Saturday, August 7, 2010


Mouna Ayoub

The beginning of Mouna Ayoub's story sounds happy enough. But as she goes on to write in her book -- La Vérité, or The Truth (Publisher Michel Lafon), an autobiography that shot to the top of France's bestseller lists in 2000, her 18-year marriage to a Middle Eastern billionaire was no fairy tale. It was a juicy picture of Saudi Arabia's super-rich oil sheiks, she recounts how she was seduced by all the baubles that money could buy, only to discover herself living in a gilded cage, trapped by a male-dominated desert society with zero tolerance for modern women. Her complaints — which she made public during a bitter divorce dispute — may not surprise anyone familiar with Saudi customs that, for example, require women to be veiled from head to toe and forbid them from driving cars. But seldom have outsiders been treated to such a scathing, firsthand account of Arabia's unhappy wives.

Ayoub acknowledges that she owes her extravagant lifestyle in part to the wealth of her husband, whom she gives the pseudonym Amir Al-Tharik in the book. He made a fortune building hotels, conference centers and mosques on government contracts.

French Best-Seller Le Verite by Mouna Ayoub

But if her tale provides a rare look at the extravagance often wrought by unimagined wealth, it also serves as a disturbing manifesto against the extreme restrictions imposed on women by some ultraconservative Arab societies.

Soon after they wed, she says, her husband overheard her laughing with foreign male guests at a dinner party in Saudi Arabia. From across the room, according to Ayoub, he thundered, "Shut up!" Sometimes Ayoub's attempts to circumvent the traditions that keep Saudi women wrapped up were comical: once, in Tunisia, she disobeyed her husband's edict not to leave the hotel, only to run into him at a china shop, where his colleagues did not recognize her because they had never seen her unveiled before. During summers on the family yacht, she would venture ashore disguised as a member of the crew.

From the Article in TIME EUROPE, July 31, 2000 "What Money Can't Buy" By Scoot Macleod

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love it!