The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.

In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Charles and Camilla arrive 

The Royal couple are in Saudi Arabia at last. Obviously Camilla is getting the "Honorary Male" protocol, hence no need to wear an abaya, and a head covering that reveals large amounts of blond hair. The Muttawa would go bananas if they saw her, but of course they'll be kept well away.

Prince Charles, who has a particular interest in architecture and the preservation of historic buildings of cultural merit, will attend the presentation of prizes at an architectural event.

Many of us would love to hear his views on the destruction of historic sites in Makkah, because of possible idolatrous connections, and incidentally to make a few more dollars building sub-standard hotels that collapse and kill sub-continentals in double figures. But don't expect to read about them in Saudi newspapers.

The Duchess of Cornwall will be meeting women involved in charities in Riyadh and have discussions with women community members here. It is her first visit to Saudi Arabia.

But that probably won't include visiting the "safe houses" for battered and / or pregnant Indonesian housemaids.

Prince Charles is his own man, and quite capable of expressing his (sometimes eccentric) views in a forceful way. His sympathy for Islam is well known. But my main concern is that the Saudi press will "cherry pick" his comments so that we just hear one side of what he says, the complimentary side, and miss out anything critical. I just hope that some foreign press are in attendance to give more balanced reports, otherwise he's going to find himself becoming a "useful idiot" for the House of Saud.

Postscript 27 March 2006

For readers coming here from Brian Whitaker's Guardian Blog, here is the deconstruction of the royal apparel, by "timewarp", a reader, taken from the "Comments" thread.

Wow. Camilla's outfit. Don't even know how to begin to deconstruct it, but here is a brief go.

1) It is white, the opposite of the mandatory black abaya which must be worn by every woman in KSA, whether or not she is Saudi or not, Muslim or not. It is white, which is the color of the thobe which all the men wear (I'll leave further discussion on the implications of clothing which is either all white or black alone.)

2) She is wearing PANTS! And they are not loose. I have never seen Camilla in public in pants before. Technically, she is "covered" to the ankles, but this outfit reveals that Camilla has quite a nice figure, better than many of us suspected, I suspect. Some of the dumpy looking dresses (when she was doing anti-Diana glamor) she wore on her recent visit to the US were more practical. Camilla's suit is very well tailored and shows off every single curve without being "obvious". It's really well done.

3) The pink head scarf, which doesn't cover much at all. A nod to the hijab. It looks so good on her that she could start a new fashion trend for us post menopausal types who have more than our fair share of bad hair days. It is pink however (a color Saudi woman can't wear in public), it is hyper-feminine (sort of say, damn straight I am female), and in its own way quite sexy.

4) The revelation of skin around her neck and chest (er decolletage) and a neckline low enough to hint at some cleavage. The muttawa will be up all night long blacking that out with their black magic markers.

5) And lastly and most amusingly, is the way her outfit's colors "echo" that of her royal saudi escort, except she is the one who is wearing the pants (I can't quite get over the pants. Condi has worn pants -- with a bit of naughty ankle displayed above her dominatrix heels -- but they have always been black like an abaya). Her pink headscarf kind of echoes the royal head gear (red & white makes pink).

Great make up (which mutts hate) and great accessories. All in all, I would say that Camilla's outfit merits a 9, Charles a 7 (I am not sure about the blueish cast to his suit but I love the double breast adn the scottish tie) and a 3 to the guardian of the 2 holy shrines. Very ho hum.

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