Customer Reviews for

In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor's Journey in the Saudi Kingdom

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

17 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

What a wonderful book!

I found "In the Land of Invisible Women" absolutely compelling reading. The perspectives of a woman who is a physician, a world traveler, and also deeply religious allowed me views of Saudi Arabia and its women that were intense and memorable. I expect that men reader...
I found "In the Land of Invisible Women" absolutely compelling reading. The perspectives of a woman who is a physician, a world traveler, and also deeply religious allowed me views of Saudi Arabia and its women that were intense and memorable. I expect that men readers would find this just as interesting as women readers. As a physician, Dr. Ahmed gives a scientist's-eye-view of life in the Kingdom. As a woman who speaks fluent Arabic, she was welcome in the inner circles of other women and could provide a rich picture of these women's lives and interests as well as their views of the difficulties they face as women in such a stern, difficult society. As a sincere woman of faith, she took me vicariously on her own spiritual journey that, as a non-Muslim, I can never experience directly but as another woman of faith I can relate to intensely. I LOVED this book and recommend it with great enthusiasm.

posted by Happy_in_New_Haven on February 23, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

Great Insight

Thought provoking. Great for learning and understanding women behind the veil without westernized biased filters.

posted by ReadingIsManna on October 17, 2009

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  • Posted February 23, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    What a wonderful book!

    I found "In the Land of Invisible Women" absolutely compelling reading. The perspectives of a woman who is a physician, a world traveler, and also deeply religious allowed me views of Saudi Arabia and its women that were intense and memorable. I expect that men readers would find this just as interesting as women readers. As a physician, Dr. Ahmed gives a scientist's-eye-view of life in the Kingdom. As a woman who speaks fluent Arabic, she was welcome in the inner circles of other women and could provide a rich picture of these women's lives and interests as well as their views of the difficulties they face as women in such a stern, difficult society. As a sincere woman of faith, she took me vicariously on her own spiritual journey that, as a non-Muslim, I can never experience directly but as another woman of faith I can relate to intensely. I LOVED this book and recommend it with great enthusiasm.

    17 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 12, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Book for the Everyday Reader and for Anyone Interested in Arab Cultural Issues

    As a practicing American Muslim woman, I am oftentimes skeptical of commentary on the lives of Muslim women, or of Muslims in general. Dr. Qanta Ahmed's eye-opening memoir helped ease some of my concerns on such commentary. I had only known of Arab women's lives from a distance - through television and radio media. Dr. Ahmed's book exposed an intimate look at what it means, for a practicing Muslim woman, to live as a Muslim woman in Saudi Arabia. It is, as is often portrayed, a tough life for Saudi women. Yet the society as a whole is not to blame - this is the genius of the book.

    So many times you will hear Muslims saying "Muslims are to blame, not Islam" - Dr. Ahmed proved it in this book through the Saudi men and women themselves. She is able to portray Saudi's as an enlightened, patriotic, religious, and progressive people who are struggling to rid the shackles of some decadent societal norms.

    Another point to consider is that the author is a British born, now American based, physician who is also a Muslim. Dr. Ahmed's narrative is itself proof of not only the possibility, but plausibility of loving co-existence between the West and the Muslim world.

    I hear the book is being translated - I really can't say I'm surprised!

    13 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    Good Read

    The story of Dr. Ahmed's journey was both fascinating and frustrating. Through her beautiful writing and strong spiritual perspective I learned a lot about Islam. At the same time the culture of Saudi Arabia angered me immensely. Its a country I enjoy reading about but could never live in. It is a book that brings forth conflicting feelings and inspires much thought.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great Insight

    Thought provoking. Great for learning and understanding women behind the veil without westernized biased filters.

    9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2009

    Dr. Ahmed shares, with humor and humility, her life-changing experience in Saudi Arabia...all in captivating fashion.

    My best friend and I each purchased this book for our next book club discussion. We each had our own reasons for choosing it - she, because she is staunchly feminist and the title and concept appealed to her; I, because of my intense pull to broaden my cultural horizons. Dr. Ahmed's writing style pulled me in, capturing and holding my attention, as I read about her life-changing decision to practice medicine in the Kingdom. I felt her fury and contempt for the rampant bigotry that exist(ed) during her years there, the anxiousness and butterflies associated with a forbidden school-girl-like crush, and the admiration for the many strong, supportive men and women who fought in their own ways for equality (be it in the ICU, a public restaurant, or by the Ka'aba during Hajj). I am notorious for starting a book and leaving it for weeks or months (yes, at times even years) before returning to finish it, but her vivid style had me turning page after page until, a mere 5 days after starting it, I finished the last sentence. This is truly a captivating piece of literature!

    9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2011

    fascinating

    This is a first-person account by Dr. Qanta Ahmed, a female Muslim physician. She spent two years practicing medicine in Saudi Arabia and offers a fascinating view into Saudi society and culture. Agreat read!

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2011

    Highly Recommended!

    This book was wonderful. It was a fun and easy read, but also managed to be insightful and educational. I felt like I got a good personal look into the lives of women in the Kingdom. Well worth the low $7.99 eBook price!!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2009

    A New Insight

    One of the best books I have read! I really enjoyed reading about Qanta's experiences while she was in the Kingdom. She really didnt hold anything back. I got a new insight on what women experience in Saudi Arabia, and its not necessarily what you would expect. <BR/>I would defeinetly recommend it!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2012

    Exceptionally well written

    This was an insightful and exceptionally well written book about the beauty and the beastliness of the Islamic faith. Thank God this brilliant author has used her gift of writing as well as her gift of medicine to bring her story to us. She presented a wide eyed portrait of both sides of her religion, the intended practice as she understands it in its beauty and purity as well as the very extreme deviant practice as defined by factions that intend to propogate hatred and dissention. As a devout Christian woman with the heart of a mother, healer and servant, I was moved by her honesty and ability to convey the complexities and opposing dualities of life for all women in the Saudi Kingdom. I was particularly moved by the recounting of her hajj to Mecca. I hope all people of faith, whichever brand they practice, get to experience coming into the real presence of God in as powerful a way as she was able to. This story is about faith, acceptance, defeating ignorance and, hopefully seeing the commonalities in all if our faiths rather than the differences.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 9, 2012

    For those who want to learn more about other cultures

    I love these kinds of books, we live in such an open society that it is interesting to me to see those who are so controlled by the men of their countrys. How these women can live under such barbaric rules and be thought of so little by the men of their country is indeed foreign to us who live in a country where women are treated almost as equals as men, except for maybe in the workplace, is so sad. I love to read these kinds of books. And these women have my sympathy. I thoroughly enjoyed this book at the same time I was appalled at how they are treated.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 7, 2012

    Culture shock, even from someone who thought she knew what she was getting in to.

    This book has become somewhat dated as womens freedoms have improved since her stint in the Riyadh hospital but one wonders how much personal attitudes have changed and how much was imposed from the outside. The more interesting parts of this narrative came from the idea that as a darker skinned Muslim doctor, the author apparently thought she would fit in to this culture with more ease than most American Expats. However it appears that her gender and her origins (Pakistani American) significantly overpowered this, and even her more liberal coworkers had significant biases. THe writing is a bit choppy and at times vicious (for instance in the way she describes the physical attributes of people she has less respect for or who have less social standing) which made the book harder to read. But the vignettes are revealing, of the authors admitted weaknesses and those of the people around her. The profound anti Semitism of some of her associates, even after years on fellowship to American and Canadian medical facilities where they worked and socialized with much admired Jewish professors and medical staff was shocking, as was the celebration of the fall of the Two Towers on 9/11 by female OBGyns. Worth reading, but a book by someone who is from the area might be better if you have to choose.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2012

    Horrible

    This book is too enrichlng

    2 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 17, 2013

    The book was fairly well written.  However, Dr Ahmed seems heavy

    The book was fairly well written.  However, Dr Ahmed seems heavy on detailed descriptions of various luxury watches, clothing, etc sported by her friends, male &amp; female.  Also, as an educated Muslim woman, why did she just jump into the job in Saudi without researching or checking out the country &amp; its deplorable customs, esp. toward women?  And with all its descriptions of the physical attributes of men &amp; women she met, the book almost sounded like chick-lit at times.  Having said that, I strongly recommend the chapters on the Hajj(pilgrimage) to Mecca.  They give a detailed account of the millions of pilgrims (rich &amp; poor), the transportation &amp; lodging difficulties, &amp; best of all her own epiphany at the Kaaba as she discovers the power &amp; presence of her God.  Finally, her confrontations with the Men in Brown, the Religious Police, are truly frightening to read.  Beware the Mutaween!!!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2012

    Walking into another culture....eyes wide open

    Really enjoyed this informitive story, kept you wanting to know more about this country and the people. Adventurous, disruptive, and couragous women still fighting for some equality in the world.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2012

    Refreshing Perspective

    I love the honesty and sincerity of her spiritual journey. The way she writes invites the reader to accompany her. As a committed Christian i appreciate learning more about Islam and the appeal it has for those who follow its tenents.

    Also appreciate her balance in presenting the disconnects between rhe legal mandates, religious mandates and the actual tenents of her faith.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2012

    Very Interesting

    The book is well written and provides a window into how the Muslim world treats women. Why do those women put up with it?

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2012

    Very informative; worth reading.

    The author surprised me with her spiritual openness and descriptions of the difficulties of living a "double life" in male-dominated Saudi Arabia. At first, I struggled to connect with her. But her hajj is fascinating, and I was hooked after that! Reading the book in a post-9/11 world helped me learn about that far-away land with it's old-world society.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 7, 2012

    Quite Interesting - Learn something new!

    A very informative novel giving one insight to the plight of the Muslim women through a professional perspective....in medicine.
    Unlike other novels where Muslim women were the main characters, Ahmed, writes in the first person and shares her thoughts as well as the biases that exist between Muslims from different countries and classes.
    Definitely an education when reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2014

    My daughter wrote a recommendation for a teacher friend

    And got an invitation to go work there as an ob nurse if she had permission of her father or brother or uncle to do so.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2014

    Good book

    I think this book was very fun toread and I learned a lot about the culture of people in the saudi kingdom. As a future female muslim neurosurgeon I feel the same sentiments and this book has allowd me a stronger grasp on my identity

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