I suppose it's near enough the end of our stay here that I ought to get some things written down. And there wouldn't likely be enough time to make anyone mad enough that we get kicked out for something I say here. Not that that is likely anyway, but still something I have to think about.
You might have heard there is a movie theater opening in Riyadh. The building was started to be a concert hall, but when they decided to allow theaters, they changed plans. It seems to have been a wise choice since it's almost impossible to get tickets at this point since they sell out so quickly. I'm not sure if we'll try to go, although it would be quite an experience.
Here's the website. If you're on the English page, you'll see the translated notification about who can watch the movie. There are a couple of things in there that get a little lost in translation even though this is a perfectly accurate translation from the Arabic page.
"AMC Cinemas is currently showing movies in a family environment. Bachelor showings may be made available in the future. Children under the age of 15 will not be permitted in the cinema."
First, "family" means something different here than it means in the US. For an American, a family environment means that children would be welcome. But that's obviously not the case here because children under 15 aren't allowed in this family environment. Here, family means that women can enter, with or without men, but men on their own cannot. It doesn't have much to do with children, except tangentially. Children are more likely to be on the family side, since they aren't out with only their male parent as often. That is unfortunately true all over the world. Also, since family sections aren't only for women, abayas are always required.
The two choices for any segregated establishment here are literally translated as "family" or "male individuals/singles" (this is not the way the US uses "single" to mean unattached to a partner, but instead that this particular man doesn't have a woman with him right now - my husband is single if I am not there). Women aren't supposed to go in an place designated for singles and a man or a group of men can't go in a family place without a woman with him/them. Generally. There are exceptions. Many places aren't segregated - anyone can go in a grocery store by themselves or with anyone they like. There are some family-only stores, usually selling women's clothing. There are few singles-only stores. There used to be more, but now women can generally get their shopping done in most stores. Restaurants are a different story though. All larger restaurants have a family section, but a large majority of eating establishments, since most are small, don't allow women at least to sit down. Like the Dunkin' Donuts nearest my house, for example, which I discovered one time when I needed to sit down in a place that was not hot and wasn't allowed to.
The interesting thing about this cinema is that it is segregated, but it is one of the rare places where a man cannot enter without a woman while a woman can enter without a man. It's practically the only example of a place where single men would want to enter but aren't ever allowed to without a woman. As soon as they announced that theaters were coming I wondered how they would do the segregation and now I know.
(We have run into trouble with this at the bowling alley. We all went over to bowl one day with two of our children wearing shorts. That's fine for our youngest son, but our teenage son wasn't allowed in the family side in shorts. And I obviously wasn't allowed in the men's section. So I waited in the car while they bowled on the men's side because I'm not much of a fan of wearing an abaya while I'm bowling and that was better than my son sitting in the car while the rest of us bowled on the family side.)