takao47 (takao47) wrote,

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Inside the Kingdom: My Life in Saudi Arabia

The author with unusual western European name of Cameron bin Ladin (spelling is intentionally different) has chronicled a closed-up portrait of Osama bin Laden as of the Saudi society that germinate him.

Osama makes a few appearances, but these appearances are striking enough to account for the book’s entire excerpt.

The author is a daughter of Swiss businessman and Iranian socialite (Takao47 never imagined that there were Paris Hilton likewise in Iran must be existed only in The Pahlavi Dynasty era) falling in love with, and in 1973, marries Yeslam bin Laden, half-bother of Osama (there are 54 siblings from 22 wives: what a busy patriarch). The East-meet-West courtship flourished while studying in California, where visiting members of Laden clan adopt corrupted Western life-style: Afros and designer jeans.

After the fairly-tale honeymoon phase what happened between two? Before seven-year itch, a naive Cameron struggles to adopt to a society which women are pretty much confined in the housing complexes. No music, no books other than Koran (very challenging for someone with intellectual curiosity more than watching American trailer trash magazine), no company other than idle women, almost no going out in public.

At first, Cameron’s ordeal is comforted by three daughters, the odd trip abroad, and relatively liberal, relatively supportive husband. However there were signs that marriage would not replicate the courtship: Yeslam seemed disappointed when their first-born was a girl. He was becoming more religious in the Saudi Wahabi style, and was coming to consider his wife as a possession: his wife.

Cameron hoped that oil revenues would help the country modernize, but reverse occurred by the aftermath of Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution in Iran. By 1988, she could not stand country and husband any more. He divorced her and Cameron was never allowed to enter any Muslim countries from Morocco to Indonesia… Isn’t it any different from fatwa?

As for Osama, she describes as he “came to exemplify everything that repelled me in that opaque and harsh country: the unbending dogma that ruled all our lives, the arrogance and pridefulness of the Saudis, and their lack of compassion for people who didn’t share their beliefs.”

To Takao47, the most powerful element of this book is that chilling sense what life is like for woman in Saudi Arabia, especially for woman with a western background, western ideologies and western yen for experience. The veil shielding her from the eyes of men effectively a barrier to the entire world outside.

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