On the last episode of 90 Day Fiance: The Other WayFinally, Nicole Sherbiny, Finally made a friend in Egypt.
Nicole’s problem with making friends was not a personality problem. Mahmoud just refused to “allow” her to go out for most activities until she found the women-only guided meditation class.
Nouran is an Egyptian and Muslim woman. Not only did she quickly become friends with Nicole, but she also instantly understood Nicole’s marriage.
Much to Mahmoud’s horror, she opened Nicole’s eyes to some realities of life in Egypt. Naturally, Nicole’s husband and her friend immediately clashed when they met.
At the start of Season 4, Episode 10 of 90 Day Fiance: The Other Way, Nicole Sherbiny had been back in Egypt for about four months.
She and her husband, Mahmoud Elsherbiny, had managed to find a peaceful coexistence instead of constantly fighting.
Their secret? Not to mention their problems. So nothing has changed, nothing has improved. Nicole always dressed according to her wishes, living in her mother’s house, spending almost all her time at home.
Some things had improved. Nicole was using an apparently new air conditioning unit (or maybe we just hadn’t seen it before).
Mahmoud seemed to somehow tell her that she had used it. We’ve seen him turn passive aggressive before, so that wasn’t a surprise.
She wasn’t particularly cold (no surprise, for a woman from Los Angeles) from what we can see. Especially considering they are in Egypt. It just seemed like Mahmoud couldn’t help but comment on it.
Interestingly, Nicole revealed that she and Mahmoud went to see other houses. They are a young married couple, currently living in a single room in her mother’s busy house.
Moving would mean having your own bathroom, a real modern bathroom, where the shower does not include the toilet. Right now they share a bathroom with everyone else.
However, they did not move. Mahmoud, Nicole explained, just didn’t want to leave her mother’s house. Viewers have seen this before, inside and outside of America.
Mahmoud’s insistence that Nicole not go out alone and rarely go out with him has really made it difficult for her to make friends. Or, you know, enjoying his life in Egypt.
However, despite Mahmoud not allowing her to do yoga (in case she stretches and a man sees her body dressed), she was able to enroll in a women-only guided meditation class.
Not only did her mental and emotional health clearly need it, but Nicole ended up making a friend.
Nouran is an Egyptian woman. She is also a Muslim woman. She very quickly understood Nicole’s situation.
She knows that Mahmoud comes from a particularly conservative neighborhood and family. Nouran was quick to point out that all of Egypt is not quite what Mahmoud claims to be.
During this time, she opened up to Nicole about her own background. She is a Muslim woman who, like millions of women like her, makes her own choices about how to dress and live her life.
Mahmoud made some changes for Nicole’s sake. Not “allowing him to choose his own clothes” and not “moving in as a couple” as changes, but changes.
For example, he didn’t forbid her to take this guided meditation course. Mahmoud explained that it is because he knows she is unhappy.
He also went out to dinner with her. This, in Mahmoud’s world, seems unusual. Or maybe it’s only when it comes to dinner with friends?
Mahmoud may have bitten his tongue at first about Nicole’s new class.
But as Nicole began to enthusiastically tell him about his new friend, he was clearly feeling defensive.
Nicole’s new friend is an Egyptian Muslim woman…but not one who lives exactly by Mahmoud’s standards. (Remember, even Mahmoud’s own brother doesn’t live as strict a life as Mahmoud seems to demand of Nicole)
Nouran had shared some of his own experiences with dating. Her family had told her that as an adult she would have to make her own choices about how to dress.
Later, she had met a man who had tried to demand that he make those choices for her. You know, just like Mahmoud does to Nicole.
Of course, Mahmoud bristled at this, thinking Nicole’s new friend scared him of all Egyptian men. Or maybe he just realized he’s not the only person anymore to tell Nicole what life in Egypt is like.
Mahmoud predicted that Nouran would cause problems in his marriage. How? Probably by exposing Nicole to the realities and variety of lifestyles of Muslim women in Egypt.
Nouran has arrived to meet Mahmoud at dinner. She wore a dress with sleeves.
For Mahmoud, it was an outrageous outfit – and confirmation of all his “fears” about his wife’s new friend.
Many people will have a kind of polite conversation – often without saying much about the substance – when they first meet someone.
In fact, even when you meet someone you know you don’t like, most people will stay cool and polite.
Not in this case. Mahmoud, whose on-camera voiceover leaned into Nouran’s clothes (his desire for control extends far beyond his wife), more or less challenged Nouran to reinforce his presentation of what is life in Egypt.
Basically, Mahmoud wanted Nouran to reinforce everything he said to Nicole. In his mind, that’s how life is in Egypt… if you don’t know the rest.
That’s more or less Nouran’s assessment of him.
She told the camera that she had known men like Mahmoud before. They haven’t experienced anything outside of their little bubble – the way their family does things. And they are not interested in expanding their horizons.
This fits perfectly with what viewers have seen of Mahmoud.
The guy is almost 30 years old, but refuses to leave his mother’s house. Even if he has a wife, even if he has a job.
Mahmoud even admitted to Nicole in a previous episode that he couldn’t imagine changing his life as much as she changed his. (Of course, that didn’t stop him from demanding further changes from her)
Nouran asked how Mahmoud would feel if Nicole took her yoga class instead of just meditating. She already knew the answer.
He said no. Mahmoud balked at the idea of a student seeing Nicole during her stretches.
Nouran tried to reason with him (a mistake), noting that essentially punishing Nicole for a man’s eyes and thoughts doesn’t seem very fair. This is not the case !
Mahmoud then pivoted to discuss the Quran. Or, more precisely, its interpretation.
Nouran was quick to point out that he was acting as if Islam’s holy book contained specific instructions which he did not.
But, more specifically, she cited passages from the Koran that encourage devout Muslims to make their own choices.
In other words, a few words might have changed and you would be witnessing an argument between two Christians over their own holy book.
Only a few religions have central scriptures that instruct them on how to live their lives, but many religious people have similar debates.
In Mahmoud’s case, this debate led him to double down on gender essentialism…believing that men and women can never be equal because women are, in his mind, just too sexy. Due to boobs.
Mahmoud’s argument was basically that women are so attractive that they have to cover up.
He felt that, meanwhile, men’s bodies aren’t as interesting. This is… clearly Mahmoud’s point of view, but far from a universal consensus.
Nouran’s key point was more that it was a personal choice than anything else. Again, millions of Muslim women around the world (including in Egypt) make their own choices. However, Mahmoud does not want Nicole to do this.
Nicole watched it all unfold with fascination and discomfort.
They’re basically the only two people she knows in the entire country. Everyone else is either a producer on the show or a relative of Mahmoud.
She didn’t necessarily expect them to get along well. But she didn’t expect them to be discussing passages from the Koran in the minutes following the meeting.
Nouran didn’t mince words when addressing the camera after that.
Simply put, she could never do what Nicole does – surrender her autonomy to a man just to make him happy.
Will all of this open Nicole’s eyes to the real options she may have as a Muslim woman in Egypt? Or will she just keep giving in to almost anything Mahmoud wants?