Frequently Asked Questions on Blue Abaya
Who writes Blue Abaya?
I’m a Finnish woman who moved to Riyadh to work as a nurse back in 2008. I have since explored every corner of Saudi Arabia. I started this blog in 2010 to share some of these experiences. You can watch my interview on MBC channel to learn a little bit more about me, and read through the interviews posts here.
For any of your questions about Saudi Arabia, I recommend you join our growing group of 17,000 members on Facebook. My friend Susie Johnson-Khalil who blogs from Jeddah and I are the founders of this group, send a request to join here: Susie of Arabia & Blue Abaya
“What is the meaning of ‘Blue Abaya’?”
When this blog was started in 2010 I wanted to name the blog something that had a personal meaning to me as a Finn living in KSA. I wanted to bring together something from my home country Finland and my host country Saudi Arabia. So the Blue Abaya was born from a combination of the blue skies and thousand lakes of Finland and the cultural norm for women in KSA, the abaya.
Wearing a blue abaya in Riyadh back in 2010 when the blog was founded, was something that was very unusual. In Jeddah the abayas have always been more colorful, but in Riyadh the site of blue or any other color than black used to be completely unheard of just 7 years ago. Times are changing, nowadays you will see women of all nationalities wearing blue and other colors in the capital, although black abayas are still the norm. The change from the strict all black abaya to the more colorful ones started around 3 years ago and now in 2017, spotting a blue abaya on the street is not an uncommon occurrence anymore. Some people assume that I only wear blue abayas when I go out and a few years back apparently wearing one would result in random people approaching me in the city to ask “are you the blue abaya lady?” .
The choice ‘blue abaya’ for the blog name was also a symbolic one to portray a certain way of thinking “out of the box”. It was a statement, I respect the culture and wear abaya, but at the same time I want to express individuality. It symbolises courage, choosing something out of the norm, thinking outside the box, encouraging people to find your own path in life. This same courage and perseverance has its own word in Finnish language called “Sisu“. The word means having great courage, not giving up, facing your fears, owning them, giving 110% to the cause. Sisu is something I definitely have needed to keep this blog going all on my own for 7 years!
“Is Blue Abaya a tour/travel company?” “Can you organize a tour of ___ for my clients?” “Can you arrange a trip to Edge of the World ?”
We can help organize tours for you. The guide to Edge of the World can be found here. Message us to arrange a private tour there.
“Send me the map/GPS/details/date/timing to X event/company/expo/location in Riyadh/Saudi Arabia!!!”
Google is your friend. Also, ‘please’ is a nice word and common courtesy to use. If you didn’t know, it’s considered rude and demanding to place exclamation marks at the end of a question.
If you’d like to keep up to date with Riyadh events, follow the Blue Abaya Facebook page for updates on interesting events in Riyadh and Saudi Arabia. Add me on snapchat where you will find a lot of things I don’t post anywhere else. username blueabaya.
“Is it allowed for me to wear a blue/ colored abaya in Riyadh (or insert any city in KSA) or will the religious police arrest me? Where can I buy nice abayas? “
Yes, you can wear other colors even in Riyadh. Jeddah and the EP are much more relaxed when it comes to abaya fashion. Saudi Religious police (more commonly known as muttawa or Hai’a) won’t arrest you for wearing a colored abaya. They might arrest you and throw you in jail for having a shwarma with your male colleagues though.
For nice affordable “everyday” abayas check these souk locations: Bisht souk and Tayba Souk
“Why haven’t you replied my email/ message/ comment/ query?”
I receive so many emails, comments, messages and queries everyday that replying to them all is very difficult. As much as I would love to reply each and every one it has unfortunately become impossible to handle. The amount of work that goes into everything related to running this website and my Inspired By Arabia business plus the 9 social media channels associated with them takes up most of the hours in my days. My first priority will always be my two children, (a 4yr old and a 5 yr old), which guarantees that most of the time life is quite hectic.
Please keep in mind that maintaining this website and all the social media channels that go with it is a full-time job which also comes with a lot of expenses.You can read this post 12 tools to create a succesful blog to learn more about blogging expenses. For Blue Abaya it’s 1,857 USD per year to be exact. To try to cover some of those expenses (server fees, domain names, wordpress theme, plugins, SEO services, various security and design software, to name a few) I created an online business where I create souvenirs and gifts from my Saudi Arabia photography called Inspired By Arabia. You can support my efforts by checking out my FB store here: Inspired By Arabia. To purchase the Saudi Gifts online you can check my Zazzle store and Society6 store here; Inspired By Arabia and on Instagram Inspired By Arabia.
“I’m going to relocate to Saudi Arabia soon. Should I get an abaya beforehand?” “What do women wear underneath the abaya?”
You don’t need to buy an abaya before arrival, it’s perfectly fine to dress in loose fitting modest clothing which covers the legs and arms when you arrive in KSA for the first time. You will find so much more selection and better prices for abayas locally. You can wear pretty much anything you want under the abaya, some women wear only bikinis or nothing at all when temperatures reach over 45c (120F)!
What does “Saudi Wasta” mean?
“How can I join the ‘expat desert walks’ also known as the Hashes?
Only foreign passport holders are allowed to attend and you should go with someone that’s already a member or regular visitor. Ask around in expat groups and forums, try this one: Susie of Arabia and Blue Abaya FB group.
“What activities can we do with children in Riyadh?”
Check out the Riyadh with Kids page for some ideas.
“Are you married to a Saudi prince?”
“Can you help us get the Saudi marriage permission? Do you have wasta in (insert Saudi ministry or government office here)?”
Sorry, but I can’t help obtaining the marriage permission or a wasta. I get a lot of emails asking about this, I recommend you join the FB group past Present and Potential Wives of Saudis or you can read about how we got it here and maybe that will help answer some questions.
“Who made the blog banner. logo and the blog design?”
The original banner image is a watercolor painting by Aafke Brouwer. It depicts me riding an Arabian horse on the Red Sand dunes of Saudi Arabia. For more of Aafke’s work please check her website: http://aafke-art.com/.
The blog design and graphics were all designed by blog author Laura Alho.
“Do you rent quad bikes in Riyadh?”
“I’m not sure what you meant in this post, and I decided to get offended just in case. Why was my comment not published?”
First, please check that the post you have not understood or that has offended you, was not labeled under ‘humor‘ or ‘satire‘. In other words, that post was written tongue-in-cheek, not to be taken seriously, or in a sarcastic style. There’s no need to take offense. If you still feel the need to write an ignorant, hateful, or just overly negative and miserable comment, it won’t be published. This is not the appropriate forum or outlet to make such comments.
“I’m an Arab/Saudi guy and I want to date/marry a western girl. Can you organize a date for me in Riyadh? “Can you find me an American wife?” “Where and how can I meet western girls in Riyadh?”
Blue Abaya is not a dating site or a matrimonial service. You can find out about the ‘Saudi Style’ Dating Scene in this post, or read about Riyadh’s secret nightlife here for some ideas, however I can’t recommend any of these “methods” nor guarantee they will actually work, let alone find you wife material! Whatever you do, for the love of God, please don’t put up ads like these!
“What is the best restaurant in Riyadh?”
“Where can I go horseback riding/golfing/swimming in Riyadh?”
Please, first use search option on Blue Abaya and if you can’t find the answer try Google. If you’re still looking for the above activities then check here or here. Even possibly here. Or you can join us on this amazing FB group and ask about any activities in Riyadh, Jeddah or EP area!.
How can I contact you? email contact (at) blueabaya.com