I have had so many experiences that I want to share, but there is just not enough space on these pages!
In Addhale, the culture was quite different from Sanaa. In Addhale the women covered their faces even in the office while working all day, and in Sanaa they don’t. In Taiz, it was a mix. Some women covered their faces, but others didn’t.
I find it a bit hard to communicate because when I wear the Hijab it covers my ears and then when the women cover their mouths, it is hard to make out the words they are saying. I have spoken to both my male and female colleagues about this practice, because it is hard for me to understand. Almost all of my local colleagues said that it was often the women who actually preferred to wear the hijab(hair covering), abaya (cloak) and the niqab. (face covering). I think my first reaction was to ask how is that possible that a woman would choose to wear so many hot, black layers in the beaming sun? But the women confirmed it, even when their male family members reassured them that they didn’t have to they chose to wear it. I suppose this is much like things people choose to wear in Canada where our culture is reflected in our style of dress too.
I think people from Western culture are sometimes quick to judge, but if you really take a moment to think about it, how does your own culture dictate your own clothing choices? Sometimes I think, at my age I “should” wear this or that… but really that is my culture influencing my opinion.
Now think of the style of dressing of the youth in your community. Do you think their styles are dictated by culture?
I recently attended a wedding of one of my team members. It was a huge hall and decorated with a big chair for the bride to sit in. The bride wore a white gown, similar to Canada, with a huge sparkly tiara and sparkly earrings. She looked like a Barbie doll! She carried a bouquet that she threw to the single ladies later in the night. The difference was, and it was a big difference… was that there were no men there. Now, this wasn’t the full wedding. Actually they had several events to celebrate and some included the men, but at this hall, all of the room was set up with Arabic couches where the women sat and socialized. A big dance floor where the women danced, and performers put on a show. Few women were covered. Most wore fancy ballroom worthy gowns, and had their hair and makeup done. It was such a great experience.
It has been quite interesting to see a culture so different from my own and it has definitely opened my eyes to how people live, not just in different countries but also in different areas within one country. But actually I find that living here I see more of the similarities than differences compared to when I saw the culture from a distance. I feel so grateful for every minute of this experience.