Senators Call to End Driving Ban for Saudi Women

As someone who has spent a decent amount of time in Saudi Arabia and has met many people that this would affect, I’m totally behind it. That being said, I’m not sure we will see anything like this happen within the next decade.

The argument for women not having the right to drive stem from theories like:

  • If they start driving, they’ll start cheating on their husbands
  • After they cheat on their husbands, they will get divorces
  • Driving is too hard for women’s mental capacities to handle
  • Women don’t need to drive

Saudi Arabia is a beautiful, mostly really friendly and misunderstood country. But as with most countries, minority rights always seem to fall to the back burner.

Check out the article from Autoblog:

14 female U.S. senators call on Saudi Arabia to lift female driving ban.

According to Bloomberg, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been gently pushing the Saudi government to lift the ban, and has now been joined by a group of fourteen female American senators in supporting Saudi Women for Driving and their cause. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) is leading the charge from her position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, calling for women’s rights to be honored in a U.S. ally that has proven nothing if not resistant to change.

Bahrain and the Day of Rage

I’m back in America. Had an awesome time in Saudi Arabia and despite all the turmoil that is going on in the region right now, I felt safe the entire time and can’t wait to go back.

I went to Saudi Arabia to celebrate my dad’s 50th birthday which was the same day as the Bahraini revolution. As a gift to my parents I did not join my friend James in his trip over the causeway to Bahrain for the “Day of Wrath” “Day of Rage” “Revolution” etc etc. Part of me was devastated that I was passing up such an incredible opportunity but the other part of me wanted to do the right and safe thing.  In the end I’m still not sure whether or not I made the right decision but I have a feeling I did…

If you have ever been to Bahrain, you know it’s this really fun, friendly country. Amazing shopping, fabulous restaurants, they serve alcohol, are BIG into family stuff with water parks and all that jazz. As a person of comparative privilege (which is probably everyone reading this), you probably would have no idea there was an issue there.

One of my last photos from Bahrain was from the upscale Monsoon restaurant. This is the Bahrain I know.

Something like half of the people living in Bahrain are ex-Pats. The disparity between classes is so extreme that you almost don’t even see it. It’s like at night time, you don’t notice the black of the sky but instead the white of the moon and stars. Continue reading

Goodbye Saudi Arabia

We went to the dunes on Patrick’s (my brother) last day in Saudi Arabia. It was pretty awesome. Camels came up to use right as we were leaving and the sky was awesome.

I’m about to make my own voyage back to America, in just an hour or so. From Saudi Arabia to Bahrain (wish me luck…) from Bahrain to Frankfurt Germany, from Frankfurt to San Francisco.

Catch you guys later! A lot to catch you up on, tons of photos and adventures to share!

Meet Frank, the Camel

I didn’t name him. Ryan did. But I like it. Frank, the camel from outside Hofuf.  Had a great time today playing with the camels and exploring a Saudi Arabian oasis. He was one of the hundreds of camels taken care of by Sudanese nomads who bring them here for market where they will be sold. Some for dairy, some for racing, some for show, some for transportation and some for… well let’s not think about that.

Hunting for Shark Teeth

This photo comes from our trip to Udhailiyah where we, successfully, hunted for prehistoric shark teeth. Yes, we went searching for shark teeth in the Saudi Arabian desert because… where else would you search for such things?

Having a blast in Saudi Arabia, many many MANY more photos to post and stories to tell. Plus, I gotta get photos of my shark teeth! Nothing like digging in the middle of the desert to find shark teeth!

Chicago Photography Center Showing

It might have been nearly a month ago to the day but I’m still going to give this a go. On October 15th, I met up with my parents in Chicago, fresh from their flight from Saudi Arabia. We were all in town to catch the tail-end of a gallery show featuring two of my photos at the Chicago Photography Center.

They partnered with FilterPhoto for a photo contest and gallery show, sponsored by Canon, Adobe and others. The photos were supposed to be Bauhaus inspired…

The Bauhaus movement was brought to Chicago by Lazlo Maholy-Nagy and Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe Germany and eventually centered at the IIT. Maholy-Nagy had been at the forefront of the development of photography in the 1920’s and 30’s in Europe and continued his experimentation and teaching of the medium at the New Bauhaus in Chicago. Throughout, he championed the opportunities that photography offered for a “new vision”, emphasizing new ways of seeing, surprising points of view, and unconventional techniques.

Two of my photos were selected for official entry into the competition. More on that a bit later.

We had a wonderful time exploring the city, taking advantage of the L and enjoying all the wonderful food Chicago has to offer. We didn’t, however, make it to any shows or do anything specifically Chicago. Instead we opted to wander the city, stopping whenever something truly interesting popped up. This is how I like to visit a city.

Seats on the L

On our first full day in the city we made our trip to the gallery to see my art on the walls, check out the competition and figure out how I was going to get my work shipped back to Columbia. I was hoping I would bump into Maggie who notified me about the show but that didn’t work out.

Walking up to the gallery the first thing you see from the street is one of my photos. That was as awesome as it was surprising. The letters on the window cast their shadow across my photo. Pretty cool!

One of my photos at the Chicago Photography Center

Unfortunately none of my photos won outright, though I did get Honorable Mention. Honestly though, I really do think I should have won, at least placed. I can admit when there are better photos, and there were some that I thought were better than mine. However, none that I felt were better than mine scored as high or higher than mine and the photos that did win certainly didn’t seem anything too interesting or intentional. It’s all subjective and I try my best to not get bent out of shape for not winning but… if I’m going to lose in a competition, I want to lose to a better photographer.

I probably shouldn’t rant but, it’s my blog right?

After the gallery trip we hit up the John Hancock Observatory for overpriced drinks and an unbelievable view. The overpriced drinks are totally worth it for the experience, seriously.

Chicago Skyline

With only a few more hours left in the city, we hopped back onto the L, got some delicious dinner at The Chicago Diner and headed back to our hotel. An early flight the next morning would bring me and my mother home to Columbia while my dad started his voyage back to Saudi Arabia after a short trip into Texas.

Trash Can be Beautiful

Despite not winning first place in the show, I’m still honored that my work was deemed worth enough for the walls and enjoyed the stiff competition like I got from some photographers in particular. If I had the money, there were easily six photos I would loved to have purchased. In addition, the trip provided me to visit my parents, the first time since they were in America for my graduation back in May.

Oh, and the show got me “featured” (using that term loosely) in Time Out New York which is baller. Check the link below.

Saudi Arabia Panoramas

I really have been trying to write up about all the fun adventures I went on in Europe and the Middle East. I promise.  It’s just so hard to find the time to write when I also have to find the time to gather my photos!

So here are a few panoramas I took in Saudi Arabia.  They are each like 5-11 pictures merged into one, so consider this a 10,000 word blog post, aight? Make sure to click the photos to open the lightbox and view them much larger.

One big complication with panoramas like these, with power lines in them, is reconciling the power lines from shot to shot. Still working on the best way to accomplish that.  I’d love to get your thoughts on these down in the comments. Thanks a bunch! Oh and if you have a trick in Photoshop for fixing these power lines, DEFINITELY put THAT in the comments!