When you think about Middle Eastern countries, I'm willing to bet that sex is the last thing you think about. You probably think burkas, women being stoned for showing a sliver of thigh and terrorists.
Well, imagine my shock and surprise when I saw this recent headline: Sex shop thrives in Middle East.
Khadija Ahmeds sex shop has survived against all odds and some particularly intense scrutiny from customs officials since it opened in Bahrain in 2008.
Ahmeds shop, a rare sight in the region, sells a wide range of lingerie, creams to delay male orgasm and sex toys out of the tiny Khadija Fashion House south of Manama, or through her website (www.khadijamall.com) to customers across the region.
You go Miss Ahmed. This woman is showing real courage for to further the cause of human sexuality and gender rights. Her shop is doing more for women in the Middle East than that stupid Sex And The City 2 movie.
A modestly dressed Ahmed in a traditional flowing black abaya and headscarf told Reuters that most of the items she sells are already available in Bahrains fashion shops and pharmacies anyway and that she shuns some products to avoid stirring public anger.
I dont sell vibrators for example, as this is against Islam, she said, adding that her faith banned the replication or display of sensitive parts of the body. However, other toys such as vibration rings were fine, she said.
Maybe Ahmed's success comes from the fact that she respects her religion while doing something that will help women get off, even if it is in a modest manner.
Discussing and displaying sex in public is a taboo in most Middle Eastern countries, but Islamic scholars have also said that sex toys are legitimate if used by married couples.
Bahrain is considered one of the more liberal countries in the Gulf, allowing the sale of alcohol in bars and designated shops. Saudis, Qataris and Kuwaitis flock to the island kingdom each weekend to enjoy its nightlife.
Ahmeds most recent challenge is an ongoing legal case over a complaint by a customs official. She often has trouble getting her shipments cleared through customs and once ran into a spot of trouble when an official refused to clear a shipment of massage tools and vibration rings.
These are closed-minded people....or maybe theyre just jealous, she said.
Ahmed, who says she is not aware of any similar shop in the region, says she has many customers from the United Arab Emirates and in deeply conservative Saudi Arabia.