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on 5 November 2004
This book is truly amazing. Carmen gives a great review on how life is really like within the Bin Lardin family. I admirer her courage upon her journey in Saudi Arabia.
My heart whet out to the family especially after September the 11th.
She had to make a huge choice when taking her daughters out of Saudi Arabia , however I truly believe she made the right choice.
This book is worth every penny.
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on 14 June 2005
I reccommend this book to anyone wanting a readable introduction to understanding the nature of Saudi Arabia, Wahabbi islam, and the society that produced Osama bin Laden, and, in her final chapter, the danger that now facces the West. Carmen bin Ladin, Osama's former sister-in-law, writes of her curtailed and limited life during her marriage into the bin-Ladin clan with the depth of understanding of a woman who is descended from and knows two worlds
- the european/american (post-)christian West and islamic Iran - and has spent a considerable part of her life at the heart of a third, wahabbi Saudi Arabia.
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on 21 March 2008
Carmen was born in Switzerland and had been brought up with western values. However, in 1974 she married into the Bin Laden family and her life completely changed. As penetrating Saudi culture is difficult as it is one of the most powerful, secretative and repressive kingdoms, this book provides a unique insight of Women in Saudi Society and gives us a chance to appreciate their mentality. It also makes the reader appreciate what freedom means, something that most of us take for granted. Saudi society is so different, you might as well be describing another planet or universe.
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on 27 June 2009
Sometimes it's hard to believe what you're reading and such was the case for me with "The Veiled Kingdom" by Carmen Bin Laden.

Life for women living in Saudi Arabia couldn't be more different from that of living in the West. This I suppose most of us accept, but the contrasts are really difficult to imagine. To be veiled from head to foot in exceedingly hot weather, in desert conditions, appears to be non-sensical. However, for those born into and brought up in such conditions, it is not questioned.

For someone like Carmen Bin Laden (half Swiss - half Iranian) who in 1974 fell in love with and married an older brother of Osama Bin Laden, and quite unused to such extremes of living, it became a living hell.

She was able to escape the rigorous conditions by frequent visits to Geneva and by taking her young daughters with her, but her constant worry was that she didn't want her daughters to grow up in the Saudi controlled conditions of a veiled life that other members of Saudi society had to live with, including the clan of Bin Ladens and Royal Saudis who ruled the country.

Western values of freedom may often be extreme in contrast to those of Saudi Arabia but at least we have the choice of how to live our lives. Wahabbi Islam is repressive, to say the least, and it governs the lives of Saudi Arabian society in a way the Western world has little knowledge of.

A very readable book and a most interesting insight into the very rich and powerful Bin Laden family.
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on 22 October 2012
I read this book when it first came out in 2005, and again today and realise how exaggerated it is. Carmen's hatred for the 'Bin Laden' clan is all 'talk'.

Firstly, if she hated them so much, why did she keep her Husband's surname? And why did her daughter's keep the surname too, she and her daughters could have both reverted back to her maiden name. It would have been easy after 9/11, with just cause.

The woman is clearly a bitter gold-digger who is profiting from her ex-husband's surname, her accounts are over the top.

I found the fact that she was profiting from such a devastating event in history to be in extremely bad taste.

This book has used 9/11 as a money making mechanism for a divorcee, a way to get back at her ex-husband and a chance for a tired looking woman to get her 15 minutes of fame and name splashed over the media, disgusting.

This book is the Jerry Springer of facts.
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VINE VOICEon 21 January 2007
Carmen was born in Switzerland of a Swiss father and Persian (Iranian) mother. She frequently spent holidays in Iran with her mother's family, but had little contact with her father after he left them when she was nine.

Yeslam Bin Ladin was holidaying in Switzerland when they met and fell in love. They spent the early years of their married life in America, and there their first baby, Wafah, was born.

It was not until they moved to Saudi to further Yeslam's career, that any problems arose.

For many years Carmen lived under the repressive regime of Saudi Arabia, with severely restricted freedoms for all women. It was a life that we in the West cannot begin to contemplate.

When finally she broke away, it was concern for the future of her daughters that motivated her. she wonders herself whether things might have been different had she had sons instead.

This is Carmen's very personal account of her life behind the scenes in a country that has such different attitudes to ours, influenced heavily by an extreme form of Islam.
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on 1 October 2011
This book gives a unique insight into the social background that created the 9/11 horror. Carmen, married to Osama's brother, lifts the lid off the life of the wealthy Moslem fundamentalists. She has both an outsider's objectivity and an insider's knowledge. Her book is neither self-justification or propoganda.

In addition, it is an enjoyable read
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on 14 December 2011
This is a superb book; interesting and passionate. Some relatives of mine lived in Saudi Arabia for many years, and they would often tell me of the restrictions faced by local women and the extreme social codes of Saudi society. After reading Carmen's book, I now have a much better understanding of the culture. Carmen's personal story is particularly fascinating. A first hand account of someone brought up in a modern & democratic society, suddenly exposed to whole new world of strict adherence and harsh regulations.

Her journey is an inspiration.
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on 31 January 2010
this book was a very interseting insight into a totally different way of life. I work in a very multicultural environment with people from all backgrounds but would never have known this side if i hadnt read the book. Started reading it at my mum and dads over christmas but because it was a library book i couldnt borrow it!
will now lend to others at work as i feel it is a book that everyone should read! also very easy to read!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 8 October 2012
This is the autobiography of a half Swiss, half Persian woman who fell in love with, and married, a member of the large Bin Laden clan, with whom she had three daughters. Due to transliteration from the Arabic, the surnames have a slightly different spelling.

They lived in the US and Switzerland, but it is the later years living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, that form the core of this book. At the end they became estranged and separated. Luckily the final break occurred in Switzerland, allowing the author to keep the children as well as her self-respect.

This is a story of the difficulty of living in two extremely different worlds and the quiet horror for a westernised woman to have to live as a Saudi. It is well written and a compulsive read. Mrs Bin Ladin should be complemented on this book.

Latifa My Forbidden Face
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