|Outside our hotel - the roads are virtually deserted|
We had passed a Carrefour hypermarket as we arrived at the hotel and aimed for that. The surrounding area is a huge building site and there are lots of empty spaces waiting to be built on – I can imagine that in 5 years it will look very different. It is wide and flat and not many cars and you can see for miles and the buildings that are in progress are ultra-modern. It’s quite eerie in a way, it’s as though they are building a derelict town. In London, there are no empty spaces to build on – another building has to be knocked down to make way for new ones and new construction goes on in the midst of life. But here there are such huge spaces to build on it could be on the moon!
|The building in front is shaped like a ship|
|Waiting to be built on|
|The is a bit like a cathedral|
Naturally I studied the women I saw, all wore a full length black abaya and most of whom also covered their faces with their eyes uncovered. Quite a few completely covered their faces and the eye area of the cloth was thinner, so in the same way as tinted windows worked, you could see out without anyone else seeing in. I found this the most disconcerting but I guess that I will get used to this in no time at all I remembered in the Sudan that the girls wore a full length pale blue uniform but individualism shone through and their shoes and school bag was their own. The same here as the women walked or were sitting on a bench, their shoes were different as was their clothing under the abaya; some wore trousers, others dresses in a range of colours. I find it very strange. How do they feel, having to be covered in black head to toe when they go outside. There were some younger girls, not wearing scarves but wearing abayas and so it would seem they wanted to wear them even though they were not required to. In England before the war, boys would become men when they were 13 and allowed to wear trousers and not shorts. There was a time for women when you were considered old enough to wear your hair up instead of hanging loose. Is it the same kind of thing we wondered – getting excited about being able to wear an abaya, an external badge to show that you were now a woman, something to be thrilled about?
Before we came here I had read that it was important not to be seen in public holding hands or being physically affectionate and I was surprised to see one young couple holding hands.
I was surprised to see areas that were designated “families only” that excluded single men. These were shops that sold women’s clothes or make-up or really places that women would hang out. Restaurants had different areas too, we checked out the prices of a Steak Restaurant and the door to the left was for families and the door to the right was for men. Even at the takeaway food places, there was a divider to separate men and women customers. I have since read an article that explained that it is a relatively recent thing that single men have been allowed into shopping malls other than at lunch times.
|See the signs "MEN" "WOMEN"|
|Food is about the same price as in the UK - the divider of male and female customers|
|Have never eaten Camel before|
|Our first food shop|