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De meiden van Riaad

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Een meisje in de Saudische hoofdstad Riaad bericht via e-mails aan een chatgroep op internet over de moeizame liefdesavonturen van enkele vriendinnen.


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Een meisje in de Saudische hoofdstad Riaad bericht via e-mails aan een chatgroep op internet over de moeizame liefdesavonturen van enkele vriendinnen.

30 review for De meiden van Riaad

  1. 5 out of 5

    Karen Keyworth

    I think the author wrote a true account of life in Saudi Arabia. I am married to a Saudi, and I didn't find anything she wrote about to be in conflict with what I know from my 29 years of marriage, experience in SA, and extended family. Most importantly,her story rings true based on what my children (who are now the same age as the author) have told me about the private world of young people. It's an exciting peek into the inner world of young Saudi women, and that is enough to make it worth the I think the author wrote a true account of life in Saudi Arabia. I am married to a Saudi, and I didn't find anything she wrote about to be in conflict with what I know from my 29 years of marriage, experience in SA, and extended family. Most importantly,her story rings true based on what my children (who are now the same age as the author) have told me about the private world of young people. It's an exciting peek into the inner world of young Saudi women, and that is enough to make it worth the read. I know it's one particular slice of Saudi female life, but no book can be all things to all people. A good book will take you in depth and, depending on the topic, deliberately not function as a survey text. I think the book does a good job of making an unknown group more connected to others who are interested. It's a quick read, and you will find yourself caring about what happens to each character.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Foodie

    Save for the last 3 chapters, Girls of Riyadh by Raja Alsanea was a huge let down. Sensationalized and immature, the author is clearly looking to cash in on the western stereotypes of the east. The 4 female protagonists act in the most predictable, girly-movie way. The story did nothing for me, didn't enlighten me to the supposedly hidden side of the Arab way of life and society, as the author promised in many interviews. The author assumes this self-important, holier-than-thou tone that got so a Save for the last 3 chapters, Girls of Riyadh by Raja Alsanea was a huge let down. Sensationalized and immature, the author is clearly looking to cash in on the western stereotypes of the east. The 4 female protagonists act in the most predictable, girly-movie way. The story did nothing for me, didn't enlighten me to the supposedly hidden side of the Arab way of life and society, as the author promised in many interviews. The author assumes this self-important, holier-than-thou tone that got so annoying that after the first few chapters I skipped the introductory passage where she addresses the readers. It's only towards the very end that the characters turn fleshy. You get a slight glimpse into something profound but it lingers below the surface, at best. The author lacks the craft to tap into the real issues, she states them out loud rather than hint at them and allow the reader arrive at his/her own conclusion, and this is where the book falls short. There are loads of better books out there for those with a genuine interest in gaining an insight into the lives of people living in Islamic societies.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ava Semerau

    When this book first came out, I was living in Saudi Arabia and it caused quite a stir - so much so that it was banned in Kingdom. I was teaching ESL at the time, and the women in my classes were frantic to get their hands on a copy of it. Turns out the enthusiasm they felt was short lived - as in as soon as they started reading it. The book is written as a series of emails between a group of young Saudi women, and to folks who, like my students, had little experience reading fiction, it seemed When this book first came out, I was living in Saudi Arabia and it caused quite a stir - so much so that it was banned in Kingdom. I was teaching ESL at the time, and the women in my classes were frantic to get their hands on a copy of it. Turns out the enthusiasm they felt was short lived - as in as soon as they started reading it. The book is written as a series of emails between a group of young Saudi women, and to folks who, like my students, had little experience reading fiction, it seemed too true for most of my students. Many were offended and defensive, believing the author was telling lies about them and their friends. Oddly enough, several of the women I spoke with insisted they actually knew some of the characters in the book! Fast forward a few years and I picked up a deeply discounted English version of the book and read it in two sittings. I understood how and why my students were upset. Although fictional, the scenes and experiences portrayed happen every day in Saudi Arabia, and having the world read about them must have been scary - especially for women who live very private and secluded lives. That said, the book is fiction, and readers need to remember that. It's well-written (albeit a translation), and the stories are compelling in a watching-a-train-wreck sort of way. Having lived in Kingdom, there were no surprises or shocks hidden within the pages of this book, but for those unfamiliar with the culture, I'm sure it will be eye-opening. Again, however, remember it is fiction.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Shahad AlHammad

    Girls Of Riyadh Where could i possibly begin? I will begin with the first time I saw it on the "Best Sellers" shelf in one of our local bookshops in Kuwait. The cover attracted me so I grabbed it and read few lines of random pages of the book and ended up liking it but i did not buy it at the time and bought "Shadow Kiss, Vampire Academy" Instead. Each time I paid a visit to the same bookshop I saw it there, laying then grabbed it and hesitated to buy it. Again. Until One time I visited Jareer's Girls Of Riyadh Where could i possibly begin? I will begin with the first time I saw it on the "Best Sellers" shelf in one of our local bookshops in Kuwait. The cover attracted me so I grabbed it and read few lines of random pages of the book and ended up liking it but i did not buy it at the time and bought "Shadow Kiss, Vampire Academy" Instead. Each time I paid a visit to the same bookshop I saw it there, laying then grabbed it and hesitated to buy it. Again. Until One time I visited Jareer's bookshop in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and decided to finally buy it with no hesitation whatsoever. I read a few reviews about it, some of them attacked the author and some agreed with her. I couldn't judge the book until I read it. So I began reading the book and like most of the girls I somehow related to what was written in it. The stories that she shared are (whether we hated it or not) were true. It happened and it is still happening to most of the girls in our society! I believe that the author was being judged and attacked because she was "as the people claim" judgmental, Over reacting, lying and the list goes on.. But what I see is that she is only telling the truth, she's telling what she's seeing! Where went the freedom of expressing your mind and opinion? It is semi-impossible in the Arabic, Muslim society specially in the Arabian gulf due to their strict rules of following the traditions. The funny thing is that they care more about their little traditions and habits more than they care about Islam itself! I am not saying that everyone is like that but hey, who are we kidding? Most of us are like that. Parents, Grandparents and old folks only care about what others think of them even if that costed their and their children's freedom. We are under a lot of pressure. A pressure of trying to be as perfect as possible and that is just non-acceptable because no one is perfect! perfection is for god himself! So tell me how are supposed to be perfect as they want us to be? How can we act good all the freaking time? (I'm not saying that we are bad but simply people just cannot control your freedom, likes and interests!) We've reached a level that we cannot express our thoughts without being made fun of. without being judged in a very harsh way. without being eventually disappointed. So we just stopped expressing ourselves all together. What i'm trying to say is that I really admire her courage and patience with all the attacks she was getting from everyone around her and from other countries as well. I've also read in one of the reviews that says her English was bad but i found it rather good. At least it's better than mine anyways. She tried and stood in everyone's faces so she could show the world the truth & i respect that. translations were good. The book was good! In the end.. I loved every single thing in it. ^^

  5. 4 out of 5

    Keturah

    I really enjoyed this book on several levels. I'll try to clearly explain why: 1. I like books set in India and the Middle East. This book is set in Saudi Arabia. Most of what I know about Saudi Arabia comes from what I hear on the nightly news, so it's interesting to read a book written by a Saudi woman. It's a completely different culture, but this book is about far more than just war and inequality, it's also about culture and mores. 2.It's pretty much chick lit set in the Middle East, which I I really enjoyed this book on several levels. I'll try to clearly explain why: 1. I like books set in India and the Middle East. This book is set in Saudi Arabia. Most of what I know about Saudi Arabia comes from what I hear on the nightly news, so it's interesting to read a book written by a Saudi woman. It's a completely different culture, but this book is about far more than just war and inequality, it's also about culture and mores. 2.It's pretty much chick lit set in the Middle East, which I think is awesome. American women get enough chick lit and soap operas and such, Saudi women deserve some too! 3. The book was an underground best-seller in Saudi Arabia and I definitely wanted to see why. I understand why it had to be kept hidden, but I wanted to see why it was so popular. I'm definitely glad I read it. It was a fun read, but it was also really enlightening. It helps me understand a lot of things better. I could certainly make criticisms of the book, like "where are all the poor, illiterate people?" But obviously, the author didn't intend to write a book about the lower class Saudis. She was writing of the privileged class and she succeeded in showing their lifestyle and customs.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kavita

    This was an interesting peep into upper class Saudi culture. Many of the love stories mirrored those of my friends around 10 years ago. Of course, most are now settled into semi-forced marriages. Of course, there are major differences because the law protects Indian women and there is a lot more freedom that belongs to us by birth, unlike in Saudi. But as far as love and marriage are concerned, I could see a lot of similarities, especially in the way men reacted when the family pressure started. This was an interesting peep into upper class Saudi culture. Many of the love stories mirrored those of my friends around 10 years ago. Of course, most are now settled into semi-forced marriages. Of course, there are major differences because the law protects Indian women and there is a lot more freedom that belongs to us by birth, unlike in Saudi. But as far as love and marriage are concerned, I could see a lot of similarities, especially in the way men reacted when the family pressure started. For every Waleed who backed out after a woman put out for him, I know an Indian counterpart. For every Rashid who is in love with another woman and allows himself to be forced into a marriage by his family and then abuses his wife, I know someone who has done exactly that. So yes, familiar ground. The story is about four women: Sadeem, Gamrah, Lamees, and Michelle. The four of them grew up together and had an enormous impact on each other. This is a simple romance book but makes an interesting read because it isn't the usual run of the mill story of boy meets girl. Here, these four women have to hide behind their computers and their smartphones to get in touch with men. They have to navigate the minefield of male expectations while at the same time not having to disappoint social and familial expectations. All of these expectations, as always, fall upon the women to fulfil. In a way, this book is a feminist work merely because it talks about choice for women in a society where arranged/forced marriage is the norm or even the simple fact that this book is about women and their desires. On the other hand, it is a very unfeminist work because it concentrates only on love and marriage as goals for women, especially since they have all had the privilege of having a good education and been allowed to work. But either way, it proved to be very popular across the Middle East because it does talk to youngsters about their options. Originally banned by Saudi, it is now available everywhere. One thing that did not please me with the translation is that it was excessively Americanised in ways that really undermined the feel of Saudi culture. I simply do not understand why publishers think American readers only can deal with Americanised stuff. Give them a chance! It was really disappointing, and if I knew Arabic, I would have reread this in original. The tone of the writing was slightly juvenile, but that didn't surprise me. This was a book about women who were forced to act like teenagers and there wasn't much actual substance to the story, which again wasn't surprising because really, romance! But overall, I found it worth a read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I had a hard time reading this book for several reasons. First, it was never intended to be translated into English and by doing so I'm sure the author had to provide tons of extra passages of explanation about Arabic culture to the english speaking readers. Second, I'll openly admit that it is not a well written book (in English)-- it reads like a middle school essay on 'how I spent my summer'. But that aside, this was an interesting exploration into a culture that I know very little about, eve I had a hard time reading this book for several reasons. First, it was never intended to be translated into English and by doing so I'm sure the author had to provide tons of extra passages of explanation about Arabic culture to the english speaking readers. Second, I'll openly admit that it is not a well written book (in English)-- it reads like a middle school essay on 'how I spent my summer'. But that aside, this was an interesting exploration into a culture that I know very little about, even after traveling to United Arab Emirates. I had absolutely no idea just how much more strict Saudi culture is. The author is very opinionated about Saudi Arabia and the way 'love' is percieved in Islamic culture. But she never openly critiques it, more she just whines and complains that love is hard and causes pain (and isn't this true worldwide?). She aims to be an Arabic Candace Bushnell but given the circumstances she can't pull it off. And not because the characters' simply aren't permitted by law to live and love the way the well known SATC girls do. But because the author lacks words and descriptions and emotions to adequately write about love. It's a worthwhile read if you are looking to learn more about the Islamic culture. But otherwise, skip it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ayala Levinger

    I don't know how I should rate this book. Does a disappointing end weight more or less than an enjoyable book till this end? It was a quick read and interesting. what was interesting was not that I learned a lot about saudi society because I knew nothing about it and not that I realized how saudi society resembles every other society that is not religious but the interesting part was that Rajaa Alsanea the saudi writer of this book is pretty sure that saudi society is different and specialy extr I don't know how I should rate this book. Does a disappointing end weight more or less than an enjoyable book till this end? It was a quick read and interesting. what was interesting was not that I learned a lot about saudi society because I knew nothing about it and not that I realized how saudi society resembles every other society that is not religious but the interesting part was that Rajaa Alsanea the saudi writer of this book is pretty sure that saudi society is different and specialy extreme. for example Sadeem, one of the characters tells us about women that men doesn't want to marry: "Men who came from this part of the world, Sadeem decided, were by nature proud and jealous creatures. They sensed danger when face to face with females who might present a challenge to there capabilities. Naturally, such men would prefer to marry a woman with only a very modest education... " And there were other observations about saudi men and saudi women but I am not saudi and these observation I can also make where I live. All in all, It is a very heteronormative book. all the characters are young women looking for a man to marry and there was a huge emphasis on how people look. Everyone there falls in love because the other one is so pretty. All the men in this book are secondary characters but are the center of the existance of the main characters. But there are nice observations that I could really relate to ;) like: "Apparently, all men were the same. It was like God had given them different faces just so that women would be able to tell them apart" Anyway, the end was disappointing and there were also 2 appearances of transphobia and fatphobia, who did bother me a lot but I still finished the book to the end. I would say maybe 3.5 stars

  9. 5 out of 5

    La Petite Américaine Cash App: $Covid2020sucks

    This author has watched and adored Sex and the City so much that she decided to write her own book about it, with the backdrop of Riyadh instead of Manhattan. No, it doesn't say that anywhere in the book, but it's obvious enough from reading it. So, four superficial girls with too much money, who can't appreciate the lives and opportunities they have (I boldly assume it's better to be filthy rich in Saudi Arabia, as the characters are, than poor), whine about equally superficial stories, includin This author has watched and adored Sex and the City so much that she decided to write her own book about it, with the backdrop of Riyadh instead of Manhattan. No, it doesn't say that anywhere in the book, but it's obvious enough from reading it. So, four superficial girls with too much money, who can't appreciate the lives and opportunities they have (I boldly assume it's better to be filthy rich in Saudi Arabia, as the characters are, than poor), whine about equally superficial stories, including men and the constraints of their oppressive society. Could be more interesting if not completely contrived, and in my opinion, made up in the author's Carrie-Miranda-Charlotte-Samantha worshiping mind. I hate Sex and the City, but at least the show asks a few interesting questions like, can you be friends with an ex? or, are all men freaks? This book just backs up most womens' stereotypes of Islamic/Saudi society (uhh, it sucks, esp. if you're a woman) and offers no insights at all. LAME. SUCKED.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nojood Alsudairi

    I like this book as it gives a portratit of "some" of the Saudi girls' lives and views. We are used to non-Saudis writing about Saudis and imposing thier own points of view. Assanea is a Saudi writing about a generation she knows very well, for a change!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Shaikha Alahmad

    Nothing that you haven't read before and definitely not as scandalous as everyone think it is.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Gehad Hasanin

    I saw this book in the bookstore's brochure, and heck I didn't even bother to know what it talks about [title issues:]. But a friend of mine bought it and brought it to school so I actually started reading the first few pages, only out of curiosity. The story and the plot are okay, but not for the kind of purpose and the kind of place the book is meant for. The author wants to reveal to those in the West how the girls of Saudi Arabia go beyond the limits of their religion and rules and perform ac I saw this book in the bookstore's brochure, and heck I didn't even bother to know what it talks about [title issues:]. But a friend of mine bought it and brought it to school so I actually started reading the first few pages, only out of curiosity. The story and the plot are okay, but not for the kind of purpose and the kind of place the book is meant for. The author wants to reveal to those in the West how the girls of Saudi Arabia go beyond the limits of their religion and rules and perform acts that go with those performed in the West, proving how the Girls of Riyadh are "sophisticated and open-minded". Personally, I would call anyone with that type of thinking a "wanna-be". This author was motivated by a shameful attitude toward her religion and country; she has a longing to belong to the Western society that she would do anything to gain their acceptance. Again, my only rejection is the message she wants to convey, not the plot, and not the author's ideas.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Naori

    This book is edible. I just couldn’t put it down. I think the best and worst thing about it was its format, which is written as blog-like emails introducing each very short section following one of the four girlfriends of the novel. While the emails emulate something informal and ritualistic in many of our daily lives, making it easy to slip into each segment, the segments themselves hop from one character to the next and are only a few pages long. The book doesn’t really read as disjunct but be This book is edible. I just couldn’t put it down. I think the best and worst thing about it was its format, which is written as blog-like emails introducing each very short section following one of the four girlfriends of the novel. While the emails emulate something informal and ritualistic in many of our daily lives, making it easy to slip into each segment, the segments themselves hop from one character to the next and are only a few pages long. The book doesn’t really read as disjunct but because it is so broken up it would’ve helped if each section that switched characters was a bit longer. Otherwise, I was thoroughly engaged by the characters as well as each of their commentaries on the politics of love and marriage in Saudi culture. I would absolutely recommend this and was sunk in every minute of it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ...

    Girls of Riyadh is a sweet and charming peek into the world that most people outside of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will never know. Back in the 1980s I spent 11 months in Riyadh and although the women were not free to have conversations with me often each time I rode the public busses they quickly began questioning me in broken English about my life in a world so different from their own. Those busses with the separate door and wall separating us from the men were such an offense to me at the t Girls of Riyadh is a sweet and charming peek into the world that most people outside of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will never know. Back in the 1980s I spent 11 months in Riyadh and although the women were not free to have conversations with me often each time I rode the public busses they quickly began questioning me in broken English about my life in a world so different from their own. Those busses with the separate door and wall separating us from the men were such an offense to me at the time, but are something I now look back upon with nostalgia because that is the only time the local women were free to talk with me. I am very grateful for my experiences in the Kingdom and loved that this book brought back my memories, and gave me more understanding of their world.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jana

    What a wonderful read. The Girls of Riyadh is a contemporary novel set in Saudi Arabia about a group of girls from the „elite“ class of people in Saudi Arabia. It is written in Gossip Girl like style, with a woman writing e-mails to many internet users in Saudi Arabia anonymously, telling them about the lives of her four friends Gamrah, Sadeem, Lamees and Michelle. They are dating, shopping, driving cars, watching American TV and so on, while still trying to be good Muslim girls and pleasing thei What a wonderful read. The Girls of Riyadh is a contemporary novel set in Saudi Arabia about a group of girls from the „elite“ class of people in Saudi Arabia. It is written in Gossip Girl like style, with a woman writing e-mails to many internet users in Saudi Arabia anonymously, telling them about the lives of her four friends Gamrah, Sadeem, Lamees and Michelle. They are dating, shopping, driving cars, watching American TV and so on, while still trying to be good Muslim girls and pleasing their families and husbands. The question is how that works out. I really enjoyed this. I found it really refreshing to read a book with Muslim characters that wasn’t necessarily focusing on Islam as a religion or things like the oppression of women etc. Instead, it showcased the lives of four women, who live lives that us Westerners would consider perfectly normal and aren’t necessarily oppressed or anything (obviously, things like women not being allowed to drive etc. in Saudi Arabia are still big problems and in fact, oppression, but I just enjoyed reading a book in which that wasn’t the focus but where they were just normal women with normal human interests). They were fleshed out characters like real humans and not just reduced to one trait. They were mostly unconventional maybe, or not totally conservative at least, with having goals and aspirations in life other than getting married and having big families, which is something that I think is often lacking in the portrayal of Muslim women in literature. I just enjoyed this as a chick lit book, and while it wasn’t necessarily amazingly or beautifully written, it was still written very engagingly and read like you were really receiving these e-mails and maybe not totally voluntarily sucked into reading more about these girls’ lives.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Following four wealthy teenage Saudi girls, in some ways this book seems like an Arab Gossip Girls or something along those lines. However, it goes deeper than just the parties and wealth, and ultimately horrifies with its depiction of the horrendous prison in which Saudi males force Saudi females to live. The men in this book perform actions that would classify them as psychopaths in most cultures--following girls they are courting in separate cars whereever they go just to "be close to them", Following four wealthy teenage Saudi girls, in some ways this book seems like an Arab Gossip Girls or something along those lines. However, it goes deeper than just the parties and wealth, and ultimately horrifies with its depiction of the horrendous prison in which Saudi males force Saudi females to live. The men in this book perform actions that would classify them as psychopaths in most cultures--following girls they are courting in separate cars whereever they go just to "be close to them", demanding their girlfriends log off the Internet whenever they don't see their boyfriends logged in on AIM, etc.--and the girls accept these actions as normal and even romantic. Towards the end of the book, some of the girls begin to realize this--but some don't, and remain locked in a world of caring about society more than their own hearts. I got the impression that this book was a very realistic and believable depiction of how (wealthy) Saudi girls live and grapple with their culture. The girls aren't necessarily admirable--there are several examples of shocking (and unaddressed) racism, and the girls spend the whole book lamenting how boys won't spurn their family and culture for love (yet the same girls wouldn't even consider seeking a mate from the lower-classes, or the Shi'a, or...)--but they do seem like real people, flaws and all. I also was happy to see that the book helps show how the terrible injustices of Saudi society are not from Islam, but from the conservative culture. I think a lot of Westerners mix up the two, and think that the horrible crimes Saudi men commit against women are because of their religion...but the truth is that the girls remain imprisoned due to longstanding cultural ideas of masculinity and femininity that have nothing to do with the Qur'an or hadiths. Recommended, and a quick read!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Zaynäb Book Minimalist

    I find it very difficult to understand why Arab female writers always feel the need to write books on Feminism, polygamy and all the other boring stuff. Literature is wide, you don't have to restrict yourself to a topic that has been used and overwrought. There are plenty of other interesting stories/themes about Muslim/Saudi women people would like to read. Having said that, while the beginning of the book was fantastic, the last pages were immature and stupid. The author lost the plot at a poin I find it very difficult to understand why Arab female writers always feel the need to write books on Feminism, polygamy and all the other boring stuff. Literature is wide, you don't have to restrict yourself to a topic that has been used and overwrought. There are plenty of other interesting stories/themes about Muslim/Saudi women people would like to read. Having said that, while the beginning of the book was fantastic, the last pages were immature and stupid. The author lost the plot at a point, it dragged. Also, i finished this book so that i could post a review on goodreads not because it was interesting and mindblowing like everyone is saying.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rana

    I wanted to love this, really. But the immaturity of the writing made this a struggle. This happened and then this happened and then also this happened, very little internal discussions or motivations. Everything happened at a far remove so there wasn't much emotional investment. Now, whether this is a writing issue, a format issue, or a translation issue; that's just a big question. I will say this was an interesting look at a very small and specific slice of life in Saudia Arabia. But the read I wanted to love this, really. But the immaturity of the writing made this a struggle. This happened and then this happened and then also this happened, very little internal discussions or motivations. Everything happened at a far remove so there wasn't much emotional investment. Now, whether this is a writing issue, a format issue, or a translation issue; that's just a big question. I will say this was an interesting look at a very small and specific slice of life in Saudia Arabia. But the reader would do well to realize that this cannot be used as a general primer on Saudi relationships and families.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Belky

    Ladies, if you want to get a little idea of how woman deal with their social lives here in the Kingdom, I recommend this book. It is a bunch of emails written by a Saudi girl who decided to share her friends deepest secrets. I can't tell you that everything is true but from what I have seen so far, the marriage part is true. Yesterday I was pretty sure I saw a woman driving in Jeddah, the car was going crazy in a very small street, and the windows were super tinted, but the driver was veiled all Ladies, if you want to get a little idea of how woman deal with their social lives here in the Kingdom, I recommend this book. It is a bunch of emails written by a Saudi girl who decided to share her friends deepest secrets. I can't tell you that everything is true but from what I have seen so far, the marriage part is true. Yesterday I was pretty sure I saw a woman driving in Jeddah, the car was going crazy in a very small street, and the windows were super tinted, but the driver was veiled all the way. It is a fun easy read. If you do read it let me know what you think.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

    When I saw this book at Costco it immediately caught my attention. It looked pretty interesting, but after being burned a number of times buying books by unfamiliar authors I wasn't sure I should get it. But I did and was glad I did. Each chapter of the book is purported to be an e-mail from the author to a group of unknown people in Saudi Arabia who have indicated interest. The first part of each chapter is generally the author responding to criticism or other comments from those who have read t When I saw this book at Costco it immediately caught my attention. It looked pretty interesting, but after being burned a number of times buying books by unfamiliar authors I wasn't sure I should get it. But I did and was glad I did. Each chapter of the book is purported to be an e-mail from the author to a group of unknown people in Saudi Arabia who have indicated interest. The first part of each chapter is generally the author responding to criticism or other comments from those who have read the e-mails and responded. The e-mails cover the adventures of a group of four female friends, one of them most likely the author (but which one is unknown) as they look for love, make career choices, etc. Especially look for love and marriage. The book was published in Saudi Arabia in 2005. The blurb on the back compares it to "Sex and the City", which made me a bit reluctant to read it, but when I read that it was a hit in Saudi Arabia I figured it wasn't going to contain explicit sex. And it doesn't. It's not great literature and would be pretty standard chick-lit were it not very interesting from a cultural perspective. Courtship as well as ordinary life is very different in Saudi Arabia.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    This is essentially Saudi chick lit, but I really liked it despite that. The stories can resound with any girl,(unless my love life is really that fucked up that nobody agrees with this,) but there's also a special twist that makes this different from the run-of-the mill girly stories. The girls bring life living in an Islamic kingdom to the table, and what that means to their freedoms or lack thereof in relationships. As women, we all suffer a lot at the hands of men, no matter how strong of a p This is essentially Saudi chick lit, but I really liked it despite that. The stories can resound with any girl,(unless my love life is really that fucked up that nobody agrees with this,) but there's also a special twist that makes this different from the run-of-the mill girly stories. The girls bring life living in an Islamic kingdom to the table, and what that means to their freedoms or lack thereof in relationships. As women, we all suffer a lot at the hands of men, no matter how strong of a personality we possess, and in a weird way it was comforting to know that anywhere in the world, the situation is essentially the same. So if you're ever having a love pity-fest for yourself, pick this up. It's readable in a day.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Many years ago I received an unexpected marriage proposal from a man I’d met just a couple of hours earlier. My speedy admirer was an outrageously handsome Saudi Arabian working for an international oil company. “I’ve never met anyone like you before,” he said, and I thought to myself, “Yep, I can totally believe that”. “Marry me and come to Saudi, you’ll never have to work again and I’ll brew alcohol in the bath for you”. It’s not every day you get an offer like that; a good looking meal-ticket an Many years ago I received an unexpected marriage proposal from a man I’d met just a couple of hours earlier. My speedy admirer was an outrageously handsome Saudi Arabian working for an international oil company. “I’ve never met anyone like you before,” he said, and I thought to myself, “Yep, I can totally believe that”. “Marry me and come to Saudi, you’ll never have to work again and I’ll brew alcohol in the bath for you”. It’s not every day you get an offer like that; a good looking meal-ticket and a life of luxury and constant sunshine. However, there was one big thing standing in the way; my utter dislike and contempt for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, one of the worst examples of a country with no rights for women. So it was a clear case of ‘Thanks but no thanks’. At the time I laughed it off. The idea that anyone could offer to spend the rest of their life with someone they don’t know seemed preposterous. Once I had read ‘Girls of Riyadh‘ I was reminded of my suitor and came to realise with a shock that he might actually have been deadly serious. ‘Girls of Riyadh‘ taught me that proposing marriage to a woman you don’t know and have never spoken to is not that unusual in Saudi society. The recommendation of a relative or a business contact of your father would be enough to bring on a proposal. The odd thing with my young Saudi was that his approach was direct. I learned from Girls of Riyadh that the closest thing to ‘normal’ would have been his uncle to contact my father and negotiations to follow. This is the story of four well-off, relatively sophisticated girls living in Riyadh who have – as it the habit in chick lit – plenty of problems with men. Take all the problems of a Euro chick-lit, remove all the freedoms we take for granted, add a large dollop of family pressure to marry and stir them all up. It’s not as if you can date for a while, see how it goes, discuss your future with your boyfriend, move in together, have a kid or two and maybe book a date for the wedding for 2 years later. In this society, you don’t get the freedom to choose or enough exposure to your spouse to know what you are getting into. Mind you, even with all those freedoms we don’t seem very good at getting marriage right either. The story is structured as a series of weekly emails posted by an anonymous writer using the code name ‘seerehwenfadha7et’ – catchy huh? Each week she updates her mailing list with the latest events in the love-lives of her friends, Gamrah, Sadeem, Michele and Lamees. With each update she responds to the emails she’s had since the last chapter – by turns taunting and teasing her readers, refusing to admit whether she is one of the four and responding to the praise and criticism of her readers. It’s clunky, contrived and more than a lot cheesy. The Girls Gamrah: the book starts with her wedding to Rashid, the handsome groom who’ll take her away to live in the USA but won’t sleep with her on their wedding night. When he does get round to it, he can’t summon much in the way of enthusiasm. Why is he so disinterested? And how can we ever accept that when his cover is ‘busted’, it’s his wife who’s rapidly served with divorce papers and sent back to Saudi in disgrace? Sadeem: after being spotted at Gamrah’s wedding by the relatives of an eligible chap, her romance seems to be going well; the papers for the legal marriage are signed and it’s just a matter of waiting a few weeks for the family wedding. But when the groom is nagging to get his conjugal rights a bit early, what’s a girl to do? Well I won’t say what she does but he’s off in a flash and the divorce papers are served before the wedding’s even complete. Michele: the wild one of the bunch, she’s half-American and badly tainted by the lack of a good family background but that doesn’t seem to bother the guy she meets who falls in love with her. Will he stand up for his love or cave in like a pathetic wobbly jelly-fish under the glare of his family? And finally Lamees: the medical student, keeping her head down, studying hard and playing the long game to try to snare the man of her dreams. Will it work or won’t it? Will we get any happy endings from this sad bunch? Pros and cons: 1. Shock Factor – High; you’ll wonder just how much more lousy women’s lives can get. From our western viewpoint, you’ll want to scream at the pages “get a life woman”, “kick him in the goolies”, “run for your life”. 2. Educational value – Medium/High; I learned loads about Saudi society and the way that marriage (and divorce) work, about the value of virginity and the devastation of single parenthood. I can’t say I learned anything though that made me think any more favourably about Saudi society. 3. Literary merit – Awful. Oh boy, I can’t dress it up more nicely – it’s literary dross. The writing is laboured, the quotations from the Koran and classical Islamic poetry sit lumpily next to the provocative taunts of trendy girl-speak. There’s no finesse to the flow and it would surely have been rejected by any western publisher if it hadn’t already been banned in the writer’s home market. Who’d turn down a banned book from Saudi? 4. Bravery factor – Off the scale; whilst I might dismiss the book as sappy poorly written chick lit I have to admire the bravery of Rajaa Alsanea in sticking her neck out and blowing the whistle on Sex and the Saudi. She must have known the book would get instantly banned on publication, getting her into massive trouble, and probably ruining her chances of ever being an acceptable bride to any Saudi man (maybe not a bad thing). She moved to America and studied dentistry.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jalilah

    3 1/2 Stars. Not bad at all really. Saudi Arabian chic lit. For me there was not really anything new, so that why I'm not giving it a higher rating, but it's actually quite cleverly written.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    I enjoyed the Girls of Riyadh. It is not the most literary piece of work, but it is a fun read. It gives you a glimpse of the dating scene, or lack thereof, in Saudi Arabia. The book is a series of emails written by an anonymous young lady about her four friends, Michelle (Mashael), Gamrah, Lamees, and Sadeem. The story goes through the trials and tribulations of their love lives. You have one who tried and failed at the arranged marriage, and had to live life marked as a divorcee, which apparen I enjoyed the Girls of Riyadh. It is not the most literary piece of work, but it is a fun read. It gives you a glimpse of the dating scene, or lack thereof, in Saudi Arabia. The book is a series of emails written by an anonymous young lady about her four friends, Michelle (Mashael), Gamrah, Lamees, and Sadeem. The story goes through the trials and tribulations of their love lives. You have one who tried and failed at the arranged marriage, and had to live life marked as a divorcee, which apparently is not a good thing for the dating situation there. Another is too Americanized for her own good and is branded not good enough to marry a young man from the Kingdom. However, she is able to turn it around and find a new life and independence in Dubai. The last two manage to experience true love of mates of their choosing, but only one turned to marriage while the other experienced heartbreak. All in all it is a cute story. I don’t knock what goes on in Saudi Arabia, but the story does make me appreciate the freedoms we experience as women here in the US. Though I must say, I am kind of envious of having someone to drive me around all the time.

  25. 5 out of 5

    K

    In the words of one goodreads reviewer, this book is basically "Sex in the City" meets the Middle East. This juvenile book follows four young Saudi women through a series of superficial, mostly ill-fated romances. There's an interesting gimmick in that it's narrated by a Saudi woman, ostensibly a friend of the foursome, who posts their stories anonymously in a series of e-mails sent out to a group of subscribers. Although the stories were somewhat repetitive and kind of dumb, this book provided In the words of one goodreads reviewer, this book is basically "Sex in the City" meets the Middle East. This juvenile book follows four young Saudi women through a series of superficial, mostly ill-fated romances. There's an interesting gimmick in that it's narrated by a Saudi woman, ostensibly a friend of the foursome, who posts their stories anonymously in a series of e-mails sent out to a group of subscribers. Although the stories were somewhat repetitive and kind of dumb, this book provided an interesting, if confusing, window into the lives of young, educated Saudi women. I couldn't figure out the societal rules they were playing by (or flouting), though. Some of them were slightly reminiscent of Orthodox dating norms I grew up with (though way more rigid), but others were very difficult for me to wrap my mind around. I kept wondering -- is this woman an accurate reporter, or is she the Saudi Arabian Naomi Ragen?

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dana Al-Basha دانة الباشا

    Have you ever watched or read Gossip Girl? Well, this is the Arabic version. Girls of Riyadh is a very captivating story. I read some part of it in English but when I knew it was originally written in Arabic, I bought the Arabic version and devoured it. Such an interesting intense read. Very sad, real and captivating. I absolutely loved it. Though I think the end was rushed and incomplete. Have you ever watched or read Gossip Girl? Well, this is the Arabic version. Girls of Riyadh is a very captivating story. I read some part of it in English but when I knew it was originally written in Arabic, I bought the Arabic version and devoured it. Such an interesting intense read. Very sad, real and captivating. I absolutely loved it. Though I think the end was rushed and incomplete.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sheila

    I loved this book. I borrowed it from a friend and it got me hooked after a few pages! It had a bitter-sweet aftertaste, that I couldn't read any other book for a couple of days after I finished it. It made me ponder on what it is like for women living in the Middle East. The four friends, whose stories are told in a series of emails, had very different personalities from outgoing to conservative, but they were all relatable. I loved the author's ironic tone which subtly criticised their naivete I loved this book. I borrowed it from a friend and it got me hooked after a few pages! It had a bitter-sweet aftertaste, that I couldn't read any other book for a couple of days after I finished it. It made me ponder on what it is like for women living in the Middle East. The four friends, whose stories are told in a series of emails, had very different personalities from outgoing to conservative, but they were all relatable. I loved the author's ironic tone which subtly criticised their naivete. However, she got me cheering for them to find happiness like a moderately hysterical teenager.

  28. 4 out of 5

    David

    Having worked a lot with young female Saudi students, I read about half of "Girls of Riyadh", skimming the rest, and found it revealing (to others who don't know the Saudi culture) as to the relations between men and women there. Of course, Rajaa deals with the upper middle class of Riyadh. Not a bad read, if you are posted to Saudi Arabia or the Emirates. It gives you a feel of how the urban young deal with each other in a very conservative society.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sumit Singla

    This book is so stereotypical of everything the Western world seems to think about Saudi Arabia. I don't even want to write too much detail except that the characters are shallow and the book reads a bit like 'Sex and the City' with a Middle Eastern twist.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ayda Touma

    Recommended.Most of us don't know the real world of SaudiArabia's people.Interesting.

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