You are on page 1of 10


Saudi Arabia has centuries-old attitudes and traditions, often derived from Arab civilization.
This culture has been bolstered by the austerely puritanical Wahhabi form of Islam, which
arose in the eighteenth century and now predominates in the country. The many limitations on
behaviour and dress are strictly enforced both legally and socially. Alcoholic beverages are
prohibited, for example, and there is no theatre or public exhibition of films. However, the
Daily Mail and WikiLeaks indicate that the Saudi Royal family applies a different moral code
to itself ("WikiLeaks cables: Saudi princes throw parties boasting drink, drugs and sex.
Royals flout puritanical laws to throw parties for young elite while religious police are forced

to turn a blind eye.") Public expression of opinion

about domestic political or social matters is discouraged. There are no organizations such as
political parties or labour unions to provide public forums.Daily life is dominated by Islamic
observance. Five times each day, Muslims are called to prayer from the minarets of mosques
scattered throughout the country.

Arab wedding

Arabic Weddings have changed greatly in the past 100 years. Traditional Arabic weddings
were very similar to modern-day Bedouin weddings and rural weddings, and they were

unique from one region to another, even within the same country.
The marriage process usually starts with meetings between the couple's families, and ends
with the wedding's consummation (leilat al-dokhla). For a wedding to be considered Islamic,
the bride and groom must both consent, and the groom is welcomed into the brid e's house
although only in the presence of her parents to maint ain purity between both sides.
The traditions of conservative Arab society and Islam forbid couples to socialize before
marriage (however forced marriages are against Islams teachings). Therefore, when it is time
for a young man to get married, his family will look around to identify a number of potential
Traditionally, the process of
investigation takes into
consideration the girls' physical
beauty, her behavior, her
cleanliness, her education and
finally her qualities as a housewife.

In carrying out this traditional investigation parents also take the behaviour of the prospective
bride's family into account.
The first meeting usually takes place between the bride, groom, and their respective mothers.
They meet, usually in a public place or in the bride's house, and get to know each other. The
bride, groom, and their chaperones will typically sit separately, but within sight of each other,
in order to get to know each other. Nowadays, the man might suggest to his family who he

would like the m to consider, and it may be that the man and the woman already know each
other. It is also nowadays common in urban families for a bride and the groom to agree to
marry before the groom approaches the bride's family for their permission.
Given the diversity of Arab people, most are Muslim and some Christian and other faiths. The
most common events that are held in the Muslim marriage include variations of the following.
Marriage Proposal, Engagement, Henna, Nikah, Registration, Reception,Valima (Walima),
and Honeymoon. The only Islamic requirement is the Nikah and Valima. Other events are
cultural additions and Registration is usually a legal requirement. Each is described in more
details below.

Henna is a flowering plantand the sole species of the Lawsonia genus. The English
name "henna" comes from the Arabic or, colloquially , loosely pronounced as /inna/.

The name henna also refers to the dye prepared from the plant and the art of
temporary tattooing based on those dyes. Henna has been used since antiquity to dye skin,
hair, and fingernails, as well as fabrics including silk, wool, and leather. The name is used in
other skin and hair dyes, such as black henna and neutral henna, neither of which is derived
from the henna plant.
Historically, henna was used for cosmetic purposes in Ancient Egypt, as well as other
parts of North Africa, the Horn of
Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, the N
ear East and South Asia. Bridal
henna nights remain an important
custom in many of these areas,
particularly among traditional
In Arabia, the henna night
was a night used to prepare
all the necessary wedding decorations and last minute arrangements. It
was also a chance for the families to celebrate together before the
wedding. The groom's family would "sahij" or dance through the streets of
the village until reaching the house of the bride. Once there, the family
would mix henna together, which would then be used to decorate the
bride and grooms hands (with the groom's being merely the initials of his
bride and himself), and then offer the bride her mahr (usually gold as it
does not decline in
value like other wealth).
The families would then
dance and sing
traditional Palestinian
In modern times,
particularly those not
living in Arabia, the
henna night remains

traditional in customs, but is very similar to a bachelorette party; the

bride's female friends and relatives join her in celebrating, which includes
food, drinks, and a lot of dancing. A women's group plays Arabic music,
sometimes Islamic music, while everyone dances. A woman draws henna
or mehndi, a temporary form of skin decoration using henna, on the bride
and guests' skin usually the palms and feet, where the henna color will
be darkest because the skin contains higher levels of keratin there, which
binds temporarily to lawsone, the colorant of henna. The men will also
have a party, in which the groom's family and friends will dance to
traditional Arabian music. In some village customs, the groom's face is

shaven by a close family member or friend in preparation for his wedding.

The tradition of giving the bride her gold is also still used. The groom will
enter where the bride is, they well both get their henna done, and the
groom will then offer the bride her mahr. Thus, the wedding being merely
dancing and celebration.
An important element of the henna night in both traditional and nontraditional henna parties, is the dress adorned by the Arabian women and
the groom. The women dress in traditional (usually hand embroidered)
gowns, known as Arabian ithyab. The brides thobe would be extravagant
and exquistely embroidered. The groom will wear the usual traditional
Arab men's thobe and hata (head covering).

In some areas also the male friends and relatives celebrate an
evening party in the garden or on the street in front of the groom's house.
Music and dance groups perform and the men dance with the groom.

Women are not allowed and may view the program via video projection
inside the house or the closed off garden. In strict Islamic families this is
the only way to allow males from outside the family to attend the wedding.

Women in the Arab world

Women in the Arab world, as in
other areas of the world, have
throughout history
experienced discrimination and
have been subject to restrictions
of their freedoms and rights.
Some of these practices are
based on religious beliefs, but
many of the limitations are cultural and emanate from tradition as well
as religion. These main constraints that create an obstacle towards
women's rights and liberties are reflected in laws dealing with criminal
justice, economy, education and healthcare.

In pre-Islamic Arabia, there were patterns of homicidal abuse of women

and girls, including instances of killing female infants considered to be a
liability. The Qur'an mentions that the Arabs in Jahiliya (the period of
ignorance or pre-Islamic period) used to bury their daughters alive. The
barbaric custom of burying female infants alive, comments a noted

Qur'anic commentator, Muhammad Asad, seems to have been fairly

widespread in pre-Islamic Arabia. The motives were twofol d: the fear that
an increase in female offspring would result in economic burden, as well as
the fear of the humiliation frequently caused by girls being captured by a
hostile tribe and subsequently preferring their captors to their parents and
brothers. In his book Infanticide: Comparative and Evolutionary
Perspectives, Glenn Hausfater details how Qais Bin Assem, a leader of the
Tamim tribe, killed every daughter he had for fear of their capture (and his
disgrace) in the inter-tribal wars that dominated Arabian society at that
time. According to some scholars; during times of famine, especially,
poorer families were likely to kill a daughter, regarding her as a burden on

starving family.
In pre-Islamic Arabia, women's status varied widely according to laws and
cultural norms of the tribes in which they lived. In the prosperous southern
region of the Arabian Peninsula, for example, the religious edicts of
Christianity and Judaism held sway among the Sabians and Himyarites. In
other places such as the city of Makkah (Mecca) -- where the prophet of
Islam, Muhammad, was borna tribal set of rights was in place. This was
also true amongst the Bedouin (desert dwellers), and this code varied from
tribe to tribe. Thus there was no single definition of the roles played, and
rights held, by women prior to the advent of Islam.
Women have varying degrees
of difficulty moving freely in

Arab countries. Some nations prohibit women from ever traveling alone,
while in others women can travel freely but experience a greater risk of
sexual harassment or assault than they would in Western countries.

Women have the right to drive in all Arab countries except Saudi Arabia.
[66] In Jordan, travel restrictions on women were lifted in 2003.[67]
"Jordanian law provides citizens the right to travel freely within the country
and abroad except in designated military areas. Unlike Jordan's previous
law (No. 2 of 1969), the current Provisional Passport Law (No. 5 of 2003)
does not require
women to seek
permission from
their male
guardians or
husbands in order
to renew or obtain
a passport." In
Yemen, women
must obtain approval from a husband or father to get an exit visa to leave
the country, and a woman may not take her children with her without their
father's permission, regardless of whether or not the father has custody.
[68] The ability of women to travel or move freely within Saudi Arabia is
severely restricted. However, in 2008 a new law went into effect requiring
men who marry non-Saudi women to allow their wife and any children bo
Adherence to traditional dress varies across Arab societies. Saudi Arabia is
more traditional, while Egypt is less so. Women are required to wear
abayas in only Saudi Arabia; this is enforced by the religious police. Some
allege that this restricts their economic participation and other activities.
[70] In most countries, like Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Jordan,
Syria and Egypt, the veil is not mandatory. In Tunisia, the secular
government has banned the use of the veil in its opposition to religious
extremism. Former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali called the veil

sectarian and foreign and has stressed the importance of traditional

Tunisian dress as a symbol of national identity. [5] Islamic feminism
counters both sorts of externally imposed dress codes.rn to her to travel
freely in and out of
Saudi Arabia.
Since Islam encouraged
equality between the
sexes, Islam has also
encouraged equality in
education. In all Arab
countries, girls, just like
boys, usually get their
full education in
highschool and even
move onto getting a
Graduate diploma, and this has been going on for a long time after the