I have been travelling again, and at the KM Middle East conference in Abu Dhabi, as well as giving the keynote talk, I ran one of my Gurteen Knowledge Cafe workshops. During the workshop, one of the men, who was probably in his 40s, approached me and told me that he was from Saudi Arabia and that he had found it difficult to speak to the women at the tables.
This had been the first time in his life that he had spoken to a woman other than his mother, his wife, his sister and two nieces.
He had two brothers and had never spoken to their wives.
He went on to say, that in his opinion, Saudi Arabian men and woman did not talk much within their families and thus there was thus little understanding of each other and a consequent lack of respect.
I am well aware of the segregation of men and women in Saudi Arabia but the impact of this brought it home to me in a very personal way.
I have often thought it would be good to bring men women together to discuss our differences in the safe, respectful setting of a Knowledge Cafe. One day I will but its unlikely to ever be in Saudi Arabia.