“They told me in so many words: ‘you have 40 years’ ex- perience, you’ll figure out what has to be done.’ Sure, I did, but I thought the requirements were going to be defined. Things are more structured now, in terms of progress and feedback.” Hedescribesthecountry’sinfrastructureascontradictory. “In some respects, like LED lighting, they’re ahead of us,” he says. “But in the general consumer market, I saw people amazed at an electric drill with a reverse function.” He learned quickly just how much Saudi Arabia was, as he terms it, “a different world.” “I was warned not to engage in discussions on politics or religion. The Saudis have the strictest-enforced laws in the world. And if you are arrested, jail time is indefinite.” Even dressing, he learned, could prove a tricky affair. “Men wear the traditional ‘thobe’: a white cloak that’s like a huge pillowcase, and a white or checkered headdress. One of my thobes had coloured edging. Someone com- plained, and I was advised not to wear it again. You’re not allowed to stand out.” If rules are strict for men, those governing women are even more restrictive. “All women dress the same, in an ‘abaya’…like a burqa. Saudi society is entirely male-dominated: men often hold women’s passports, to limit their freedom of movement. A man may have up to four wives, so long as he maintains the same economic standard for all. Women have just be- gun working part-time, and aren’t yet allowed to drive.” Sammy, an engineer, is shown with John at the Qassim Maintenance Administrative office. John’s headgear is accepted by the KSA, but not his clothing. ...................... Please turn to page 6 From camels in Saudi Arabia to Dodge Ram trucks in Scugog. John dropped by the Focus on Scugog office on January 23, two days before heading back to Saudi Arabia. FOCUS - APRIL 2018 5