Westerners may be confused about Middle Eastern customs and how people, men especially, use the ‘squat’ toilet. How we “go” impacts our environment: sit down toilets, and toilet paper consume more resources.
I have received the inquiry below from a Westerner dating a Saudi: ‘I noticed my Saudi boyfriend sits down on the toilet either to urinate or defecate and usually in the West men stand while urinating. I have been too embarrassed to ask him why he does that.’
Here is the answer from my vantage point.
What is wudhu?
Typically, Saudis pray five times a day, and in order for this praying to be accepted, one has to be fully cleaned in terms of the body and cloths. This is why Saudis are raised in a way that encourages them to care about the cleanness of their body and cloths.
Before praying (five times a day), Saudis clean all the parts of their body that are exposed and uncovered (hands, feet and face). It’s called wudu or wudhu. (And yes, you can do wudu sustainably). Saudis always maintain the cleanness of their body, and this is why they sit down while urinating or defecating and, moreover, wash with water their privates.
So, Saudis sit down on the toilet either to urinate or defecate and usually in the West men stand while urinating.
So, Saudis have been raised to maintain a high level of cleanness, which has therefore become part of their character and which might not be understood by their Western partner.
This implies that a Saudi might take a shower after having sex not necessarily because of ideological reasons but because the way s/he has been raised encourages him/her to keep their body cleaned all the time. This also implies that the Saudi skin is used to be exposed to so much water and therefore is less sensitive to it.
Saudi habits in cold countries
It should be mentioned that, in England, for example, it is cold most of the time, and therefore washing with water one’s private after defecating makes this area wet.
In other words, this area does not get dry easily in such a cold weather of England. So, in England, washing with water one’s private after defecating is not a fun experience! Despite this, Saudis living in England still do so.
Yet, in England, toilets do not offer water, which is therefore a problem for Saudis.
Saudis, however, go around this problem by taking a bottle of water with them to the toilet to wash their private after urinating. So, this is clearly a political issue, with some kind of tension between the beliefs of Saudis and the structure of the English toilet.
That is, the structure of the English toilet imposes certain values on Saudis, whereas the beliefs of Saudis encourage them to go around this structure.