Saturday, March 2, 2013

Getting Yelled Out by a Stranger - An Encounter with the Religious Police

Picture from Arab NewsPaper in Saudi Arabia (

I got yelled at…by the muttawa! The muttawa (also called haia) are commonly known as the religious police in Saudi Arabia. I have waited 9 months in anticipation for this to happen. I now feel inducted into society! I was sitting in the car, after going out to a local restaurant. Hubby was not yet in the drivers seat and I turned to see this white Jeep Cherokee type SUV pulling by slowly. We were parked and he was yelling something loud in Arabic. He was a guy of about 60 or 70, had his hair covered in a white scarf thing and had a long gangly beard. He was also wagging his finger. I didn’t even realize what was going on. I was just spectating and rolling my eyes at this crazy guy yelling at me. I mean, how often do you get yelled at, and out in public??! So, traffic kept moving and he was gone and then I told hubby what happened.

Then, it hit me-I had a muttawa encounter! The guy was most likely yelling at me to cover my head with a scarf (which I never do-because I don't have to). I told hubby, I think I just got yelled at by the muttawa! The car was almost long gone, but he was able to see it and verified that, yes, I had in fact had a muttawa encounter! How exciting-right!?? Well, that was the most exciting thing that did happen to me all day! And I’ll leave it at that.
In case you are wondering what the “Muttawa” are…..Well, they have a very important job in Saudi Arabia. Their job includes, but is not limited to the following:
1.   Telling women  to cover their head (even though it is not required by law)
2.   Ensuring that shop and store owners close during prayer time
3.   Monitoring product packaging, to keep them free from images of women in swimsuits (like having a woman sitting in a pool, on the package of a blow up pool or float)
4.   Browsing books and magazines to eliminate pictures of women that are “too 
      revealing” (example: a woman’s legs being revealed in a shaving or razor advertisement)
5.   Making sure that single men and single women are not socializing in public (it is against the law and people do go to jail for this) Often, I see the muttawa walking the malls. They have walked past me in 3 separate instances and not yelled or said anything to me in the mall.
Thanks for reading!


  1. The muttawa are a bunch of perverts themselves. With nothing better to do than make peoples lives miserable. Couldn't hate them anymore than I already do. Pigs!

    1. Mr.Jafari, why don't you leave Saudi Arabia and go to Iran lol?