Arabian eroticism

Flying from Riyadh to Mogadishu on Saudia, Dalrymple is placed for the first and only time in his life in first class (for lack of seating elsewhere on the aëroplane). Soon after take-off,

niqab are thrown off with a flourish, revealing the women underneath to be stylishly, expensively, and in some cases scantily dressed in tight-fitting designer clothes, as well as heavily made up.

He comments:

The reality of a society is often different from at least some of its appearance.

A doctor working in Arabia tells Dalrymple that

the inviolability of the women’s quarters in a Saudi household and the niqab itself are conducive to extramarital affairs, provided the male lover is prepared to don a niqab himself, which he often is.

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