Blue Abaya » Journey Through the Magic Kingdom

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There are several posts on Blue Abaya under the category Ramadan and I thought it’s a good idea to gather them all together in one place. The first post of Ramadan is back from 2010 when the blog began and it’s called ‘Magic Month in the Kingdom‘. A good read for those not familiar with […]

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  • My WebsiteJuly 21, 2014 - 2:35 am

    I am just shifting web hosting service businesses and wish to transfer my WordPress blogs Blogs and forums around. Does anybody are aware of an easy way to accomplish this? .ReplyCancel

My dearest daughter and son, While you’re both fast asleep in your beds napping, I’m thinking about the two of you, here in a hospital bed waiting for spinal surgery. All kinds of thoughts are running through my head. You both are always my first concern and I can’t help thinking of what were to […]

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  • Ciara HigginsJune 16, 2014 - 1:30 pm


  • Jodi Braithwaite StrongJune 16, 2014 - 1:44 pm

    Beautifully said. I trust your surgery will be successful and you’ll have many more years in which to pass on these values.ReplyCancel

  • Karen CrociJune 16, 2014 - 2:50 pm

    And now, my dear, you are in surgery. David and I are praying that God give you, A, your children, and your family Peace. None of us can control the outcome, but we can keep you in our loving thoughts. As one who has been through neck surgery, I have been in your shoes. Now you are in mine. And, just as I did, you will wake up, with so much less pain that when you went in, see the face of the one you love, and you will begin your recovery. Mark my words, my dearest friend and sister, Peace and God are with you now.ReplyCancel

  • Mustafa YarowJune 16, 2014 - 3:15 pm

    enough said , get well soon , believe
    me , you will be alright. i have big faith in allah.ReplyCancel

  • KommentoiJune 16, 2014 - 4:40 pm

    Saako kysyä, että mikä vaiva on kyseessä? Syöpä? Jumalan siunausta joka tapauksessa. Ikäviä tälläiset jutut. Rukoilen puolestasi. Toivottavasti elät vielä pitkän elämän.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaJune 22, 2014 - 3:52 am

      No ei onneksi syopa, leikattiin niskasta valilevy joka painunut pitkalle selkaytimeen ja halvausriskin takia se jouduttiin kiireesti leikkamaan. Kaikki meni onneksi hyvin!ReplyCancel

  • RawyahJune 16, 2014 - 4:58 pm

    This was a very touching letter Layla. I hope you will get well soon and that your children will always be your pride and joy.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaJune 22, 2014 - 3:50 am

      Thank you Rawyah, I’m home now and alhamdulillah all went well.ReplyCancel

  • Sadia Monem KarimJune 16, 2014 - 5:16 pm

    Get well soon. Insha AllahReplyCancel

  • Sanna VenhoJune 16, 2014 - 6:13 pm

    Here comes the waterfalls. see ya soon.ReplyCancel

  • Rose Marie HefflinJune 17, 2014 - 11:29 am

    I was in tears when I read it. I’ll keep you in my prayers…….<3

  • TaraJune 17, 2014 - 11:41 am

    Amazing and beautiful your children are the luckiest kids in the world to have you as mother! They should proud of you and I can safely say your husband must be too.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaJune 22, 2014 - 3:47 am

      Awww thanks Tara, i hope my kids think so too :) ReplyCancel

  • BilkisJune 17, 2014 - 4:56 pm

    Hi Layla, this post brought tears to my eyes.As a mother, i’ve been in that situation where i wondered what’ll become of my kids if something happened to me. Alhamdulillah, i’m still alive and i pray that your surgery is successful so that you can continue to be the awesome mom you’ve been to your kids.
    Wish you soonest recovery and looking forward to an update post from you.
    Bilkis recently posted…FINDS: Court Shoes!ReplyCancel

    • LaylaJune 22, 2014 - 3:45 am

      Hi there Bilkis, thank you for the prayers, surgery went well alhamdulillah now at home recovering, still in lots of pain but getting better day by day.ReplyCancel

  • AgnieszkaJune 17, 2014 - 8:07 pm

    Hello Layla,
    I hope surgery went well and you are feeling better. Me also as a typical mother first would worry about kids not myself.
    I love your blog. We are coming soon to Riyadh for work so I wanted to thank you for writing so beautiful and informative. Your blog became my encyclopedia arabica :-)).
    All the best, get well and I may se you soon somwhere at the party in DQ -:).

    • LaylaJune 22, 2014 - 3:43 am

      Hi Agnieszka! Thank you for the kind words, I’m happy to hear the blog has been of so much use to you!
      Are you going to be living in the DQ as well? Maybe we can meet up sometime :) ReplyCancel

      • AgnieszkaJune 22, 2014 - 8:33 pm

        I’m glad that you are better. Yes we will be coming in August and we will be living in DQ. I would love to meet. I do not know anyone there yet.

  • RhynJune 18, 2014 - 8:04 am

    Hope your surgery went well, Layla.
    And your children read what you wrote.
    I can’t help but become emotional while reading your letter, though I dont have any kids but I feel your emotional turmoil. I wish you recuperate well and continue caring for your family as well as writing fluidly your thought.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaJune 22, 2014 - 3:41 am

      Thanks Rhyn, doing better already and surgery went well. Inshallah they will get to read this letter when they are older.ReplyCancel

  • whyJune 18, 2014 - 2:28 pm

    why do you live in Saudi, where your children will face all these restrictions, especially your daughter? it’s your responsibility to bring them out of there. It’s your fault if your daughter gets abused by her saudi relatives.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaJune 22, 2014 - 3:40 am

      It’s not as simple as you may think, and I’m not going to get into that in detail anyways..However I find it really unfair and harsh to say ‘it’s your fault if your daughter gets abused by her saudi relatives”. I’m doing my best, and her Saudi relatives are not abusive by any means!ReplyCancel

      • Michelle atkinsonJune 28, 2014 - 3:01 pm

        Ignore Layla, people thrive on getting attention any way they can xReplyCancel

  • Helen Christine BloomquistJune 18, 2014 - 3:27 pm

    Prayers are with you for a full recovery, from Texas. My father’s family left homes in Norway and Sweden to start new lives in America. Always keep connected with “roots”. Not long ago, two of here were contacted by a cousin in Sweden. I was filled with joy to learn that my grandfather’s oldest brother (different mothers) had remained in Sweden and our new found cousin lives less than 10 Km from where my grandfather was born. I am also thankful that the education systems in that area insist that students be proficient in multiple languages. I wish that the U.S. would do the same. May you and your children have many years together, and may all your dreams be fruitful!ReplyCancel

  • Shadia MohsinJune 18, 2014 - 8:34 pm

    So well said. You have taught me something today. Thank you…. I feel inspired from this letter xReplyCancel

  • Umm GamarJune 19, 2014 - 3:21 pm

    These are the words I would tell my daughter. I hope you are fully recovered n continue to care n raise your children into wonderful human beings Inshallah!ReplyCancel

    • LaylaJune 22, 2014 - 3:38 am

      Umm Gamar, thank you and all the best to you and your daughter :) ReplyCancel

  • Charline BrownJune 20, 2014 - 11:42 pm

    I hope you recover quickly. This beautiful letter to your children is exactly what I wish for my granddaughters that are half Saudi and half USA. I so enjoy your website and have felt comfort in many of the posts as I worry about my family and friends half a world away – in Saudi Arabia.

    I have included you and yours in my prayers and will be anxiously awaiting your posts on Facebook.

    With prayers of healing,
    Charline Clithero-Hadley Brown (Kim Mominah’s Mother)ReplyCancel

    • LaylaJune 22, 2014 - 3:37 am

      Hi Charline,
      thank you so much for writing to me, I’m recovering at home, hubby is taking care of me and the kids :)
      All the best to you and you whole family!ReplyCancel

  • AamaniJune 21, 2014 - 5:36 am

    Hi Layla, get well soon.ReplyCancel

  • Hj RadenJune 21, 2014 - 5:01 pm

    Dear Layla, may Allah make you well and healthy again. I can begin to understand what you are going through having lived in Riyadh for the past 10 months.

    Perhaps the solution would be for your children to have dual citizenship?

    Just my two cents.

    Best regards.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaJune 22, 2014 - 3:35 am

      hi there, they do have dual citizenship but that won’t would not mean my daughter could still leave at free will, inside saudi she is a saudi citizen, needs guardian for everything :/ReplyCancel

  • minkaJune 22, 2014 - 10:17 am

    Wow. I am truly sorry to read this. God speed with the surgery and whatever condition caused it to be necessary. Heal, so your daughter’s freedom won’t be forever taken away. Alive, you can act to protect her.

    I spent some years growing up in the middle east and it left me proud to be a woman of the north. Never, never, never for me – the life of a middle eastern woman. I saw that my freedom was my most precious possession from the example of the oppression of women in the village. Never, never, never for me. Never. And of all the western women who followed their hearts into the middle east you have always seemed the one who maintained a free spirit. You made it seem possible. But what I read in this letter is that unless circumstance break perfectly, it is impossible. You lost freedom by choice but that may have dark consequences for the one you should most protect, your daughter. You are right to be afraid.

    Good luck, I wish you all the healing I can muster.ReplyCancel

  • NabilahzahraaJune 27, 2014 - 4:23 pm

    Assalamualikum Layla , please don’t worry , Allah is with you . In Shaa Allah you will have safe and speedy recovery .ReplyCancel

  • KateJuly 2, 2014 - 6:39 am

    This is a tender letter, and beautiful. I also think you’re VERY brave.
    Because, realistically, the worst isn’t you dying. The worst is your husband dying while you and the children are in Saudi. This is the main reason why my husband and I moved once we decided to have children. We spend our time between the US and Europe, and his family visits us or we meet in Dubai. Everything else is too risky for me (I’m from the US originally). People call us paranoid, but my husband’s sister made an … unfortunate marriage, and that really hit my husband hard. He doesn’t ever want that for our daughters.
    I lived in Saudi for 3 years, and I LOVED it. People are always surprised by that. But, one of the reasons I could enjoy it so much is that I knew it wouldn’t be forever. Plus, I was risking only my own situation – not my children. Had my husband died in a freak accident, I could have potentially made it to a US embassy. But, with children, obviously only I would make it out (unthinkable). And my husband’s family is incredible. They’re not ogres. I would actually love it if they came to live with us! They’re awesome. But, even so, I’d be way too paranoid to risk my children’s future living in Saudi. And I hate saying that because I did have a wonderful experience living there. But, there’s no other way for me to say it – the laws suck, and until they change them, we’re not going back.ReplyCancel

  • PetraJuly 2, 2014 - 4:24 pm

    Pikaista paranemista, kirje lapsillesi nostatti kyyneleet silmiin, todella koskettava kirjoitus. Toivottavasti paaset pian perheesi luo sairaalasta! Tiedan osittain tunteesi vaikka Turkissa tyttareni elamaa ei samalla lailla saadella kuin siella, olin itse kaksi vuotta sitten leikkauksessa ja ajatukset kiersivat leikkauspöydalla lahinna niiden ajatusten ymparilla etta mita jos en heraakaan ja miten tyttö sitten parjaa?ReplyCancel

  • T.July 7, 2014 - 10:01 pm

    I hope you speak Finnish with your children.ReplyCancel

  • JeanJuly 17, 2014 - 5:12 am

    It’s a lovely letter for your children to hold and to keep forever.

    My comment: Then immigrate one day from Saudi Arabia.
    I say this as a daughter of a picture bride. My mother came to Canada after my parents “selected” one another via a few letters and photo exchange in the 1950′s.

    Immigrating allows one to redefine for the next generation. Not perfect, but better if laws for women are highly restrictive.ReplyCancel

It was a sweltering + 44C in Riyadh Saudi Arabia today. Meanwhile back in my home country Finland, they are experiencing temperatures around+ 10C ,which is actually quite normal for this time of year. Despite it being only 10 degrees above zero, I bet you there will be Finns driving around in their convertibles with […]

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  • Karen CrociMay 31, 2014 - 6:09 pm

    If I’m passing out, it’s not because of the cold or heat….it’s because I’m laughing so hard! Thank you for making my day!ReplyCancel

  • Ahmad Rashidy IslamJune 1, 2014 - 1:17 pm

    السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته
    بسم الله ما شاء اللهReplyCancel

  • JeanJune 2, 2014 - 12:06 am

    Finns sunbathing at 15 degrees C. …Well, Calgary, Alberta is further south of Finland. But we are over 100-200 km. north of Vancouver and Toronto. Our growing season is from June to Sept….short compared to Toronto and Vancouver.

    We are also, 1,000 metres above sea level, more than Vancouver (if you don’t count the mountains which are 40 km. outside of Vancouver).

    Our air is dry, something like the Middle East, where we use humidifiers so our wood furniture doesn’t dry out and stop nose bleeds.

    Calgarians start sunbathing around 20 degrees C. A lot of women wear tank tops and skimpy tops at this temp…I cannot. I lived in Ontario for over 4 decades, where summers are often humidex at 100% and temp. 30 degrees C.

    I am not certain I could live in the heat of Middle East, plus cover up myself. And I am conservative compared to many other Canadians..I don’t even wear tank tops.
    Jean recently posted…What Shapes Me: Walkable, Cycleable NeighbourhoodsReplyCancel

  • umm gamarJune 2, 2014 - 12:13 pm

    You have a crazy sense of humor! Had a great laugh :-) ReplyCancel

    • LaylaJune 4, 2014 - 5:42 pm

      thank UmmGamar! Glad it made you laugh!ReplyCancel

  • SmitaJune 9, 2014 - 10:59 am

    Hi Layla,

    love your blog though I rarely comment!
    What happened to your each summerly visit to Finland ?
    Aren’t you travelling this year ? I so look forward to those posts as hav espent significant time in Sweden in past :)

    Smita (from India)ReplyCancel

    • LaylaJune 9, 2014 - 11:42 am

      Thank you so much Smita! We are going to be traveling there soon :) ReplyCancel

  • SmitaJune 13, 2014 - 9:53 am

    I am very happy to hear that :)
    have loads of fun in these vacations… the weather will be blessed in Scandinavian countries at this time .ReplyCancel

  • MimiJune 13, 2014 - 6:50 pm

    Hi Layla, thank you for your blog, I really enjoy reading it! I’m also Finnish and living in the Middle-East, and actually just got back home from Finnish holiday. It really was just like you said, the day we, me and my fiancé, arrived, it was +13 (and the warmest it got during the entire 2-weeks holiday was +22) and people were wearing shorts and t-shirts! Even I couldn’t, I guess I’m already so used to more war temperatures.

    My poor fiancé was wearing winter jacket:) I told him to bring it, even tough he didn’t believe me when I told him before the trip, that it would be a lot more colder than where we live, even in the summer. I can’t tell you howe happy he was for listening to me on this one:)ReplyCancel

  • MImiJune 13, 2014 - 6:52 pm

    Sorry, on my previous comment I Of course meant “warm” temperatures…ReplyCancel

  • AllisonJune 26, 2014 - 1:53 pm

    Hello Layla! I am an American expat (living in Jubail). I was looking for other expat bloggers living in Saudi and came across your blog. I’ve had fun reading through several of your posts and look forward to reading more in the future! I particularly liked this post as I lived in Finland briefly several years ago and so I can relate to the temperature extremes. Thanks for the laugh. :-)

    Allison recently posted…Lost in Translation 2ReplyCancel

Some of the Blue Abaya readers probably remember “Images of Saudi” which is a photo journal-type photography blog I kept for a few years from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Images of Saudi is actually still online, but for a year now it’s been set for private invite-only viewing. Reasons behind this were several but […]

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  • Endang PusphaMay 26, 2014 - 6:38 pm

    I m happy the images are back. I really love your photos. They are so….beautiful. Never though that KSA is so rich of cultute as well as nature and landscape.
    Thx Laylah for bringing it back…ReplyCancel

  • Nick BrookbankMay 27, 2014 - 4:57 am

    Wonderful blog and website. It’s been so useful since we arrived in Kingdom.ReplyCancel

  • A&JMay 30, 2014 - 3:57 pm

    As-salamû’ alayik,
    Nice I love it.
    Thank you
    A&J recently posted…Les bons plans du web sont chez Promo4muslimReplyCancel

    • MariMay 31, 2014 - 4:09 pm

      as an avid reader of the images saudi blog this is a great news for me! the galleries are all pictures I never seen before and look beautiful. thank you!ReplyCancel

    • LaylaMay 31, 2014 - 5:37 pm

      wa aleikum salaam A&J

      thank you for stopping by :) ReplyCancel

  • Layla Blue AbayaMay 31, 2014 - 2:37 pm

    thank you Nick!ReplyCancel

  • AamaniJune 12, 2014 - 4:39 am

    It is always a treat to my eyes to see the pictures clicked by you :) Very beautiful pictures. You should consider writing a post on your photography journey. I am sure many followers of this blog will agree with that idea.ReplyCancel

  • Sanat B JohnJuly 1, 2014 - 12:58 am

    Inspiring work , Realizing there is more things beyond camel ,desert and palm tree , ReplyCancel

Misyar marriages have been discussed a lot in the Kingdom’s news lately, causing debate whether or not these marriages are acceptable/legal. The  Saudi Ministry of Social Affairs has recently announced that it will welcome misyar marriage applications for those who want to get married to female orphans under the custody of the ministry. On the other […]

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  • Frederik HaentjensMay 5, 2014 - 4:46 am

    extra-marital affair, infidelity, adultery or prostitution happen with the consent of at least two individuals (otherwise it’s rape). You can have a moral issue with these type of relationships, but don’t blame it because it’s partially legalised. In addition these relationships are not a pure male invention :) women also seek extra-marital affair, infidelity of adultery, as much as men. Partially legalising is a way to control it. Example, what happens with a child conceived from extra-marital affair, infidelity, adultery or prostitution?ReplyCancel

  • Blue AbayaMay 5, 2014 - 7:55 am

    yeah, women also seek extra-marital affairs, but the difference is they can’t “marry” consequent husbands. So it’s a male invention 100%. Partially legalizing it was invented because it gives the cheating husbands a clear conscious, so that they can keep mistresses without being prosecuted.ReplyCancel

  • Blue AbayaMay 5, 2014 - 7:56 am

    Kimberly Hadley MominahReplyCancel

  • Shadia MohsinMay 5, 2014 - 12:28 pm

    So disgusting! Woman need to stand up.ReplyCancel

  • Umm GamarMay 5, 2014 - 4:40 pm

    Misyar marriage runs counter to the objectives and the spirit of marriage in Islam, as described in this verse from the Quran :”And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts).Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect” [al-Room 30:21]. But this is not achieved in this kind of marriage.

    What about the children who are born out of these kind of marriages? The absence of the father will negatively effect the children. Not to mention how the sons will view the value and position of their mother, a mere sex toy.

    This is a sad news indeed, how low can Saudi go.ReplyCancel

  • Umm GamarMay 5, 2014 - 6:23 pm

    Layla, I did some further reading on this misyar topic and found this site

    Although I disagree with the author on the validity of misyar marriage, I do agree with a few of his points in the last few paragraphs. However, again I am vehemently against men using women merely for their sexual desires. Allah has created men and women as partners in this world and the word partner I used in every sense of the word. Look into the early history of Islam, look into the lives of the Prophet and his sahabah, most importantly look into the Quran before claiming misyar marriage is a valid Islamic practice. I am afraid for those poor orphans. From one miserable event to another, not unlike Lemony Snicket orphans only without the nice ending.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaMay 8, 2014 - 1:03 am

      Thanks for the comments and link Umm Gamar!ReplyCancel

  • Illyria MxoMay 8, 2014 - 2:07 pm

    Only in a Middle Eastern theocracy…ReplyCancel

  • chic urban dameMay 12, 2014 - 4:21 am

    Assalamu Alaikum. I have been reading your blog for quite some time. I really love it. Alhamdulilah I have made my own blog. Check me out.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaMay 12, 2014 - 11:17 am

      wa aleikum salaam! ok sure will do, thanks for following!ReplyCancel

  • EstelleMay 12, 2014 - 10:22 pm

    Asalamu alaikum wa ramatullahi wa barakatuh,

    I could barely end my reading because it hurts so much to read this atrocity.

    I have no word but to say that my blood was boiling and Allah knows that I am from the peaceful kind of people !

    There is no such things in Islam and I believe men engaged into this practice should be judged for adultery – so do the people who help this disgusting thing.

    Notice that I don’t ask for the women to be judged … because they appeared as victims to my eyes.

    Why ? I read recently a post from – that may give you an additional side view to that article, in’sha’Allah.

    “Question : You are so set on the fact that men are terrible. That they’ll never understand, when it comes to the female sector of things. Why do you always make such an over generalization. Should you not encourage men to better themselves and give hope that they can understand? Are you saying you’re terrible? Are you (God forbid) saying that the Prophet (saw) could never understand his wife, or women in general? Where are your facts, sunnahs, hadiths, and/or Quranic quotes on this generalization?

    Answer: Where are my facts?

    The statistics over sexual assault, the threat of violence that looms over our sisters heads, this is unacceptable as a Muslim man, unacceptable.

    Our sisters fear being alone in an elevator with someone they don’t know. They are afraid to walk to their cars alone. They place keys between their fingers when they walk.

    Why? Because of some imaginary monsters?

    No, it is because of men.

    The Qur’an says: “Men shall take full care of women with the bounties which God has bestowed more abundantly on the former than on the latter,” [4:34]

    So what have we done? We have simply succeeded in failing our sisters. We have failed. Miserably.

    Do you know what it is like to sit there and try to help a sister who has been assaulted? The idea that the rapist comes from some dark alley, when in reality he is a friend, a cousin, someone she knows and must see again and again and again, do you know what that’s like?

    Do I think all men are terrible? Of course not. I’d like to think I’m not terrible, but Allahu Alem, only God knows, and I know for sure my brothers are incredible men.

    My mother was asked after my brother fought for a person he did not know, to defend them, why she told her sons to protect those who needed our help no matter what.

    She responded: “I raised lions, not boys.”

    The Prophet was a Mercy from God. He knew his wives, he understood them.

    I’m asking the question: do we, the men of today, understand our sisters?

    I don’t think so. That’s why we’re in this mess, that’s why our sisters feel violated, why they feel unsafe, why they feel so hurt.

    There are countless Hadiths and Ayat that point us to protect our sisters, and my question is: have we?

    I answer: no, we have not.”ReplyCancel

  • jwhiteMay 23, 2014 - 2:55 am

    These poor orphan girls! What they need most, upon attaining womanhood, is a loving, kind husband to establish a home with. They need to establish their own family, someone to be a partner to, to have children of their own, to have a happy home of their own. Just because they’ve been without mother or father only means that they long to have a wonderful home of their own, not that they are up for prey for abusers. They do NOT need a creep to use them, abuse them, rape them, to impregnate them. Shame on anyone who would force them into this life style. What is being ‘offered’ to orphan boys–or are there any?ReplyCancel

What are the top restaurants in the Eastern Province? Recently we conducted a poll among the members of the EP Foodies Facebook group to find the very best restaurants in Dammam, Al Khobar and Jubail area. The EP Foodies are an international group of food lovers and avid restaurant-goers residing in the the EP of […]

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  • A.kareem AlalamiMay 10, 2014 - 9:42 pm

    I actually strongly disagree with most restaurants on this list as they are generic ones . some of the greatest are hidden gems that you need to be living in khobar or EP for awhile to get to. I suggest your change it to ” 10 decent choices in EP”

    • LaylaMay 12, 2014 - 11:18 am

      thanks for the comment, please tell us about these hidden gems! Also it would be great to have you on board the FB Foodies groups to share your experiences and knowledge :) have a great day!ReplyCancel

  • Maha ZbeebMay 19, 2014 - 8:23 pm

    Ciros Pomodoro ReplyCancel

  • Sohail A. ChouhanMay 28, 2014 - 10:38 pm

    I have to agree with previous comment. Most of these restaurants have decent food you can buy any large city in Saudi Arabia. Now in my opinion the US chains like Stake House & Chili’s are not up to par when it comes to flavor or menu items. The dining hall or sitting area is always decent and you can expect good customer service if Phillipino workers are around. But when it comes to flavor no way always dissapointed. There are many hidden gems in Khobar, Hofuf, & Jubail but I sure do not want to advertise them here.ReplyCancel

  • Mövenpick Hotel Al KhobarJune 5, 2014 - 9:03 am

    We’re so delighted to see our signature restaurant, Maharaja by Vineet, featured on your blog. Thank you for the great review and we look forward to welcoming you again in our hotel. Best wishes to EP Foodies and your blog! ReplyCancel

I haven’t posted for a while. The blog has gone into a state of slumber. Not so much because I suffer from writers block , lack of motivation or topics to write about. I’m not exactly spending my days twiddling my thumbs around here, just simply too busy being a mom to two very active […]

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  • Umm GamarApril 23, 2014 - 5:53 am

    Such a heartfelt post. I sincerely wish Saudi Arabia would grow some balls and let its women attain their God given potential and dreams! Ahhhh!

    Ideologies separate us. Dreams and anguish bring us together.

    Eugene IonescoReplyCancel

    • DaniaApril 24, 2014 - 12:09 pm

      That is the nicest thing I have read for a while!
      you go girl, follow those dreams and glad you got out of the forced marriege.

      Thank you Layla for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Louise Schullery CoxApril 23, 2014 - 8:05 am

    I am so pleased you shared this correspondence. Layla, you are a bridge to women in the world and help us in the West remember we are so much more alike than different. I would love for you to share a ‘new and good’ each time as well.

    While there are many things each society is working on, change often comes slowly. And, at the same time, there are delightful things as well. While Saudi was very difficult for me in many ways there were always positive things as well. You have covered so many on your site. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Sunny J.April 23, 2014 - 2:05 pm

    MashaaAllah. I’m also glad you’re back to Blogging, Layla. Please dont ever stop. You and Susie’s are some of the very few I look to for inspiration while living in Saudi Arabia. Your words are a gift <3ReplyCancel

  • MunthasirApril 23, 2014 - 3:46 pm

    After taste of rebellion is always ‘sweet’.

    God given potential to individual is meant to acheive, so that you can use them in the service of ALLAH. How can we start appreciating the hardships & acheivement of individual in their pursuit of excellence, if the very genesis of their acts is in disobedience of ALLAH’s Commands ?

    Ofcourse, My question seems to infer that individual’s pursuit of excellence often commences with disobedience to ALLAH. But if somebody has acheived excellence in their lives within the boundaries set by ALLAH, then it is good thing for them.

    I am afraid more of the sense of rebellion than the pursuit of excellence itself.ReplyCancel

  • KendraApril 23, 2014 - 10:42 pm

    Hey, Layla. I’m also glad you’ve finally posted. I’ve been checking your blog everyday since March 8th, so it was a nice surprise to finally read your thoughts. They are a treasure.

    I know you’re busy, but I’m also still waiting to hear about your friend from the Philippines who is obligated to be a caretaker for her sponsor family’s mother. I think and worry about her… I hope she’s able to leave soon, and get back to living life with her own family back home. She deserves to be happy.


  • KristineApril 24, 2014 - 10:47 pm

    Thank you for sharing! You never know how your words or actions can make such a big difference in another’s life. And bravo to J for her courage and determination. She expresses herself so eloquently, I’m sure she will make her dreams come true. :-) ReplyCancel

  • HeidiApril 28, 2014 - 12:31 am

    I am so pleased to see you have written again in your blog! I am even more pleased with the good news you posted! As I’ve said before, you are a true inspiration! You don’t only inspire people in Saudi Arabia, you inspire people in other countries too! Me, for instance! Keep up with the good work! Lots of hugs from UKReplyCancel

  • LinaMay 12, 2014 - 5:56 am

    Please never stop writing! Reading your stories is the last thing I do before I go to bed. I feel I already know you. You are an inspiration to all of us by your positive attitude and your humour. God bless you and your family :). Xoxox from OttawaReplyCancel

    • LaylaMay 12, 2014 - 11:16 am

      Thank you Lina!! God bless you and your family as well, you have inspired me :) ReplyCancel

It’s time for Riyadh’s annual International Book Fair! The 2014 Book Fair is being held at Riyadh’s International Convention and Exhibition Center (RICEC). For the Google maps location click here. GPS coordinates of RICEC: 24.7510400, 46.7255270 With over 600,000 books by 900 publishing houses, represented by 400 exhibitors; the Riyadh International Book Fair is one of the largest […]

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  • J.MohsenMarch 19, 2014 - 11:14 am

    Wish I would have known about this, would have loved to go!ReplyCancel

  • Mohamed Al Saadoon (@burning_phoneix)April 3, 2014 - 2:00 am

    I was surprised Author Services Inc. managed to get a booth. For reference, Author Services is the publishing arm for L Ron Hubbard, the founder of scientology.ReplyCancel

  • KysyyApril 18, 2014 - 12:26 pm

    You wrote about culture shock in one article and how you finally saw that some things are actually in better way in SA compared to Finland. It would be very interesting to read such an article. What is better in/about Saudi society and customs compared to Finland and the other way around?

    Olisi todella kiva, jos kirjoittaisit tuota asiaa koskevan jutun :) ReplyCancel

    • LaylaApril 22, 2014 - 5:22 pm

      Moikka! kiitos ehdotuksesta! Yes time willing, I would be glad to write such an article :) ReplyCancel

  • Window on GeorgeMay 17, 2014 - 11:03 am

    great blog!ReplyCancel

  • Dalene PotgieterMay 17, 2014 - 11:03 am

    great blog!ReplyCancel

  • […] What is the job description of a muttawa? Muttawas don’t actually have an official job description. There has recently been talk in the media about the importance of having one following some very unpleasant and even violent actions taken by religious policemen. On their official website it is stated their duty is to “preserve Muslim society by guidance and good example”. Muttawa seem to improvise as they go, acting as sort of  performance artists sometimes. Most common duty of a muttawa is telling (sometimes shouting) women to cover their heads or hair. If the women under scrutiny are Saudi they will be asked to cover their faces or eyes depending on how much the woman is already covered. If a muttawa squad encounters a woman and a man together under suspicious conditions, such as riding in the same car or shopping together, they will request to see a marriage license. If the couple does not have it, they will be taken to the station for questioning and interrogation. The police must be present in order for the Hai’a to actually arrest anyone. Their duties also include blacking out haram figures from women’s magazines (cleavage, legs, arms)blacking out women from inflatable swimming pool packages and basically wherever they find pictures of uncovered women. Hai’a might raid stores for haram goods such as music CDs, stuff that resembles crosses or other religious symbols, Barbies without abayas and forbidden books like Harry Potter and Winnie the Pooh which features a piglet! The Horror! The confiscated items are brought on display at the yearly Riyadh International Book Fair. […]ReplyCancel

Some of the frequently asked questions about the Janadriyah Cultural Heritage Festival answered! What is the Janadriyah (also spelled Jenedriyeh, Jenedriyah Al-Jenadriyah, Arabic: مهرجان الجنادرية) Heritage Festival? It’s an annual cultural heritage festival of Saudi-Arabia, held this year for the 29th time in Janadriyah village on the outskirts of Riyadh. The area covers 1.5 sq km and has replicas […]

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  • KhadraFebruary 19, 2014 - 10:02 pm

    Hi Layla, Is there a schedule for the different shows? I.e the region dances, camel races etcReplyCancel

  • KhadraFebruary 19, 2014 - 10:05 pm

    Ps: Congrats on your nomination xxReplyCancel

    • LaylaFebruary 20, 2014 - 1:20 am

      thank you Khadra! I’m not aware of any schedules but the camel races are only on the first few days. The regional dances begin around 5 in each area, and they continue with short breaks in between ALL NIGHT ;) Have fun! I especially recommend the Al Baha region dances.ReplyCancel

  • caspar smeetsFebruary 21, 2014 - 12:12 pm

    It is nice to read a positive approach about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I am a bit skeptical however of entering the realm of slamming down the grumpy Expat, however much I agree with the fact that if one does hate the life, it is better to leave. At the same time one is not always immediately in the position of doing so.
    Anyway, what I miss on your website is an “about us” section, but perhaps I have overlooked it.

  • Farooq Hassan BangashFebruary 21, 2014 - 4:10 pm
  • News-2014-02-24 | SUSRISFebruary 24, 2014 - 7:47 pm

    […] Guide to Janadriyah Festival 2014 – Blue Abaya […]ReplyCancel

  • News-2014-02-24 | SaudiBritFebruary 24, 2014 - 7:49 pm

    […] Guide to Janadriyah Festival 2014 – Blue Abaya […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Guide to Janadriyah Festival 2014 – Blue Abaya […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Check out new on Blue Abaya: Janadriyah 2014: Complete Guide for expats! Location, maps, directions,… […]ReplyCancel

  • Average Joe BodybuilderMarch 2, 2014 - 11:09 am

    Child jockeys
    Children are often favored as jockeys because of their light weight. It has been reported that thousands of children (some reported as young as 2 years old) are trafficked from countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Pakistan, and Sudan for use as jockeys in the Persian Gulf States’ camel racing industry.[1] Estimates range of 5,000 – 40,000 child camel jockeys in the Persian Gulf.[2][3]

    Many child camel jockeys are seriously injured by falling off the camels.[4] The child jockeys live in camps (called “ousbah”) near the racetracks and many are victims of abuse.[2] Hundreds of children have been rescued from camel farms in Oman, Qatar, and UAE and taken back to their original homes or kept in shelter homes.[5] Many however, are unable to identify their parents or home communities in South Asia or Sudan. Some countries have issued penalties for those who trafficked child camel jockeys and ordered the owners responsibilities for returning the children back to their home countries. However, they report that in many instances the children rescued were those who had been sold away by their own parents in exchange for money or a job abroad. If they were returned, the children would again be sold for the same purposes. Other children did not speak their native languages, or did not know how to live outside the camel farms.

    A prominent activist for rehabilitation and recovery of the jockeys is Pakistani lawyer Ansar Burney. He has focused a portion of his work on eliminating the use of child jockeys.ReplyCancel

Last weekend we were driving around a village West of Riyadh looking for a plot of land we wanted to check out. Because of the beautiful sand dunes nearby and lovely weather, we decided to explore the area further. Following a small road past some majestic rock formations we proceeded on to a dirt road […]

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  • Karen CrociFebruary 15, 2014 - 2:56 pm

    Wow. Thank you for taking me away from a New England winter for a while!ReplyCancel

  • Jim LesterFebruary 15, 2014 - 3:01 pm

    You pictures and descriptions make me want to be there…someday, perhaps.ReplyCancel