All the awesome Saudi Top Ten and other top lists published on Blue Abaya in one place! The best of the best restaurants in Riyadh and Khobar, the best bakeries and cafe’s, things to do lists, activity guides, travel tips, hidden gems, sightseeing tips, best events, outdoor activities and more..That’s 135 Things to do in […]

  • Bernie PoundDecember 6, 2014 - 5:04 pm

    Very nice. Can you email this to me please?ReplyCancel

    • LaylaDecember 6, 2014 - 5:09 pm

      Thank you Bernie, you can get this and more awesome posts directly to your inbox by subscribing to Blue Abaya by email. just enter your email on the subscription form on the top of the sidebar :)ReplyCancel

  • Ahmed AlbadiniDecember 8, 2014 - 6:17 pm

    Please send to me how I contact you beacons e I organiz miss arab and I want your join my number is 00201145530753ReplyCancel

  • missyDecember 9, 2014 - 6:42 pm

    Thank you for sharing! This is a lot to add on my bucket list :PReplyCancel

    • LaylaDecember 9, 2014 - 8:15 pm

      You’re welcome! Well, we gotta start somewhere ;)ReplyCancel

  • MattDecember 15, 2014 - 7:32 pm

    Thanks! Shared it with all my KSA friends.ReplyCancel

  • Travel Guide | TravelguideDecember 19, 2014 - 5:06 pm

    […] 185 Things to Do in KSA- The Ultimate Saudi Arabia Travel … http://www.blueabaya.com/All the awesome Saudi Top Ten and other top lists published on Blue Abaya in one place! The best of the best restaurants in Riyadh and Khobar, the best bakeries and cafe's, things to do lists, activity guides, travel tips, hidden … […]ReplyCancel

As the Blue Abaya has now over 3 MILLION views, it is time to say a huge big heartfelt THANK YOU for all the readers and fans of Blue Abaya for the continuous support and encouragement! The below comments are a collection of testimonials Blue Abaya has received over the years. A very special thank […]

  • MariaNovember 10, 2014 - 3:07 pm

    Thank you for the tremendous efforts Layla and welcome to Caroline!ReplyCancel

  • Susie Johnson KhalilNovember 11, 2014 - 8:50 am

    Ditto what all of them said! You are the most talented, the funniest, the best – I am so proud to call you my friend! xoxReplyCancel

  • ZahraNovember 11, 2014 - 12:45 pm

    Asalamu alaikum Layla! I am a reader from Algeria for many years already because I love your postings and beautiful photos of this land I so want to visit. I hope to see more of your humour posts in the future?? Will you be finishing the story of Sinta housemaid soon?ReplyCancel

    • LaylaNovember 11, 2014 - 3:59 pm

      wa aleikum salaam Zahra!

      thank you for being a reader and I promise to do my best for the final part of the Sinta story! I’m sorry for the delay, just so incredibly busy with the projects mentioned in this post and also remember I’m a stay at home mom of two very crazy toddlers! Life is hectic :)
      Layla recently posted…Why Am I Here?ReplyCancel

  • LeanneNovember 16, 2014 - 3:30 am

    I love your blog …I have always read and commented

    wish u more successReplyCancel

    • LaylaNovember 18, 2014 - 2:35 am

      Thank you Leanne for reading and commenting :) Wish you all the best in your endeavors!ReplyCancel

How can a pumpkin cake be life changing, you ask? Well have you met a person who never tried pumpkin cake before? Can you believe I lived on this planet for over 30 years without having experienced pumpkin cake, pumpkin bread or pumpkin cupcakes? This might come as a surprise to my American friends who […]

  • PiaNovember 4, 2014 - 3:18 am

    Jes!
    tein eilen ja oli mahtavaa! Kiitti :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylaNovember 4, 2014 - 3:32 pm

    Kiva kuulla! Olitjo aikaisemmin kokeillut tehda mitaan kurpitsasta vai oliko tama ensimmainen kerta sinullekkin?
    Layla recently posted…Ten Amazing Facts about Northern Lights in Finland! ReplyCancel

  • JohnNovember 16, 2014 - 4:59 am

    Really nice chocolaty cake. And good use of ground cinnamon,canola oil and pumpkin.Thank you for sharing.
    John recently posted…What is BPI?ReplyCancel

  • MeaghanNovember 24, 2014 - 11:12 pm

    Where did you find nutmeg in Riyadh? I haven’t seen it in Tamimis.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaNovember 25, 2014 - 3:41 am

      Hi Meaghan!
      You can find nutmeg in Lulu’s, Danube and sometimes Tamimi. What I’ve noticed is the stock finishes quite quickly when the store gets it in..so you have to keep looking for it :) Good luck!ReplyCancel

      • MeaghanNovember 26, 2014 - 1:19 am

        Shukran!ReplyCancel

Attention Blue Abaya readers all over the world! I’m going to go ahead and post this, despite the chances that Blue Abaya website will be blocked by the “Magic Internet Fairy” in Saudi Arabia, who absolutely detests seeing anything related to the Saudi Women Driving Campaign. I guess he’s the “Our women are Queens, the […]

  • Karen BremnerOctober 13, 2014 - 6:00 pm

    I have just arrived in Kingdom and one of the things I am most glad about is that I am not able to drive. The roads are crazy and the lack of driving skills is terrifying. Surely a driving test and legal age limit is the first step before women get behind the wheel.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaOctober 13, 2014 - 11:46 pm

      Karen if you just arrived in the Kingdom maybe it’s better to settle and see what things look like after a while. Also, maybe it’s just a typo in your comment but saying “I’m glad about not being able to drive”. Not be able to do something can never be good, but choice is good. I think you meant “I’m glad that I have the option not to drive here, because the crazy roads scare me, but if a fellow woman wants to, she should have the right,just like all those crazy drivers do.” :)ReplyCancel

  • RawyahOctober 13, 2014 - 8:45 pm

    I agree 100%.
    We need to drive. We need to have the choice to drive or have a driver. I am so tired of having to reschedule my appointments because the driver is not available or busy or tired or not in the mood. I feel guilty that every time my husband comes home from a long day of work, I have to ask him to go out again because he is the only one the law allows to touch the steering wheel. I feel angry and frustrated when other women I talk to about this issue argue that having a man is safer or more feminine! The worst arguments I had about this issue were never with men. No they were reasonable in their discussions and many are supportive. But the women were the worst! It was shocking how they were welling to look down on other women who support the issue and call them “Liberal” or “westernized” or “shameless” or worse.

    I believe that the issue has been dragged on for this long, not because of religious or social reasons, but because “THEY” want the people to stay busy arguing with each other. There were many cases in which “THEY” ignored social and religious opinions and did what “THEY” like or saw beneficial. So we the citizens will keep arguing. THEY will keep listening and watching and waiting. And once it is decided what is best and beneficial to THEM then THEY will ignore all other opinions and do what THEY like..

    I hope the Magic Internet Fairy does not block your site Layla for this comment :)ReplyCancel

    • LaylaOctober 13, 2014 - 11:37 pm

      I guess the question is then, how do we convince “THEM”that allowing women to drive will be beneficial for “THEM”? What can THEY gain? The mother of all
      Questions. If anyone knows, please type it here. Maybe THEY really are listening ;)ReplyCancel

    • DaniatOctober 20, 2014 - 1:44 am

      Who is THEY?

      Someone please tell me??

      The police? I mean the Saudi religious police is what you are talking about???ReplyCancel

      • RawyahOctober 20, 2014 - 12:36 pm

        THEY = the ones who want to keep people busy and arguing so that that they won’t pay attention to the real important matters.
        And no they are not the religious police or the police but the ones who pay them their salaries :)

        * This is my own personal conclusionReplyCancel

        • LaylaOctober 21, 2014 - 12:22 am

          THEY = “The Others” lol have you seen that movie Rawyah?ReplyCancel

    • MinaNovember 22, 2014 - 6:46 pm

      I think when the prophet SAAS did not forbid me to go about my needs and I have permission islamically to do so what would a person care what others think of him ,her.I think the way we have to think needs to be beneficial to society.They want to prevent their women from anything: rumours ,bad image in society and other issues.Just we need to follow the islamic way and not the any extreme form of thinking.When we prevent our children from any experience in life when they go to other country to study they will be overwhelmed or they will commit any sins because they were so sheltered.ReplyCancel

  • Lynn GrabonOctober 13, 2014 - 10:25 pm

    Just do it! Stop talking about it and just do it! How many women per day can they actually arrest if every woman who wishes to drive gets behind the wheel every day!?! Just do it!ReplyCancel

  • Marvin ZeidanOctober 13, 2014 - 11:13 pm

    Women’s Right to Drive

    Everyone needs to help on spreading this quickly before the site is blocked by “the internet fairy”. A 1-2 minute video on why women should drive… any reason…

    My experience is that it’s better than having an 11 (maximum!) year old boy having to drive his mom and sisters to the pharmacy while creating havoc and endangering others’ lives because he can’t see the road and has to drive standing up… true story from this last Friday I kid you not… and he drove past at least 1 cop as I saw it.

    What about the economics of it?

    How many drivers sending millions back home out of the country each month… a quick calculation by any estimate shows a ridiculous economic leakage of funds that could otherwise be in women’s pockets spent in the local economy… not to benefit the government as it doesn’t need it but for the benefit of local businesses.

    Not to mention the jobs that women can’t can’t take because financing a car and paying a driver could mean that they end up paying out of their pocket to cover the costs while most want to work cause they need the money…

    Women & children’s safety from driver abuse. With no real address system ambulances can’t save men’s lives… I can go on..

    There, 5 reasons and I can think of a few more… I’m sure you can come up with at least one…ReplyCancel

  • RexOctober 13, 2014 - 11:17 pm

    Thought provoking and honest article. Just about said it all on Saudi women driving. Would you allow this to be reposted? I can’t seem to find the reblog option or copy the text. Thank youReplyCancel

    • LaylaOctober 13, 2014 - 11:39 pm

      Thank you! I need to disable the right click for this page or then I could email it to you?ReplyCancel

      • RexOctober 20, 2014 - 1:42 am

        If you don’t mind sending it over through email.
        ThanksReplyCancel

  • MarvinOctober 14, 2014 - 2:16 am

    What about the economics of it?

    How many drivers sending millions back home out of the country each month… a quick calculation by any estimate shows a ridiculous economic leakage of funds that could otherwise be in women’s pockets spent in the local economy… not to benefit the government as it doesn’t need it but for the benefit of local businesses.

    Not to mention the jobs that women can’t can’t take because financing a car and paying a driver could mean that they end up paying out of their pocket to cover the costs while most want to work cause they need the money…ReplyCancel

    • carlOctober 14, 2014 - 8:01 pm

      i read them all, and the post about the $$$$$ going out the country is the most compelling. $$$$ is how you talk to a man. we don’t understand much else. SorryReplyCancel

      • carlOctober 14, 2014 - 8:04 pm

        ill check yo see if my post was posted it… buttt i guess this site has a fairy of it’s own..

        Your comment will be published after moderationReplyCancel

        • LaylaOctober 15, 2014 - 1:33 pm

          tbh i didn’t quite understand what you meant by the comment, can you please elaborate, Carl?ReplyCancel

        • LaylaOctober 17, 2014 - 2:51 pm

          Rude and hateful comments and personal attacks will not be published by the Blueabaya fairy :)ReplyCancel

      • RawyahOctober 17, 2014 - 2:53 am

        Hi Carl,

        Saudi men don’t think this way. Actually Many non Saudi’s don’t think this way too.
        I met a Kuwaiti once who told me that she and her whole extended family and most people in their area don’t drive but rather have drivers.
        I met a girl from UAE who told me that she and her mother drive but still have a driver for the kids and other errands that require manly stuff. what I got is that she sees having a driver on demand is part of the prestige.

        As a Saudi woman, when talking to Saudi men, they rather pay the $$$$ than see their wives filling the tank, or loading and unloading groceries, or taking out the trash or changing a tire or facing car problems. These issues must be taken care of by a man. Many women share these ideas too and believe they need a man around to do these things when their husbands are not available. If the woman took out the trash for example, everyone will look down on the husband and accuse him of not taking care of his family.
        It is a different way of thinking. And it needs to be approached by someone who understand the our very protective culture.ReplyCancel

        • LaylaOctober 17, 2014 - 2:38 pm

          Thanks for replying to Carl, Rawyah.
          I still don’t get his comment and all the $$$$ :)ReplyCancel

        • MinaNovember 22, 2014 - 6:36 pm

          Hi Rawiah,I am an expat in Riyadh SA and live in an area that is more international but has saudis also.I go to the shop by foot and my husband too.Is that normal?I mean I walk a lot and sometimes alone because my husband feels tired from work and I am used to in my country to walk and the store is not far I carry my bag back home.Is that something unnatural in saudi to see?I do wear abaya and hijab.I don’t like to live inactive always driven or stopping walking will kill me ,it’s lack of moving so try to walk a lot!ReplyCancel

    • LaylaOctober 20, 2014 - 11:54 am

      Very true Marvin! Thanks for bringing those points to the table. There are countless ways that allowing women to drive would improve the economy and overall well being of Saudi Arabia’s citizens!ReplyCancel

  • Sally TomlissonOctober 14, 2014 - 8:59 am

    I have been in Kingdom nearly 4 years and seen some hideous sights on the roads here. I’ve also been a qualified driver for over 30 years and would much rather put my children’s lives in my hands by driving them myself, than the hands of drivers that have never been near a car before arriving in KSA. Whilst I appreciate some women do not want to drive in this country, surely we should all be working together to help those of us that do. It’s about basic human rights and having a choice, which females currently do not have in KSA. ReplyCancel

    • LaylaOctober 20, 2014 - 11:51 am

      Sally I agree with you 110%! It should be a choice, and I would also much rather have the lives of my children in my own skilled hands than random men who usually don’t know how to drive and share little to no concern about my or my children’s safety!
      It always shocks me when women don’t help each other out of solidarity, and even more so when they try to make life more difficult and take rights away form other women.ReplyCancel

  • Paulina KlijsOctober 14, 2014 - 9:13 pm

    Let us start recruiting professional women drivers first to follow Islamic rules so we don’t have to drive alone with rude impolite unqualified foreign men. This way they can get accustomed to see women driving. I personally know very religious women who are against women driving bReplyCancel

    • LaylaOctober 17, 2014 - 2:51 pm

      If they allow that, I’m applying for a job as a driver!
      yes I know some women are against it. I find it very strange because nobody is forcing anyone to drive!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle BarnesOctober 15, 2014 - 3:58 am

    Well said!!! The driving issue (and revolting drivers I was subjected to) is what finally broke me, so I left Saudi after living and working there for 8 years.
    Today, I drove my son to school, then drove on to work. Cheap, efficient, and not one near death experience or harassment.
    I hope all women in Saudi will have this choice.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaOctober 17, 2014 - 2:50 pm

      I hope so too, and that it doesn’t break me :(ReplyCancel

  • AliaOctober 19, 2014 - 2:15 am

    It is hard to accept that ladies of Saudi Arabia are willing to drive but not allow. You will not to organize better and ask for it more vocally.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaOctober 20, 2014 - 11:44 am

      Hi Alia, thanks for the support and comment.
      I agree it could be more organized! But also keep in mind that lots of Saudi women actually do NOT want to drive! And I know this might be hard ot believe but some are even AGAINST allowing their Saudi sisters to drive!ReplyCancel

  • Adam ArrozalOctober 23, 2014 - 1:03 pm

    Brave! I hope more Saudi women and men find the courage to stand up with you. Kudos to you Layla!ReplyCancel

  • Judy PennyfeatherOctober 23, 2014 - 10:08 pm

    Good for you, Layla. If they take this site down, simply create another and keep on going. ReplyCancel

  • JeanOctober 24, 2014 - 3:27 am

    May I comment here from Canada:

    Not everyone is comfortable with driving. But I am free to make my decision…I bicycle everywhere to work, shopping, fitness and touring outside the city.

    I wear shorts, etc. ..so enough said.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaOctober 30, 2014 - 12:31 pm

      Thank you Jean for the comment all the way from Canada :)
      Indeed, it should be about the choice! Probably even most women here are NOT comfortable with the thought of driving, but those who are ARE, should be given the choice to do so.
      Layla recently posted…Saudi Life Series Volume 1ReplyCancel

  • Niki HydeOctober 24, 2014 - 8:29 pm

    Well written and much needed. Supporting this cause and have been for a long time.ReplyCancel

  • Margo CattsOctober 26, 2014 - 1:39 pm

    I’ve linked to this. Thank you for your courage, commitment, and honesty!ReplyCancel

  • Natural Facts | Foreign GirlOctober 26, 2014 - 1:49 pm

    […] an eloquent plea for change (which accompanied the Facebook conversation cited earlier), see “The Queens of Saudi Arabia Need to Drive” on the Blue Abaya blog. To keep up on the issue, Follow #Oct26Driving, #IWillDriveMyself, […]ReplyCancel

  • Fatimah AshworthOctober 29, 2014 - 10:53 am

    Granted that there are women out there that haven’t got trustworthy drivers at their fingertips.
    Granted that sometimes a lady is in dire need to go out and there isn’t anyone who can drive her.
    I am in full agreement that women need to be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. But I’d like to call your attention to the other side of the equation which has been conveniently ignored.

    [1] I agree that there are women out there that are responsible housewives who just want to do their duty and move on, but there also irresponsible women who all they want is to do is go out and attract attention to themselves, putting themselves very stupidly in the power of ruthless men ready to exploit such women.

    [2] The decision to allow only men to drive, was I’m sure, a measure taken to prevent the two genders mixing and subsequent harm coming from that. The fact that men were chosen over women, was because men are required in Islam to provide for their families, run their errands, and take care of them. If the man does not do that, then he will be questioned by Allah.

    [3] A woman is supposed to take care of her house and her children, yes or no? I don’t mean that she should be prevented from leaving the house at all, but I mean that in the same way that a man is required to leave the comfort of his home and go out to work and provide a living for his family (and he’ll be questioned about that by the way), then a women is required to stay at home a look after his family while he works for them. Right?

    If you come to the conclusion that I disagree with women driving in Saudi Arabia, then you’ve misunderstood me. I believe in women driving moderately. Those who have a sense of propriety and responsibility. Those who know that their first and foremost duty is to take care of her house and her children.
    You may argue that there are duties for women outside the house as well, like taking the children to school or to the dentist. I disagree. That is the man’s job. If he is away or busy, then it is his job to provide somebody to fulfil his original duty for him. And if he doesn’t? Than the job of the woman isn’t to slander the country or rant and rave about the injustice she is forced to face. No, her job in my opinion is to sit her husband down and give him a through talking to about his duties and priorities before anything else.ReplyCancel

    • radhaNovember 3, 2014 - 8:43 pm

      What about the women without husbands? the widows with no desire to remarry? what about women without kids ? how about super efficient women who can multitask?

      This has nothng to do with women staying home, just because women are given the power to drive doesnt mean they are going to go on rampage and start hanging around men.. — what irrational fear.

      again dont drive if you dont want to , sit your spouse an dlecture him , but why stop others who want to? why enforce your will on someone who is not similarly constrained?
      of course you have questiont he country’s laws, and criticize, it’s not my husband making laws that dont allow me to drive, it’s the people who rule and enfore the rule.ReplyCancel

      • Fatimah AshworthNovember 4, 2014 - 1:13 pm

        Of course. I understand your point about widows and single women with no men to drive them around. My point though if you read my comment closely, was not that women shouldn’t drive. On the contrary, I fully support the movement to allow women to drive. But I disagree with the way it is conducted. Slandering a country and insulting it ISN’T GOING TO GET YOU ANYWHERE, much less get the country you are living in to say: “Oh, I’m sorry that you don’t like this particular law. We’ll change it immediately.”
        Another thing which I meant when I posted my comment above, was that I wanted to point out the view the country took when they issued the law banning women to drive. They most probably took into account the widows, single women, and “super efficient muti-tasking” women, but from their point of view, the Cons outweighed the Pros, and so the issued the ban.
        You can’t for one second imagine that an upstanding country issued a law just because “they’re anti women” as many will have you believe. It’s only common sense that will tell you: Hang on a minute: THAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE.
        A country usually studies the pros and cons of a decision before it makes it, so it follows quite nicely that they studied this particular decision prior to them issuing it. And that’s that.
        I trust that my point is made clear to all those who misunderstood me.ReplyCancel

    • MarieDecember 9, 2014 - 4:24 pm

      Fatima, truly, you think it a husband’s job to take the kids to the dentist? Then I say you have not sat through the many doctor’s appointments children require. Kids want their mother at such occasions, not dad. I know I did. I was so terrified of the dentist my mother would not tell me s we were going until the morning of, and then she would sit there with me in the dentist’s office. I didn’t want my dad for that, and he certainly wouldn’t have been much comfort! Women need to drive their kids not only to the doctor, but school and private lessons. I took dance and flute lessons, that my mother drove me to. My father was busy working. I can’t imagine that a young girl wouldn’t want to play on a team in KSA. Moms here are known as soccer moms, because all their kids play the sport, and they all drive them to the practices after school and on Saturdays. Be realistic. There’s no mixing of the sexes at these practices, it’s all soccer moms! And how on earth do you get the grocery shopping done? You expect your husband to do that too? How do you run errands, the dry-cleaning, pharmacy, bank, without a car? Driving is necessary!ReplyCancel

      • MarieDecember 9, 2014 - 4:46 pm

        When I said here I meant here in the United States. Sorry.ReplyCancel

      • LaylaDecember 9, 2014 - 8:13 pm

        Marie, most of the errands you mention are commonly done by the men of the family here. yes even groceries sometimes!ReplyCancel

  • Dee MangalinoNovember 2, 2014 - 3:41 pm

    I’ve been reading this blog for quite sometime now and can’t help to comment on this matter.

    In an expat point of view, women driving in Saudi Arabia have pro’s and con’s

    Pro’s are
    1. Economically, they can save money by not hiring Drivers from different countries.
    2. The burden of waiting for someone to drive you around is quite a pain in the ass. Plus the fact that that someone (either your husband, brother or driver) may have other appointment or things to do can be disturbing.

    Con’s are
    1. The streets in Khobar, Dammam, Riyadh & Jeddah are usually clog by cars improperly parked (no offense, but Saudis normally do this particularly near the restaurants and mosques during prayer time). Imagine a family of 5 having cars for each and everyone have their own activities.
    2. Everyday there are a lot of road accidents across the Kingdom because of reckless drivers (I in particular. ههههه). I noticed that women driving in Bahrain aren’t that reckless but their habitual texting while driving would be more similar if it happens in Saudi.

    Overall, women should still be able to drive. The con’s stated above can be resolved if all parties are willing to cooperate.ReplyCancel

  • LukeNovember 11, 2014 - 12:55 pm

    Human rights doesn’t need an apostrophe. Just saying.ReplyCancel

  • Bible ScholarDecember 10, 2014 - 10:43 am

    If queens drive, than they not called queen anymore but call driver/slave lolReplyCancel

Whether people have travelled to experience Aurora Borealis or have seen them in photos or videos, Northern lights – as they’re also referred to as – are spellbinding for almost everyone. Here are ten interesting things you might not know about the amazing auroras, written by Thomas Kast, Aurora Borealis photographer and enthusiast living in […]

It’s my pleasure to share with you a guest post written by an amazing lady I’ve been blessed to have “met” through blogging. Jenny Ballif has been a fan and follower of Blue Abaya blog for many years and two years years ago she contacted me with a very special request.. Jenny and I both […]

  • Lise GagnonSeptember 30, 2014 - 7:57 pm

    I experience calm and peace when I hear the call to prayer from the mosques. The dates in Saudi Arabia are amazing! It’s like eating healthy bonbons.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaOctober 1, 2014 - 10:29 am

      true! Dates have so many health benefits many are not aware of actually :)ReplyCancel

  • Betsy Sanders-BinzagrOctober 1, 2014 - 8:23 am

    Dates here are incredible. I would’t learn about Islam her though! Commercialism AT LEAST as prevalent in Saudi and I think families are close or not close based on family -not country. But I hope she gets to visit. It is worth a visit.ReplyCancel

  • Diana Spruell KillmerOctober 1, 2014 - 8:55 am

    I grew up in Boulder City, NV and the weather is similar. A little more humid here at times, however.ReplyCancel

  • Susie Johnson KhalilOctober 1, 2014 - 12:24 pm

    I hope you get to visit Saudi Arabia one day because it truly is a jaw dropping experience. You will see things here that you’ve never seen before. I’ve been here 7 years now and I still get that surreal feeling many times when I am out and about. ReplyCancel

  • Um E DaniaOctober 1, 2014 - 1:35 pm

    Dates are delicious and cheap too. Large quantity with variety. I think the reasons you have listed are same for all of us. It is always nice to read your blog. ReplyCancel

  • Hsn HsnOctober 1, 2014 - 5:14 pm

    Main reason is money…Don’t lie to yourself dear.
    ReplyCancel

  • Jenny BallifOctober 1, 2014 - 10:32 pm

    Thanks everyone. Diana, we currently live in Boulder City. Small world :)ReplyCancel

  • Mohsin ZafarOctober 2, 2014 - 4:33 am

    Oh madam Um E Dania G, Kidi sano v bulla lu KSA…………….ReplyCancel

  • AhmedOctober 8, 2014 - 9:21 am

    It’s pleasure to read your opinion about our lifestyle and culture in Saudi Arabia, it means a lot to hear this type of positive reactions about Islam and people here.

    I would love to thank you and welcome you to KSA

    regards, ;)ReplyCancel

  • MollyOctober 16, 2014 - 3:40 am

    Could you please write us a list of the books she sent you? I would love to read them to my sons. :). Thank you.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaOctober 17, 2014 - 2:48 pm

      Ok, here are some of their favorites:
      Goodnight moon
      Madeline
      Little Gorilla
      Bear Snores on
      The Mitten
      Is your mama a llama?
      Hand Hand Finger Thumb
      The Going to Bed Book
      these are the book titles I can remember from the top of my head, I will check for more later!ReplyCancel

  • Dee MangalinoNovember 5, 2014 - 9:12 am

    Points 1, 4 & 5 made me stay in the Kingdom. And now I strive to learn more of their culture and Islam.ReplyCancel

September 23rd 2014 will mark the 84th year of the Unification of Saudi Arabia by King Abdul Aziz. All of Saudi Arabia is gearing up for the festivities and KSA’s biggest cities Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam- Al Khobar are arranging all kinds of events and festivals to celebrate the occasion! Personally I love spending the […]

  • KysyySeptember 30, 2014 - 5:21 pm

    Tuli yksi off-topicci mieleen. Soile kirjoitti joskus blogissaan, että Saudeissa naispotilaille on aina naishoitaja ja miehille mies (mikä on hyvä juttu, oispa Suomessa sama!). Mutta entä lääkärien suhteen? Onko Saudeissa töissä enää miesgynejä vai palkataanko sinne vain naisgynejä? Miten on lääkärien koulutus? Onko saudiarabialaisilla miesopiskelijoilla mahdollisuus suorittaa tutkinto vaikka he kieltäytyisivät tekemästä intiimejä tutkimuksia naispotilaille, eli vaikkapa gynekologisia tutkimuksia? Onko naisopiskelijoilla sama oikeus miespotilaiden suhteen?

    Jos tuollaista mahdollisuutta ei ole, niin miten saudinaiset sitten oikein suostuvat miesopiskelijoiden tutkittaviksi?

    Luin joskus uutisen Englannista, että jotkut muslimiopiskelijat vaativat tuollaista oikeutta. En ymmärrä, että miksi länsimaalaisille ei ole tullut vastaavaa mieleen, vaikka myös suurin osa länsinaisista haluaa naisgynen. Nainen ja mies kuitenkin ovat seksuaalisia olentoja myös silloin kun ei ole kyse seksistä ja lännessä on ollut paljon tapauksia, joissa miesgyne on kuvannut salaa potilaitaan tai muuten ahdistellut. (Oksettavaa!)

    Nuo kysymykset tulivat siksikin mieleen, että sekä raamatussa että koraanissa miestä kielletään koskemasta naiseen, jonka kanssa ei ole naimisissa.

    Kiitos paljon jos vastaat :) Tiedät kuitenkin aika paljon enemmän tuon maan elämästä kuin moni muu länsimaalainen.ReplyCancel

Something new and exciting on Blue Abaya.. I decided to start a series of posts, kind of like a photo challenge of day to day life in Riyadh after some readers have been asking me to share more family photos and to show what the everyday life is like in Saudi Arabia.. . Many of […]

  • Susie Johnson KhalilSeptember 20, 2014 - 9:34 pm

    Love your new series. It’s fun and informative!ReplyCancel

  • Fatima GeerSeptember 21, 2014 - 3:56 am

    Very interesting! Waiting for more! Thank you.
    ReplyCancel

  • naouel bouyacoubSeptember 21, 2014 - 6:56 am

    Interesting and amusing in the same time!ReplyCancel

  • Teresa MertensSeptember 22, 2014 - 5:16 am

    Great snapshot of life in Ksa you are a great mom. Thanks for the recipe! I’m trying it ! ReplyCancel

I wanted to share something very powerful that touched me deeply today, a song called “We Are Here” by Alicia Keys, one of my favorite artists of all time. Please listen to it. If you don’t listen to music for religious reasons, then read the lyrics. Dear Alicia, Thank you for this wonderful song and the […]

  • Susie Johnson KhalilSeptember 13, 2014 - 8:16 am

    Love this song! I am here (in Saudi Arabia) because this is where my husband wants to be. So I am being the dutiful wife and have followed my husband. While this is not the place I really want to live, I am here and trying to make the best out of my experience of living here, which includes trying to bridge the gap of misunderstandings between Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world. Sometimes I don’t do a very good job of it, but just getting the discussions going and opening the lines of communication are steps in the right direction.ReplyCancel

  • Soile HaapalainenSeptember 13, 2014 - 8:38 am

    I’m here right now, because life didn’t turn out the way I planned, or thought it would. But it’s ok, I’m quite happy and in peace with myself. I’m in Saudi because I want to travel, experience new cultures, meet new people and do things I would not be able to do at/from home. I’m here because this is where my life took me, and this is where I’m supposed to be, for now.

    And I’m on Blue Abaya, not only because you are my friend, but also because your blog is amazing, I’ve learned so much more about Saudi by reading it. So, thanks!ReplyCancel

  • ValerieSeptember 13, 2014 - 9:49 am

    I love Alicia Keys too and this song is one of her best so far!!

    to answer why am I here for? I am here to find new interesting things about a country I know nothing of before coming to Blue Abaya! So thank you for that and please don’t stop doing all those things for us. take care lady!ReplyCancel

  • LaylaSeptember 13, 2014 - 11:33 am

    Thank you Valerie!
    I’m happy to hear that!
    Layla recently posted…Takalamy. A Conversation with Young Saudi Females ReplyCancel

  • Robin DaySeptember 13, 2014 - 12:17 pm

    I am in Saudi arabia to be with my husband to support him while he works. It’s cheaper than trying to run 2 households both here in Saudi and our home in the USA all year. I also get to avoid the snow and cold weather back home during the winter.ReplyCancel

  • Karen CrociSeptember 13, 2014 - 12:22 pm

    I am here to learn and to teach. Sometimes I am the student. Sometimes I am the teacher. But I am woven into the fabric of the universe because I can do nothing else. It is my path, and I must follow it.ReplyCancel

  • SusanSeptember 13, 2014 - 4:29 pm

    I found you while researching
    Saudi Arabia. I am also in healthcare and have accepted a job there and I am an American. I also believe that if more people inform themselves about other cultures we can bring people closer. Thank you for this wonderful site it has been enlightening.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaSeptember 13, 2014 - 7:16 pm

      Hi Susan,
      thanks so much for your kind comment! Will you be coming to work in Riyadh? all the best on your journey to the ‘magic kingdom’ :)ReplyCancel

  • Margaretha Beverloo SmithSeptember 13, 2014 - 4:33 pm

    Hi Layla, I chose to follow my husband here a year ago, because I was extremely curious of a country and a culture that we know absolutely nothing about in my home country Sweden. I saw glimpses of Riyadh air base on CNN during the first Gulf war. That was all I knew.
    In Sweden we also have a constant debate going about immigrants in general and muslims in particular, based on ignorance and fear. I decided to come here, look, listen and learn, and then blog about my expat life – in Swedish. Trying to do my tiny part of building a bridge between the cultures and the religions. And I am happy to say I am getting great feedback from Sweden!
    I am here on Blue Abaya, because your website was my guiding star when we had decided about the move, and I first started to look for something to hold on to, something that could give me a hint of what to expect. I also sent you a couple of emails, Layla, with questions that were vital to me. And you always replied, in reassuring words. For that I am unspeakably grateful!
    You are doing so much for this country you should be the Saudi Ambassador somewhere in the western world :)
    Margaretha Beverloo Smith recently posted…”Visst har vi mål och mening med vår färd, men det är vägen som är mödan värd”ReplyCancel

    • LaylaSeptember 13, 2014 - 7:05 pm

      Dear Margaretha,
      Thank you for your amazing message, it really made my day! very happy to hear you’re also blogging and will definitely stop by your blog too even though my Swedish is a bit rusty :)
      I’m humbled by your compliments, and also it’s very encouraging to me, to keep on doing what I’ve been doing for years, sometimes I doubt myself but then hearing back from readers always gives me new motivation, so thank you for that!!ReplyCancel

  • Um E DaniaSeptember 13, 2014 - 6:55 pm

    I am here in Saudi Arabia because I preferred living in a Muslim country than UK. I came with my husband and now staying from last 4 years and enjoying every bit of it. I am thankful to Almighty Allah who gave me a chance to visit Haram. ReplyCancel

  • jeanSeptember 14, 2014 - 4:06 am

    To learn about SA through the eyes of resident (yes, ex-pat.). You’re doing a great job.
    jean recently posted…A Shimmer of Watery Flower DreamsReplyCancel

  • SireenSeptember 14, 2014 - 8:15 am

    I am here in Saudi, because my husband works here, so I wanted to stay with him. This is not the place I would willingly chose to live in, but I’m trying to make the best of it. While my stay here, I’ve learned more about the Saudi culture and made wonderful friends from different parts of the World.
    I am here on Layla’s blog, because it’s informative, funny and witty. When I read her blog, I feel that I’m not the only one with different views when it comes to Saudi. I enjoy her writings and her out of the box ideas:)ReplyCancel

    • LaylaSeptember 17, 2014 - 4:47 am

      Hi Sireen and thank you for the comment :) great to hear you are trying to make the best of it! What else can we do right?

      Glad you enjoy my out of the box ideas:)ReplyCancel

  • jinkySeptember 15, 2014 - 5:27 am

    Hi there ms. Layla i just came across your blog because i googled what are the best restaurants in riyadh and your blogsite was one of the answers that google gave and i found it great and even laughed about your comment and stand with mcdonalds and i told myself she’s my kind of girl. Anyway i found myself going thru your site further and became more interested with you and your blogs cause you saw something good here in this country wherein all i have are negative thoughts ands feelings and i have all reasons to leave but i just cant as of now. And i want to know,thru your eyes and experiences what are the good
    things this country has to offer. Thank you.

    From your new follower.. please dont stop what you do cause unknowingly you are helping and changing people’s lives.. you are a blessing and continue to be one. May God bless you always. In your cause may allah bless you.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaSeptember 17, 2014 - 4:35 am

      hello there jinky :)
      I’m touched by your message, thank you for taking the time to write your comment, it gave me something to think about and definitely inspired me to keep on writing!

      all the best to you and god bless you!ReplyCancel

  • EstelleSeptember 19, 2014 - 5:11 pm

    Asalamu alaikum,

    I am on Blue Abaya because I love the writing, the pictures and more than everything to see an outspoken successful woman making the best of her life in KSA.

    I love that you created your own business. I admire that your professionalism on blogging has been acknowledge by magazines.

    And much more.

    To my eyes, this is not an exception for the women of Saudi. It is on the line of our beloved Khadija (RA) who was too a successful business woman, outspoken and kind human being.

    I just wish more women – saudi born, half saudi by marriage (as I like to say) or just living in KSA – will create such spaces to inspire others. And to also show that yes living in KSA is beautiful. Just like everywhere else, your intention and the way you react to things will really matter for your happiness level. It is all attitude based.

    I may not agree all the times with the blog’s views (and Alhamdulelah different people think differently ;) ) – and I am sorry to commenting mostly when I don’t – but I truly enjoy this space.

    Wa salam,ReplyCancel

    • LaylaOctober 21, 2014 - 12:27 am

      Wa aleikum salaam Estelle,
      Please forgive me for this late reply,

      I wanted to make sure you know how grateful I am for your comment and for having you here as a reader. Thank you <3
      Layla recently posted…The Queens of Saudi Arabia Need to DriveReplyCancel

  • Merja Narvo-AkkolaNovember 15, 2014 - 7:05 am

    I am here to make my little small part to make girls’ and boys’ dreams come true. I try to develop education to be more equality and equity for all children in this country so that they can dream and grow to their best potential and live full lifeReplyCancel

  • Bible ScholarDecember 9, 2014 - 1:52 pm

    In islam our purpose to be here is simple, to know God who created us, and to worships Him properly, so by that all thing will be followed such as helping other, forbiding evil in sociaty etc. because basicly those are God’s commandments.ReplyCancel

Last week on the blog we learned of some very primitive, backward and close-minded actions of a few men, hopelessly stuck in the Saudi Stone ages. While a part of the Saudi society seems to be moving backwards, there is another part, less known, which is going in the opposite direction. The western media will rarely […]

  • RawyahSeptember 8, 2014 - 3:09 pm

    I liked the idea and message until I watched the youtube video.

    Rich girls who are not proud enough to speak in their mother language and do not even pronounce their names in Arabic. The setting, the name of the mission in English letters. All of this is “foreign” to my culture and my identity as a Saudi.

    Maybe they wanted a few claps and cheers from the western world they live in. I am sure they will get that because the west likes it when Saudi women reject their heritage. I have seen it and experienced it.
    But the common Saudi women will never have any connection with this youtube video.

    When Manal Alshreef posted her first videos in Arabic and directed it to Saudi people, there was a great response and support from the very poor to the wealthy, the uneducated and the college professors and ministers. But when she gave her speech in Oslo, many turned against her and those who embraced her before, distanced themselves from her. Her mission lost its power when she distanced herself from her people. Just like those girls in the Takalamy video.

    I have seen this video twice now on youtube and facebook. But all those who are talking about it are non-Saudis. Not a single Saudi friend or relative knows about it because no one cares or have heard about them. Which just proves my point that their message is not directed to the Saudi people.ReplyCancel

    • A.September 9, 2014 - 11:00 pm

      As a Western academic whose research is focused on the developments of education in Saudi Arabia, I totally agree with Rawyah.Very well said. Although I somehow appreciate the video, all in all I believe this stuff is designed to please the West. And Saudis don’t need to please the West, they have their rich and unique traditions, they can move forward at their own pace. Saudi ladies studying abroad represent about 20-22% of the female student population, and not all of them resemble the ladies in this video. Saudis, find your own way. No neeed to become American-style Saudis!ReplyCancel

  • EvaSeptember 9, 2014 - 1:31 am

    Why are they not wearing hijab?ReplyCancel

    • ReginaSeptember 10, 2014 - 2:38 pm

      Eva.. because they have chosen not to. And this might supprise you but they dont have to explain themselfs to anyone!ReplyCancel

  • dalalSeptember 9, 2014 - 1:48 am

    While I agree that not necessarily the women interviewed represent all Saudi women but I do think they represent the new generation which is moving on.

    I want to point out that there is no way to make such a video and and please everyone. So there will always be someone (normally another Saudi) to criticise and come up and to say ” this is not me”
    “she does not represent me”.

    I have heard this thousand times over and it’s getting old.

    Everyone represents their own self.ReplyCancel

    • ReginaSeptember 10, 2014 - 2:43 pm

      Very true. Its not they language they speak thats important. Its the message!ReplyCancel

  • EstelleSeptember 11, 2014 - 8:09 am

    Asalamu alaikum,

    I agree with sister Rawyah.

    Also, I am perplex about this clivage of two worlds that seems to never want to meet : the people who focus on the (some parts, let’s be honest) religion and the ones rejecting (or at least distancing themselves) the religion because they want to be seen as “modern” or because they consider that they are “moving backward”.

    Alhamdulelah I have met Saudi women that are outspoken, intelligent, working women, successful and determined in their lives but who are also seeking knowledge in their Deen and following the Sunnah of the Rasool of Allah.

    If we follow the Sunnah, how could we be ever considered as backward or close-minded ?

    Islam is a religion that is taking the Good wherever it is and rejecting the bad wherever it is.

    It is a religion that is seeking knowledge in all topics, from sciences to arts, because it is getting us closer to Allah.

    And so much more …

    I believe that we do not have to look nor act like non-muslims to be considered modern.

    Of course, these women may be muslims or not, practising or not. And I respect them all whatever choices they made.

    What I find disturbing is this unique vision of a modern Saudi society which should necessarily use the codes of the West and looks like the West to be acknowledge.

    And this is not only a question of religion. It is using the white people of the West as a standard to follow. A norm to be. The good old colonialist mentality …

    Everything else, that is different, is then considered primitive.

    “I cover my hair not my brain” – anonymous

    I would like to finish with the mention of the last Khutbah I attended where Mufti Aasim Rashid (from BC, Canada) made a speech that was really beneficial to me. And I would like to mention it because it changed my opinion about the flying Muttawa.

    To resume …

    We, Muslims, must not speak ill, ever, of another muslim. Backbitting, mocking, criticizing, etc.

    However, we, Muslims, must also stand against any wrong action commit by Muslims or non Muslims.

    Both are parts of making Jihad by the way (little add from mysef not the Mufti).

    How can we meet these two positions at once ? By taking position against a wrong action but not by degrading the person.

    Who knows, these Muttawa may pray, fast, recite the Quran, make charity and more.

    In another situation, they may make us cry by their goodness.

    Who are we to know who is good and who is not ?

    But at the same time, when they did what they did, we all must declare such action absolutely unacceptable within the standards of Islam. And this action must be judged and, yes, punishment have to be done. Shariah must be applied. Saudi Arabia is a muslim country after all.

    And what was the Shariah at the time of the Khalifa of Umar bin Khattah (RA) for example ? Let’s take only one example. A man came to Umar (RA) because he has been harmed in a unjust manner, in egypt, by the son of a Sahabi. Umar (RA) then gave a stick to this man and said to him in front of the very person who harmed him, “do to him what he did to you”. By seeing his rights respected and the justice been made, the man prefered to forgive the one who harmed him injustly and reverted to Islam.

    Maybe it is time for us to remember our Shariah.

    Maybe it is time for us to remember to please Allah and not the people.

    Do I make any sense ?

    I was really mad at the story of the flying Muttawa, at the point that my blood was boiling inside my veins, but now all I can see is the deep need of education that we all need. As a Ummah.

    You, me, she, he, we.

    Wa alaikum salam,ReplyCancel

  • JeanSeptember 14, 2014 - 4:10 am

    These girls are young. I guess the big question how they will translate their words into their lives as they grow older. Or will they fall back just to simply please others.

    It becomes more difficult if they choose to have children. Enrichening, but for sure in SA, more complex and difficult.ReplyCancel

  • LaylaSeptember 17, 2014 - 4:41 am

    Was it maybe missed that the purpose for the takalamy women was not to represent ALL Saudi women, but specifically, the young Saud women who are studying in the USA on their own? I’ve tried to point that out in the text by highlighting it.
    Layla recently posted…Why Am I Here?ReplyCancel

    • EstelleSeptember 19, 2014 - 4:59 pm

      Asalamu alaikum Dear Layla,

      that is the thing. The young Saudi women who are studying in the USA are not all like this at all. I found the video lacking to show diversity.

      Wa salam,ReplyCancel

      • LaylaSeptember 19, 2014 - 8:55 pm

        Salaam Estelle, you do have a point. Perhaps those others did not feel comfortable to share in this way and that’s why it was difficult to find them for the video?ReplyCancel

        • EstelleSeptember 20, 2014 - 9:40 am

          Asalamu alaikum Dear Layla, giving excuses is a beautiful thing (no irony here, I refer of course to the well know hadith on the subject) and I can’t but approve that. Allahu halem. I just hope that it is the case and not that they were not even asked. Maybe time for you to shoot your own videos ? ;) I’m sure you will do a great job making portraits of saudi women. Wa salam,ReplyCancel

          • LaylaSeptember 20, 2014 - 6:06 pm

            I have a dream to make a photo project with Saudi women in the future :) inshallah

  • KateSeptember 18, 2014 - 2:33 pm

    Asalamwalaykum Layla,

    I stumbled across your blog whilst researching expats views of life in the Middle East and have been surprised at some of your postings.

    It’s quite sad to see articles such as the one above which seem to idealize Western culture and most especially University Education in the US/UK.

    You may be unaware of the high levels of sexual harassment that female students are subjected to whilst studying at these institutions as they are rarely reported on but do happen on a regular basis.

    Saudi gender segregation may appear old-fashioned or archaic but as it’s based on Islamic Principles we should accept the wisdom behind it and celebrate it’s wonderfully liberating effect of unchaining women from the sexualised environment of the Western Education System.

    There really is so much more for young Saudi women to aspire to than sitting in a lecture hall surrounded by men and calling it freedom!ReplyCancel

  • FANovember 6, 2014 - 9:54 pm

    Assalamu aleykum,

    As a revert living in Saudi Arabia I want to say few words on the above article and video. I surely can’t think of the above as “inspiring, empowering, forward-thinking, hopeful, enlightening”, it’s left quite opposite feelings in me, as I’ve “been there” in this “forward-thinking” society and Alhamdulillah I left this life that was taking me backwards and here I am a muslim woman now, left my western country and moved here to a muslim country and live and celebrate my freedom by practicing my religion and wearing my abaya, hijab and niqab, which I put on by my own will! I liberated myself from this western lifestyle with it’s self-worshiping habbits, and now I worship only The Almighty God and follow the Quran and Sunnah of Muhammad (salalahu aleyhi wasallyam). And im not alone who has the same story, so while this bunch of Saudi women who are complaining that they are lacking freedom in their life there are many western reverts who are eagerly leaving this western lifestyle and move to this “freedom restricted” place like Saudi Arabia. Let this bunch of Saudi women who didn’t appreciate this great gift from Allah Islam move to the west and never come back so they don’t poison the rest of the society with their mindset! And let those who strive for Allah Almighty and who wish to worship him alone following His rules completely move here so we have a beautiful and complete muslim society!
    It is the law of Allah: “If, you turn away, He will replace you with another nation. They will not be (disobedient) like you.” Quran 47:38.ReplyCancel

This is the most shocking story involving the Saudi religious police I’ve heard for a while. From beginning to end, it just amazes me how in this day and age an incident like this could still occur. In short: A British man and his Saudi wife were assaulted by Haia’ officials at Danube parking lot […]

  • Karen CrociAugust 31, 2014 - 11:08 pm

    Setting the example for Muslims all over the world. Shame, Shame Saudi Arabia. Why won’t your King do something about this? I will be sharing this with friends all over the world.ReplyCancel

  • The veiled oneSeptember 1, 2014 - 1:00 am

    Hello
    I enjoy yr posts tremendously having been raised in Riyadh a long time ago… I can fully imagine the situation and have only compassion for this couple. One question though : how can a british man be married to a Saudi woman. Have the laws changed ? Would love some insight on this. Best regards.ReplyCancel

    • KiritoSeptember 1, 2014 - 11:49 pm

      Saudi women marry non-Saudi men all the time if they were Muslims! There has been a system for that. There are some exceptions of course with certain people who are not allowed to do so such as prime minsters, judges, students who study abroad, diplomats, and others. However, There might be other exceptions to agree on those who are not allowed to so. In any way, they should ask the Saudi government to agree first whether they were allowed or not.ReplyCancel

    • stephen doyleSeptember 2, 2014 - 12:30 pm

      What you really meant was how can a Saudi woman be married to a white man?ReplyCancel

      • ArtSeptember 2, 2014 - 3:39 pm

        What the original writer obviously is confused about is that a “British” person in his mind must ergo be a non-Muslim, as if the UK has no Muslim population or citizens. Ignorance, I’m afraid. Who are the British jihadis flocking to Syria if not British Muslims?ReplyCancel

  • Syed Kabeer IrfanSeptember 1, 2014 - 1:00 am

    Shame On. U. Guys U All Standing there and no one come forward to help them…..These Haia(Islamic police) have no rights. To do these. Shits …Islam Is perfect. But. We ate Not . respect people’s. PlzReplyCancel

  • arab nursing jobSeptember 1, 2014 - 1:06 am

    I am very dissapointed to read about this story, how can this happen when he is married to the woman.
    #disgustingReplyCancel

  • Susie Johnson KhalilSeptember 1, 2014 - 1:24 am

    It is supposed to be permitted for a man accompanying his wife to use female cashiers. These idiots were way out of line and just looking for someone to harass, by the sound of it. Just adding to the never ending black eye image that Saudi has…ReplyCancel

  • Hamza FarooqSeptember 1, 2014 - 5:11 am

    Surly they remind me the boss character in games. with 2-3 sub characters defending THE BOSS.ReplyCancel

  • Adnan HSeptember 1, 2014 - 5:17 am

    The biggest WTF moment in a long time! These people are crooks in every sense of the word! I hope the couple continue to press charges and justice is served. Shame on the crowd who seem to be looking at the incident as a source of entertainment!ReplyCancel

  • Waseem QamarSeptember 1, 2014 - 7:20 am

    this is really a shame….ReplyCancel

  • Shahid AhmedSeptember 1, 2014 - 8:17 am

    As i say yet again that we Muslims are bunch of ignorant and intolerant hypocrites! We being Muslims are not practicing Islam, but following our culture from old gloomy days.ReplyCancel

  • GinghamSeptember 1, 2014 - 3:51 pm

    Disgusting and cowardly act from so called
    Religious people. I pray they are ok and justice will prevail. Thank you for updating the story.ReplyCancel

  • JessicaSeptember 1, 2014 - 4:47 pm

    This makes me sick. I am constantly harassed by the Muttawa for not covering my face when I am out with my Arabic husband and children, and that is bad enough. It is incomprehensible how they can do this to a woman and her husband.ReplyCancel

  • Justin ClarkSeptember 1, 2014 - 5:29 pm

    Just goes to show you get violent, stupid cretins in every country. Their behaviour isn’t right and they should face some justice, but these types of events are pretty rare. Riyadh is a safe city – compared to many others – and you’re more likely to be injured in a violent attack (except with a car) in many other capitals.ReplyCancel

  • AgnieszkaSeptember 1, 2014 - 6:45 pm

    Oh, I’m shocked ! What they are doing, and the crowd should help the victims not just stand and watch. I just came to Riyadh and so far everything seems ok, but seeing what Muttawa can do scares me. I would probably went into full combat mood and then be kicked out of the country…

    On the other hand Blue Abaya you have constant invitation to DQ or wherever you want to go I’m lonely now when kids went to school…….
    Regards
    AReplyCancel

    • LaylaSeptember 3, 2014 - 12:56 am

      Agnieska, are you on my Facebook friend list, send me a message there pls and will try and meet up soon!!
      Layla recently posted…Never Forget Who You AreReplyCancel

  • EdithSeptember 1, 2014 - 6:53 pm

    Muttawa are constantly harassing me in the malls. There was a new rule while ago they’re not allowed anymore to say more than once in a nice polite way that you have to cover. But no change! I normally always wear the scarf anyways but they still harass me for always something they look for any reasons.ReplyCancel

  • not afraid!September 1, 2014 - 6:54 pm

    I actually had an encounter with the infamous mutawa yesterday too. I was in a shop waiting for my new abaya in Hyatt Mall when two of them walked into the shop. As usual, I ignored them and pretended not to see them. They told me to cover my hair, and I told them with a raised voice that I was buying one. Then one of them shouted: Buy it now!, which made me shout even louder “Don’t tell me what to do!!!”. He apologised. Then, they started harassing the shop assistant. I saw them pushing him. I was sitting right next to them. To the shop walked a Saudi woman with a fifteen-year old girl who I asked what was going on. She told me they didn’t like the abayas. They wanted all of them to be only black with no patterns. She said they were crazy. We both started laughing. As soon as they left the shop, the argument was getting more and more abusive. They literally cornered the guy not giving him any space to move. They told him to show them his ID and took a photo (is this actually legal?). At this point, I got a bit upset, got up and told them to leave the shop assistant alone NOW as his job is to serve me, and I was in a hurry. They left. I followed them out of the shop. They were on the escalators when I shouted at the top of my throat to get their and everyone else’s attention: Who are you??!!!” , to what they answered : Police. ” I yelled: ” you are not the police! You are bullies!! Don’t run away! Why are you running away? Why won’t you give me your names or ID numbers?? Shame on you for harassing the man! Haram! Shame on you!” People were staring, the mutawa made a gesture to make me quiet, to which I yelled that I wasn’t going to be quiet. I was going to be even louder. The Saudi woman who was in the shop earlier walked up to me and told me to take a picture. Her daughter was shocked and kept saying they were crazy. Anyway, the mutawa ran away. I also told them not to come back to the shop and harass the man or they would be in mooshkila. I told the shop assistant to call me to tell me if he has any roblems with them again as I witnessed the whole incident and am ready to file a complaint!

    Whenever you run into one of them, ask them for their ID. refuse to talk to them. Ask for their ID and make a complaint.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaSeptember 1, 2014 - 7:14 pm

      Awesome! GOOD FOR YOU! I’m s proud of you for standing up for what’s right! They had no right to harass the guy, he just works there! It’s not like he actually DESIGNED or manufactured those abayas anyways! And what if someone wants to wear the fancier abaya to a private event? They should be able to sell all kinds of abayas.
      May I post your comment on the Blue abaya FB page please!ReplyCancel

    • NajeebSeptember 2, 2014 - 4:14 am

      Wow, good for you for being so brave, even following them out and scolding them loudly! They are nothing but bullies and thugs, with too much time on their hands.

      A sizable percentage of them are ex-cons who were freed because they turned to Islam in prison and memorized parts of the Qur’an (heartfelt, or just to get out, who knows), and as we can see frequently, it is hard to escape one’s innate nature.ReplyCancel

    • Lina hariqiOctober 2, 2014 - 3:21 pm

      Bravo for what u did!!!!i i wish more women follow suit.there are good mutawas as well as nasty ones. D bad ones should not be accepted or not fit to work as mutawas…they belong somewhere else or better as garbage collectors!!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Najeeb SheikhSeptember 2, 2014 - 1:09 am

    To show that SA is serious when it says that its constitution is the Qur’an and that everybody is equal before the law, the government should publicize on the world stage the punishments those barbarians are given.

    Plus, the police that responded but left seeing that the attackers were bearded men of God, should also be punished for letting civilians continue to get terrorized by government officers.

    All those Saudi bystanders should be ashamed as well, and I hope they arrest the member of the public who also took part in the assault and give him exemplary punishment. Flog everybody who took part in the assault, flog them in a public place for the whole world to see. And then jail them for a couple of years at least. They are religious terrorists, and should be treated as such. I hope next time they assault a bodybuilder or a fighter and get their guts beat out of them, what an awesome sight that would be.

    Fact of the matter is, a sizable percentage of those field workers are ex-cons who were freed because they turned to Islam in prison and memorized parts of the Qur’an (heartfelt, or just to get out, who knows), and as we can see frequently, it is hard to escape one’s innate nature.ReplyCancel

  • Mackie AcejasSeptember 2, 2014 - 1:36 am

    Why are you still there? For God’s sake ….Get out! There are loads of illiterates in that place and sooner or later they will behead all Christians living there.ReplyCancel

  • Jacob FennellSeptember 2, 2014 - 3:04 am

    Nightmare. Dudes, don’t travel around with women in the Kingdom if you’re not related to them. If someone assaults your wife though, by all means, kick the shit out of him, Muslim or not. Beat his ass. ReplyCancel

  • Rita KinvigSeptember 2, 2014 - 4:03 am

    Sick to the Core,bunch of grown up Men who are Evil to Core no matter what Colour,Religion they are Sickos!!ReplyCancel

  • […] A first-hand account of the assault is revealed on a Saudi blog, Blue Abaya, where Howorth details the incident step by step in a post titled, The Attack of the Flying Muttawa. […]ReplyCancel

  • rSeptember 2, 2014 - 8:35 am

    Wow this story is scary for me as an American wife to a Saudi. I have never had any encounters with the haia except once. My husband and I were outside Masjid al Harram with our daughters just sitting and enjoying the view, when one of the Haia told my husband to leave because it was a women’s area. The strange thing was that there were families all around us sitting with blankets under them. My husband was a little annoyed, but the guy only said it once and just walked away. He didn’t yell or anything. I almost wonder if the incident with the British man was just because he was a Brittish man married to a Saudi woman. I know in my husband’s tribe they don’t even like the women of their tribe to marry outside of their tribe. Getting married to a foreigner is unimaginable. Maybe these men felt angry just because they don’t like a Westerner married to a Saudi woman (completely unislamic behavior).ReplyCancel

  • Irfan AwanSeptember 2, 2014 - 1:18 pm

    Dear All,

    Good & bad cop exist in every society so please consider them like a bad cop.Its seems like that these guys were frustered to see a Saudi Girl with a Non Saudi Man (Particularly a Western man). I have been lived in Riyadh for around 04 years and the biggest problem with local Saudi in Riyadh are their attitude. When ever I found a good Saudi, he was always from outside Riyadh (Mostlly Jeddah & Medina).
    Extremism is always bad whether its in the form of nationalism or in the form of reglion like these people as religious Police.ReplyCancel

  • AdamSeptember 2, 2014 - 1:48 pm

    Why have you changed the account from Peter Howartn where he called the Haia “Isis freaks” and removed his description of them as having evil eyes?

    You also removed the twitter link?ReplyCancel

    • LaylaSeptember 2, 2014 - 3:57 pm

      Because that was a false statement that’s why! A twitter user tweeted it, as if it was the translation of the alhayat report, both WERE NOT form Peter! Stupid people making things up. Not even the SG article (the very first one) was a direct statement from Peter! I can assure you this statement is from him directly as I’ve spoken to him on several occasions.
      I believe the story going on around twitter was first said it was an american tourist at buraidah date festival, who refused to buy dates, then got attacked by extremists LOL.
      My mistake for believing the tweet was from a reliable account!ReplyCancel

  • ArtSeptember 2, 2014 - 3:36 pm

    It is all well and good for Saudi authorities to claim that the Mutawwa’een/Haia don’t represent official Saudi policy, yet this law-unto-themselves group is tolerated by the same government year after year. Even the police fear to interfere. In the ’60s they were spray-painting the legs of Saudi Aramco employees’ daughters and attacking long-haired boys with scissors on the street.

    The Guardian of the Two Holy Mosques must also look to guarding the name of Islam in the eyes of the rest of the world, Muslim and non-, by finally outlawing this brainless band of bigots. Is this really the Islam and Saudi Arabia they want to advertise? Letting it go on says that, yes, this really is the face of Saudi Islam. It’s their choice.ReplyCancel

  • Arijenne DobSeptember 2, 2014 - 4:11 pm

    I am sooo extremly embaressed by this incident.Although i dont live in saudi or am related in anyway to saudi except by being a moslim i feel a huge anger and disappointment and emberessement to this act. This is such a shame on all moslims.Whats wronh with these people i want to know wand whats wrong with the authorities that allow these people to represent “religious” conduct. Are they above the law? and is this how the prophet would of dealt with any situation no matter what it would of been.Shame on you to disfigure any justice!!! I am truly sorry and my apology to you and your wife!! Hamdulilah ur safe and havent been wounded!! ReplyCancel

  • EuropeanSeptember 2, 2014 - 4:48 pm

    I am afraid I would not have been so passive if I were confronted by those goons. They would have ended up with a free nose re-structuring. They need something like that. These peoples action is haram, very much so. It seems to me they only do this kind of work because they are too dumb to do any other meaningful job.ReplyCancel

  • Arif ShaikhSeptember 2, 2014 - 8:08 pm

    ……….And such is the state of muslim community all over the world. Where strong rules the weak unjustly.
    Since when a Muslim man is allowed to hit a women.
    May allah guide us to the right path.
    We have forgotten what our Prophet (PBU) thought us. ReplyCancel

  • haji jojjooSeptember 2, 2014 - 9:05 pm

    embarrassing people is their aim with the protection of the police .they made islam a difficult religion for life . this is happening for years & the victims are mostly Saudie citizens & nobody care of defending their rights , even worse if the victims are people from poor countries . this story is a sad one , but that present the ugly face of them ..the victim this time is a britsh citizen . the britsh embassy should take care of this case & to know their is no human rights here .
    the saudi government should change a lot of rules to protect their volk & not to embarrass them with false religion . we do not need any muttaw more .ReplyCancel

  • Imran KhanSeptember 3, 2014 - 5:20 am

    Hmmm, a lot of rhetoric and hyperbole in the comments I have read, but no solution presented. The reason why the Muttawa behave with impunity is because they enjoy complete anonymity. Try asking Muttawa who misbehaves for identification and he will laugh at you.

    Solution is to make every single Muttawa have a badge and an identification present on their body entire time they are interacting with the populace. This will send a message to them that they will be identified and held accountable for their misdeeds.

    This will not entirely eliminate their aggressiveness, but will definitely decrease it. So if you want to be a part of the solution, write to King Abdullah and ask him to issue a royal decree for the solution I presented. Thank youReplyCancel

  • Taher KagalwalaSeptember 3, 2014 - 6:27 am

    This was very distressing news indeed, Layla. Thanks for a detailed interview with the victims. Our prayers are with them.ReplyCancel

  • IshtarinSeptember 3, 2014 - 11:18 am

    ….you will know them by their fruit.

    Matthew 7:15-20

    إِذَنْ مِنْ ثِمَارِهِمْ تَعْرِفُونَهُمْReplyCancel

  • Tabish PatelSeptember 3, 2014 - 1:02 pm

    There is some bigger aim here, seriously if this guy was an Asian or African, it would have never made the news, chances are that he might have even proved guilty for some reason unknown. But knowing the police left without solving the case is really sad, they should have been arrested for assault and public misbehavior. ReplyCancel

  • Rana AlamaSeptember 3, 2014 - 8:06 pm

    They’re monsters human evolution kills everything beautiful ,pls stopped them because their danger now exists as Daash or ISISReplyCancel

  • […] week on the blog we learned of some very primitive, backward and close-minded actions of a few men, hopelessly stuck in the Saudi Stone […]ReplyCancel

The National Museum, which is part of the King Abdul Aziz Historical center in Riyadh, is one of the largest in the Middle East and undoubtedly the most famous and most visited museum in Saudi Arabia. An impressive collection of artifacts, scriptures and antiquities are inside this two story building covering 28,000 square feet.  The […]

  • […] Visit King Abdulaziz Historical Center & surroundings Visit the National Museum, Murabba Palace, the historical buildings, Public Library, King Abdulaziz mosque and Memorial Hall and browse the surrounding beautiful parks complete with fountains and picnic areas. Nearby also the water tower with a viewing platform and a small amusement park located next to it. Check out Blue Abaya’s Guide to the National Museum here. […]ReplyCancel

  • manuelSeptember 21, 2014 - 7:04 am
  • 10 Things To Do In Riyadh During SpringDecember 3, 2014 - 5:48 am

    […] Visit the National Museum. SCTA is holding an exhibition “Recovered National Antiquities” in conjunction with […]ReplyCancel

Al-Balad, which literally translates to “The City”, is the historical area of Saudi-Arabia’s second largest city Jeddah. Founded in the 7th century, Balad historically served as the city center of Jeddah until the big oil boom when most families started moving out the area. Al Balad Historical District, which was just recently added into the UNESCO […]

  • OPNOAugust 17, 2014 - 7:02 am

    I LOVE the architecture there! I one day HAVE TO GO….ReplyCancel

    • LaylaAugust 18, 2014 - 11:55 am

      Yes, it’s so unique! I hope you get to go there soon!ReplyCancel

  • GracieAugust 19, 2014 - 12:06 am

    Excellent photographes once again ms Layla! You are a spokesperson for the Saudi Kingdom.
    People like me would never find out about these place if not visiting your site.

    Thank you and keep sharing!ReplyCancel

  • JessicaSeptember 8, 2014 - 11:41 pm

    Thanks for sharing these ideas for travel Laylah, I’ve added them to Pinterest so I can begin exploring when I arrive :)ReplyCancel

    • LaylaSeptember 9, 2014 - 11:28 am

      you’re welcome! thanks for pinning them :)ReplyCancel

  • Candace AdachiDecember 8, 2014 - 11:38 am

    Thanks so much ! I leave tomorrow for my first trip here and very impressed by your blog. I am thrilled to be able to experience this. I LOVE YOUR BLOG… wonderful.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaDecember 9, 2014 - 8:09 pm

      Hi Candace!
      Thank you so much for the compliment, how exciting about your first trip! Please let me know how it went :)ReplyCancel

  • Karen MartinDecember 11, 2014 - 2:33 am

    Hi. I lived in Ras Tanura (Aramco compound ) back in the seventies.I’m trying to buy what was originally called a Taif wedding dress which were formerly sold in Jiddah. Can you please send me any websites of Jiddah (or any) vendors who sell these dresses, preferably that we can see and order online? The classic one is a long, black velvet dress with circular machine embroidery around the sleeves, a few lines down either side of the dress, and another thick embroidered design around the neck and down to about the middle of the front. They also come in different colors, and I believe, other kinds of materials, but I’m interested in the black (or burgundy) velvet if they still make them. Thanks.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaDecember 12, 2014 - 6:26 pm

      Hi Karen!
      I’ve seen these dresses in some souks in the south of Saudi Arabia, mainly Najran and then some people were selling them at the annual Janadriyah festival. Other than those, I’ve never come across any websites selling them, sorry :( Maybe you could have a replica made, try and find some pics online and give to the tailor?ReplyCancel

  • […]  15. TEN THINGS TO DO IN AL-BALAD HISTORICAL DISTRICT, JEDDAH […]ReplyCancel

It’s been quiet around here lately! Blue Abaya has been MIA while enjoying a nice relaxing break midst the Finnish summer. Every year we visit my home country Finland, where my family speeds most of the time at a so called ‘summerhouse’, typical for Finns to retreat to during the very short-lived Finnish summer. Normally […]

  • […] Filed in: destination | Finland | photography | Top Ten | tourism | travel29 comments This past week I’ve spent vacationing in Finland with my family. It’s holiday season up North and we went to Lapland to enjoy the christmas holiday break. Lapland is truly a wonderful and magical place. I wanted to share with you 10 amazing things from our Lapland trip. You’ll notice most of the images don’t have much sunshine in them and the images are blue. This is due to the fact that the sun doesn’t rise very high above the horizon during winter months. In the northernmost parts of Lapland, inside the Arctic circle, they experience 2 months of darkness. In other words there’s no sunrise at all during that entire period of time! But it makes the place even more magical to me. During the Finnish summer on the other hand, the situation turns upside down and the sun doesn’t for for a whole two months, which is the origin of the ‘Midnight Sun’. For photos of the beauty of Finnish summer, go here. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Filed in: destination | Finland | photography | Top Ten | tourism | travel29 comments This winter we were lucky to be able to spend quality time with family, vacationing in Northern Finland . It’s holiday season up North and we went to Lapland to enjoy the christmas holiday break. Lapland is truly a wonderful and magical place. I wanted to share with you 10 amazing things from our Lapland trip. You’ll notice most of the images don’t have much sunshine in them and the images are blue. This is due to the fact that the sun doesn’t rise very high above the horizon during winter months. In the northernmost parts of Lapland, inside the Arctic circle, they experience 2 months of darkness. In other words there’s no sunrise at all during that entire period of time! But it makes the place even more magical to me. During the Finnish summer on the other hand, the situation turns upside down and the sun doesn’t for for a whole two months, which is the origin of the ‘Midnight Sun’. For photos of the beauty of Finnish summer, go here. […]ReplyCancel

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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • Ciara HigginsJune 16, 2014 - 1:30 pm

    Beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • 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
    ReplyCancel

  • 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 -:).
    A.ReplyCancel

    • 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

        Hi,
        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.
        A.ReplyCancel

  • 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

    Layla,
    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

  • LarissaAugust 9, 2014 - 11:38 pm

    This was beautiful. I found myself in this text and have thought about most of what you have mentioned.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousAugust 24, 2014 - 7:51 pm

    Dear Aiti (and every mother in her situation)

    I hope your worries be assured..Saudi society wouldn’t condemn your kids, they are Saudis by law (Jus sanguinis)! Like Western region cities as Jeddah for example, hell even in Riyadh, kids with foreign moms are not treated differently and really from the bottom of my heart I hope society will never change their views on that for your kids sake- I think it’s quite the opposite they’d be praised for if the mother were from Western country (US.,Europe.. etc), maybe they’d be a bully target if the mother were from Asian countries.. I know SOCIAL HYPOCRISY)- I just hope they will do the same to us with Saudi mom and foreign dad! that’s whole level of sexism!!! I’m not Saudi by law and probably never will be.. I’m treated like a foreigner you once were before coming to this country even though I was born and raised here.. I’ve never been to my other home, or outside the country more than the summer..!! This would be problematic if your daughter decided to marry non-Saudi because her kids won’t benefit from her being one.. citizenship is only granted through the dad, not the mother.. if she did marry non-Saudi, society will probably tell her the same thing my mother been told “marry him, stay here but you’re on your own or go to his country”..!! I hope you’ll never worry about her falling in love with non-Saudi for that matter though I know your (or his) country will accept her with open arms..

    Praying for your surgery to go smoothly and for speed recovery :)ReplyCancel

    • LaylaAugust 25, 2014 - 11:32 am

      Thank you for the heartfelt letter, anonymous :)
      I can’t imagine how hard that situation you described must be for the mother, the foreign husband and the kids. I pray things change and the people who make these twisted laws see the true Islam and also start following it.

      All the best to you,

      LaylaReplyCancel

  • WomanInLoveWithSaudiManAugust 27, 2014 - 8:09 pm

    Hi Layla! I’ve been reading your blog since a long time ago but i stoped. I didn’t know about your surgery and all the changes in your life. I hope things get better and i trust everything will be all right!
    I write this for you and this go to the women who are in the same situation as me or in yours.
    I meet a saudi man since 2012 , we used to talk every day, every time, he asked me for marriage this year and i really love him, i feel he loves me too the same way.
    I don’t live in Saudi Arabia neither he does. We live in different countries now, he is studying and i am studying too.
    He told me if we got married i should live in Saudi Arabia, also become a muslim. I don’t know his family, he doesn’t know mine, also he doesn’t know my country and i haven’t gone to Saudi Arabia yet.
    He has to ask a permission so we can get married. I am so afraid of the changes my life will go through after we get married.
    I would like to know Layla how was your life after getting married, also i would like some women who had pass through the same situation share with me her experience and knowledge, it is really important for me. I really love this man and he really loves me too, but i don’t know anything about couple life in Saudi Arabia and how my life would be as a foreing.
    Thank you very much for any help you can give me.
    The best wishes for you Layla and your family, also for the readers of this blog.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaAugust 30, 2014 - 3:11 am

      Hi there, thank you for your message.I know someone who can help you with your issue better than I can..May I forward your email to them?ReplyCancel

  • Dee MangalinoNovember 12, 2014 - 10:09 am

    Your letter is great. it expresses what kind of parent you are. hope every parent is the same like you.

    I would like to imagine how your children would feel reading this letter, 20 or 30 years from now. T.T

    I wish and pray that they will grow-up smart and open-minded.
    The influence of Saudi society will surely take part of molding your children. I am sure that you won’t let your kids be dictated by others.

    I wonder how “WomanInLoveWithSaudiMan” she doing. Would also love to read the side of her story.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaNovember 12, 2014 - 12:22 pm

      Thanks so much for the kind words! It would be amazing if they really did read this letter in 20 years, and inshallah be able to tell me how they feel about it.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 […]

  • 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 :)

    love,
    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
    http://windingmywaythroughlife.blogspot.com/
    Allison recently posted…Lost in Translation 2ReplyCancel

  • Gone Fishing in Finland » Blue AbayaAugust 9, 2014 - 11:00 pm

    […] We’ve been lucky this summer, the weather has been super amazing all over Finland. The temperature has been closer to +30 than the average +18C of a typical Finnish summer. Finns are known to be hardy and we don’t get bothered by cold weather during the summer, in fact it’s not uncommon at all to see people enjoying swimming and sauna in just +10. Check out here what Finnish cows do when temperatures hit +5c! […]ReplyCancel

  • Syed ImtiazAugust 14, 2014 - 8:19 am

    Excellent.ReplyCancel

  • Syed ImtiazAugust 14, 2014 - 11:25 am

    I am pakistani working in Riyadh.I have studied in Greek Cyprus for four years way back in late 80s.I like posts in your website.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaAugust 14, 2014 - 12:51 pm

      thank you Syed and welcome to Blue Abaya blog, hope to see more of your comments in the future!ReplyCancel

  • Guy LangfordNovember 21, 2014 - 11:52 pm

    LOL made me laugh, especially the last one!!ReplyCancel

  • MartyDecember 9, 2014 - 8:00 pm

    Last New year it was around 2 degrees celsius and I saw someone driving a motorcycle :D WTF: Welcome To Finland.
    Also in the army we had to sleep in a car one night on the winter camp. It was -30 degrees outside. We turned on the fuel powered heater for one hour before going to sleep and one hour before waking up.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaDecember 9, 2014 - 8:14 pm

      LOL Marty, exactly! That sounds pretty insane! and also quite dangerous, what if the temp suddenly drop below 0 and the roads becomes icy..ReplyCancel

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 […]

  • 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

  • Lynn-Joy JordaanAugust 25, 2014 - 12:02 am

    Was gifted your web name by a precious friend about to join the expat life. As a RN in South Africa with a few RN friends in Saudi I am amazed to see how beautiful it actually is through your hard work. Blessed thank you so much. Lynn-joy xxReplyCancel

    • LaylaAugust 25, 2014 - 11:29 am

      Thank you Lynn-Joy, I am glad to hear that because showing the beautiful side of Saudi Arabia is definitely my goal :)ReplyCancel

  • Omer F SheikhSeptember 13, 2014 - 1:41 pm

    Dear Sir/Madam

    I have been doing research on History of Saudi Arabia particularly history of SEDOUS. Would you please let me know the information you have about SEDOUS and oblige.

    With best regards

    Sincerely yours

    Omer F Sheikh
    PO Box 86486
    Riyadh, Saudi ArabiaReplyCancel

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 […]

  • 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 http://www.daruliftaa.com/node/6159

    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 http://partytilfajr.tumblr.com/ – 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 […]

  • 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”
    ReplyCancel

    • 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

  • Ibrahim AlfahlNovember 15, 2014 - 3:23 pm

    Bundoo Khan is the best Pakistani/Indian food in town! Maybe dishes are not truly authentic, but they are absolutely delicious.

    Try the new branch, it’s cleaner and more welcoming! Its also available on Google maps:

    22nd St, Al Khobar Al Shamalia, Al Khobar 34425.ReplyCancel

  • […]  7. TOP TEN RESTAURANTS IN THE EASTERN PROVINCE (DAMMAM, AL KHOBAR, JUBAIL) […]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 […]

  • 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.

    -KendraReplyCancel

  • 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 

  • 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

  • 10 Things To Do In Riyadh During SpringDecember 3, 2014 - 12:52 am

    […] 1. Visit the International Riyadh Book Fair. The fair starts 6th March 2012 and runs through the 16th, open daily from 10 am to 10 pm at the Riyadh International Exhibition Center. There is an English books section, a female only area and an excellent children’s book and activity area. Guide to the Book Fair found here: Riyadh International Book Fair. […]ReplyCancel

This winter we were lucky to be able to spend quality time with family, vacationing in Northern Finland, in the Arctic Circle! It’s holiday season so we went to Lapland to enjoy the christmas holiday break in a winter wonderland white scenery. Lapland is truly a wonderful and magical place. I wanted to share with […]

  • NoorDecember 27, 2011 - 10:44 pm

    I love your pictures mashAllah it reminds me of home so much. We live in the country and got snowed in a lot. We do not have reindeer but we have deer :)ReplyCancel

  • StephiDecember 28, 2011 - 2:41 am

    I can only imagine what the 22nd of December (the shortest day of the year) is like in Lapland! cold, dark, but I have to agree, magical looking!
    Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousDecember 28, 2011 - 10:56 am

    Just fabulous Layah.
    AnnReplyCancel

  • PetraDecember 28, 2011 - 11:01 am

    İ love your pics and miss Finland during this season! Lapland is so beautiful. Here in Turkey people think it’s crazy to sleep babies in cold weather, oh well me and my baby girl are doing things our way even here :) Greetings from Turkey, your blog is great!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 28, 2011 - 5:21 pm

    Noor-Thanks! Where was this? did you guys used to eat deer lots, we like reindeer its very tasty!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 28, 2011 - 5:25 pm

    Stephi-yes its really gloomy but also if theres a starlit sky you have a better chance of seeing the aurora borealis up there!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 28, 2011 - 5:25 pm

    Ann-thank you :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 28, 2011 - 5:26 pm

    Petra-thanks for your comment and so nice to hear from Finns around the world, we like to keep our crazy habits I guess! But hey did you hear abut the study that PROVED children sleep much better outdoors? So we have known all along ;)ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousDecember 28, 2011 - 11:46 pm

    Love love love your blog and your photos. I wish I could share it to my FB page. The only downside is, they always make me homesick for my country.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousDecember 29, 2011 - 5:17 am

    Incredible photos, thank you for bringing Lapland in to my little room all the way on the other side of the world (Australia).

    Best wishesReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 29, 2011 - 11:43 am

    Thanks anonymous, I just noticed that the share to facebook button was missing for some reason but I added it now so you should be able to do it easily :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 29, 2011 - 11:44 am

    Thanks anon from Australia!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 29, 2011 - 11:47 am

    Actually the share buttons did not show up! Does anyone have any idea how to fix it?ReplyCancel

  • Ms RosenstareDecember 29, 2011 - 12:30 pm

    Wow lot´s of snow, nice! The last one is extra nice. These winter pictures must be very exotic for your Saudi friends and relatives. I am also impressed by your enormous energy of travelling around! By the way, are you connected to Spotify in SA?ReplyCancel

  • SofijaDecember 29, 2011 - 5:45 pm

    Wonderful views. Daughter grows, that is from she it lady .ReplyCancel

  • JennyDecember 30, 2011 - 6:24 pm

    Beautiful photos! I love the snow lanterns and I think that tree looks like it has a rabbit on the top. You have a gift for photography and do capture a magical feeling with those photos of a winter wonderland.ReplyCancel

  • Proud MuslimahDecember 30, 2011 - 7:11 pm

    Absolutely enchanting. I wish that I could go there as well and just soak in the incredible magic that is in a place like that. What an amazing world that God made.ReplyCancel

  • SandyDecember 30, 2011 - 7:58 pm

    That is sooo unbelievably beautiful! And magical! I wish I handled cold better I might try to go! Thank you so much for sharing these. I’ve never seen anything like it.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 30, 2011 - 9:51 pm

    Sofija-thank you, yes she grows so fast!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 30, 2011 - 9:53 pm

    Jenny-yes it looks like a bunny on top doesn’t it!I’m glad someone else saw it too so I don’t feel like I’m a little bit cuckoo for seeing that! LOLReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 30, 2011 - 9:53 pm

    Proud Muslimah-enchanting is a very good word to describe the place!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 30, 2011 - 9:55 pm

    Sandy-thank you! The cold is really not that bad when you’re properly dressed I swear :)But anything under -15c starts to be unbearable, though Finns will go out even in -30c! (not me)ReplyCancel

  • ♥hind♥January 1, 2012 - 4:21 am

    mashaallah your pictures are so well done… pretty. No snow here in west germany, well maybe this month…ReplyCancel

  • Om Lujain©January 1, 2012 - 3:28 pm

    These pictures look so magical Laylah! When do you get back! You’re missed <3ReplyCancel

  • Proud MuslimahJanuary 1, 2012 - 7:17 pm

    The picture of the man in the traditional cap is my favorite. He looks like someone out of a storybook. Such beauty, Laylah. Thank you for sharing with us your world. I wish I had access to such a lovely place.

    Those pictures make winter look its best too ;) Usually I groan at winter, but these scenes are why winter has a beauty of its own.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 1, 2012 - 11:44 pm

    hind-thanks! There’s not much snow in southern Finland either, I guess it’s the global warming!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 1, 2012 - 11:45 pm

    Om Lujain-I have to change our flights because we can’t fly tomorrow with the baby still being very sick :( So next week.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 1, 2012 - 11:46 pm

    Proud Muslimah-thank you! Winter time can be really nice, but as long as there is enough snow :)ReplyCancel

  • JeanJanuary 29, 2012 - 3:52 am

    I agree that fluffy clean snow is just nice but not when it’s melting, etc.

    We just pulled through last few days here of -30 degrees C (with wind chill of -43 degrees C) with snow. Thankfully dry prairie air sucks up the melting snow fast. We were able to bike around last few days @ -14 degrees C.

    I love your Lapland photos. Yes, the land of the midnight sun is also in the Canadian Arctic. There’s a photo when I was in Nuvavut on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic:
    http://cyclewriteblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/29/hello-world/ It was twilight blue at 1:00 in the afternoon.ReplyCancel

  • 185 Things to Do in Saudi ArabiaDecember 5, 2014 - 4:09 am

    […]  20. 10 AMAZING THINGS FROM LAPLAND […]ReplyCancel

  • […]  20. 10 AMAZING THINGS FROM LAPLAND […]ReplyCancel

Some of the frequently asked questions about the Janadriyah Cultural Heritage Festival answered! What is the Janadriyah (also spelled Jenedriyeh, Jenedriya 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 of […]

  • 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.
    ThanksReplyCancel

  • 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

  • 10 Things To Do In Riyadh During SpringDecember 3, 2014 - 12:24 am

    […] in other months too but they are at their best during the spring. The International Book Fair and Janadriyah Festival are normally organized around […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Some days and times are for men only; others are for families. You can also refer to the Blue Abaya guide from 2014 for where to go and what to look for. The GPS coordinates are 24.958592, […]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 […]

  • 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

  • 10 Things To Do In Riyadh During SpringDecember 2, 2014 - 10:43 pm

    […] sand dunes and park in the North. For further expeditions out of the city try Rawdhat Khuraim, Red Sands or Lake […]ReplyCancel