Three years into a financial crisis that shows no sign of loosening its grip, a young couple make the unpopular decision to teach English in Saudi Arabia. The choice of Saudi Arabia is based primarily on the best salary offer, an all expenses paid round trip flight and secondarily to satiate a desire to explore a country steeped in mystery and taboo. Little do they know that the experience will come with a price and change their lives in a profound way, witnessing human rights violations that go unchecked even up to today and an ultra-conservative culture wrestling with tradition and modernity.
A Year Under Sharia Law is written as a travel memoir with vignettes of daily life and interactions with the community at large. It was also written to shine a spotlight on the plight of impoverished ladies who come to Saudi Arabia in the hopes of earning a salary to send money back to their family. They find work as nannies and house maids primarily. These ladies are often stripped of their rights in a patriarchy that makes them prime targets for unspeakable abuses. Their passports are held by their Saudi employees and they essentially become prisoners. This memoir is not only dedicated to them and their plight but also the tireless and dangerous work done by journalists who are critical of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. Some have paid the ultimate price.