Having lived in Saudi Arabia for almost two years, I have first-hand experience that corroborates much of this story, and some that only slightly undercuts it. This is a fascinating article about homosexuality in KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and how it is widely tolerated in private but publicly condemned. Not only do homosexuals live a double-life, but many straight people, both men and women, are forced into living a double-life as well; since public mixing of the sexes is prohibited, straight people often resort to homosexuality to relieve their sexual frustration! Traveling through the streets of Riyadh (where I lived), I can tell you that gay people are everywhere, and they are really easy to spot. The only thing I would add to the article is that while smoking may be prohibited according to the teachings of Wahhabism, the prohibition is not enforced, and smoking is ubiquitous. Even indoors in most places, smoking is common, excepting only perhaps the nicest malls.
As an aside, while on topic, one thing about Riyadh which is actually nicer than here in the US is that the malls generally have large sections devoted to children, with games and rides which take up sometimes almost an entire floor, complete with food courts. Much more family-friendly in that regard only. In almost every other way, Riyadh is just an awful place to live. The driving is maniacal, the heat is deadly, it is dusty and dead and the religion is oppressive (the shops close every couple of hours for prayers, locking you either out or in, and everything is forbidden), and the people aren't educated or usually even very nice. I'm thrilled not to be living there anymore. However, I've heard that the coastal cities like Jeddah are much nicer at least as far as the weather goes (Riyadh is right in the middle of the Arabian desert). And I've also traveled a lot in the middle east, and while the smoking and the religion are major turn-offs, I've also seen some of the most beautiful and interesting places in the world, including the tallest skyscraper in the world (the Burj Khalifa in Dubai), Qatar and Bahrain (where I saved a man from drowning in the hotel pool), and Oman, which is the most beautiful place I have ever been to.
You're welcome! You must be a much faster reader then I am, or maybe I was just too distracted with my boys constantly around my knees, but it took me a lot longer than one hour to read the whole thing.
:-D I wouldn't doubt it, you're one smart cookie! And a good thing to, cuz my email I'm about to send you is kind of a mouthful. Hope you like it!
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