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Faye Girsh presented a personal in-depth visual and descriptive look at Saudi Arabia during the TCC March lunch in Newport Beach. Traveling solo with a local guide in December 2012, she was appalled “to see how joyless the country seemed without color, art, movies and music, and women wearing black from head to toe.”
She found Jeddah much more interesting than Riyadh because of the many pilgrims from all over the Muslim world with their colorful dress. She felt perfectly safe but her guide wouldn’t let her go to some places which were restrictive for women. She found the people friendly and more open than she expected. She enjoyed informal chats with several young women students at her hotel, and she received a warm reception during a home visit, where the women dressed differently. The home visit also gave her an insight into how several generations live together.
After flying home in a wholly Muslim flight on Saudi airlines, she had a strange reaction when landing at Dulles, feeling unprotected. “The women in the airport looked half dressed and almost shockingly independent; it was culture shock in reverse,” she noted.