Now with Thicker Skin

After the silly hugger-mugger following my post on the banned episode of Tash Ma Tash, the last thing I needed was another trigger to make more people open their fire at me. This trigger was a recent interview with Reuters. The interview was published on the front pages of Al Hayat in Saudi Arabia, Gulf News in Dubai, and Arab Times in Kuwait, as well as some newspapers and websites in Europe and the United States.

However, the biggest reaction received by far was when the website of Al Arabiya news channel ran the story. AlArabiya.net, known for their tabloid style of reporting, decided to spice it up by using a different title: “He wears jeans instead of the white thobe and attacks those who decline change: The Most Famous Saudi Blogger Considers Life in the Kingdom “Chronically Boring””. The second part of the title was later changed to a more provocative line: “”Saudi Jeans” Would Like to Change the Life of Youth in Saudi Arabia”, as if this blog was some kind of political organization or something :-)

I have no problem with the title, because it is the content of the article that counts, not the title, even if it was purposefully provocative. In the same manner, I expect others to focus on the content of my blog and ideas and opinions I offer here, not the name Saudi Jeans, and certainly not myself. Therefor, I did not like the way AlArabiya.net presented the interview, and how they misquoted me. I would assume the misquotation was a mistake because it is such a common mistake in the media, but that does not change the fact that it was a clear mistake.

The article has attracted more than 200 comments, most of them are… well, I don’t want to go into describing these comments, so maybe it is better for you to go there and read them yourself. There was a few nice comments, and one of them was by a fellow blogger, Abdullah Al Shahrani who wrote a good post on Tash too. Since AlArabiya.net readers are infamously known for their nasty comments, this should not come as a surprise, at least not to me. Moreover, this proves my statement in the interview that our society remains deeply conservative. I think the fact that many people are willing to attack you personally simply because you called for some not very radical changes, and even if they never heard of you before is quite manifesting of such statement.

If I read such comments about me two years ago, I would have probably quit blogging altogether. Comments such as “Shut up! You are raised on the hands of Philippine nannies and maids” (I wasn’t), “leave this country, you little Westernized spoiled brat” (I won’t, and I’m not), or “anyone who wants to look at failure should look at his person” (ok!), would have left me devastated. But I have grown a thicker skin. Being under attack, no matter how the attack is personal and uncivilized, does not affect me that much anymore. And even if it got me, I would simply take a short break from blogging, spend a few days away, forget about the whole thing, and then get back to business.

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34 thoughts on “Now with Thicker Skin

  1. We have a well known saying in Arabic that says the louder the scream the deeper the wound.

    This shows how your articles are revealing our society’s true face.

  2. Ahmed,

    I lately found an article by Mohammed Al-Baker the Saudi football comentator and journalist talking about the same issue that Saudi Arabia does not have real channels for entertainment and that himself and many others are forced to go abroad, at least as far as Bahrain, in order to have some fun!.
    You may find the article, in Arabic, on this

    link
    .

  3. I read most of the replies, and I actually laughed at how simple-minded most of them were. I applaud your courage, for I don’t know how I’d react if I were in the same situation…though I do hope I’d have as thick of a skin as you do by then :)

  4. Ahmad..

    I believe it is of people like you, the KSA will one day realize the mistakes of closing up the society and turning up a blind eye to the voices roaring within. It’s a quiet revolution, and I am with you.

    Stay strong, and if you are punished for what you say on here. Realize one thing – if every one kept quiet and flocked after their leaders. The innocent will still be prosecuted in Germany, Bosnia, South Africa and other parts of the world.. realize that you are punished for speaking out against oppression and domination. You spoke out to be Free – a god given right.

    PEACE

  5. I’ve been quietly reading your blog for a while now! Good for you and props on your thick skin! Your writing is very measured, intelligent and provocative. Why should you stop? I may not agree with everything you say, I may want to question some of it, or I may agree with it all – that’s the decision the reader makes. Your blog makes me stop, think and question society around me. Why some people are threatened by critique is beyond me.

    I’m glad you’ve chosen to continue.

  6. Hi Ahmed!

    Don’t be upset by the Al-Arabiya guys. As usual they like to distort the facts to make your story spicier as you said.
    Instead of running the Reuters story and distroting it, why didn’t they interview you themselves? It would have been much more professional and interesting all around.

  7. It is amazing how people feel the right to make personal comments, attacks and insults online in a way they would never do in person.

    I have had people threaten me, my wife and babies, personally attack and insult me. These people would NEVER dare to do the same things in person.

    Where do they get the idea that it is okay to be rude and insulting just because they are online?

  8. what i really want(wishful thinking) to see is when someone blogs about real issues that needs sloution like education,jobs for youth stuff like that who cares if you haven’t got a place to watch movies or whatever the hell .people would like to see their lives improving not in the way you want it who cares if guys don’t have a place to hang out .the problem with us arabs ,esp saudies we always want what others have regardless whether it fits in our society or not,and if you get what we want,we would wail about our lost morals and ethics and how the world became.i mean grow up think seriously.
    you would think you can find someone with at least ideas for improving the society that wouldn’t evolve around the same old broken record of (movie theaters,women driving (BTW am a woman so don’t jump into conclusions and think male Domination in KSA)
    we would like to see real life altering sloutions that don’t evolve around Entertainment,instead talk about the numbers of unemployed citizens,the decline of education among saudies and millions and millions of issues that need to be addressed since you write about your society so show the real picture of it i mean the whole society not some aspects of it,and to be precise only the Controversial ones. and to be honest when you Criticize something that big,you have to take the Consequences of such an action, you can’t Criticize and comment about the issue and then blog about how other people’s comments are provocative and nasty, it takes two (or in your case 200) to argue,so there you go.
    so don’t use slogans like now with thiker skin or abrasive skin or whatever the ad is,just think really hard about what you wanna achieve with your blog.

  9. helloooow ahmad ,

    well bro i’m glad that none of the idiotic comments has shaken u.

    the comments in alarabya are not made for u and us ( who share the same viewpoints) to ponder.they r done just to be ridiculed and laughted at.

    iv’e read before what the twisted fells,bless their hearts!,said about Raja2 Alsane3.it was atrocious man.they didn’t like what she wrote.so far they r entitled to like and dislike.but the sad thing is that they went on criticizing her.their criticism didnt touch upon her work (surely it’s sth they have never heard of,sticking to the text itself).they absurdly crucified her ,sayin some dummy things like (u r not originally saudi,that’s why u r ideas are pervers,etc etc)

    so u could tell now what kind of lunatics u r dealing with!!!

    btw,i TOTALLY share ur view on the tash ma tash serial.

    here’s my post regarding it ,in case u have not read it :

    http://a-rambling-venus.blogspot.com/2006/10/needless-brouhaha.html#links

    lots of respect,and stay strong man

  10. كلمه اذكرها بما معني
    اذا ركلك احدهم من الخلف فعلم انك في المقدمه
    هل سمعت ان شخص أراد التغيير ولاقي ترحيب المجتمع ؟؟؟
    التغيير قادم لا محاله

  11. Dear Omran ,

    U have a ptentail strenght .. keep up this !!! Dont bother about those Comments.. pple always tend to critisize on “CHANGE” but later they wud accept it silently..
    Keep Blogging .. !!! As blooging community we are with u.

  12. “Yo Saudi Jeans, keep up the good work
    Signed: All Progressive Youths”

    Speak for yourself, buddy.

    “do you mean now with a thicker head?
    then yes”

    I agree.

  13. Keep up the good work. They are overreacting; people like you are important for the future of this world, and I don’t want to sound patronising, but one day they will surely understand.

  14. Hi! I agree with you. I am not so happy about the mentioned-statement “raised by a Philippine nanny”. I am a lady lawyer (muslim) from the Philippines. I do not see anything outrageous in being taken care of by a nanny, specifically a filipino. I am not bragging that i have a good breeding as a filipino. My point is that filipino should not be generalized and be implied to be a bad influence. Why would they hire nannies (filipino) who they think are not good, in the first place, considering that these nannies will take care of their children who are precious/dear to them.

  15. Hey ,,, read about your blog on msnbc. I hope you will be able to continue blogging , this is a powerful tool , where else can you reach million’s of ppl worldwide. I don’t know alot about the middle east but i do know they want to kill me because of where i live. Good luck to all of you.

    North Dakota , USA

  16. This just brought such a big smile to my face, because I live in the US and it was very recogniseable, as when I read the comments-section of newspaper articles here, whatever article about whatever, the comments are equally shortsighted, narrowminded, biased and nasty.

    I guess all those traits are Universal, huh? Anyway, I love reading about your life in your country, thanks for doing this, keep it up.

  17. I see… So that’s how particular individuals think of people living in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia about certain people who they assume to have been raised by Filipino nannies, with the goal to condescend, implying that they don’t raise children well? Or that they raise children who grow up to be open-minded and free spirited? If that is it, then they may have just placed another feather on the velvety cap of freedom loving Filipinos. ^_^

  18. Philippines looks like a free country compared to a dull-headed country that spells Saudi Hellrabia run by asshole muttawahs. Saudi Arabia is a great country blessed w/ oil and abundant sunlight for Solar Power. If they run out of oil, they can build thousand miles of solar plates and kick those asshole muttawahs and dumb sheiks to hell!!!

  19. Re:saudi woman

    Here statement that your complaints center around entertainment is the truth. Most of the forms of entertainment you all espouse are haram.

  20. Quoting from your aforementioned blog “Comments such as “Shut up! You are raised on the hands of Philippine nannies and maids” (I wasn’t)” What’s wrong being raised by a Filipina maid?

  21. I just discovered this blog from Mcclatchy newspaper, which I think has balanced reporting of the Middle East, which is too rare in the US. ———-
    I grew up as a typically strong supporter of Israel, from my extensive readings of history, World War 2, films like the Ann Frank Story. I saw Exodus many times, which tries but fails to give the Arab point of view. While I now dislike the typically right-wing Israeli government, which too often is ugly, promoting a sort of Jewish racism or superiority, I have to ask for Arabs to also see their situation. To understand things like that the Israeli PM lost his brother, trying to save innocents from terrorism. ——— I know some Jews, and their extremist right wing Christian allies, in effect blame Arabs for their thousands of years of problems . They wave this sort of red flag at every opportunity, and it has distorted history, and hurt progress. ————- But I hope Arabs, Muslims and those Christians we often forget about, try to balance their views too, and this blog seems to be in that direction. Just like the Gates/cop incident in the US now we need rational discussion and to let go of past injustice, as bad as that has been. Otherwise what will the future be, for us and our children? ————————- I have been in Turkey and Egypt. I found laughing kids playing soccer in Istanbul, friendly buinessmen and a it seemed a generally good society. Egypt I must admit seemed too conservative, maybe some resentment of American’s [even though we have given many ships full of wheat over decades]. ———— I hope Arabs know that millions related to them enjoy a relatively good life in America. I’ve taken a Muslim man from the former Soviet Union to a Mosque and enjoyed the architecture and general feeling of goodwill. Many of us enjoy the religious freedom here and clearly that is far from perfect in most Arab lands [or Israel ]. —————– Many here are also very angry about the Iraq War, which helped to elect Pres. Obama, who I think is trying to be a friend to Arabs and Jews. I hope we talk to relatives and friends to encourage mutual respect and interest in our differences. —————- I believe most American Jews, like those helping J Street, are trying to find a fair peace for the Middle East. But it is disturbing how many Jews in Israel seem to be just as nutty religious extremist’s we see in some of Islam. ———— Without serious effort, bending over backward for peace, we may find a World War 3 coming at us, and this area, maybe the planet, will be set back generations, if many survive. ——- Let me end by saying my kids went to the Academy of World Languages, or AWL, a school that, at least then, taught Russian, Arabic, Japanese, and Chinese [ K - 8 ]. They grew up with Muslim friends and great diversity. I hope those who can give will consider helping this school, google it and Cincinnati and I’m sure you’ll find it.

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