In the Land of Invisible Women

ISBN: 9781402210877

By: Qanta Ahmed,

Published: 09/01/2008

The decisions that change your life are often the most impulsive ones.

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"In this stunningly written book, a Western trained Muslim doctor brings alive what it means for a woman to live in the Saudi Kingdom. I've rarely experienced so vividly the shunning and shaming, racism and anti-Semitism, but the surprise is how Dr. Ahmed also finds tenderness at the tattered edges of extremism, and a life-changing pilgrimage back to her Muslim faith." - Gail Sheehy The decisions that change your life are often the most impulsive ones. Unexpectedly denied a visa to remain in the United States, Qanta Ahmed, a young British Muslim doctor, becomes an outcast in motion. On a whim, she accepts an exciting position in Saudi Arabia. This is not just a new job; this is a chance at adventure in an exotic land she thinks she understands, a place she hopes she will belong. What she discovers is vastly different. The Kingdom is a world apart, a land of unparalleled contrast. She finds rejection and scorn in the places she believed would most embrace her, but also humor, honesty, loyalty and love. And for Qanta, more than anything, it is a land of opportunity. A place where she discovers what it takes for one woman to recreate herself in the land of invisible women.

About the Author

Qanta Ahmed, MD

Dr. Ahmed is currently an assistant professor of medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, and Assistant Director of the MUSC Sleep Disorders Laboratory. She is a quadruple boarded in internal medicine, pulmonary disease, critical care medicine, and sleep disorders medicine. She continues to practice intensive care medicine. She became a fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians, a Diplomat and member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Bedouin Bedside
Chapter 2: A Time to Leave America
Chapter 3: My New Home, a Military Compound
Chapter 4: Abbayah Shopping
Chapter 5: Invisible and Safe
Chapter 6: Saudi Women Who Dance Alone
Chapter 7: Veiled Doctors
Chapter 8: The Lost Boys of the Kingdom
Chapter 9: A Father’s Grieving
Chapter 10: An Invitation to God
Chapter 11: The Epicenter of Islam
Chapter 12: Into the Light
Chapter 13: The Child of God
Chapter 14: The Million-Man Wheel
Chapter 15: Committing Haram
Chapter 16: Calling Doctora
Chapter 17: Daughters of the Desert
Chapter 18: Next Stop: Absolution
Chapter 19: Prayer under the Stars
Chapter 20: Between the Devil and the Red Sea
Chapter 21: Mutawaeen: The Men in Brown
Chapter 22: Single Saudi Male
Chapter 23: The Calm before the Storm
Chapter 24: Wahabi Wrath
Chapter 25: Doctor Zhivago of Arabia
Chapter 26: Love in the Kingdom
Chapter 27: Show Me Your Marriage License!
Chapter 28: An Eye for an Eye
Chapter 29: Princes, Polygamists, and Paupers
Chapter 30: Divorce, Saudi-Style
Chapter 31: The Saudi Divorcée
Chapter 32: Desperate Housewives
Chapter 33: The Making of a Female Saudi Surgeon
Chapter 34: The Hot Mamma
Chapter 35: The Gloria Steinem of Arabia
Chapter 36: Champion of Children
Chapter 37: 9/11 in Saudi Arabia
Chapter 38: Final Moments, Final Days
Afterword: Rugged Glory

Reading Group Guide


I returned to Khalaa Tarfa, my first patient in the Kingdom. She was a Bedouin Saudi well into her seventies, though no one could be sure of her age (female births were not certified in Saudi Arabia w...

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In the Land of Invisible Women is a must read for everyone. Why? People must find out how Dr. Ahmed dared to cope with radical Islamic fundamentalism. Rather than misery and desp...

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Format: Paperback

Length: 9 in
Width: 6 in
Weight: 22.56 oz
Page Count: 464 pages


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