The Broken Frame

Here’s yet another piece about joy riding, aka drifting, aka tafheet, aka total nonsense. Yes, we are bored. Yes, we are young and we are not amused. And yes, we live in a place that severely lacks proper entertainment outlets for the youth. But is this a good reason for you to go drive your car recklessly in public roads? I hate to repeat myself, but here it goes:

Bored? Go read a book, rent a movie, go swimming, or even go wank yourself for all I care, but please oh please don’t get behind the wheel to jeopardize our lives. Driving in these roads is dangerous enough, and we already have seen much blood spilt on the asphalt, we don’t need idiots killing themselves and others just because they were trying to have some fun.

Oh, and a word to Robert Worth and other foreign journalists who fall for the usual traps and fail to see the big picture: instead of trying to fit everything you see here in your ready-made frames, please go and try to find some new frames for your Saudi stories. Or, even better, how about no frame at all? We are really, really sick of being pictured like aliens. It is probably much easier to write about car drifters than write about people like Waleed Abul-Khair, Najla Barasain, Hashim al-Refaie, and Amna Fatani, but that’s a lame excuse.

Maybe we are not what you would call a normal country, but I think there is more about us than this.

39 thoughts on “The Broken Frame

  1. Good point
    Instead of driving you could be watching
    ‘American graffeti’
    (which is a lovely movie)
    Or meaby one of Bressons ‘Taxi’ movies.
    If Mr. Worth would open his eyes, and look outside his middle class views, he would find subcultures around cars everywhere.
    – That doesn’t mean of course, that you might have a special problem in Saudia Arabia, but then it’s more young men’s universally lust for excitement, dangerous play situated in a local context.

  2. I agree with you totally Ahmed. That drifting story has been done millions of time before….yawn…..

    And young Saudi guys do have to get a life, rather than race like made on public highways endangering not only their own lives, but the lives of innocent bystanders and motorists!

  3. keep in mind that for us western Saudi Arabia is a really alien country….i still can’t understand why woman can’t drive, can’t enjoy life, the religious police regulate your daily life. I reckon there are few voices in Saudi who are trying to change things but sadly they aren’t enough…I read somewhere (maybe in this blog) that every change in Saudi take a lot of time to happen, but meanwhile the world outside is changing. As a woman i watch Saudi and I think “wow what a backward country..they seem like alien” I know it’s not your fault, it’s a mix between religion and cultural but as long something won’t change Saudi will alway looked as an alien country.

  4. I am no stranger to the Jeddah roads, and I have personally lost a young cousin to a traffic accident. Irresponsibility like this makes me angry.

    But to country girl: I think there is a fatal flaw in labeling any country “alien.” That is SUCH a relative term–what is abnormal to you is everyday life to others. Who is to say what is right, normal, or proper? Surely there are some things that take place in the Kingdom that Saudis themselves take issue with, but letting these facts obscure the beauty and nobility that is also present in that country is a sad mistake.


  5. @thehalbreed i reckon that alien is a strong word but how do you explain the fact that Saudi is the only country (in the world) where women can’t drive, or where a rapist victim is guilty, you can’t have religious simbols (eg cross), or two male authors can’t ask for an authograph to a woman authors or there’s no movie theatres..those things are granted in the vast majoroty of the world. I’m sure there are beauty and wonders in you country but this is the imagine Saudi have in the western countries

  6. Well it’s a pretty neat hook, the allure of underground life with a twinge of terrorism always makes for a great read. It’s pretty redundant in our perspective, but it’s a pretty refreshing story for an outsider. I guess we need to be more proactive on how we promote ourselves to the outside world, and not rely on foreign journalists to the hard work for us (since obviously writing about car drifting is the easy way out). There is obviously a hunger to know more about Saudies, when you have certain blog posts discussing the seating arrangements of Taxis in Saudi.

  7. So now I know that some young Saudi guys like to drive recklessely for fun.

    What do young females do for fun?

    When I was in Pakistan, a country that has much more freedom for its women than, say, Saudi Arabia, it was still like living in hell. Although there weren’t any restraints from the law to have fun, there were a lot of restraints on females from the family and the broader culture.

    I saw my guy cousions always out and about having all sorts of fun while I was stuck at home or shopping.

  8. Every country has it’s issues and bad drivers. Where I live it snows and every year people go out and drive the normal speed limit knowing that the roads are slick and icy and they should slow down while driving every year people get killed and mamed because of this. And yes young people in America drive crazy too. This is nothing new. Young men have loved cars since they were invented. As for social issues well we have them here in America too. The other day my Iraqi friend called me from his hotel and said that he was there with his girlfriend. Now keep in mind that this American girl is 20 years old not married and has a baby by a 40 year old man. On top of that she is at a hotel with her baby with a man she barely knows. Yes my Iraqi friend is very nice and not a weirdo but this is not the issue. How can she have a baby and not be married and second how can she take this baby to hotels and have sex with men she barely knows. This baby should not be around strange men in hotels. This is not a good enviroment for this baby. Now my friend loves babies and is a good man, but this is not the point. He called me up complaining that he met the babies father and he is twice her age. So I asked him how he can be in a hotel room with a 20 year old unmarried young lady with a baby.What makes this right but yet you complain about the age of the father!!! Every country has issues and always will. All I can say is people are born with a conscience and know what is right and wrong! Although sometimes people can have a warped since of what is right and wrong so now I don’t know what to say.

  9. i follow your blog but i never commented. in this case, i wholeheartedly agree with your comment about how Western media reports on ksa.

  10. I am surprised that hours spent in Princeton doing a PhD has not helped poor little Bob develop a better understanding of our region! Then again, should his job as a Middle East correspondent for the Times given him a little more insight? Probably yes! So the question I ask, is it really ignorance or does Bob just have free time and nothing to report?….. Bob, not to sound to patronising (not that I think people should be to your likes), but this isn’t really new is it? Not in Saudi, the States or anywhere really? I mean wow- you must really clutching straws to write about… if you want ideas- maybe its worth reading say a blog like this for ideas…

  11. “but I think there is more about us than this.”

    Let’s assume you were sarcastic there, by “more” did you mean shesha and pedophilia?

  12. @countrygirl: you still haven’t seen a thing yet, remember not to walk beside men during shopping, you might get arrested for sexual seduction.

  13. @countrygirl: you still haven’t seen a thing yet, remember not to walk beside men in malls or u might get arrested for sexual seduction.

  14. @countrygirl: you still haven’t seen a thing yet, remember not to walk beside men in malls or u might get arrested for sexual seduction

  15. Country girl,

    Saudi Arabia may be “backwards” to you but different countries do things differently and thats ok. I am a future anthropologist and being ethnocentric (thinking your way of life is superior than someone elses) is what we try to erradicate, albit sometimes hard.
    Country girl, I will admit that some things that are done in KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) are detrimental to its citizens, including lack of free speech (something bloggers attest to) however, that does not make my way of life better than theirs. I hope you educate yourself and ask questions….
    in salaam….

  16. Ahmed,

    I actually see this article as an endorsement of Saudi normalcy.

    Young men seeking out their own peers to engage in activities that are somewhat physically reckless and high risk is normal throughout the world.

    The only thing about this article that marks our society as not normal is the reference to homoeroticism, and I think that portion of the article is incorrect.

    What we do have is highly repressed heteroeroticism.

    But, on whole, the article is about young men doing risky things, a story that could be written about any country on our planet.

  17. Can you please stop saying “We are young and we are not amused” so much?

    It was cool the first hundred times but it’s getting kinda lame now.

  18. I think drifting is cool, too. I understand Ahmad the angle you are looking from to the issue; yet, we can not impose our interests everybody out there. For instance, reading is just great for some people whereas others hate nothing but holding or sleeping beside a book. Now having said that, I think people who are interested in drifting should have certain safe areas where can they can practice it.

    Countrygirl, with all respect I totally disagree with you. You can not say about any people or any country that it is backward. Saudi Arabia is not backward country by any means. If it were, you would not be interested in it or at least here in a Saudi blog, if you will, posting comments. I do admit, on the other hand, that we have issues and we are not embarrassed to discuss it on public. I am in the U.S and I almost everyday see issues and arguments here and there about different things.
    By the way, I was in anthropological class, it is not my major, though, we were discussing something about gendered language and believe it or not some women in the class still think that language itself is masculinized. Bottom line: as long as we are human beings we are asking for betterness no matter how modernized we are…..

  19. You know I thought of that too. Why not have a place where these guys can go to race safely? You said that there is not much in the way of entertainment in your city, so why not a race track? I have a secret lol, when it snows even I, a woman like to go over late at night in a clear parking lot and slide on the ice!!! I only do it a couple times but its fun. LOL Usually its on my way home from shopping at WalMart LOL

  20. @linguist i was comparing western countries and Saudi in some specific eg the women rights…sorry but in my eyes but Saudi regarding women rights is backward

  21. @antrhrogeek so for you it’s ok to segregate women like in Saudi where they can’t drive, they can’t go abroad without a male relative permission, they can’t study along with men and so on….don’t call someone uneducated only on their nick or on their origin. I simply said that Saudi Arabia has a lot to learn about woman rights. You said that ethnocentism is wrong so if i follow your line or thinking for you it’s ok the female genital mutilation since all way of life are on the equal

  22. Wrong countrygirl. Avoiding ethnocentricity does NOT mean one has to agree to human rights abuses. What it does mean is, like I said before, is to have an additude that maybe we do not agree with the way of life of “X” country but that does not mean we are better than them.
    I also wrote this in the prior post:

    “Country girl, I will admit that some things that are done in KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) are detrimental to its citizens, including lack of free speech (something bloggers attest to) however, that does not make my way of life better than theirs.”

    Not agreeing to a way of life does not mean I think my way or the Western way is better.

    Sorry Saudi Jeans for getting all riled up! I rest my case at this point!!


  23. i guess a huge step forward will be taken when the country, young and old, conservative and progressive, can all stop caring about what ‘the world’ think about them. do you guys think that for instance americans or europeans give a damn about what saudis think about them? so why do you? who cares what they think, write in their newspapers or say? as far as i can see there is enough tension within the saudi society itself (if there is such a thing at all, or maybe should i say ‘within saudi societies’?), why bother with what ‘the world’ think? and by the way, who are ‘the world’?

  24. I found the article a bit disjointed to say the least. I read and if one can accept that as being an accurate source it is evident the Saudi Arabia has one basic problem. It hasn’t learned how to shift from being a very poor, very isolated country to a rich one where many residents have contact with outsiders. The money came without a lot of labor, so the cultural changes that come with typical industrial growth never happened. In the US a person can see how his life compares to his father’s or grandfather’s and the changes are large but measurable. I cannot imagine how a Saudi of 60 years ago can relate to the changes in society. The fact that almost nobody in Saudi society had to physically work to make those changes means that it all appears to be something very foreign. If the Saudi people were more connected to the changes in their society they might buy into it more and learn to adapt their culture to the changes.

    To make myself a bit clearer let me give some examples. My father was born in 1899. Starting in his 20’s he worked as an accountant for an auto dealer, eventually one of the early Chrysler dealers in NJ. My mother worked in a defense plant, as a nurse, during WWII. Most Americans can connect themselves to what is being done to them. If I can accept what I read, little of the real work in Saudi Arabia or even the Arab Gulf State is done by the locals. That must make for an incredible disconnect between the people, their culture and the world they see around them.

  25. I guess the other extreme situation is mine here in the U.S. where I am trying to raise 2 boys and a daughter in a society that just seems to get more and more depraved everyday! I won’t go into details and list all of the problems in my country, but the older I get the more I struggle with a lot of the things that go on here in the U.S. It just seems like morality in this country has gone down the toilet.

  26. San Antonio

    My hubby and I were discussing this last night. My husband is not a Muslim but he said “man those Muslims have it right when it comes to modesty!”. LOL


  27. @Countrygirl: you still haven’t seen a thing yet, be aware not to walk beside men in malls, you don’t wanna get arrested for sexual seduction do you?

  28. LOL, San Antonio Cicily is not amazing? I always do it … The problem is there is no snow in Saudi Arabia at all. I wish we had some over there, that would have made it easier… but some youth use oil, I guess, you know to slip the cars easily or for whatever reason …

    Sorry Ahmad I know it is not a chatting room …

  29. Saudis are aliens. Their attack on America on Sep 11 and all the other Saudi-backed terror attacks are the proof of their alien character with respect to humankind. Is it any wonder we examine you like poisonous little bugs in a jar when your primary mode of interacting with the world is terror?

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