Women. Out. Now.

Lubna Hussain and Abeer Mishkhas, as well as John Burgess, were all really angry at what happened in Riyadh last week during an international medical seminar: a presenter called Dr. Yousef Al-Ahmed from King Saudi University insisted that all women — including medical and media professionals — leave the room before he would enter the room to give his presentation. I can’t blame them. It was outrageous.

However, I don’t agree with Hussain and Mishkhas that the female attendees are to blame for leaving to the request of the organizers, who are the only to be blamed for this ridiculous incident.

Dr. Al-Ahmed knew well there will be women at the event. He for sure knows that KFSH has a mixed work environment, unlike KSU and King Khaled University Hospital. If he was offended by the presence of women then he should have rejected the invitation. The organizers should not have agreed on his request to kick women out, and if he had a problem with that then, well, this is his problem not theirs, as one of the attendees, a Saudi female neurologist, told Arab News.

Considering that he comes from KSU, I should say I was not totally shocked by his actions. Those of us familiar with the environment of Saudi Arabia’s oldest university, and its medical colleges in particular, would come to expect the most bizarre things. Do believe me when I say that despite the strict segregation at KKUH, there are some teachers in the College of Medicine who are not satisfied with the situation and demand the current dean to be sacked in order to implement their views.

I know that some people would jump down my throat for simply writing this post, and to that all I can say is: I don’t care. They would bash me as Westernized, un-Islamic, etc, and whatever they can come up with of their sorry accusations, and you know what, I don’t care. Silencing critics and sugarcoating mistakes would only set back our country, and if we want to move forward we should never give in to the nay-sayers. Now if you excuse me, I would like to make sure that no woman will comment on this post.

35 thoughts on “Women. Out. Now.

  1. You reminded me of an incident that hapened to me back in 1999 or 2000 -don’t remember exactly-, when I read abput a Linux workshop that was advertised on some Saudi web-forum, they had an email for RSVP, I send one email after another, with the required info, yet I receive no answer. Being a Saudi female I started to guess what was going on, I am being simply ignored becuase my info showed that I am a “Female” “Akramkom Allah” !!! They did not even show the minimal courtesy nor respect to at least send a note saying: sorry only male!

    That workshop was held in Jeddah the so called moderate city, and the organizers were techies who you would assume would be educated & open minded. Open minded yes, you would not think a person has to be “open minded” to do the simplest right things, but remember you are in the land of everything is haram unless we say otherwise. -Later on I discovered that A hell lot of the extremist are also techies :) –
    So no blame for the KSU guy when he asks that the females be ordered out of his lecture.

    If that incedent you mentioned happened in a civilized part of the world, the male attendees would have stood up and left too.

    If that incident happedned in a civilized part of the world, the females could have sued this lecturer for day light discrimination.

    And finally if that incident happended in a civilized part of the world, the government should have long ago drew a very clear line that seperated civil rights that each citizen should enjoy under the law
    from the tribal heritage that is clearliy screwing all aspects of our lives here.

  2. and your response is exactly why I love reading your blog! i am so thankful to know one saudi who stands up for what he believes in and I just totally loved your response to this whole incident.well done, and more power to you.


  3. I would agree that the women are to be blamed as well and I say that as a woman. I would also so that the organizers and any man that sat in that presentation knowing the dude kicke out the women are also to blame. We all share a blame in these attitudes. All as a collective body have to stand up and say enough is enough. The women should have stayed, the organizers should have refused him, men should have protested against the speaker by leaving themselves. Instead this mans attitude was not only condoned by supported and given credit to by the actions that others took, including the women.

  4. has anyone ever reminded these ‘MEN’ that they live and exist thanks to the ‘INFERIOR’ gender???
    Keep up the faith that things will change one day…….God bless you all women of Saudi and the whole world

  5. i can say that some of your saudi readers pass by this post and say:
    oh Ahmed!!
    you must never write such things about us in english!!

    in arabic:أنت تبغى تنشر غسيلنا عند اللي يسوى واللي ما يسوى

    but i’m saying:
    keep up!

  6. FUCK HIM!
    ok I apologize for saying this here on your blog when I really want to say it to his face.

    He should never have accepted the invitation
    The organization should never have agreed to his completely rediculous request
    The women should never have left

    Let’s say this seminar was held abroad would he even dare make such a request? And where did so called doctor do his residency and followship programs? Such men will never evolve into decent human beings. Hospitals all over the world are of the most mixed work environments and it’s impractical to segregate it in any way!

    News likes this make me hate riyo more and more and love jeddah more and more!
    i think this man will concloude that we are all going to hell here in KAUH workers and students alike!

  7. oh yeah one more thing
    if someone made such a request here.. i’m pretty sure the women will stand up to him and make him see himself’s true worth

  8. Saudi Arabia–easily the most backward country on the planet, with a gutless population unwilling to standup and demand their rights, kept in line with religion used like a bullwhip. Hey folks, religions the “opiate of the masses”. Wake up, it’s the 21st century!

  9. Aisha bint Bu Bakr could teach the sahaba, but in modern days Saudia men are scared of women even when they have veiled their faces.
    Coward professor! The sisters should have stayed!

  10. Hah.. tht’s too Horrible
    The organisers & presenter are so cheap on their part to exclude women, Why ??
    r not women essential part of our society, if presenter feels offended by women’s presence so he should make sure he’s not offending others… realy miserable
    situation …very very odd !!!

    Reader in UAE

  11. I was surprised you dont want women to comment on this post. Who’s being segregationist now? I hope i got it wrong.. As long as your life is not threatened and your money is in the bank, why be wary of the responces to your thoughts. Your blog will attract new friends and will challenge your ideas by those who hate it. I suggest you be open to those who are upset by what you write. They are Saudis and we are Saudis too. Hatred and fear wont solve anything. If you didn’t like’em, let them be. Speak your mind and write on ahmad.

  12. In my view, no proplem men and women study in same class but men set in sit and wemen set another sit. Also women must cover their faces and their hairs.

  13. Ithink that women and men have same dibs,and should they respect each other in every thing ,in work and in general life.

    emaraty girl

  14. I think women must attend this seminer and don’t leave it because the women is the part of society and they can be effective but women must follow the islamic laws

  15. I think that unfair to ask the woman go out , they want to learn only .
    Saudi Arabia has many roles that I think are very good for the society, but they should give them some freedom ,because a lot of roles would make them more to do it , to find out what the result .
    As see some freedom it wouldn’t be harmful , but not any freedom . freedom such as : Studying , driving but with her husband or father or her son also to have the right to participate in the society in active way .

  16. actually i think that there is no freedom in your country.
    its ok to follow the eslamic rolls but there are many things that you sould allow it in your country
    especialy in this case you sould allow woman to enter the work shop,i’am sorry but it is really a selly thought.

  17. Thanks ahmed for your speech .It is really affect me because women should have achance to attend that work shop. In fact woman nowdays have agreat postion in our socity , therefore they should have a chance to complete their aducation without any problems.
    I’m really upsats about his behave.
    If he doesn’t like to attent place had awomen in it he shouldn’t attend it.

  18. Actually it was an odd behaviour and very old thinking from this Doctor,
    I think that he should change the way he is thinking about women .
    Also he should believe that they are the same and equal to the males.For example,in the other countries women are having a high position in the society like,Lobna al-Qasmi and Mariam al-Romy in UAE
    Also I want to say that not of all Saudi doctors are the same because some of them know that women can do as many things as men.

    Reader in UAE

  19. Hi I’m from UAE, Our country is an Islamic country but there is freedom also.
    Our woman can drive the cars and go to the malls also men, This is what it should happen . There are many things you should allow it in your country. For example, Woman should be allowed to drive cars because she may need something urgent and there is no body around her. More over maybe she wants to go to the hospital in an emergency case. Also woman should has a freedom to go to the malls to buy things that men can’t buy it for them

  20. Hi
    In my point view,woman is the important part in the world,evrey society need she to built it.Inaddition,I think that women should learn more than man because she have a children to teach them how to service their country.


  21. It is almost unfathomable that this is still happening. I pray that Saudi will awaken from the comatose it is in. The real Islam is awaiting you…

  22. I am from the West and I am utterly amazed when I read your posts. You are all like a bunch of Zombies from a bad science fiction movie. WAKE UP!! The idea that the incredible God who created the universe and all that is in it, wants women to walk around in veils, be seperated from men, not drive, etc, etc is just ABSURD!! Your leaders (both religious and political) use religion to CONTROL your minds and control the wealth and power in your countries. That is, to keep you enslaved. It was once like this in the West, but 500 years ago, during what we call the “Reformation”, people in the West put religious leaders and the royality in their place. As a result the West is centuries ahead of Islamic countries. I bet you don’t learn much about that in school, do you? Allah gave you a BRAIN to USE. QUESTION AUTHORITY!! It’s main goal is NOT your best interests, but to keep itself in power!

  23. Hi! I love reading your blog. I hope that last comment about woman posting was sarcasm : ) It is hard to change “culture”- especially when one of the parts of that culture is that change should be slow. It makes me think about my home state: Alabama. In the 1950s there was a lot of racism and it took Martin Luther King Jr. to be willing to be arrested and a lot of other people who were willing to be the face of racism- to be hosed, beaten and all of that. Lots of people might say “I wouldn’t have walked out.” or “Those men should have walked out, too!” but the reality is, when you face that small but important time, actually protesting is scary, and it effects not just you but also your family,your job and so forth…. It can feel selfish to make the decision that could embarass your family! Thus, I don’t blame either the woman who left, nor the men who stayed. (I do blame the lectruer…) I hope they did all look within their hearts and know the request was wrong. I hope they all prayed for the strenght to do the right thing next time.

  24. Outstanding article!
    Doctors are supposed (well all educated people!)to be open minded!
    They have to deal with both gender everyday regarding to medical checking and the environment requires working together!
    If that doctor didnt like being in a conference with women, then why the hell did he attended this conference!!!!
    thank’s Ahmed, great blog!

  25. I really say this with alot of sadness and griefness on my voice, that I feel day by day that woman in Saudi Arabia by far, have been treated the worst in the male dominate world history. I think they had it worst than even women from the 18th century, when they used to hang ’em up by ropes just because they had a little of education.
    Or to be more exaggerating I think you can compare what is going on here with what was in the church’s mind right after on what so called “the death of Jesus” when they tried to destroy all woman race from the birth of the Catholic church.
    I think history has shown us continuously how humans generally try to use religion to gain more power, and in this situation we found men trying to gain power over women.

    All god’s (Allah) religions have been based on equality on race gender culture and power. Maybe I was exaggerating when I said Saudi women have been treated by far the worst in history!! but to be more fair, I don’t think there was a time during the Islamic era when women had it this bad! Women used to be in high ranks in governments and society and that was only by choice, meaning they had a choice to be effected on their societies. Not to show that we really have equality of life and we appreciate both genders equally. They had a choice and fairness of treatment, by that only they become capable of what the other gender can do. And you can see that from all our great women symbols in the Islamic world such as the prophets’ wives and his daughters and so many. SO RELIGION IS NOT AN OBSTACLE ON WOMENS SUCCESS, besides who would think that Allah all mighty doesn’t have faith on women and he will allow men to manipulate them and abuse their rights, yet he has put a lot of his great secrets and wisdoms on theirs.

    What have the doctor did is another line of misusing religion in order to fulfil humans’ sick minds, by shown how human being can gain power over each others. So my dear sisters don’t be a shame or lose your faith on god, you only have been treated this way because he knows how strongly you can overcome any barriers that will come in your way to be become a citizen of Allah.


  26. مالك حق تستخدم صور البنات الي واضح ماهم دارين ان احد مصورهم و انت تجي تكملها و تنشرها مع الموضوع
    الموضوع مايحتاجله صورة علشان بوصل اذا صدق تحترم النساء لا تنشر صورهم من دون علمهم هالبنات بنات بلدك.

  27. Ok, the real question here is this:
    Were the women in that room Islamicaly dressed??
    Were the women in that room following Islam??
    Please don’t get me wrong, I am with women education and working the right jobs.
    If the answer to both questions is YES, then I would blame Dr. Ahmed. If the answer is NO, then the women are to blame.
    Please understand that Dr. Ahmed is a shaikh and if he didn’t say anything regarding incidents involving wrong doings, then ALOT of people will think its ok to do them.

  28. There was a time, a couple hundred years ago where my people looked down on women and treated them little better than our horses.
    Looking back we can see how stupid we were about that and several other things. Thankfully that time has long since past and we can pretend it never happened.

    jF Native American

  29. The women were properly covered,so what was the problem? they were all joining there in the name of education. yesterday i was at starbucks in khobar and a group of saudi young women were sitting minding their own business having coffee. All of the girls were wearing abaya, hijab and had their niqabs off temporarily due to the fact that they were in the family section. one of the girls had a medical jacket hanging over her purse indicating to me that she was perhaps a medical student. the motawa-2 of them went over to the girls harrassing them, i was soo disgusted. these girls were not talking loud or laughing (god forbid they should laugh and have fun!), so why did those motawa harrass them? what right did those men have to talk to those women who were showing dignity in their behavior?

    i just had to write that somewhere. my daughter is in an interior architecture program at king faisal university in dammam. My daughters friends are all saudi women/girls and are fantastic muslims, students, very ambitious and responsible, and personable, sparkeling personalities. the problem we face in ksa is that the girls are kept inside the home being taught responsibility while the boys are outside all day playing in the street and not held accountable for anything, why is it then that those little boys grow up to judge the women who are hard workers?

  31. to annyksa

    the point is not that they are well coverd or not ,it is wether it is ethical to use their picture in a post wether it is related or not the girls in the picture are obviously they dpn’t know that they are being photographed.it is the same as using any other person’s picture to illustrate a topic of any sort.would you accept that your picture being used in any post or topic without your consent? i don’t think so
    my point is to have a sense of respect in what a person’s write you don’t need a picture to prove an idea right!!!!!!!

    PS; don’t forget we live in a conservative society so respect is needed in dealing with such things

  32. “I was surprised you dont want women to comment on this post. Who’s being segregationist now? I hope i got it wrong..”

    Spinoza! It was a joke….

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