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,” I asked.“Women can be buried there,” he conceded, “but you are not allowed to go in and look into it.”So I can only see a dead woman if I’m a dead woman? It’s the most bewitching, bewildering, beheading vacation spot you’ll never vacation in.Saudi Arabia is one of the premier pilgrimage sites in the world, outstripping Jerusalem, the Vatican, Angkor Wat, and every other religious destination, except for India’s Kumbh Mela (which attracts as many as 50 million pilgrims every three years).I had visited Saudi Arabia twice before, and knew it was the hardest place on earth for a woman to negotiate.Women traveling on their own have generally needed government minders or permission slips.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.I wanted to know all about Eve.“Our grandmother Eve?
Under a glowing Arab moon on a hot winter night, Abdullah was showing off the jewels of his city—charming green, blue, and brown houses built on the Red Sea more than a hundred years ago.
Leslie Mc Loughlin, a fellow at the University of Exeter’s Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, led tours to the Kingdom in 20, and both groups included affluent and curious Jewish men and women from New York.
But on 9/11 the passageway narrowed again as Saudi Arabia and the United States confronted the reality that Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 terrorist hijackers were Saudi nationals.
The site noted that visas would not be issued to an Israeli-passport holder, to anyone with an Israeli stamp on a passport, or, just in case things weren’t perfectly clear, to “Jewish people.” There were also “important instructions” for any woman coming to the kingdom on her own, advising that she would need a husband or a male sponsor to pick her up at the airport, and that she would not be allowed to drive a car unless “accompanied by her husband, a male relative, or a driver.” Needless to say, there would be no drinking allowed—Saudi officials even try to enforce no-drinking rules on private jets in Saudi airspace, sometimes sealing the liquor cabinets.
Finally, belying the fact that Arabs consider hospitality a sacred duty, there was the no-loitering kicker: “All visitors to the Kingdom must have a return ticket.” After New York congressman Anthony Weiner kicked up a fuss, the anti-Semitic language on the Web site was removed.