Saudi Arabia: Young Saudis find home entertainment cheaper and safer


JEDDAH: Young Saudi men and women are increasingly turning their own private rooms into entertainment hubs as a way of saving themselves from boredom.

They equip their rooms with DJ turntables and other entertainment spots such as billiard tables, sound systems, electronic equipment and others.

They also install large TV screens and set tables loaded with light snacks and soft drinks. There are areas that look much like bars that only contain halal drinks. These young men and women are in fact trying to recreate the entertainment facilities available outside the country locally.

Arab News discovered extreme boredom and too much leisure time were behind this phenomenon. Conservative families would not allow their young girls to meet their girl friends in cafes, restaurants or malls. Therefore, these girls are forced to spend much of their time at homes. Since they are unable to go out, they start creating entertainment spaces where they could dance without fear, listen to songs and play music.

The situation is no different for young men. They cannot go to malls or supermarkets because the majority of them are dedicated for families only. Single men will not be allowed entry into many malls and amusement parks. They cannot go to beach cabins or rest houses because they are extremely expensive. So the only option left for them is to stay home to watch films or soccer matches.

Many of the young men believe that gathering at home to play and dance in an atmosphere similar to discos is much better than loitering aimlessly on the streets. They said it is a lot cheaper and safer to have their fun and entertainment at home. “This is better than hanging out on the streets or spending money in markets or restaurants,” one of them said.

Iyad Al-Qureshi, a young Saudi, complained that as young men they had no places to go to for fun. “Entry into most of the malls is restricted to families only. Single men are not welcomed,” he said.

Al-Qureshi, who was brought up and educated in Makkah, has no other option but to turn his room into an entertainment center. “I have a pool table, a sound system with large amplifiers, and a plasma TV, which looks much like a movie screen. This is all that I need to create a disco at my own house,” he said.

Al-Qureshi said his house was always full of friends who were looking for innocent recreation. He said he and his friends love music and have nowhere to play their favorite tunes loud and dance except at home. “The wives of many of my friends expressed their clear dislike, if not downright hatred, for me because their husbands spend more time in my house than with them,” he said.

Maha Khaled, a Saudi girl, told Arab News that she was keen to furnish her room with all the equipment needed for entertainment. “I have DJ amplifiers, a table loaded with snacks and soft drinks, dim lights and everything that resembles a disco,” she said.

Khaled said there were very few places she could go to and added the food usually served at restaurants, cafes and malls was not hygienic. “A number of my girl friends find it difficult to go out. Therefore we get together at my home to listen to music, dance and have fun,” she said.

Nouf, another young Saudi girl, said it has become imperative to have all entertainment equipment at home. “We do not get together just for idle talk or reading. We need to change the routines of daily life and do something which is really entertaining,” she said.

Nouf said she had had enough of the same old routine and living the boring life of old people. “I find it important to possess all entertainment equipment and maintain control of my room and have innocent fun with my friends,” she said.

For Fahd, another young Saudi, boredom and the desire to move away from his monotonous routine prompted him to turn his room into a makeshift disco. “This is much better than loitering on the streets, mixing with bad friends or taking drugs,” he said.

Fahd said dancing at his own home is better than doing so on the streets and probably getting in trouble. “We have a lot of energy that we use up by dancing,” Fahd said.