Saudi Arabia said Monday that it will enforce a law that allows only females to work in women's lingerie and apparel stores, despite disapproval from the country's top cleric.
The 2006 law banning men from working in female apparel and cosmetic stores has never been put into effect, partly because of the views of hard-liners in the religious establishment, who oppose the whole idea of women working in places where men and women congregate, such as malls.
The news that the U.S. has finalized a deal to sell nearly $30 billion worth of F-15SA fighter jets and other equipment to Saudi Arabia comes, as every story about the agreement says, as America and its allies seek to further isolate and pressure Iran so long as that Persian nation continues to be a threat to others in the region.
Abdulaziz Al Rabah remembers it was a Tuesday. The call to evening prayer was echoing across his hometown of Hafr-al-Batin, Saudi Arabia, and bearded religious police had shooed him and his friends off the neighborhood soccer pitch.
"Have you seen what happened to America?" a wide-eyed friend asked the 13-year-old.
Racing home, Al Rabah joined his mother to watch the satellite television newscasts of America's agony unfolding on Sept. 11, 2001.
"I remember she was sad to see two guys jumping to the ground," he recalled.
Fridays in Riyadh are usually slow and lazy, as the sprawling city only begins to wake up after the noon prayers. But this past Friday, a women's rights issue that's been brewing for decades spilled onto the streets.