In the Arab Gulf, atheism (ilhad) is often conflated with secularism (ilmaniya). Although both are to different degrees unacceptable in society, the latter, unlike the first, is not punishable by law. A few decades ago most people in the Gulf had not heard of secularism, let alone atheism, even though many led a semi-secular lifestyle where men and women interacted openly. The advent of oil afforded the Gulf governments the opportunity to institutionalize and standardize religious practice in society. In addition, due to the history of Islam in the region, many in the Gulf strongly associate religion with national identity. Any distancing from or criticism of religion also equates to distancing oneself from national identity, which governments are keen to stress. The spread of political Islam in parts of the Arab world caused some of the youth in these countries to distance themselves from religion.