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Life and laughter in Saudi Arabia

Change is beginning to happen in this deeply conservative country—but it is a fragile thing

By Charlie Askew  

Women shopping in Riyadh © Tribes of the World

Riyadh surprised me. I had expected an antiseptic society of polished malls, endless tarmacked highways and high walls. What I found was something much messier and—well, human. A closed-off, rigidly patriarchal society, yes, but one with more colour, humour, poverty and femininity than I had imagined. Watching TV one night and seeing the satirical comedy show Tash Ma Tash poke fun at the mores of Saudi society, the surprise was near…

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