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In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor's Journey in the Saudi Kingdom | [Qanta A. Ahmed]

In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor's Journey in the Saudi Kingdom

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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. It is a place where she discovers what it takes for one woman to recreate herself in the land of invisible women.

©2008 Qanta Ahmed (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

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4.1 (39 )
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  •  
    Kimmarie Palm Harbor, FL, United States 05-17-12
    Kimmarie Palm Harbor, FL, United States 05-17-12 Member Since 2010

    B@DRS

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Women under war"

    As our newspapers and news inform us there is a war on women in America. While they gloss over the fact the countries such a Saudi Arabia & Pakistan kill their women for being whores.

    Enjoyed the book, enjoyed the voice of the narrarator. The thing of it is....

    Where are all of the books written by women or for women who were not so lucky?

    We can all grab bios on Tina Fey or Suzanne Sommers.

    What about Wafta Sultan, Souad and Rana Husseini? What about some audiobooks from women in Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Pakistan?

    Just Saying.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 07-16-14
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 07-16-14
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    "Important work, somewhat too ambitious"
    Where does In the Land of Invisible Women rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I enjoyed this book for the most part. Nicola Barber's performance was spectacular, and Qanta Ahmed's observational skills - crucial for a physician - are on full display. I could feel the oppressive heat, sense the culture shock, and awed by her description of her Haj experience. It is, however, somewhat lost in brand-name-dropping (particularly in the first half). Once you get past that, it is a very important enlightening book, giving faces and names to "invisible" women in an uncomfortable reality of Saudi Arabia.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The description of the Haj. I was blown away by such a mass amount of people, beautiful buildings, stones, waters, prayers... it was incredibly moving.


    Any additional comments?

    I did enjoy this book. The first half has a lot of brand name dropping - Mercedes, Rolex, etc. - and it gets a little bit grating. However, that aside, I will never forget this book, and will likely read it again.
    Qanta is a moderate Muslim who is thrown into a kingdom where women are veiled, and the veiling of Muslims is definitely described as a prison. Through two years, she learns what women - and by extension men - endure in the Saudi kingdom. She is blunt, to the point, observant, giving a realism seldom viewed. Unlike Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Infidel, Nomad), Qanta's Muslim faith remains intact, even though extremism as witnessed in Saudi Arabia does not persuade her to think as many do there, or to become resigned to her fate.

    Worth buying on sale, or even for its own cash value; I wouldn't spend a credit on it, but that's just me.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Claire Jerusalem, Israel 04-21-13
    Claire Jerusalem, Israel 04-21-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Could have been so much more"

    The writing ranges from indifferent to awkward, but that is not the only reason I rate this books as merely "ok". It had the potential to be so much more than it is.

    Dr. Qanta A. Ahmed is capable of close observation--no critical care physician can lack this ability--and some of her descriptions are very closely observed, indeed. It is a shame that these are mostly limited to the physical appearance of the people she meets and of their clothing, homes and cars.

    Yet we cannot call Ahmed shallow because the religious experience she underwent in the Kingdom was clearly deeply felt. I am disappointed that she did not spend more time exploring it and less time looking for well-worn metaphors to describe it.

    The main problem with In the Land of Invisible Women, in my opinion, is that it never quite seems to decide what kind of book it is. Is it the description of the author's religious itinerary? Then why leave that almost exclusively to the section on her Haj (pilgrimage to Mecca)? Is it the story of a Western-trained double-boarded physician who happens to be a woman practicing in the very different and restrictive conditions experienced by female physicians in the Kingdom? Then tell us more about that.

    Is this a book about Saudi culture? Then spend less time on describing cars, jewelry and clothing and more time on behavior, attitudes, laws and social expectations. Is it a book about the history of Wahabi extremism in Saudia? Then write it as a history and don't try to squeeze it in as background in artificial-sounding conversations.

    The main problem I found with this book is its lack of focus. There is so much potential here for a riveting memoir or a fascinating analysis. Ahmed sold herself short by taking the easy way out.

    This book will be particularly interesting to people with little or no knowledge of Islam, people who don't know many Muslims. Think of it as a long, chatty letter from the friend of a friend and you won't be as disappointed as I was.

    Not a bad book, just not as good as it might have been.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sheila Mulgrave, Australia 01-07-13
    sheila Mulgrave, Australia 01-07-13 Member Since 2010

    A reader who loves to sew, which makes Audible ideal. No special trends but always on the lookout for recommended titles. Appreciate good stories not the graphic details which seem to be the trend.

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    "MORE THAN I EXPECTED"

    Not know anything about this book, I was pleasantly surprised. I just had to know what this was about. I leant a lot about the women of The Kingdom and the menfolk.
    I found the discussion with the writer, at the conclusion, to be a surprise and a well received time of listening. Will definitely look for more of Qanta A. Ahmed's book. She writes excelently.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anat LOS ANGELES, CA, United States 06-24-13
    Anat LOS ANGELES, CA, United States 06-24-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Eye opening account"
    What did you love best about In the Land of Invisible Women?

    It is amazing to discover how women, including enlightened and modern women, live under religious and male oppression in Saudi Arabia. Riveting account!


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    A MUST READ for anyone living in the Western world.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Large USA 08-21-12
    Jennifer Large USA 08-21-12 Member Since 2010

    Jennifer Large

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    "Very interesting, though biased..."
    Would you try another book from Qanta A. Ahmed and/or Nicola Barber?

    I don't think that, based on this book, I would read another by the same author.


    What was most disappointing about Qanta A. Ahmed’s story?

    I was a little bit alarmed by the degree of bias about the hijab. I mean, she wrote about it erasing women, stealing their personhood and their rights. I certainly understand that she was writing from her own experience as a Western woman, but it seemed to project a western interpretation of a foreign practice. The whole book did that, really. I think that was both honest and unfair. It made the book interesting, but also disappointing. I mean, one doesn't need to go to the Saudi Kingdom to get a Westerner's take on women's rights in the Middle East.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I loved the chapters about the haj.


    Did In the Land of Invisible Women inspire you to do anything?

    It inspired me to find books written by women who are actually from the Saudi Kingdom.


    Any additional comments?

    I appreciated the kind of investigatory nature of the book and the "revelation" of the women's world in the Saudi Kingdom.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Verena 08-03-12
    Verena 08-03-12 Member Since 2011
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    "just loved this story"
    Would you listen to In the Land of Invisible Women again? Why?

    I really enjoyed listening to Quanta's story because liked her as person, it was very easy to see her experiences through her eyes.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I originally had purchased this book out of cultural interest, but as I read this shifted more to be interested in who Quanta is and how she feels as a person about the daily life in Saudi-Arabia


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I loved that she met this doctor, I can not remember his name, she fell in love with. For some reason I kept hoping for a happy end ..........


    Any additional comments?

    The storyline is well structured and well narrated

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-7 of 7 results
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  • S
    12/14/14
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    "Interesting but a bit too long"
    If you could sum up In the Land of Invisible Women in three words, what would they be?

    Interesting, shocking, long


    What did you like best about this story?

    I've read numerous books about women living in Saudi but the majority had been about women who had been born in the country, for whom the customs were something they had grown up with. I chose this book because it wanted to see if the story would be different coming from a woman who had been born outside of the kingdom, one who was educated and working in what some may have considered a male job.


    Have you listened to any of Nicola Barber’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    This is the first performance I've heard, but its been very enjoyable.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    At the start I enjoyed listening to this book and would have happily considered listening to it in one sitting. However, as the book progressed I found some parts continued for much longer than what I would have liked and had it been a print book I would have probably skipped a few pages to get back into the more gripping stuff.


    Any additional comments?

    It was interesting to hear the story of a woman who despite being a muslim, she had never really practiced her religion and had lived in the relative freedom of the USA for many years having to deal with the cultural differences she came across when working in Saudi. Overall it was a very interesting book. My only criticism is there were sections of the book which I felt went on a bit too long and at times I lost track of what was going on. Had it been a print book I would have probably skipped a few pages. At the same time I felt the conclusion was quite quick compared to the rest of the book. Maybe this was because I dipped in and out of the book several times rather than listened to it in long sessions.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Ann
    Newcastle, England
    5/2/14
    Overall
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    "Hmmm!"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    It was a valuable read/listen for me, as I learned quite a bit about Saudi and Muslim culture. However, I did not warm to the author. There was a arrogance to her, admittedly one not uncommon to medics of a certain generation. She also seemed preoccupied with how physically attractive each person she met, or even simply saw, was. She repeatedly commented on each persons weight (likely lifestyle in respect of it), the straightness of their teeth, the size of noses etc. Generally, the writing was reasonably good, but in some chapters there was a jarringly clumsy use, and overuse, of metaphor and the language used was at time over-contrived.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    It felt unfinished. There was more to say about returning to America as a British-Pakistani Muslim immediately post 9/11.


    What three words best describe Nicola Barber’s performance?

    A little too delicate for this particular book, but very good quality narration.


    Could you see In the Land of Invisible Women being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

    It probably would make a good movie.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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