When I suggested we visit, Abdullah smiled with sweet exasperation.
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Just the vacation spot for a headstrong, adventure-loving, cocktail-imbibing, fashion-conscious chick.
Long averse to non-Muslim curiosity seekers, the Kingdom is now flirting with tourism, though drinking is forbidden and women can’t drive—or do much of anything—without a man.
Armed with moxie and a Burqini, the author confronts the limits of Saudi Arabian hospitality, as well as various male enforcers, learning that, as always, it matters whom you know.
The latticed screens on cantilevered verandas were intended to ensure “the privacy and seclusion of the harem,” as the Lebanese writer Ameen Rihani noted in 1930.
The preservation of these 500 houses surrounding a souk marks an attempt by the Saudis, whose oil profits turned them into bling addicts, to appreciate the beauty of what they dismissively call “old stuff.”Jidda means “grandmother” in Arabic, and the city may have gotten its name because tradition holds that the grandmother of all temptresses, the biblical Eve, is buried here—an apt symbol for a country that legally, sexually, and sartorially buries its women alive.
I wanted to know all about Eve.“Our grandmother Eve?
” asked Abdullah Hejazi, my boyish-looking guide in Old Jidda.
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(A hard-line Muslim cleric in Iran recently blamed provocatively dressed women for earthquakes, inspiring the headline SHEIK IT!) According to legend, when Adam and Eve were evicted from the Garden of Eden they went their separate ways, Adam ending up in Mecca and Eve in Jidda, with a single reunion. ) Eve’s cemetery lies behind a weathered green door in Old Jidda.