When in Saudi Arabia

Patrick Gower reported:

PM’s wife to comply with Saudi Arabia dress code

John Key’s wife Bronagh will submit to a strict Muslim dress code when they visit the Islamic stronghold of Saudi Arabia this week.

She will be covering up in the traditional robes women are required to wear rather than taking a moral stand.

I don’t know why this is news. It’s not uncommon to comply with local customs.

When in Rome visitors are asked to ensure they are appropriately covered up if entering a church. It’s not uncommon to need to respect local customs.

And it can be more comfortable fitting in with local dress codes rather than standing out as the only one who is different.

I don’t think Gower will take a moral stand and walk down a Saudi street drinking beer or smoking (if he’s a drinker of smoker).

He probably won’t stake out a Saudi politician’s house either, demanding they come out and talk to him.

UPDATE: An interesting comment on this from Evadne at Kiwiblog:

Gower’s comments on Bronagh Key are interesting: “She will be covering up in the traditional robes women are required to wear rather than taking a moral stand.”

I wonder, then, if he would applaud a delegate or official visitor to NZ who refused to attend a Maori welcome as a “moral stand” against nudity of men (bare buttocks), provocative glorification of violence & beheading (the various aggressive gestures, along with with the eye popping & tongue protrusion), the strict roles of women within the ceremony, mutilation of flesh by tattoos, or any of the many other things which run contrary to other cultures. Or would such a refusal be seen as “insensitive” or insulting?

Good point.

I’ve heard people say that Maori welcomes can be quite intimidating.

Leave a comment


  1. When in Parnell

     /  28th April 2015

    For safety sake, dress code is now a hijab


  2. As far as I’m aware, the scarf is not mandatory (else Mrs Obama, would have worn it) I think Key is just looking for ‘brownie points’, (suck up) with the Saudi Royals.
    Maybe he should have grown a beard & tied a tea-towel around his head too ? LOL 🙂

    • It’s not mandatory to not drink alcohol either, or thieve. But it’s probably wise to conform with Saudi customs.

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  28th April 2015

    There are a great many customs in Saudi Arabia I have extreme disrespect for. Which means I will never go there under the present kind of regime. I feel sorry for politicians and wives who have to visit in the name of diplomacy. That would be one of the most repugnant obligations of political office I can envisage.

    • I wouldn’t choose to go there either. The things politicians and diplomats have to do for trade. But without trade we’d be a lot worse off.

  4. But wait, there’s more.

    (Metiria Turei is now saying we shouldn’t do a trade deal until Saudi women’s rights are sorted out.

    “The Green Party firmly believes this FTA must not go ahead until Saudi Arabia commits to meeting its international human rights obligations.

    “Till then, John Key’s trade deal by definition excludes women. It’s likely there’ll not be one woman in the room when he negotiates the deal, that no woman will sign it nor own a business that benefits from it, nor will any woman be allowed to vote for politicians to oversee it.

    “New Zealand women and men will rightly feel uncomfortable with the idea of their Prime Minister endorsing a regime that doesn’t treat women as full citizens


  5. Brown

     /  28th April 2015

    The Greens are so messed up like most of the left. They don’t like how the Saudi’s (Muslims) treat women but will suck up to every (Muslim) protest against Israel where women are treated as equals. Would the Greens tell Muslim men here that the wives should walk along side their husbands as equals? I bet not.

    • kittycatkin

       /  28th April 2015

      All the ones I have seen do this, in fact. You must be confusing them with some other people.

  6. Budgieboy

     /  28th April 2015

    Don’t Gowers comments just tell you why he is so disliked? He really is a vile tosser.

  7. kittycatkin

     /  28th April 2015

    I find it incredibly patronising when people like Michelle Obama assume that Musilm women are downtrodden, feeble victims because they dress in a particular way. How insulting. I had a GP who wore the headscarf, and have encountered other Muslim GPs. There was a veiled lady in Hamilton (well, there are quite a few) and she, her husband and daughter were all discussing the garments they were loooking at just as any other family does.

    There are places where people go naked, or all but, because of the climate, but when they come here they’re expected to wear clothes that cover up parts that aren’t rude in their country.

    PG really is a PIG. Take away the 2nd and 3rd letters of his name, and…

    I have only encountered him a few times, thank goodness.He seems to assume that everyone he meets is not as clever as his own wonderful self, but when he tried to put words in the mouths of my husband and an elderly friend he found that he couldn’t. He tried to trick them into saying more than they intended to, but they’re not that silly.

    I bet that he was an objectionable. smart-alec child. I pity his teachers.


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