Saudi Arabia and America: Free Spirit

Ayesha Ijaz Khan’s essay won her a place as a finalist in last year’s Shell/Economist writing prize.

The World Today Published 1 August 2003 Updated 4 January 2021 5 minute READ

Ayesha Ijaz Khan

Lawyer and Writer

This is the story of Lamia and Lana, twin sisters, identical in looks, but opposite in thought. Lamia, a fairly typical Saudi woman, was married at twenty. At thirty two, she has four children, a Malaysian nanny to look after them and a Pakistani chauffeur to take her shopping. Lamia has never ventured into the workplace. She has a generous husband, however, so has never had to worry about making ends meet. Her mornings are mostly spent socialising with similarly settled young women, and her evenings relaxing at home with her family. Although Lamia is yet to be convinced of the merits of the veil, she abides by the law and dutifully shields herself in a black abaya cloak and hijab head covering each time she steps outside her home. Saudi law further dictates that she cannot drive her car or leave the country without her husband’s permission.

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