A Rocawear story in Jeddah

May 13, 2011

So I’m shopping in this popular mall in Jeddah, at a store which sells Rocawear and other brands to be precise. The salesman/fashion wannabe advisor was extremely helpful. Even though his attempts at fashion were quite not my style, I appreciated the effort.

Everything was quiet till I heard this little not-so-quiet argument, if you will.

Looked over and saw it was a blond, little lady with her teenage daughter holding swimsuits. I carried on with my shopping and ignored her rude attitude. The same rude attitude I see many foreigners give the shopkeepers here. I said many, not all. I too, am a foreigner here.

I got closer to pay for my stuff and couldn’t help but say something.

There were 4 Saudi salesmen, young men. All very quiet staring at her. The lady was yelling “do you speak English?” over and over again. “Where is your Manager?” ” She is not going to remove her panties.”

Being the only female there and ‘knowing the Saudi culture’, I had to ask what was wrong, to which she replied her daughter wanted to buy a swimsuit and her daughter wasn’t allowed to try them on.

That’s when I told her the obvious, that uhmm women in general did not try clothes on inside stores here, but they could go to the dressing rooms at the Mall . She defended that statement saying there was a dressing room and why could her daughter not try them on. She wasn’t going to remove her panties.

My salesman guy told me “gooleelha mamnoo3” (thank God), so I told her it wasn’t allowed and that, is a rule in the country.

She argued with how it wasn’t sensible to buy the swimsuits (which were 3 or 4) and try em and then return them just to check size.

There was pretty much a lot of chaos and the techno in the background wasn’t helping.

At that moment, a really quiet man appeared at the Cashiers Desk and started doing stuff. She turned, looked at him and asked if he was the Manager and he said yes.

I’m not even going to address the fact that he walked into the situation with no confidence, and possibly no training on how to deal with an outraged customer.

I am going to address the fact that as a foreigner coming to a new country, you seriously need to do your home-work.

This means:

You do not scream at them for a law they haven’t personally placed or made. 

You do not argue a law with what you think is sensible or not. 

You learn to become culturally sensitive.


She ended up leaving a 1000 Saudi Riyal deposit with them, and left to try the swim suits with her daughter, promising to be back in 5 minutes.

I, on the other hand, am very content with my purchase. Respect to Rocawear, my fave brand.


4 Responses to “A Rocawear story in Jeddah”

  1. Excellent post my deary! So true! Your last 3 points are brilliant. As a foreigner, I might not agree with some of the laws but, I knew about them BEFORE I came here. I didn’t have to come if I wasn’t going to be able to deal with them. And a lot of the time, I think we need to cut the locals some flack.

  2. Interesting to see that although this lady is a foreigner, she adopted the Arabic style of solving things; YELLING!

    I guess she was trying to imitate whatever she was usually seeing around thinking that problems will be solved or go away using such style!

    Additionally, I am wondering if trying on underpants or swimsuits is even allowed anywhere in the world??

  3. 7aki Fadi Says:

    Hey, Love the blog!

  4. deeply insightful…some times we think foreigners bring civilized behavior with them,but some times,bigotry is something people cant leave behind.

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