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The Travelling Company

Image: Ambro /
Queuing at the Immigration Checkpoint in Frankfurt International Airport, I saw an Arabian lady in simple white business dress. That is a long pencil skirt and jacket. She stood just in front of us and behind an Arabian family of 4. When the family came forward to the immigration counter, she also stepped forward, but took a little distance with the family, yet already crossed over the queuing line.

From there I already had my thought. "So typical! Guess she doesn't know how to queue."

Then when the family moved on, she came to the counter. The officer was so friendly for a German standard. I heard him greeted everyone coming to and going from his window.

"Hello, Ahlan wasahlan", "Bye, Enjoy your visit", with his loud and friendly voice.

And of course I could hear him talked to the lady without the intention of eavesdropping. So, I didn't hear all of their short conversation, especially the lady's responds. But at least these were the main idea:

"Hello, how are you. Ow, you come alone? Nobody's with you? Bye, take care"

People would think that the middle age guy was just flirting with her. At least I did at first. But hey, he tried to be nice to everyone including us in our language. One explanation came to mind. The immigration officer really know his job, dealing with people from many cultures. And the culture of Arab, especially Saudis usually does not let women travel by themselves. Therefore for him, seeing a woman travelling alone was probably a bizarre case.

And I told my hubby about it, he remembered an article about the immigration office in Saudi sent its officer to be trained in Frankfurt Airport. Probably, he was one of the trainer, guess my hubby. Hence he knew something about Saudi cultures.

Yes, it is so true that it is unusual for a Saudi woman to travel alone outside her home, moreover travel abroad. I also think that the lady in my story was a little bit uneasy travelling alone, since she tried to join the family in front of her line of queue.

Many female Saudi students studying abroad must be accompanied by her mahram, that is either her husband or brother. My hubby told me a story, that his colleague quit his job to go accompanying his sister who was going to study in Holland. Just like that. Well of course because the Saudi government pays a very interesting allowance for both of them.

Is it a part of the new age of openness started by King Abdullah, the current King of Saudi, that the lady is allowed to go abroad without any traveling company? Probably. Or probably because the lady's family is simply an open minded family that thinks that as long as their daughter cover their body parts and not do sinful things, is enough for them to let her go independently.

Leave the question right there. Only Allah and the lady knows ;)