These signifiers are products of the last ten years, smartphones and virtual social networking, and cultural icons like Bob Marley and Kim Kardashian.
But in Saudi Arabia, an isolated Wahhabist paradise – and the largest and wealthiest country in the Middle East – these abbreviative signs are handy rhetorical devices for tapping into an unrestrained subculture while under the seemingly inescapable gaze of government not drink, do drugs, watch porn, and have sex.
If, per Raymond Williams, we take culture as a record of reactions to the changes in social, economic, and political life that come with the advent of modernity, we can see that this “sub-culture” – entirely a reaction to the creation of a legally inscribed Saudi Arabian nation-state – is just simply culture.
Sex has always been an important feature of the Orientalist fantasy.
For instance, most Saudi women I have spoken to conceive of driving as beneath them, too banal a task for a woman to undertake.
is inconclusive to deduce from these legal measures that the material reality of a Saudi Arabian woman is a legally repressed one, and it is important to read nuance into her condition.
In the modern nation-state – be it liberal or Wahhabist – law-making is myth-making, and legal jargon, enforced by lashes and the death penalty, is fodder for the Saudi government, whose interests lie in maintaining the integrity and validity of the national imaginary.
The instantiation of a national legal code supposedly creates and conscripts a legally sanctioned citizen, one that fits nicely within the Wahhabist doctrine of the Kingdom.
like a marriage between Soho House and Burning Man.
Bacchanalian events feature Saudi princes wielding Kalashnikovs at men who eye their women, cheetahs on top of Lamborghinis, and falcons perched on the shoulders of scantily-clad Eastern European women.