The responses of some of The Post's female readers {letters, Aug. 29} to articles by Molly Moore and Amy Goldstein about the treatment of female soldiers and Saudi women in Saudi Arabia {Style, Aug. 23} demonstrated that some pertinent facts about the culture of Gulf Arabs are terribly misunderstood.

The letter writers were quick to describe the rules governing female conduct as "humiliating," disgusting" and "sexist," while labeling the Saudi government as one "that treats its women like cattle."

These comments merely betray their authors' ignorance of cultural differences -- an embarrassingly common problem in a nation that is geographically incompetent. "Different" is certainly not synonymous with "wrong" or for that matter, with "disgusting."

Saudi women, while they may not be allowed to hold drivers' licenses, are extended most other privileges that Saudi men receive: nearly free education and medical care, subsidized housing and the right to own property. Unlike American women, Saudi ladies possess the luxury of not having to work outside the home but the right to do so if they desire.

The practice of not looking a man in the eye, other than one's husband or other close male relative, is rooted in a Moslem woman's duty to be pious and modest in the company of men.

Perhaps it is better to veil a woman than to exploit her body across the pages of tasteless magazines and in films. Such "disgusting" and "humiliating" practices are strictly forbidden in Saudi Arabia.

As far as the treatment of female GIs is concerned, the idea of working so closely with women, particularly foreign females, in a tensely mobilized military environment, is new to Saudi soldiers.

However, the Arabs are making this transition rather well for such a traditional society. And let us not forget that female soldiers are not treated the same as men even in our own military -- female GIs, for example, do not participate in active combat.

It is important to remember that the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is merely 58 years old. When the United States was at that point in its history, slavery was still legal and widespread, and women were denied the right to vote.