New York, Asharq Al-Awsat- “Don’t ever visit New York,” has been the most common advice from Saudi men and women in the United States of America out of fear for harassment. However, these words of advice were not enough to put off a number of young Saudi men and women from visiting New York for three days. They walked the streets and used the subway to get rid of these feelings of fear that once overwhelmed them. Furthermore, when they reached the top of the Empire State building, they shouted out “We are Saudis.” They happily took pictures with a number of their American and foreign colleagues.
Fatima Al Ehsaay, a 20-year-old Saudi student who is studying in the United States said, “I had totally overcome my fears when I visited New York and I really enjoyed it. I had visited the streets of New York and Manhattan and took pictures of the Statue of Liberty.” She adds, “We first arrived in New York, escorted by a number of guides from our university where we studied. We moved to a youth hostel where a number young Americans were also staying. Then we took part in a tour and visited the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State building. The next day, we visited a famous church, the Wax Museum and Times Square, one of the most famous squares in the world. On the third day we went to the famous Central Park in New York City.”
Fatima spoke about her previous misconception of New York City saying, “I was afraid to visit New York especially because I wear a headscarf. We had a misconception of New York but we were amazed to find that people treated us wonderfully. We had no experience of any discrimination. It is wonderful that we had overcome our fear and were able to forget the 9/11 attacks that had changed the modern history.”
In the same context, Hamood Al Roweis, an 18-year-old student said, “I had a mistaken perception of New York. Unexpectedly, I was able to visit all places I wanted and go anywhere without being harassed.” He adds, “When I heard that the university had planned a trip to New York, I was a bit confused, but then I thought it was time to overcome my fears. I am now in the United States and nothing bad has happened to me.” He added, “We had taken a lot of pictures and looked at where the World Trade Center used to be. I believe that New York City is one of the most beautiful cities in the world that I have visited.”
Hamood, who has an American passport, as he was born in the United States, said, “Having an American passport does reflect anything about me. I’m Saudi to the bone and I’m a Saudi student who studies in an American university and the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques pays for me to do so.”