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Saudi Arabia is without a doubt a male-dominated country. There are separate facilities for men and women. Even in the teachers’ living quarters, every teacher has an independent apartment and there are separate buildings for men and women. Neither is allowed in one another’s building except in the lobby.
Men really do not have any restrictions except the following:
- Men may wear shorts outside, but they must come below the knees.
- Men must never ever approach Saudi women on the street.
- Men must never stare at Saudi women or attempt to take their picture.
- If a woman initiates a conversation, then it is okay to talk with her.
Women have a lot more rules to follow. On top of women's dress requirements, the following are also relevant:
- Women are not allowed to eat in the main section of a restaurant.
- If a restaurant has a designated family section they may eat in this area; however, if the restaurant does not have a section of this type then they must order takeout and wait outside until it is brought to them.
- A couple of nights ago two female teachers and I went to a restaurant together. Since it was at night we had to wait a few minutes before an area became available for us. As like any restaurant, they had an area with chairs for people to wait. In this area the men sat in the chairs relaxing while the women stood. After we placed our food order, I was served first and my portion was larger and had more meat than the female teachers’ plates.
- Women are not allowed to drive cars.
- Women are not allowed to ride bicycles.
- Women are not allowed to ride motorcycles.
- Women are not allowed to ride in a taxi without a mahram (an unmarriageable kin).
- Riyadh is the only city in Saudi Arabia where women are allowed to ride buses. Women ride in the back and enter the bus through a separate door.
- Women must wear clothes that cover their entire body.
- Women should not wear bright coloured clothing or clothing that is adorned so that it may attract men's attention.