No Country for Young Men

Ibrahim Ismail Kutbi complains in this article from Arab News that most restaurants and cafes in Jeddah are catering to families only, excluding single men or those unaccompanied by their female relatives. If this complaint is coming from Jeddah, the most liberal city in Saudi Arabia, you can imagine how is the situation in Riyadh and the rest of the country. Abdu Khal wrote something closely related in Okaz last week: “If you count the number of youths who have nowhere to go to because malls, parks and beaches are dedicated to families, then you would be appalled. What will the youth do when they find themselves trapped and discarded?”

Well, they will do other things that you probably will not like.

38 thoughts on “No Country for Young Men

  1. When a woman can go to such a place unattended the Civilized World will listen to your complaints about the supposed discrimination against single men. Until then…

    • Actually (in Jeddah at least), unaccompanied females have a much much easier time getting into malls and restaurants than unaccompanied males. I’ve gone to many chic cafes with my wife only to fine I’m the only male guest around.

  2. im sorry bs kalamak mara ‘3ala6.. fe 60 alf shy yesawoh al awlad fe jeddah,, o mafe ma63am aw caffe fe jeddah now mafelo section lel singles,, feen 3aysheen ento? u need to get out more bro,,

  3. Why do they do this? Is it because the young single men don’t know how to behave? I hate it for the “good” guys, but maybe too many young Saudi males cause trouble or are too demanding. Hmmm, there might be a market for a singles-only restaurant serving up some good food! Where are the entrepreneurs when you need them?

    Also I *do* agree with Jonolan. At least you don’t need a chaperon/permission in order to leave your house.

    Be glad you aren’t female.

  4. “Catch 22” (The Saudi version) by Rowdy Saudi is the best and most accurate script I’ve seen so far :)

  5. Ahmed, Rowdy Saudi, Saudi Aspire–agreed.

    Distortions of behaviour by excessive gender restrictions ultimately affect the whole society; and alienating young men, single men, or “unaccompanied men”, does not advance the cause of women or anyone else.

  6. I must say I love the tittle, but it better be: No Country for Young People.

    Maybe guys r excluded in malls, but restaurants ? come on! there is almost always a single section. And there r restaurants and cafes just for men. So stop complaining or find a better argument.
    And its very hard for me to feel sorry for u guys right now, when my driver is gone and I can’t enjoy all these MALLS AND RESTARUNTS that u guys envy us for!! :S

  7. I think most people agree that women have a much tougher time in KSA than men.

    Jonolan: you seem to suggest that because of this men have no right to complain. Rubbish!

    Sure, *some* Saudi men ARE responsible for the dreadful situation for women in the country, but not *all* men across Saudi. You need to deal with people on their individual stance, and not assume they agree with what their government, or gender, or religious leaders, or peers (or whatever group you can put them in) might say and do.

    When you break it down the logic underlying your statement is actually the basis for discrimination – sexism, racism, and the rest. Tarring all members of a group as responsible for what some members do.

    To differing degrees both genders in KSA have severely curtailed rights. Not good.

  8. Removing this kind of discrimination against single people in general (including men) is one step towards greater emancipation for women. As long as singlism exists, women are going to get the larger brunt of it than men. I agree with Ibrahim’s dismay over the privileging of families over single men. I say abolish that privilege, and we’re one step closer to abolishing other unfair privileges (such as those that men have in comparison to women).

  9. There are always alternatives; but most Shababs are blinded to do the same as the other Shabab would do/go.

    We should not be complaining & go out to do some productive activities (even a crazy idea can be a good one) try Skate boarding instead of rollerblades for example just to put some spice in life


  10. This whole system should be stopped.

    The assertion is that our religion requires this, yet there are many pious thinkers who do not believe that such gender segregation is mandated by our religion.

    It may be that some of our traditions favor such gender segregation, but our traditions are not to be thought of as divine in origin.

    We should stop this absurd system.

    Piety can and does exist just as well in societies that have no such absurd segregation of restaurants and other public spaces.

  11. Well, Ive always assumed Saudi men who didnt like the “restrictions” forced upon them in Saudi just get in a car and cross the bridge over here to Bahrain…then let loose with all the bad behavoir they arent allowed to have in Saudi.

    Thursday and Friday nights in Bahrain is a regular Saudi free for all…sheesh.

  12. @Andrew is correct, you really can’t regulate piety. The system that tries to prevent anything ‘bad’ from happening has created a world in which ordinary life becomes difficult, especially for women. It is nice to see the shoe on the other foot.

  13. Andrew and Jerry M, you have very good points. I do not understand why on earth we have this mistrust, too. Why is it that women would do horrible things if left? Why is it that women have to be watched 24/7? And why is it that women if integrate with men would commit adultery? Why do we have mistrust as the default?
    Now someone might say that both genders are included but it is not the case. And same you do not want to go to that debate. It is so irritating.

  14. I see young Saudi males very well behaved outside the country. What makes this sudden change of behavior ? The reason is that evey where else they enforce the law on every one. hre the moral laws are only applied by the Matwaaeen and in thier abscence the puplic behaviors go wild. There are not and will never be enough religious police to watch evey one. I see no end to this cycle and till then young Saudi males can either gather at Sheesha cafe’s, gather in private without supervision or join the charity groups and become a radical citizen.

  15. I for one am happy to read that others beside myself disagree with the extreme unnecessary segregation of the sexes in KSA. I think if people are given the chance to act responsibly and behave appropriately, the vast majority will. Treating the entire society like children who cannot control themselves is not the answer.

  16. I while back, I went to see Wall-e with a Saudi friend of mine. At dinner afterwards, he commented that living in KSA is like living on the ship in Wall-e. It’s not just that single men can’t go to restaurants, or single women can’t go to restaurants for that matter — there’s a much larger issue of how young people see very little reason to look forward to the future, and very little opportunity in life.

    His brother has has problems with his visa to study overseas, and now spends all his days at home sitting around doing nothing. He can’t get a job, he can’t go to school, and there’s nothing else to do. He’s a nice guy who isn’t into chasing girls or driving like a madman. So, what’s he doing with his life? Waiting for something to change.

    His niece is entering her late teens, and also is just sitting around doing nothing. She knows she’s just about done with school and will be getting married quite soon — so she sits around watching tv. She has no goals, no purpose, and no ambition.

    From what I hear, it sounds like many people feel they have little to look forward to in life. Both men and women seem to be trapped in a society that restricts their behavior so far that it begins to restrict their opportunities. I find it very sad for both genders.

  17. Haroun x2–a belated AGREED

    Mohamd and Noname–well said.

    Susie– a perfect example of low expectations breeding conformity to the negative beliefs.

  18. Amusing. Every single restaurant/outlet/coffee shop/ice cream place/donut house/sandwich shop/shawarma stand I’ve been to in Riyadh is singles-only. And of the countless examples one can gather, you choose to talk about single men in restaurants? hah. The only places that truly dont allow single men in are malls, and even there you see men make it through the hyermarket entrances.

    Something to really worry about; The BK outlet closest to my home has the “mamnoo’ dakhool bedoon mahram” sign on in the families’ section entrance. Many CD stores in Riyadh still don’t allow unaccompanied females to enter. I mean CD shops, seriously?!

  19. Men and women have a much easier time mixing together in Jeddah…
    In restaurants, malls, lounges, and the workplace…

    “Most” Saudi men have to eventually learn that not all women are sexual baits, and “most” Saudi women must eventually learn that not all men what to “get together with them”…

    People most realize that this is progress, equal viewing of both sexes.

    Now I realize that not all families in Jeddah or otherwise are “ok” with mixing, but that is essentially the root of the problem. If you raise you daughter to to talk to or meet men in a decent manner, then how will she ever know how to deal with them!
    And if you do not teach your son how to talk and treat women as he does with other men, how will he ever know not to just view women as sexual objects!

    Jeddah is definitely liberal that the rest of the Kingdom, and it is clearly misunderstood by outsiders, who fill the Jeddah streets and malls and either abuse these freedoms by jumping on every girl they meet, or these wretched old women who finger point at our tables when men and women friends mix…

    Simply just ” GROW UP”

  20. I remember Riyadh in the 70s and 80s..Malls were full of young guys seeking fun..Something happen after that turn the table upside down to the extreme that young guys as little as 13&14 were chased out of the malls ..I guess we love radical solutions .

  21. I think its interesting to hear about what other social standards affect Saudi men, because in the US we mostly just hear about the women of Saudi Arabia. Are all young unmarried Saudi men affected by this, or does it vary with different groups??

Comments are closed.