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Last Updated: Monday, 11 April 2005, 10:48 GMT 11:48 UK
My life in Saudi: Asma
Eight young Saudi women discuss their lives and how they hope to progress in the next 10 years.

Lama:
22, student

Rotana:
21, student

Abla:
22, student

Rosana
21, student

Baiyanne:
17, student

Hasna:
27, translator

Asma:
21, housewife


Asma

I got married at an early age and that had a huge impact on my life. It was a learning curve with huge responsibilities.

I'm trying now to get used to being responsible, especially now that I am getting ready to become a mother. The most important thing to me remains finishing my studies.

It is not an easy task for someone who is a housewife and a mother-to-be, but studying and getting a university degree is a priority for me.

I am trying to achieve a balance between home, husband, pregnancy, studying and my social life!

I'm studying how to deal with children, how to educate them and raise them in a good way. Understanding the role of religion in educating children is, for me, a must in building good families.

I hope I can finish my studies and get a good job, so I can become an productive person in society. I would like to build a nursery and try a new teaching method which helps kids to love the environment they study in.

This could work if I can plan well and get my plans accepted by all future employees in my nursery.

The most important people in my life are my mother and father; I will never forget I owe them a lot

I am also interested in cooking - my husband is encouraging me a lot in that direction. He told me not to waste my talent and to think of starting a business at home or elsewhere.

Perhaps I could, one day, open a restaurant and give the people something special in terms of food, environment and design.

I am also toying with the idea of starting a special clothes shop for women only. I hope that my husband will manage, decorate and design it and I will then choose what will be sold in it. We don't have many places like this in Jeddah.

Still, the most important people in my life are my mother and father and I will never forget I owe them a lot.

My husband, too, plays an important part in my life; he always encourages me and supports me in everything I do, from my studies to fulfilling my dreams. He makes me feel very rooted and happy.


The following comments reflect the balance of views received:

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Hello Asma, women around the world are trying to find the balance. I think this balance is probably easier in Saudi because of the strong family support system and the abundance of domestic help which is affordable due to immigration and labour laws in the Kingdom. Is this at the expense of others from third world countries?
Melissa dos Santos, NYC, USA

I m sorry, but seems to me that these teenage girls are too optimistic. I wonder when they going to get stuck in the Saudi "moving sands". To say that I want to balance pregnancy, university, husband in KSA looks pretty much easier than its realisation. More than half of the population in KSA is younger than 18 and I just wonder what part will manage to achieve what they want. Most of the time at educational institutions they just study religion, which is a strange way to teach an realistic approach towards life.
Pepek, KE, Slovakia

Asma, I really enjoyed reading about you, your life and your dreams. And it is really great that you and other girls like you were given the opportunity to express yourselves, as there is a need in today's community for awareness about cultures and lives from around the world. Living in the USA, a lot of people are unfamiliar with the good values the Arab culture holds. I'm hoping that stories like that of yours will show people around the world that the Arab woman has a lot of talent to offer to this world.
Seema, USA

I am an American who knows the real Saudi Arabian ways as my daughter and two grandchildren (both girls) live there. It is very difficult to convince other people in my country that every Saudi woman is not treated like property. My son-in law is a good person that treats all of our family with the utmost respect. The thing I love most about the Arabic culture is the close-knit families. I believe that is what life is about, love for God and family. Education is a very important part of using all of our God given talents for improving ourselves and in turn being the best we can be. I commend you ladies for your perseverance.
Charline Hadley, Wagoner, OK USA

I am really impressed and wish Asma every success in her life. It is nice to see these Saudi women in a different way to the oppressed, battered and unloved women who are depicted in the media.
Wafa Younis, Montreal, Canada

It is wonderful that you have a husband who supports your ambitions. I love your idea about opening an all women's shop where you live and also trying to create a learning environment for kids that they love. Even in America, creating an atmosphere that kids love and thrive in is a very big challenge. Maybe in your shop you could have all female designers and sales clerks so that more women in your community could be a bit more financially independent. I also think that it is really great that at such a young age to be married and have a child, or at least it is a young age in America, that beyond parenthood you have many other ambitions.
Izzy Becker, Los Angeles, USA

It's very inspiring to read about these young ambitious women from Saudi Arabia. I most respect about their view, vision and commitment. They set goals of life to better others not themselves, which the girls from the Western world are lacking. All they could think is date, fashion, drinking and parties. No commitment to themselves, let alone to others.
Lily Liu, Santa Rosa ,CA, USA

To the BBC, I will like to say is very commendable that you have taken a step in the right direction. The aims and aspirations of these young girls clearly has an indication that if they are given the chance they can really prove themselves. I live in a similar Arab country where the rights of women is not a factor in national development. Is a good thing The BBC has organised something like this , but I think more areas are yet to be covered.
Mahmoud Nuruldeen, Sebha, Libya

It looks to me like only a few privileged women have these kinds of opportunities, the ones with money can get away with more freedoms but the lower classes are more subject to Islamic restriction. Still, you have to start somewhere and this is a positive start. Hopefully more Saudi women will get away from expectations of women and more towards what these women are doing.
Derek, Canada

I don't know how representative these stories are; but if they are a fair cross section then it shows clearly the nature of the propaganda we are usually fed in our country about the social climate in Saudi Arabia. There are those with a vested interest in propagating a view of Arabs as somehow alien and particularly of their women being universally repressed. This is not the picture shown here.
Vince Millett, Croydon, UK

It is good that you are fulfilling your desires while remaining in the cultural boundaries - and most important is your husband understands you and helps you. Keep it up.
Shamweel Sohail, Pakistan

Free time is a luxury that most of us enjoy and would appreciate more of. But in doing so we must keep in mind that every second that ticks by comes to an end and does not return until we are called to account for it. I find it amazing how these women prioritise their time between education, ambitions and family life. A lesson is to be learnt here for many alike.
Mohammed Islam, Birmingham, UK

I love hearing from young ladies around the world and especially in the Middle East on how they want their lives/careers to progress. I'm from London and I can honestly say I don't know that many girls over here who have such dreams and in some cases any dreams for themselves which is baffling to me as there are so many opportunities over here. Saudi girls really are very smart and although I don't agree with many Arab/Muslim ideals, it really is great that they can find a balance and have the support they need to move forward. Well done to all of them, I hope they reach their goals and go on to lead fulfilling and happy lives.
Michaela, London, UK

It's nice to see these beautiful Saudi women in a different light than just the oppressed, battered and unloved women that are depicted in the media. Unfortunately that does happen; not just in the Arab/Africa world but all over the world. Whether they choose education, motherhood or a combination of both it is encouraging to see that these women have chosen their own paths with their own free will and still acknowledge their religion is a beautiful thing.
Dawn, USA

I am really very impressed and wish Asma every success in her life.
Farooq Iqbal, London, UK




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