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, April 08, 2006


OK, so we've done movies. (Especially the "Spaghetti Western"!) What else do Westerners do for fun? Well, there's the Surprise. Like the Surprise Party. Or the ordinary Party where a Surprise walks through the door, like this "Whipogram". Here the Birthday Boy or whoever is being chastized by a very severe-looking lady with some sort of whip, to the amusement of everyone standing around. It all looks very good-natured, no real pain is involved, and indeed "No humans were hurt in the making of this photo".

It may Surprise you to know that we Saudis are actually better at this sort of thing. We love a real Surprise. Take the case of the "Ranoosh" restaurant owner Nabeel Al-Ramadan from Qatif on the east coast. He needed to hire staff to take telephone orders for takeaway meals. Being a public-spirited person, and being aware of the problem of female unemployment (95% plus) in Saudi Arabia, he decided to employ two young women. Of course, all the proprieties were observed....

“The girls were very respectable and worked while covering their faces. Nobody was violating any manners,” said Al-Ramadan.

No doubt customers got a bit of a Surprise when they rang up the restaurant, and found that their order for broiled chicken and rice was being taken by a young lady. But for most of us, that would be a pleasant Surprise.

And the local community, especially other restaurant owners, thought it was such an excellent Surprise, that they arrange for Nabeel to get a very special Surprise himself.

It started with a Surprise phone call....

....he was surprised by a phone call from a local court judge asking him to meet him immediately.

Wow! Even the local judge is in on the secret! They must be planning something really special!

When Al-Ramadan asked if it was all right to bring his lawyer....

What a nice man; he even wants his lawyer to share the Surprise!

....the judge told the businessman that he wanted to see him alone.

Quite right. Lawyers have no sense of fun, and they don't enjoy Surprises.

So. The stage is set. Time for the Surprise! Was it a Kissogram? Perhaps not, although we Saudi men do kiss each other. A Muttogram - a young lady wearing a skimpy thobe and carrying a stick? Unlikely, we're not ready for those yet. No, it was much better than that....

When Al-Ramadan arrived in the court, the judge informed him that he had been sentenced .... to 90 lashes

IT WAS A LASHOGRAM! They're the very best! And Nabeel Al_Ramadan never even saw it coming, just like the best Surprises. He never knew about it because....

....the judge informed him that he had been sentenced in absentia.... The charge against him was violating dignity and decorum.

But of course it had all been done behind his back, otherwise it wouldn't have been a Surprise, would it?

But wait; that's not all. One way to ruin a good Surprise is to get it all at once. Isn't it sometimes nicer to get a few smaller presents than one big one?

....90 lashes to be administered in clusters of 30 apiece....

Oh! How they must have roared with laughter together! I bet they laughed until it hurt! I wish I'd been there as well! If only to enjoy the initial look of Surprise on Nabeel's face!

The only question now is whether the sentence will be carried out, or whether the court lets him off at some point. But if they can leave it to the last minute to decide, then either way, it'll be another super Surprise!

Eatery Owner Faces Flogging for Hiring Women

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