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The Dawn of Saudi: In Search for Freedom

Revised Edition



“Never wish for what you want or you might just get it.”


In a kingdom with zero human rights, and a justice system with arbitrary laws, there lies little hope for freedom. But life moves on when there is plenty of money to throw around. Dawn Parnell made the mistake of changing her religion, and marrying an abusive man. Sahar Al-Hijazi is forced to marry an older family member who believes that women are the property of a man. Trapped and imprisoned in their homes in Saudi Arabia, the women desperately seek an escape.


The Crawford Enterprises, based in Pasadena, and run by Jason Crawford and his father at the helm, does a lot of business with the Saudis, and that includes the Al-Hijazi family. Through a set of unusual circumstances, Jason learns about Sahar and Dawn. The more knowledge he gains, the less content he is about the dependence of his wealth on a system that does not respect human life.


With mystery and romance lingering in the air, the lives of Jason, Dawn, and Sahar cross paths. Will Dawn and Sahar be able to break free from a life of misery? Will Jason turn a blind eye to the human rights abuses, and the torture of foreign workers for the sake of profit? Or will he forgo his privileged lifestyle to save himself from a meaningless existence? 


“…the plot thickens with its many twists and turns that will keep you glued to your seat.”     

 ––Norm Goldman, Book Pleasures















“…Pourasgari is a skilled storyteller who effectively weaves together parallel narratives that continue to keep the pages turning eagerly… The Dawn of Saudi is a romantic mystery that elucidates and educates as it entertains.” ––Feathered Quill Book Reviews


The story development is very good with solid characters and a good pace. The reader can be glued to their seat compelled to finish a chapter because of such talent…This book exposes the terrible conditions many people within Saudi Arabia live under. ––Chris Phillips, Best Sellers World


“…the author distinguishes herself with a combination of plainspoken language with a skillful use of characterization that smoothly blends in with the yarn...You surely will follow her as the plot thickens with its many twists and turns that will keep you glued to your seat.” ––Norm Goldman, Book Pleasures


The Dawn of Saudi remains a very satisfying novel with unforgettable characters who must fight through a labyrinth of Western apathy and frightening conservative Islamic beliefs in a search for freedom. The novel is both an education and an oasis for the human spirit. –Malcolm R. Campbell, POD Book Reviews and More


The story of the romance and mystery are intriguing, while the background and research on the oppression of women show that Pourasgari has done her homework very well. ––Rhonda Esakov, Story Circle Book Reviews


Moving seamlessly between Saudi Arabia and the United States, the story of two young women, Dawn and Sahar, is gripping and engaging…I’ve greatly enjoyed Homa Pourasgari’s “The Dawn of Saudi” and I found her subject refreshing, well balanced and well researched…Her writing is fluid and expressive, her characters well fleshed out. ––Irene Watson

Once in a while, we stumble upon a book so outstanding and illuminating that it leaves a lasting effect on us. “The Dawn of Saudi” was that book for me. The author managed to elicit an array of emotions in me by depicting a solid tale of perseverance, courage, fortitude, and feminism. She speaks for many women who have had to grow up in a system that holds on tightly to traditions and old value systems that are punitive to women. The characters are vividly drawn with the plot giving ample time for their evolution across the pages. -Lily Andrews, Reader Views


Read A Chapter


They buried her in an unmarked grave. Only in death do Saudi women and men receive equal treatment. Her father’s face was grim, his body cold as ice. Her grandfather thought she was a disgrace to the family name. Her mother, Asima, did not shed a tear—not because Saudis consider all stages of life and death as submission to God’s supreme will and therefore frown upon public displays of grief—but because she knew that her twenty-two-year-old daughter, Sahar, was finally free. She was going to miss her daughter’s generous nature of giving away her belongings; her beautiful chocolate eyes that sparkled when she laughed; her spunky aura that brightened any room she entered. Oridol horeyata—Sahar often said—I want my freedom. Perhaps it’s all for the best, Asima thought, almost fainting from the sweltering August heat underneath her black cloak. She squeezed the hand of her youngest daughter, who had insisted on accompanying her, as she turned around and walked back toward the family’s Rolls-Royce.

     “Will I ever see my sister again?” Asima’s eight-year-old daughter asked as she got in the back seat of the car with her mother and her uncle Nadim. Her father, Saad, sat in front with the chauffeur.

      “Someday in heaven,” her mother said, looking one last time in the direction of Sahar’s grave. She hoped that Sahar would be liberated at last.

     A limousine followed them, carrying Asima’s unhappily married eldest daughter and her brute husband. How lucky for Sahar that she is dead, the eldest sister thought. If I had the courage, I would follow suit and escape this life of bondage.

     There had been much speculation about how Sahar’s life in Riyadh ended. Those who attended the wedding believed that she was so stressed from being forced into marriage that she suffered a heart attack and died on her wedding night. Her immediate family thought that the beautiful young bride was depressed and had committed suicide. But the TV and radio headlines sought to entice people and reported: The bride of Saudi business tycoon, Husam bin Zaffar, died on their wedding night.

     One TV reporter said:

     Sahar bint Saad bin Kadar Al-Hijazi (Sahar, daughter of Saad and granddaughter of Kadar Al-Hijazi), the third wife of Husam bin Zaffar bin Amjad Abdul Samad (Husam, son of Zaffar, grandson of Amjad Abdol Samad) collapsed on their wedding night, went into a coma, and died within an hour. Her physician reported that she died of an aneurysm.


     International newspapers added:

Friends and family declined to comment, but an anonymous source reportedly stated, “The stress of being forced into a marriage that she abhorred was more than likely what caused the vessel to burst. Sahar was a happy, loving girl who none of us will ever forget.”


Cynthia Crawford’s eyes bulged when she read the news. She had sumptuous thick lips, an hourglass figure, and lush black and silver hair that reached her shoulders.

     “Drew, have you seen this morning’s paper?” she asked as she burst into the sunlit breakfast room dressed in her charmeuse robe and pajamas, looking for her husband. Theirs was a marriage on paper. They lived separate lives, but when it came to business and money matters, they collaborated.

     Andrew Jason Crawford II of Crawford Enterprises, a debonair man and the same age as his wife, sixty-three, looked up in surprise. He rarely ran into her as early as seven in the morning in their Pasadena mansion near Los Angeles.

     “I was about to read it when you interrupted,” he answered creasing his high forehead hidden underneath his full head of softly layered gray hair. He opened the Sunday paper and spotted the article about Sahar’s death. “Oh, no! That poor girl. I must call and extend my condolences to her husband.” Husam was soon to be one of Crawford’s major investors due to his association with Sahar’s family.

     “Such a shame,” remarked Cynthia. “They don’t show her picture here, but I read somewhere that she was lovely.”

     “Was she? An aneurysm. Who would have thought? I suppose this will postpone his visit to the U.S.”

     “What’s going to happen to the merger now?” Cynthia was nobody’s fool. She may not have bothered with the day-to-day office business, but she owned fifty percent of her husband’s assets and so she made sure to keep up with current events that could affect their finances. 

     Crawford Enterprises, a Real Estate Acquisition, Inc., was a publicly traded multibillion-dollar business funded by American and international investors. Andrew Crawford and his thirty-seven-year-old eldest son, Jason, sat on the board of directors.

     Kadar, Sahar’s grandfather, was a famous Saudi multibillionaire. A well-known businessman, he owned sixty-five percent of his company with the rest owned equally by seven foreign investors who were not involved in the day-to-day activities of the partnership. Kadar’s businesses had not been doing well lately. He was a major shareholder in Crawford enterprises.

    Sahar’s widower, Husam, was also a well-recognized multi-billionaire. He owned diverse manufacturing, retail, real estate, and technology businesses all over the world. His prospering company was privately owned and was supposed to merge with Kadar’s. If that did not happen, Kadar would have to file bankruptcy and sell his businesses and shares in Crawford Enterprise to cover his debts. This would not only devastate Kadar’s business partners but also make the Crawford shares prices tumble. However, if Kadar joined forces with Husam to form a conglomerate, their enterprise would become one of the largest in the world, thus boosting investor confidence, increasing the value of Crawford Enterprise, and making Kadar’s partners content.

     “Damn! The merger!” Drew blurted. He threw his linen napkin on the table and called for his chauffeur to bring the car around.

     Upstairs, Jason Crawford III, lean with a muscular torso and strong legs, dark blonde hair, and thick eyebrows, was changing into his golf clothes. He had a master's degree in entertainment technology and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon. His new girlfriend, Tiffany, was listening to the business news when she heard about Sahar. Jason was about to put on his lucky green socks when he heard Husam’s name. “That’s our client. I can’t believe his wife died on their wedding night. Talk about a bad omen.”

     “That’s what I call extremely bad luck,” said Tiffany, lying underneath the cashmere blankets. Even with her lustrous brown mane, big breasts, and curvy body, there was nothing particularly special about her. And just like Jason’s prior girlfriends, she was not going to be around for long. He preferred variety, even if he did date similar-looking girls.

     “I wonder if the merger is going to go through now,” he said, more to himself than to Tiffany. “I’d better cancel my golf game, go to the office, and make some calls,” he added, changing out of his golf clothes and into his usual weekend business attire.

     “I guess we won’t be going sailing this afternoon,” she said. Jason didn’t even hear her.

     “If that merger doesn’t go through, our stock could fall.” He looked at Tiffany blankly. “Did you say something?”

     “Never mind,” she said and picked up the phone to call a male friend. Tiffany was not one to sit home and wait for her man. She felt that men were simply entertainment. Her relationships were here today, gone tomorrow, and her family was her bank account. She was a lawyer at her father’s firm but only put in half the time that other employees did.


In Riyadh, women like Tiffany caught in bed with men who were not their husbands were punished by the mutawan, the religious police of vice and virtue. The first part of such punishment was anywhere from sixty to 490 lashes with a flexible leather whip. If they had sex with a stranger, they would be stoned to death or perhaps drowned by a male family member or decapitated. The fate of all women, royalty or otherwise, was the same. The only difference between rich and poor women was that the former lived in a golden cage and the latter in a metal one. Affluent women were able to travel and have all the clothes, jewelry, and chauffeurs they desired, but they were still at the mercy of their husbands, fathers, and brothers. A woman was considered the property of her husband or male guardian, and that man was allowed to treat her any way he wanted—even kill her without being prosecuted.

     The Saudi government had recently issued ID cards to women, much to the dismay of hardliners who protested women’s faces being unveiled for their photos. The cards were issued to prevent fraud and embezzlement. Women used them to open bank accounts or start a stock portfolio. The only problem was that IDs alone were not honored by many institutions. Women were often sent away and told to bring two male family members who could vouch for them. When a woman wanted to leave her house, she had to be escorted by a male relative. Traveling without a man’s permission was forbidden.

     This was Sahar’s fate, and her situation worsened when she turned twenty-two. According to Saudi tradition, she was too old to get married. Men preferred their women as young as one year old. There were no laws in Saudi Arabia defining the legal age for marriage. The prophet Mohammad was the model that they followed, and Aisha became his wife when she was six years of age, and the marriage was consummated when she was nine. The younger a woman married, the better. She would be more subservient. Perhaps that was why it was too late for Sahar. She was too mature and independent to be subservient. Against her culture’s popular belief that a woman’s purpose in life is to bear sons, Sahar expected more. She had often refused to leave her house, not wanting to be covered with an abaya—a black cloak covering the body from head to toe—and a head scarf and dark veil over her face.

      She thought that it was unjust that she was not allowed to breathe the same fresh air that men did, that she was forced to look at the beautiful blue sky through the blackness of her veil, that while men fornicated before marriage, she had to be a virgin, and that she could have only one husband while men had multiple wives. She often wondered to herself, What god supported such cruelty toward women? What god created such inequality among men and women? After all, aren’t all humans supposed to be equal? How much of this inequality is religion and how much is it the interpretation of the men of her culture? She hadn’t an answer but could no longer accept the life that she had been born into. She needed her al horeyat—her freedom.

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