Shisha becoming attractive pastime among Saudi women
25 January 2012
Saudi Gazette - JEDDAH — Although it not a common scene yet in Saud Arabia, groups of young Saudi women have been sitting together smoking shisha or ‘hubbly bubbly’ (as it is commonly known).
The phenomenon is odd because even shisha cafes for men are normally found in the outskirts of the city.
A number of rest houses, individual homes and tailoring shops for women are fast become a gathering place for young girls to savor the many flavors of shisha, according to a report in Al-Hayat newspaper.
During a visit to several shops selling the tobacco called “Masil” and shisha — also known as waterpipe or narghile in the Kingdom, it was found that young girls buy shisha with several of them showing interest in the shape and color of the narghile.
World Health Organization (WHO) has recently warned that women are increasingly becoming a target of big tobacco advertising. Thus, it shouldn’t be shocking to see female university students and others gathering to have a puff of shisha and to chit chat invariably to escape boredom.
Ahmad Ismail works in a restaurant that mainly caters to families. He says most of those who visit the restaurant outside meal times are young girls, especially university students. Places like his serve as an outlet for releasing the suppressed feelings of girls, he said. “They (the girls) sit for hours chatting and smoking shisha and cigarettes.” A majority of them do so only to while away their spare time, and not necessarily to satisfy their craving for smoking,” he said.
Suzan, third year university student, said she started smoking shisha when she was in secondary school. “My parents are both addictive shisha smokers and I started smoking with my mother’s knowledge,” she said.
Susan isn’t alone. Bank worker Noura revealed that she goes to a shisha joint daily to chat and pass time with her friends. She started smoking at the age of 26.
“I do believe that accompanying my daughters is hundred times better than leaving them to go out by themselves. I don’t mind if they smoke in my presence. When they smoke in my presence I can easily control them. If I didn’t, they would soon become shisha addicts,” Noura said.
Why are these women suddenly started to smoke shisha? Dr. Al-Ghamdi, a psychiatrist and director of psychology consultation center in Jeddah, said smoking is a widely spread social phenomenon in big cities and has social factors. He believes the reason for smoking can be summed up thus: To create one’s own identity.
He said young men and girls want to prove themselves and mold their personality, thus they start rebelling against any authority like parents and school authorities. Teenagers need to prove themselves; this is why they imitate their friends. “When they smoke cigarettes or narghila it is to show they have become mature and independent,” he said. — SG