You can't judge an entire country by their government (America desperately hopes). That's why we reached out to Aaida, a Saudi woman, and Adam, who spent his childhood in Saudi Arabia's capital of Riyadh, to find out what life there is really like. This is what they told us... (click for full)
  1. Basically Everything We Love Is Banned
    569263 v1
    "Everybody knows about beer, pork, and porn, but it also extends to congregating in large groups (more than five, I think) and the playing of music in public. Also, I think Jeddah [a popular Saudi resort town] has recently forbidden the walking of dogs in public, because they may be used to attract the ladies."
  2. The Religious Police Have A Very Strange Role In Daily Life
    569260 v2
    "They like to park their cars in front of girls' high schools, women's universities," Aaida told us. "And they have a microphone, and they'll tell every woman who passes by to cover up. If they see a woman standing outside for a relatively long time, they'd ask her, 'What are you doing? Why are you standing here?'"
  3. There Is An Obvious And Strictly Defined Racial Hierarchy
    569258 v2
    "Whenever we drove into the diplomatic quarter in Riyadh at the National Guard checkpoint," Adam recalls, "we were always treated respectfully, with plenty of 'please,' 'sir,' 'welcome' -- no problem at all. But if you're dark or look Arab, your car would get searched. The social hierarchy is: Saudis, Gulf Arabs (excluding Yemen, because they're perceived as country bumpkins and drug addict truck drivers), Americans and Europeans, other Arabs, Indonesians, Filipinos, then Pakistanis."
  4. Dating Is Like Living In A Spy Movie
    569256 v1
    "Saudi culture is very gender-segregated," Adam explains. "From restaurants to banks, a lot of places have both family sections and men's sections. There's even a women-only mall in Riyadh. Kindergartens are mixed, but from first grade onward, there are separate boys and girls schools. That's why people get creative about how to get in touch with the opposite sex."
  5. Women Are Not Legally Adults
    569252 v1
    "As a Saudi woman," Aaida explains, "I'm treated as a minor legally. If I want to renew my passport, my guardian has to do that. If I want to get a job, my guardian has to sign that off. It needs to be clear that my guardian is OK with that. Until 10 years ago, my guardian would have access to my bank account, but they stopped that now."