From the time of her birth to her death, a woman in Saudi Arabia is under the guardianship and control of a man. When a woman marries in Saudi, her father transfers his complete authority over her physical body, to her husband. In the land of no god but God, her husband becomes her god. If he is controlling, violent and possessive, her life is Hell. If he is loving, caring, and trusting, her life is Heavenly. That was my life.
I am Samantha from LA, actually from Rancho Palos Verdes, but no one ever knows where that is! Twenty-seven years after I first joined Farid, my Saudi husband in my adopted homeland of Arabia, and because Farid, my god, was good, I was happy. I was professionally and economically successful, and perhaps most unusual, still blissfully married, unlike the majority of my compatriots who had married Saudi men. However, I was painfully cognizant of the hundreds and thousands of wives, Saudi or not, rich or poor, trapped in the hell of a society that was on the surface wholly in the 21st century, yet at it’s core frozen in the 7th.
When Farid invited a woman business colleague, Ayah, to our home in the United States for the Christmas holiday, I happily welcomed her. I admired and celebrated this conservative Muslim woman, who against all odds and the misogyny of Saudi society, was a world-famous scientist, and was making a difference in the world and breaking-down barriers for Saudi women.
Nothing…nothing, could have prepared me for the shock when I discovered a few months later, that Farid and Ayah were having a tumultuous international affair. With apparent complete abandon and disregard for conservative Saudi cultural norms, they portrayed their relationship as a wholesome professional one. Inexplicably careless for two very brilliant and image-conscious individuals, they left a detailed and sordid paper trail of sex text messages, love letters, lingerie, expensive gifts and hotel receipts and invoices and online photographs.
Farid did not divorce me, nor did he take Ayah as a second wife, as he was entitled to under Saudi law, perplexing all that came to learn of their affair. He simply abandoned me. Although I had made Saudi my home for almost 30 years, I suddenly found myself alone, penniless, and powerless. I had no Saudi father, no brothers, no family, no tribal social network of support. But the isolation and the cultural norms of women passively accepting oppression at the hands of their god, would not silence me.
Coming to the decision to end your marriage and then proceeding with the emotional and legal processes is difficult and lonely, wherever you may live. Here you will find the stories, the trials (literally) and the tribulations of divorce from a community of women in Saudi Arabia.