Footballers' wives in Saudi Arabia navigate cultural challenges amidst luxurious lifestyles

Posted : 29 January 2024

Living in Saudi Arabia, footballers' wives face challenges that go beyond the allure of big salaries and luxury lifestyles. Despite the influx of world-class players to the conservative Islamic State, the spouses of these athletes, known as WAGs (wives and girlfriends), reveal the struggles they face due to cultural differences.

Anonymously sharing their experiences with the Daily Mail, these women describe feeling isolated, vulnerable, and constantly fearful in a society where strict dress codes and societal norms restrict their freedom.

The WAGs recount instances of public abuse, being refused entry to shops and restaurants, and facing hostility for not adhering to local dress standards. The conservative atmosphere in Saudi Arabia, while offering luxury living in closed, guarded neighborhoods, imposes challenges on foreign women who find it difficult to navigate cultural expectations. Fear of public criticism and the potential legal consequences for criticizing the nation or Islam add to their anxieties, making them wary of even leaving their homes.

Despite Riyadh's efforts to open up culturally with initiatives like Vision 2030, which aims to improve women's rights, the slow pace of change poses challenges for these expatriate women. While high-profile WAGs may have more freedom, many others find themselves confined to closed compounds. The article suggests that even lucrative contracts and fantastic wages come at a high personal price for these footballers' wives, prompting some to question the sustainability of their stay in Saudi Arabia.


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