Friday, May 15, 2009

Rest Houses - Not What You Might Think

Interesting. A rest house. Doesn't that conjure up a mental picture of something peaceful and quiet? Well that is NOT what a "rest house" is. "'For families only' is a sentence that men in the Kingdom hear and see everywhere, causing restrictions in their leisure options." [Which, by the way, is just how it is in this society, here in The Sandbox, and it doesn't seem to bother people, much. You know, the old "You made your bed now you lie in it" kind of thing? I find it hard to offer any sympathy for your complaints when you do nothing to change the status quo.] So what is there for young men to do when they aren't hanging out at the malls or throwing rocks at stray cats? They are "making their transition from the streets... toward private rest houses, as an option for pursuing leisure activities at their own will and convenience." Apparently this whole "rest houses" thing is a "recent phenomenon" and "has come to light after a number of young Saudi housewives have expressed worry about where their husbands vanish off to, often abandoning their domestic responsibilities." [Just what might those "domestic responsibilities" be? What Saudi household doesn't have maids to take care of the "domestic responsibilities?"]

One man, Amro Bin Mohammed, who is a 31-year-old teacher in Jeddah, says "My friends and I hang out daily at a rest house, where we are able to live a part of our life without any rules or restrictions." Oh, really? Rules and restrictions that you don't seem to have a problem with being enforced on the rest of us, though, right? What makes you so special? Urrgh! His wife, Rawan Anwar is whining that "all domestic responsibilities have consequently fallen to her, and Amro does not even care about her or their children." [Calling B.S. on the domestic responsibilities thing. It is my blog. I can if I want to.]

phenomenon of such private rest houses has been prevalent for the past couple of years, and the venues normally consist of courtyards, gardens and a swimming pool." Sounds relatively normal, to me. Although after working all day - for those of them that have jobs - and having worked in an all male enviornment [because there is NO mingling of males and females, here], why you would choose to go hang out with even more men is worth questioning. No. There is more too it than that. Abdullah Mohammed, the principal of a public high school says, "In the absence of effective alternatives... they still provide the only way for many young Saudi men... to have a good time. We need alternatives like public libraries that are open to all, public gardens and parks in all neighborhoods, sports clubs for men and women [Can't have them for women! They might play basketball and all that jumping around will cause them to lose their virginity. Remember?], museums, cinemas and creative theaters for everyone..." Well the cinema idea has been tossed around recently and it was pretty much shot down, so you are not going to have that anytime in the foreseeable future. I think we all know that a public library where young men can go and sit and read is not the kind of "activity" they are looking for when they say they are headed to a "rest house." Ut-uh.

The article says, "Having harmless fun with friends is not, in itself, much of a problem. However, many point to the growing tendency for some groups of young men to watch p0rn0graphy and take drugs in the vicinity of such rest houses." Bingo. Told you they weren't reading books! "On a more serious note, some criminals are taking advantage of the privacy such venues afford and making them into a haven for criminal activity like prostitution and terr0rism." Hmmph. Who would have guessed?!?

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