SAUDIJSKA ARABIJA – SAUDI ARABIA – المملكة العربية السعودية

Pustinjske kamile-Desert camels

Pustinjske kamile-Desert camels

Severna kapija grada u Dzedi-The North City Gate of Jeddah

Severna kapija grada u Dzedi-The North City Gate of Jeddah

Tipicne kuce u centralnom delu zemlje-Typical houses in central Saudi Arabia

Tipicne kuce u centralnom delu zemlje-Typical houses in central Saudi Arabia

Tradicionalna arhitektura zapadne obale-The traditional architecture of the Western Coast-Mashrabiya

Tradicionalna arhitektura zapadne obale-The traditional architecture of the Western Coast-Mashrabiya

Trg u staroj Dzedi-A square in Old Jeddah

Trg u staroj Dzedi-A square in Old Jeddah

Tri dame u glavnom gradu-Three ladies in the capital

Tri dame u glavnom gradu-Three ladies in the capital

Druga najvisa zgrada u Rijadu-The second tallest building in Riyadh Al Faisaliyah Centre

Druga najvisa zgrada u Rijadu-The second tallest building in Riyadh Al Faisaliyah Centre

Moj prijatelj Djordje Dinic iza saudijskog kralja Abdulaha-My friend Djordje Dinic behind the Saudi King Abdullah

Moj prijatelj Djordje Dinic iza saudijskog kralja Abdulaha-My friend Djordje Dinic behind the Saudi King Abdullah

Najvisa zgrada u Rijadu - Riyadh's tallest building The Kingdom Tower

Najvisa zgrada u Rijadu – Riyadh’s tallest building The Kingdom Tower

Najvisa zgrada u Rijadu-Riyadh's tallest building The Kingdom Tower

Najvisa zgrada u Rijadu-Riyadh’s tallest building The Kingdom Tower

Obrisi glavnog grada-Contours of the capital city

Obrisi glavnog grada-Contours of the capital city

Sedeći na terasi zapuštenog hotela u Masavi, na obali Crvenog mora, razmišljam o velikoj zemlji koja se nalazi u daljini, na suprotnoj obali. Konzervativna monarhija zelene zastave, sa tekstom iz Kurana i dva ukrštena mača za odbranu vere, skoro je potpuno u vlasništvu kraljevske porodice Al Saud.  Čak i u zvaničnom nazivu saudijskog kralja stoji: Njegovo kraljevsko veličanstvo Čuvar svetih mesta, Meke i Medine.
Kad sam krenuo na kongres plastičnih hirurga zemalja Zaliva u Džedi, radovao sam se mogućnosti da vidim ta dva sveta mesta koja se nalaze u neposrednoj blizini grada. Sam pomen te ideje izazivao je čudne izraze na licu mojih sagovornika, dok nisam ustanovio da čak i na natpisima na putu jasno stoji da je zabranjeno za “nevernike”. Ne znam, doduše, kako se to proverava, ali su mi rekli da i ne pomišljam da krenem u posetu svetim mestima. Jedino je veliki istraživač svog vremena, Ričard Barton, uspeo da, 1853. godine, sa hodočasnicima, uđe u Meku, rizikujući život ako bude otkriven. Trebalo mu je sedam godina života među muslimanima u Indiji da bi se dobro pripremio za hadžiluk.
Zatim pomislim na Lorensa od Arabije kako krstari nepreglednim pustinjskim prostranstvima ove zemlje u vreme oslobađanja od otomanske vlasti, kao i na karavane kamila koje su oduvek bile ponos nomada. Saudijci vole da se u sumrak odvezu džipovima do pustinje, da udahnu miris predaka, oslušnu sokolove i potapšu kamile. Osete se tada nekako svojim, poneko i prenoći u šatoru, ali ih ipak obližnja naftna polja opomenu u kojem vremenu žive.
Oni mlađi, ipak, odu u restoran; muškarci u jedan deo, porodice u drugi. Deo za žene ne postoji, kao ni pravo žene da vozi automobil ili sama izađe sa prijateljicama. Nema ni bioskopa ni pozorišta, niti bilo koje vrste javne zabave, a u luksuznom hotelu u centru Džede, kada sam od pool pomislio da je swimming pool, dobro sam se prevario. Ne bih otvoreno rekao da žena nema nikakva prava u toj zemlji, iako se nameće takav zaključak. Jedan zvaničnik je nedavno izjavio kako bi žene mogle da voze automobil u toj zemlji, ali da ipak ne bi trebalo žuriti sa donošenjem odluke. Možda su, ipak, mnogo veća tajna prava i uticaji njihovih žena, koje se kriju iza najskupljih crnih velova što ih često poznate svetske firme kreiraju samo za njih.
Možda misle da su im ta prava sasvim dovoljna.

Oktobar 1999.
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Sitting on the terrace of a neglected hotel in Massawa, on the Red Sea, I think about the huge country in the distance on the opposite shore. This conservative monarchy with a green flag decorated with words from the Koran and two crossed swords to protect the faith, is almost entirely owned by the Royal Al Saud family. Even in the official title of the Saudi King it says: His Royal Highness, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques (Mecca and Medina).
When I left for the Congress of Plastic Surgeons of the Gulf countries, in Jeddah, I was looking forward to seeing these two holy places in the immediate vicinity of this city. Even the mention of this idea made my listeners pull strange faces, until I found out that even the road signs said ‘access forbidden to infidels.’ In all honesty I do not know how they can check, but I was told not to even think about going to visit the holy places. Only one big explorer of his era, Richard Burton, managed in 1853 to enter Mecca with the pilgrims, risking his life if he were discovered. It took him 7 years in the Muslim community in India to get ready for the pilgrimage.
Next I think of Lawrence of Arabia cruising around the infinite expanses of the desert during this country’s liberation from the Ottoman rule, as well as the camel caravans that were always the pride of the nomadic tribes. The Saudis like to drive in their jeeps to the desert at sunset, to inhale the scent of ancestors, to listen to hawks and stroke their camels. Then they feel a sense of belonging, some of them even spend a night in a tent, but then the nearby oil fields remind them of the time they live in.
Yet, the younger ones go to a restaurant instead; men in one section, families in another. There is no section for women only, neither do they have the right to drive a car or go out with their girlfriends. There are no cinemas or theatres, nor any other kind of public entertainment; in a luxurious hotel in the centre of Jeddah, I was gravely mistaken when I saw a sign saying pool, thinking it was a swimming pool. I would not openly say that women in this country have no rights at all, even though this sort of conclusion comes up. One official recently mentioned that women could drive a car, but that this decision should not be made hastily. Perhaps the secret rights and hidden influence of these women may be much bigger than we think; they are perhaps concealed like the women themselves behind the most expensive black veils that are often designed for them alone by famous fashion brands.
Perhaps they think that those rights are quite enough for them.

October 1999

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