry concerning the Girls of Riyadh (Banat al-Riyadh). I recommend this controversial book to everyone as it reveals another side of life in Saudi and highlights the hidden risky world of Saudi women. If you want a copy of the e-book, you can just email me or leave a comment here and I'll send you a copy :)


Interesting stuff I've learned while reading "Girls of Riyadh"..

Captain Majed — a very popular cartoon for the 1990s generation of Saudi Arabian children. Translated from Japanese, it's a story of a boy trying to achieve his dream of becoming a soccer star.

Better the shadow of a man than the shadow of a wall. — Arabic proverb (Most Saudi women "lives huddled in the shadow of a man, or a man, or a man who is a wall".)

Yalla — can mean "c'mon!" or "hurry up!"

Ma shaa Allah — an Islamic phrase that one says in order not to jinx someone's luck

E wallah — means swearing in God's name that something is true.

Yaalla yaalla get going but just barely (a strategy to a quick moral proposal, single ladies should be energetic but constrained)

Najdi — someone or the dialect of the interior part of Saudi Arabia

Hijazi — someone from or the dialect of the west coast of Saudi Arabia

Saudis rephrase someone's name to make an affectionate nickname e.g. Gammoorah (Gamrah), Lammoosah (Lameesh), Saddoomah/Demi (Sadeem), Misho (Meshaal) etc. [hmm.. that explains a lot - my Arab calls me Rayoo instead of Ray)

Abaya a long, loose black robe worn on top of clothes whenever a woman is outdoors

Medical school in Saudi Arabia starts right after high school and lasts for seven years.

Shillah a clique; a group

Taggaga a female local singer

Hammam a place where you could come to bathe and scrub; a sauna

Halawa a sticky sugar paste used to pluck hair from all over the body

Thobe a long white loose dress worn by Saudi men

Shimagh a red and white triangular-shaped cloth worn by Saudi Men on the head topped by an eqal to hold it in place 

Eqal a thick round, ropelike sash (Nowadays the shimaghs and thobes are designed by such famous names as Gucci, Christian Dior, Givenchy and Valentino.)

Lithaams a black silk worn by girls that covers everything from the bridge of their noses to the bottom of their throats 

"Priceless Catch" — an expensive car with completely tinted windows often belongs to a man who does not want his wife and daughters exposed to the eyes of young men looking for fun (Nowadays, tinting is prohibited by Saudi law for security reasons.) 

Shisha —  also known as hookah or hubbly-bubbly, a flavored water-pipe tobacco mixed with molasses and fragrant essences (Smoking shisha is considered inappropriate among Najdi females.) 

Um insert the eldest son/daughter's name here  — mother of ...

Shoufa — the day set for the groom’s lawful "viewing" of the bride-to-be

Milkah Period the traditional time between the official signing of the documents and the actual wedding ceremony. It is when the couple are considered officially married and have the right to meet and go out even before the wedding ceremony takes place.

Shu badik? — What do you want?

The weekend in Saudi Arabia is Thursday and Friday. (and in most of the Arab countries)

Hijab any kind of head covering that conceals the hair and neck of a woman.

Jireesh — a traditional Saudi dish

Hadith — the collections of the sayings of Prophet Mohammed

Qasida — poem

Zalabya — Kuwaiti's donut-like sweets (best served with tea)

Darabel — Kuwaiti's traditional sweet food made with flour, egg yolk, oil, sugar, saffron, and cardamom (best served with tea) 

Abdul Haleem — a famous Egyptian singer from the 1960s

King Abd Al-Aziz City — the Internet provider company in Saudi Arabia

If all else fails, pregnancy was the only way to ensure that a marriage continues. — the wisdom of Saudi's old generation (continues NOT succeeds)

Sheikh Jassem Al-Mutawa — a famous Kuwaiti Muslim televangelist who hosts a very well-known Arabic TV program called Happy Nests and is the chief editor of several magazines and the author of many Islamic books that discuss relationships between men and women, marriage and family matters

Abdul Rahman — Servant of the Merciful

Tribal Prejudice Among the different subclassifications of Saudi society, there are the tribals and the nontribals. Between those two classes/sectors there can be no marriages. A tribal family is one that can be traced to one of the well-known Arabic tribes

Yumma Mama or Oh God! (used as an expression to indicate surprise or fear).

Amr Khaled — an Egyptian Muslim activist and preacher. His popularity has now grown all over Arab countries. He is one of the most influential televangelists and authors in the Arab world.

Manfooha — a very old and urban area south of Riyadh

Olayya — a bustling area in Riyadh where real estate prices are high

Alf mabrook — Many congratulations

Shiite — Muslim's "rejectionist sect" (After the death of Prophet Mohammed, Muslims were split on who should lead them. Khalifah Abu Baker Al-Siddeeq, Prophet Mohammed’s loyal friend, was nominated, but there were those who rejected the choice and wanted Prophet Mohammed’s cousin and son-in-law, Ali Bin Abi- Taleb, to succeed. Shiite Muslims are of the opinion of the last group and thus are referred to by some Sunnis as rejectionists.)

Fotoor — breakfast meal in Ramadan

Vimto — a popular Ramadan drink; juice of grapes, raspberries and black currants.

Athan — the call for prayer

Sunni Imam — the religious sheikh who calls for prayers at a mosque

Qatif — a city in the east coast of Saudi Arabia with a big Shiite population

Sunni underpants — white underpants worn underneath the thobes to prevent the thin material of the thobes from shearing (The name "Sunni" underpants is just a funny coincidence.)   

Bukhour Arabic incense.Wooden sticks that come from particular trees in India or Cambodia, and when burned, generate strong and beautiful lasting fragrance.  

Al-Hai'ah — a short name for the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, i.e., the Religious Police.

Umrah — a short pilgrimage to Mecca undertaken by Muslims. Unlike Hajj, Umrah can be done anytime of the year.

Ni'aal — Arabic sandals worn by Saudi guys

Saudi girls tend to have darkened knees due to their darker complexion.  — Guys always pick on girls because of that, although they have the same problem! 

Saudi guys tend to have very dry feet and dirty toenails due to the hot climate of Saudi, dryness and the frequent use of Arabic sandals. Girls pick on that, in return.

Mahmoud Al-Melegi — Egyptian actor who said this line "If you aren’t up to lovin’, don’t do it!" in a famous black-and-white classic Arabic movie.

Alhamdu lillah — Thank God

Tahini halvah — a type of Kuwaiti's dessert made of sesame paste.

Why compare flip- flops to wooden clogs! — an Egyptian saying used when you compare two things that are both worthless.

Hussein Fami — a handsome, well- known Egyptian actor who starred in many Arabic romantic films.

Taiba and Owais — a massive outdoor flea market where cheap goods are sold.

Ya salam! Oh, wow! 

Ghutra — male’s head covering in Saudi. Similar to a shimagh but has a plain white color instead of red and white checks.   

Abdullah Al-Ghadhami — famous Saudi critic.

It is generally frowned upon for young Saudi women to be actresses.

Bader Bin Abdulmuhsin —  Saudi prince and famous poet

Midwakh — a type of tobacco pipe popular in the UAE

Kandurah — male garment in UAE, similar to the Saudi thobe

Isamah — turban

Talal Maddah — old and famous Saudi singer

Habibti — my love (to be said to a girl)

Many native Hijazis prefer to shorten the engagement period and lengthen the time between the marriage contract-signing and the wedding, i.e., the milkah period. 

Najdis would not mind a long engagement period but do not like a long milkah period.

Allah Akbar — God is Great. (The starting line in every prayer.) 

Tarawih prayers — nonobligatory prayers held right after Isha prayers during the whole month of Ramadan.

Qiyawih prayers — nonobligatory prayers held in the last third of night during the last ten days of Ramadan. 

Bisht — traditional black cloak that men wear on top of their thobes for important occasions or events.

Muhram men — men whom a woman is allowed to go without hijab in front of; e.g., male members of her immediate family.

While Hijazi girls call their mothers- in- law Mama, Najdi girls find that disrespectful to their own mothers, so they call the husbands’ mothers Aunt.

Sheikh refers to the patriarch of an Arabian tribe or family. 

Muftis jurists

Fatwa a legal opinion or ruling

Norah Al-Hawshan a female Saudi poet

Julia Boutros a Lebanese singer

Dehn Oud expensive oil perfume that is extracted from trees in limited parts of Asia.

Seereh memoirs or story

Wenfadha7et means disclosed or exposed

7 refers to an Arabic letter similar to the letter H in English. (Arabs use numbers like 7, 3, 5, 6 to refer to certain Arabic letters that have no counterparts on an English keyboard.This is called the Internet language and is also used in cell phone text messages as well.)

Seereh Wenfatahet a story told (name of a Lebanese talk show)

Al means the

In Saudi Arabia you can tell a lot from where the man or the woman comes, e.g. through their last names.

Al-Horaimli of or relating to Horaimla, a city within Najd, the center of Saudi Arabia.

Al- Qusmanji of or relating to Qasim, a city within Najd, the center of Saudi Arabia

Jeddawi of or relating to Jeddah, a city within Hijaz, the west coast. 

Al-Abdulrahman a random name that can belong to any family with unknown roots (i.e., from an untraceable tribe). 

Al-Shargawi of or relating to Sharqiyah, the east coast of Saudi Arabia. 

Al-Tanbal the bonehead.

Al-Batran the wellborn.

Al-Shari the buyer, the purchaser.

Al-Hasudi she who hates to see other people more happy or successful than her.

Al-Internetti of or relating to the Internet. 



P.S.  Most of the stufff above can be found as footnotes of the novel.