Harrased at ‘Family-Only’ Malls
MY friend Dogg and I decided to swing by Aziz Mall last night to check if the new Krispy Kreme doughnut shop was open yet. Since Dogg looks like a typical 21-year-old Saudi “shabab” (youth), even though he’s not Saudi by nationality, I knew we would have problems getting into the mall, which increasingly likes to enforce a “families only” policy, especially at night.
It used to be that “families only” policies at malls was a strictly Riyadh phenomenon. We Jeddawis prided ourselves in being more sophisticated than those uncouth Nejdis who salivated at the mere sight of female flesh. Alas, that is no longer the case here in the Bride of the Red Sea. Now, almost all malls enforce some form of “families only” policy. I, being 43 years old, and not looking typically Saudi, can usually get into such malls either alone or with Filipino friends. But pair me with Dogg, and I just knew that we were going to be challenged.
And we were. “If they stop us, don’t speak Arabic and act like you don’t understand what they’re saying,” I told Dogg as we walked towards the entrance of the mall. “Don’t make eye contact and let’s just saunter in.”
As we walked in, me in the lead, I heard the guard calling out to me: “Ya sayyed, ya sayyed”. I ignored him and kept on walking, but I could hear Dogg talking to him so I had to turn back and see what was happening. Walking back towards the entrance I said to the guard: “I’m American, just let us in to shop.” I had never used my American card before, but it worked. He let us in and off we went to the food court to find the Krispy Kreme store still closed.
Dogg wanted to get something to eat, so we walked around the food court and came across a booth with two men giving away promotional samples of a new shampoo.
“Hello, can I have one please?” I asked one of the men, who looked at me like I was crazy, but nevertheless gave me a free sample. “Another one for my friend,” I said motioning to Dogg.
“One only,” said the sample guy.
“No, one more!” I insisted.
After a few more seconds of my demands, sample guy gave in, handing over two tiny shampoo bottles to Dogg.
“You know they would have never treated us like this if we had pussies,” I tell Dogg.
“I know,” said Dogg, as we walked towards the Burger King counter.