A Kid's Life
Al salaam a'alaykum! ( AHL sah-LAHM ah
ah-LAY-koom) That means hello in Arabic. My name is Saheed. I live in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is a large country in the Middle East. My country
covers about three-fourths of the Arabian Peninsula. We export more oil
than any other country in the world. My country is made up of huge
deserts, coastal plains, oases, and mountains. Do you want to learn how we
live here in Saudi Arabia?
The girls in my country are lucky to be able to go to school. We weren't allowed to until the 1960's. Here, most people can read and write when they are 15. All kids have two years of kindergarten, but now I am in intermediate school. At the age of 6, the boys and girls split, and go to different schools. I am kind of sad, because next year I will need to go to secondary school. But I am also exited, because in my second year of secondary school I will get to take either a science or a reading and writing track.
Because we are Muslims and because it is always hot in my country (it gets to 120 degrees in the summer), we dress differently than people in western countries. My mama wears a veil when she goes outside. Some women don't, but Mama wants to. She also wears a long robe. It is called an abaaya. When I'm older, I will wear the same thing as my mama. My papa wears a long piece of clothing called a thobe. It is made out of cotton. In the winter Papa also wears a cloak to keep himself warm. He also wears a hat called a gufra. It keeps the sun out of his face.
We live in the city of Riyadh, which is the capital of Saudi Arabia. My father works for the oil industry, and we are lucky to live in a high rise apartment building. My uncle's family lives in a farm village. They live in a house made of sun-dried mud. They tend their herds of camels, goats, and sheep. There are also nomadic (wandering) people living in our country. These nomads are called Bedouins. They roam through our gigantic desert with their herds of camels, sheep, and goats. They search for water and pastureland, and they live in large tents made of animal hides. Wouldn't it be cool to be able to move your house (tent) whenever you wanted?
Like most of the people who live here, we are native Saudis. We come from people who settled in the Arabian Peninsula many thousands of years ago. We speak the Arabic language in our country and many people who work in businesses also learn to speak English. I think that English sounds hard, and sometimes I hope I won't need to learn it.
My favorite food is shikamba. It is a creamy lamb meatball stew. It might sound gross, but it tastes really good. My brother likes onions stuffed with meat and rice. I do too, but not as much as shikamba. My mama always makes a salad for dinner every day. She puts in apples, dates, walnuts, lettuce, lemon juice, and meat. My brother thinks it's yucky, but I love it. Mama's favorite drink is Arab tea. My brother and I love lemonade. The most popular foods in my country are dates, lamb, and rice. Because we are Muslims, we are not allowed to eat pork or drink alcohol.
One of my friend's papa's has two wives. My papa only has one. It is very hard for my friend's papa because first he had to get permission from his other wife to marry another woman. Then he had to get the same amount of goods for each wife. We have many other rules here, too. Women and men have to work separately. Whatever a women does can change the way people think about the family, so they have to be careful about what they do.
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