Sometimes it takes a princess to truly make a royal fool out of yourself. Last week, Princess Lamia bint Majid spoke to the World Tolerance Summit in Dubai. That appearance alone raised issues of hypocrisy and absurdity. However, what the princess said was breathtaking: that in a country where women have been arrested for driving or moving about without permissions of male relatives, Saudi women enjoy more rights than their apparently oppressed counterparts in the West.
We have discussed a seemingly endless line of cases of abusive and repressive acts against women in the Kingdom (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Yet, the Princess appeared to assure women around the world that they should come to Saudi Arabia to enjoy real freedoms under the egalitarian principles of medieval Sharia law.
The Princess explained:
“The West always thinks that women in my country are vulnerable and not being given their rights. I remember being in a meeting in the UK recently where they were discussing the problem of unequal pay between men and women and I couldn’t help but smile to myself. Men and women have equal pay in Saudi. If someone is earning even one riyal less than someone doing the same job they can sue. That’s not the case in the West, despite the fact they’ve been talking about it for years.”
Saudi Arabia of course continue to arrest and beat women for advocating equal rights or wearing clothes of their choice. While the Princess talks of her amusement at complaints of women at conferences over pay, true feminist heroes like Loujain al-Hathloul, continue to be abused for seeking the most basic rights of equality.
While these women languish in the jails of the Kingdom, conferences in places like Dubai are featuring royal princesses who can recount that their experiences have not been all that bad. That is reassuring. Perhaps the women in the Saudi prisons will be heartened and say ‘Psst, pass it along, Princess Lamia bint Majid says we’re free and enjoying the best years of our lives.”