The bloodied bodies in morgues and lifeless hands sticking out from the rubble of flattened buildings are distant from the comfort of Leila and Mohammed's den, yet the Gold Star television set there makes them seem close and immediate.
Every night before snacks laid out by a maid on the marble coffee table, the couple channel-surfs from CNN to al-Jazeera to Abu Dhabi television, Leila's anger bubbling over while Mohammed calmly tries to think up a rational way for the carnage to end.
"I have a beautiful home, beautiful kids, a beautiful husband," says Leila, a svelte woman in her mid-forties whose fitness is evident in her jeans, stiletto heels and a tight pink sweater. "I feel secure. But these people have no security."
The war in Iraq so infuriates Leila, who is reading a book on anger management, that she sometimes fantasizes about becoming a suicide bomber.
"America is so unfair it makes people frustrated and they want to kill every American in the street," she says, standing up from her chair, where she had been smoking a cigarette and gesturing with both hands. "If America wants to step over everybody, then we will fight. I will kill Americans in the street."
Rich and poor, young and old, Saudis are seething over the war in Iraq. Many feel connections to the people across the border, sharing names with Iraqi tribes. It is virtually impossible to find a Saudi who has even a vaguely sympathetic word to say about American intentions.
In other Arab countries, protesters are taking to the streets. Here such expressions are prohibited, but the anger is no less strong. It is just hidden, as people sit at home watching TV and engaging in conversations about civilian casualties and American hubris.
Leila, a physician, and Mohammed, a businessman who owns an export-import company, often squabble over the war. After agreeing to let a reporter watch television with them if their last name was not published, they all but ignore the gory images on their television to debate the war's meaning and impact.
As White House press secretary Ari Fleischer appears on the television screen, Mohammed says the United States is throwing its weight around.
"The biggest country in the world is the United States, and they have to keep it that way," he says, leaning forward on the leather ottoman where he is perched wearing a white thobe, the traditional floor-length shirtdress. "It's like when a child gets out of order and you slap it on the butt, that's the way they look at things.
"This war is about two things," he says. "National security is one. But the real reason is the economy, which in the U.S. has been suffering for three years. Wall Street is down, and they have to find a solution. The United States plans to get back every cent it will spend by selling the oil."
Unlike most Saudis, Leila openly admires Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, now more than ever as his paramilitary forces are fighting the American "invaders."
"I would prefer to have someone like Saddam rule all the Arab world than have America here," she says. "If Saddam invaded Saudi Arabia, I would open my heart and hands for him. He is protecting his land."
Mohammed wishes the Iraqi president would declare victory and step down for the sake of his people, though he deems Hussein too egomaniacal for that.
"If he said, 'I give up my neck to save my people. Remember who is Saddam Hussein, and I leave proudly,' he would be a hero for the whole world," Mohammed says.
Seamlessly, the conversation veers to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. In the minds of many Saudis, the Palestinian struggle and the war in Iraq are one.
"I don't understand why Israel can have nuclear weapons and Saddam Hussein cannot," Leila says.
Mohammed believes the United States should exert pressure on Israel if it hopes to mend the ill will engendered by the war in Iraq.
"The only way out to start on a new page with the Arab world is to solve it," he says. "It's like salt on an open wound. Anything the U.S. wants to do, the Arabs connect it. The extremists will have no skewers if justice will be brought to the table. Solve the Palestinian problem, and 50 percent of all the problems in the region will be solved."
On TV, the camera zooms in for a close-up of a young man pulled from a storage cabinet in the morgue. Someone has pulled back the blood-soaked blanket covering his body, showing open wounds on his face and his chest.
"The Iraqis did well," Mohammed says of the fighting. "They did better than expected. But Baghdad will be down very soon."
Leila tells him he is dreaming. "Bush will win, but after a lot of people die," she says. "Then Bush will resign because the people won't let him continue. They don't trust him. Americans are expensive. Not like Arabs. Our blood is cheap."
Mohammed feels a twinge of sympathy for the American prisoners and casualties he has seen, "because we are all human beings."
"Not at all," she says curtly. "Because they deserve it."
Rising from her chair again, Leila's voice trembles. "Maybe you will find one day I will blow myself up," she says. "Bush should listen to this message: If you continue in this war, everyone in the Islamic world, out of frustration, everyone will become a suicide bomber and terrorist to show you are wrong. Stop it! Human beings have more value than money, and you can't build up your economy on the blood of people."
Sitting down to regain her composure, Leila takes pains to note that she shoos the ants into the garden rather than step on them.
The evening over, Leila and Mohammed summon their driver to take their visitor home. They stand by the front gate with their arms wrapped around each other, apologizing if they have given offense and smiling as they wave goodbye.