Women Receptions Area The research question The research is concerned with the role and influence of the Saudi women in the design and development of the Saudi Arabian homes. Based on the proposed research, the study will examine the issue against a backdrop of the Islamic rules and culture as practiced in Saudi Arabia by trying to give an answer through the following question. Research Question: The Empowerment of women in Saudi Arabia and the design of the reception areas in Saudi Arabian houses Literature Review Saudi Arabia Background Saudi Arabia extends across the Arabian Peninsula. Saudi Arabia is a relatively young country even with a rich history. In the western highlands lies the Hejaz, the structure of Islam that is home to the holiest cities, which is Mecca and Medina. The central part of the country identified as Najd ( Highland ). The eastern region, which runs along the Persian Gulf, hosts the country s many oil fields, which have made Saudi Arabia wealthy from sales of petroleum. The three elements; tribalism, religion, and wealth has characterized the country s recent history (Ochsenwald & Teitelbaum, 2011, p.1). The house designs of most Saudis are built with privacy as the main concern. Thus, the design should allow for privacy in the three important zones, such as the guest space, the family space, and servant areas (Othman, Aird & Buys, 2015, p. 10). The houses must also provide privacy from outsiders; therefore, the houses are not built with windows facing the neighbors. Therefore, the dwelling space design should separate the public and private life and religiously maintain their independence (Al-Naim, 2006, p. 9). The houses should also maintain gender segregation as required by the Quran and other Islamic teachings such as the Hadith. Most houses therefore, are divided in to several parts; the family areas, women guest spaces, semi-private areas, and men guest spaces. Traditional Islamic teachings involve developed guidelines which carry direct applications on the design and development of the domestic sphere (Othman, Aird & Buys, 2015, p. 12). These traditions are driven by the privacy principles, hospitality and modesty as central guidelines, with each principle carrying significant effect on the architectural design of a Muslim home and the organizational space as well as the domestic behavior within each space (Al-Naim, 2006, p. 10). Most Muslim homes are designed with the element of privacy as the central motive, therefore the traditional Muslim dwelling setting follows the teachings from the Quran and Hadiths in order to ensure that every family is allowed space to rest from the endless pressures and demands of the outside world (Mohsen et al. 2015, p. 135). Therefore, the protection of the family privacy, especially of gender separation is assigned a significant position in the social and domestic order. It has been observed that the family privacy is the significant element in the family structures. The privacy factor shapes how Muslim homes are build, especially in the use of the interior spaces (Othman, Aird & Buys, 2015, p. 14). The design considerations take care of the control of visibility and transmission of noise. Transition space as the first-stop point The traditional Muslim housing plans follows the Islamic beliefs and culture, especially because of the need to offer control of relationships between family members and people from outside as well as between women of the household and foreigners (Mohsen et al. 2015, p. 135). Consequently, the point of entrance between the outside and the inside of the house was of significant concern. There is a space for waiting or discussion before the door was fully opened (Mohsen et al. 2015, p. 136). The door had two bells for men and women complete with different tones meant to offer information on the gender of the visitor. This information was important because it allowed the women to cover themselves with veils before opening the door (Mohsen et al. 2015, p. 137). Gender and Space According to Farah & Klarqvis (n. d.), in the Middle East and the Islamic world, gender division is well defined. The division is enforced through cultural constraints and religious obligations. The dwelling, the artifact of culture, also demonstrates the gender classification, especially on the utilization of residential spaces (Memarian, oljerdi & Ranjbar-Kermani, 2011, p. 70). Although the strictness of the gender division pervades the Islamic world, it is particularly observed in Saudi Arabia. The creation of the receiving areas only goes to confirm this fact. However, there is no clarity on the input of women and culture in the evolving gendered nature of the receiving or spatial areas or gender division (Memarian, oljerdi & Ranjbar-Kermani, 2011, p. 71). Too many researchers on the Saudi Arabia architecture, comment that the receiving area and the spatial position occupied by the women has been seen as segregating sphere controlled through religious beliefs and Arabic cultural norms (Memarian, oljerdi & Ranjbar-Kermani, 2011, p. 70). The spaces have largely been designed to accommodate the women roles in their households. The Saudi Arabian women roles have influenced the development of the receiving area and the women salons were brought about by the desire to protect their privacy while undertaking their family roles and duties. Spatial patterning Most Saudi families live in houses which have physical partitions based on function and gender (Mohsen et al. 2015, p. 138). Although walls are common as physical boundaries in the dwelling unit, space segregation such as the receptions areas may be accomplished using the use levels. In most Saudi dwelling spaces, there are specific rooms or areas used for specific functions for different people sphere (Othman, Aird & Buys, 2015, p. 16). There are specific rooms for having guests depending on their gender in most dwelling units. The Saudi women used not to have any influence on the determination on the constructions of the receptions areas. However, the women are the ones who often have the guests, so the nature of the receptions areas has been remodeled on Islamic perception of women roles in the household, and especially on their privacy. Thus, in most Saudi Arabian houses, including the villa-type, there are provisions of gender-specific entrances (Fig. 1). Figure 1: Town house floor plan, (Al-Naim 2006). Othman, Aird, & Buys (2015) explains that the introduction of the familiar courtyards in traditional Muslim dwelling in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East was meant to allow enough distance between the outside and prevent visibility of the interior spaces. Although most of the creation of receiving and private spaces in Saudi Arabian households is not specifically stated in the Quran, except for the social restriction between non-blood related women and men, the domestic domain remains a woman s space (Othman, Aird & Buys, 2015, p. 10). The Saudi Arabian women accept the gender segregated spaces enforced by the social system and have managed to turn these spaces into their respective domains. According to Othman, Aird, & Buys (2015), the Saudi women, as the key decision makers in the domestic setting, make decisions on the people permitted to enter their dwellings, consequently, they have had an influence, in on the set ups of the receptions areas in their homes (Othman, Aird, & Buys 2015, p. 11). The receiving area The homestead environment in most Saudi Arabia households approves social situations that impacts on people s behavior. Thus, the construction of a Saudi Arabian dwelling space, including the location of the doors and windows, are controlled by social norms sphere (Othman, Aird & Buys, 2015, p. 18). It is to be observed that hospitality is an important tradition and occupies a central position in the teachings of the Islamic religion (Farah & Klarqvis, n. d. p. 24). Othman, Aird & Buys, (2015, p. 20) observe that according to Islamic traditions, guest must be well received, therefore, the Muslim dwelling space in Saudi Arabia must take advantage of what may be considered as guest salons or receiving areas. However, the need for women privacy is an important sphere (Othman, Aird & Buys, 2015, p. 20). The view is that hosting social gathering or accommodating guest should not expose the privacy of the women in the dwelling spaces, therefore it is still important to maintain the inner privacy of the dwelling space (Othman, Aird & Buys, 2015, p. 20). There are, therefore, specially designed visitors reception rooms for the comfort of the guests, accessible to the occupants of the dwelling space without interfering with life and privacy of the occupants (Ochsenwald & Teitelbaum, 2007, p. 16). In order to protect the privacy of the women, the women salon was positioned at the back while the male reception faced the street. The Saudi women and their social status have impacted the design and the architecture of the dwelling space. It has been observed that according to the privacy rules for the women was the focus of the Saudi Arabian traditional house design with the various spaces developed to function in respect of their veils (Mohsen et al. 2015, p. 137). The Saudi Arabian gender division is well defined and promoted through cultural constraints. The dwelling space is classifies the gender classification, especially on the use of dwelling spaces (Farah & Klarqvist, (n. d., p. 42). Accordingly, the house in Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries the houses are categorized as zones and domains, which are typically occupied by particular users especially based on gender identities. Farah & Klarqvist, (n. d.,) observe that the women zones or domains are the spaces that are mostly used by women such as the kitchen and the women toilets but Islamic religion does not demand to adopt any specific dwelling space design. However, Sobh & Belk, (2011, p. 130) maintains that the Islamic beliefs are strong on the provision of the privacy to family members. Consequently, privacy and comfort of both family members and visitors should be taken into consideration by locating particular spaces. The women maijlis was previously the living room and in some cases, one of bedrooms on the ground floor. However, in the early 1980s, many people opened a room and made it specifically to provide women accessibility without being exposed (Al-Naim, 2006, p. 90). Some researchers have argued that the views of privacy in the Saudi Arabian situation, and the separation of public and private spaces in the homes have been developed in the last few centuries (Sobh & Bell, 2011, p. 130). However, it can be observed that within the Arabic world the issue of privacy has always been associated with the belief in religion. The issue of modesty, in the Saudi Arabian situation has traditionally demanded different female living quarters separated from the men space so that they can enjoy their comfort and privacy including uncovering their faces (Sobh & Belk, 2011, p. 131). The Development of the Contemporary Women Receiving Area With the emerging economic growth boosted by the oil boom in the 1970s, the Saudi Arabia government introduced a five-year plan to develop both economic as well as human resources while enhancing the physical infrastructure and social sector; especially on private homes (Al-Naim 2006, p. 56). The design of the modern houses were influenced by the local regulations, however, these houses incorporated the spatial organization in the family space. A significant development was the design of the two-story houses. The ground floor was the family area and reception space while the first floor was the sleeping quarters. However, the ground floor bedrooms were phase out in the 1980s (Al-Naim 2006, p. 57). In the space previously used as bedroom on the ground floor and a multi-purpose room. The women space at this stage of housing development was the mugallat, which served as the women reception area and dining room (Al-Naim 2006, p. 64). Women Influence in the Evolution of the Reception Spaces According to Al-Naim (2006) as these developments were taking place, the women increasingly exerted pressure in order to express themselves in the design of their homes. In the beginning they make great efforts to have a space for themselves (the majlis) in the family area; however, they progressively get their space separated completely from the family space. This space became the women reception areas. (Al-Naim, 2006, p. 65). By the 1990s, the women domain had become established and most houses featured the women space; a single room, toilets, and a washing area. The women space was centered on the family entrance and, since it was separated from the family space gradually shaped the women identity. An interesting development in the houses designed in late 1980s was the living room. This space was the central courtyard in previous traditional designs, the central space for the family activities, which also connected the bedrooms located on the ground floor (Al-Naim 2006, p. 132). However, when the living room was separated, its symbolic role remained more significant than its functionality. It remained as the space where women could receive guests without interfering with the activities of the rest of the family. (Al-Naim 2006, p. 133) (Fig. 2).. Figure 2: contemporary house design with demarcated women space, (Al-Naim 2006) Transition from Traditional to Contemporary Housing In the beginning, during the transition from traditional to contemporary housing, the houses were built with a multi-purpose room, which served at times as the dining room, but increasingly was used by women as their reception and entertainment space (Al-Naim, 2006, p. 56). However, this development was the beginning of the development of specific reception areas for women. It evolved as the most important area in modern Saudi Arabia homes. The space also located at the front where it was exclusively used as the reception area for women (Al-Naim, 2006, p. 57). It has also been observed that, since the male reception area was used for a long time as the link between the majlis and the external environment, consequently, many households introduced a second door to offer a link for the living room to the external environment. The majlis door became the guest door and it was kept open if there was a guest inside. (Al-Naim 2006, p. 61). Specific Changes Introduced By Women The noticeable changes that women introduced in the contemporary dwelling is moving the women guests entertainment space from the family space, as found in the traditional homes, to a specific space inside the modern houses. Thus, as housing design became improved and modernized, so did the women establish their domain and gave the space identity (Al-Naim, 2006, p. 131). Thus, the women reception areas have gained an elevated significance because it is the part of the dwelling space that exclusively links the women with their society, unlike previous years when it was a male dominated society (Al-Naim 2006, p. 132). It can therefore, be observed that the modern Muslim women have forced the evolvement of the women majlis from a spatial part in the family space to separate spaces. These developments happened due to the roles of women in modern Saudi Arabia, especially because they have become more, educated, enlightened and, to some extent, economically independent (Al-Naim 2006,, p. 137). It means, therefore, that, the women reception space has evolved from the undefined space in the traditional dwelling spaces to a dedicated and defined space in modern houses, which adequately satisfies their privacy needs. The evolution of the women reception space is a reflection of the changes in the social roles for both women and men in contemporary Saudi Arabia. Figure 3: A house with animal court in 1940s, (Al-Naim 2006) 35 Women, the Space, and Reform in Saudi Arabia The segregation of women is not a tradition or conservatism; it is the result of urbanization. It has risen as urbanization has progressed while the state on its part has spread its influence across the territory (Le Renard 2008, p. 610). The women segregation led to the creation of women sphere of activities. It is noted that the separation is not just special since the state institutions, on their part, have designated gender as a separate category of citizens with a separate discourse inherently speaking about the Saudi Arabian women, hence the categorization of Saudi women (Le Renard 2008, p. 611). It is further observed that the Saudi women have appropriated the segregation discourse and developed their own discourse on their own terms. They have also created their own sphere of influence in their homes through the creation of the women reception areas, and therefore, they can be said to have influence the modern Saudi Arabia architecture. The segregation of social organization has developed in the context of both the Islamic revival and the government has found itself in a position of financial strength and, therefore, able to finance the development of female institutions (Le Renard 2008, p. 612). The discovery of oil has further enriched the nation and, therefore, gave rise to urbanization as the women domestic work declined. This case can also be seen in the spatial organization when the animal court entirely disappeared in a modern house design, as compared to a house design in 1940 (Figure2 &Figure 3)(Al-Naim 2006). The question of women and work is tied to the nationalization of the labor market as well as the growth of the private sector as well as education. Saudi women are relatively educate, especially those in the urban areas, consequently, they have been a target for employment in the private sector (Le Renard 2008, p. 615). The new turn of events has empowered the women economically and, as a consequence, given them a voice both in their homes and in public. The Theory of Artifacts have politics The idea that technical things have political characteristics is one of the controversies surrounding technology and society. At the center of the argument, it is claimed that structures, systems and machines of present-day culture can not only be judged for their productivity and efficiency but also for the patterns in which they can represent unique forms of authority and power. Winner (1980) illustrated two ways in which artifacts could contain political properties. The first illustration focused on the cases in which the invention and/ or design of a particular system or technical device becomes a means of solving an issue in a given community. The second illustration was called political technologies, which are artificial systems that seem to be compatible with certain kinds of political relationships. Technologies bring order to the world. When making structuring decisions about a particular technology, different individuals are differently positioned and have different levels of power. Because decisions tend to be greatly linked to social habit, material equipment and economic investment, the original flexibility for all practical reasons vanish immediately the primary guarantees are made. Therefore, technological innovations become similar to political or legislative acts that create an outline for public order that will exist for several generations. Consequently, the same keen attention one would give to political relationships, rules and roles must also be given when designing or developing a particular technology. The inflexible properties of certain technologies may also make them possess political traits. Here there is no alternative design that would effectively change the quality of its effects. Figure 4, Figure 5, Figure 6, Analysis Conclusion References Al-Naim, M. (2006). The home environment in Saudi Arabia and gulf states: the dilemma of cultural resistance, Identity in transition. Farah, E. & Klarqvis, B. (n. d.). 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