Frequently Asked Questions on Blue Abaya:

“What is the meaning of ‘Blue Abaya’?”

When this blog was started in 2010 the meaning was something along the lines of..

The blue of ‘Blue Abaya’ is a shade apart, merging a spirit of deep inner freedom and an infectiously positive attitude. 

The blue abaya is both a symbol and an attitude for Layla’s blog. It’s a posture of being respectful to local traditions while setting oneself apart from the crowd through personal taste.

It’s a symbol of courage to be different and unique, an encouragement to find your own path in life and think “out of the box”.

..blue is the colour of the Finnish sky, and the abaya is a cultural norm of Saudi Arabia. In its name and its nature, the blog is defined by the richly opposed but co-existing worlds of Finland and Saudi Arabia.

Some more reading about the author and the Blue Abaya blog can be found  here.

“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?

Yes, you can wear other colors even in Riyadh, as long as they are subtle and dark like plum, dark grey, navy blue, brown, aubergine etc. 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 with a 99% probability if wearing colored abaya.  They might arrest you and throw you in jail for having a shwarma with your colleagues though.

“Why haven’t you replied my email/ message/ comment/ query?”

I received so many emails, comments, messages and queries everyday that replying to them all is very difficult at the moment. As much as I would love to reply each and every one it has unfortunately become impossible to handle. I have two small children at home, (a 2 yr old and a 4 yr old), a handful of cats, and now also a Great Dane puppy, my life is quite hectic most of the time.

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. 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 run a home based business selling souvenirs and gifts from Saudi Arabia. You can support my efforts by checking out my FB store here: Blue Abaya Designs. To purchase the Saudi Gifts online you can check my Zazzle store and Nuvango storefront here. I also design blue and colored abayas made of cotton, silk and linen. If you’d like to have a look go to the FB page and follow my Instagram business page: The Blue Boutique

“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 ?”

Sorry, but Blue Abaya is NOT a tour or travel company. This is first and foremost a personal blog where I also share valuable information about Saudi Arabia every now and then. You can find travel tips, desert treks, activities, restaurants and events in Riyadh on this blog and on Blue Abaya Facebook page. The guide to Edge of the World can be found here.

“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 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?

Read this post to find out: Do you have Wasta?

“I’m pregnant and going to have my baby in Riyadh. What’s the best hospital and recommended obgyne? Where can I have a natural delivery/VBAC? Where should I go for check-ups? Can my husband come in the delivery room with me?”

For expats the best private hospitals to check out in Riyadh for the ante-natal check-ups IMHO and from my experience are:  Avenue’s Clinic and Saudi British hospital, the latter has a swedish ob gyne. I’ve personally had bad experiences with many different physicians at Kingdom hospital and the maternity/ob gyne clinic there is like a factory line, I would not recommend it to anyone and this is one of the private hospitals with highest C-section rate.

For those wanting natural delivery, best option would be Dallah hospital with midwife there named Eman, I had my son with her you can read about it here. Update: Sister Eman is no longer working in Saudi Arabia.

“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.

“I’m a female, what should I wear when flying to Saudi Arabia for the first time?”

The answer can be found here.

“Do you always wear a Blue Abaya?” “Where did you get that Blue Abaya in the profile pic from, who is the designer?”

Sometimes yes! I have three blue (royal or navy blue) abaya’s, none of them were purchased from Riyadh btw, well at least technically. The first (and my favourite) one I got, was a find at Riyadh’s Wedding Fair back in 2009. It was designed by a Jeddah based, talented Saudi designer. I absolutely LOVE this abaya! If I knew her name, I would gladly share it here but unfortunately the abaya doesn’t have any contact detail in the tabs. The second one is from Jeddah but way too flashy to wear in Riyadh,its hardly in use. Third one I designed myself and had it made from this amazingly soft, stretchy and flowing material in Dubai. This abaya is too fancy for everyday use so I use it only for special occasions, dinners, date with hubby, Eid and so on.

“Are you married to a Saudi prince?”

No. But you can read how I met my Saudi ‘Prince’ here. The real Saudi royalty also make an appearance here every now and then.

“Who writes this blog?” “Are you Saudi?” “Are you Muslim?”

Majority of the posts with the exception of guest posts are written by Laura, (pen-name “Layla”) a Finnish medical professional who came to work in Saudi Arabia in 2008.

“Can you help us get the Saudi marriage permission?”

Sorry, but I can’t. You can read about how we got it here and maybe that will help answer some questions.

“Do you have wasta in (insert Saudi ministry or government office here)?”

I wish! If I did, this probably would not have happened like it did!

Who made the blog banner. logo and the blog design?”

The original banner image (not currently shown) is a watercolor painting by Aafke Brouwer. It depicts an Arabian horse running on the Red Sand dunes of Saudi Arabia. For more of her work please check her website: http://aafke-art.com/. The blog design and graphics were designed by Layla.

“Do you rent quad bikes in Riyadh?”

Nope! But you can read this post to find one place to get them.

“Can you arrange a quad bike tour for 390 male Saudi teenage students?”

Absolutely. It will cost 1000 sr per student. Transport not included. (This is an actual question I was asked once)

“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( an example of which you can see in the above reply about the 390 quad bikes). So 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 statements.

Can you provide me with GPS co-ordinates/ Google maps location to _____?”

Unfortunately we don’t have a GPS. Sometimes I forget to take the pin location with the phone. If I do have them I will share them. 

“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!

That said, you might be amazed at how many expats find their soul mates in the Magic Kingdom.

“What is the best restaurant in Riyadh?”

Depends on what kind of food you like. You can go to this page for some suggestions. Definitely give these heavenly desserts a try!

“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!

“I’m searching for images of sexy and flirty Arab or Saudi women dressed in abayas, can I find any here? Where can I meet Saudi women?”

Oh dear. You must be one of these losers. My advice, just take a hike because there are no sexy abaya pics on Blue Abaya! I think if you’re serious enough to really meet a Saudi woman in a respectful manner, you will figure out a way to do so without my help.

“Can we send you this fantastic body lotion or ____ (insert any beauty product) for review?

Blue Abaya is not a beauty or fashion blog. You can still send your product but I won’t be able to write a full review on the blog about it.

“Send me the map/GPS/details/date/timing to X event/company/expo/location in Riyadh/Saudi Arabia?”

Google is your friend. Please people. I get tons of questions like this and if I were to reply to them all it would literally take me many hours a week. In the future Blue Abaya will be offering Location Consultant services for expatriates in Riyadh, al Khobar and Jeddah. Stay tuned to updates about events and activities in the Kingdom by subscribing to Blue Abaya with the simple form below! 


  • BhuvanaFebruary 28, 2014 - 2:36 pm

    Hi, I am a regular reader of your blog from India and reading your blog makes me really feel that I have travelled to Saudi and I am experiencing all the beautiful things you decribe. I love your humour and satire and I have spent many a enjoyable hour browsing through your site. This is the first time I am commenting though .Keep up the good work and God bless your family.

    btw some of your contents are password protected is it absolutely restricted access to only your friends. Is there anyway I can access it ?

    One of your many readersReplyCancel

  • LaylaMarch 13, 2014 - 11:09 pm

    Hi there Bhuvana!
    Thank you for the kind words and for your message!
    Regarding the passworded posts, can you please send me a link to them so I know exactly which you mean? or was it you tried to access the Images of Saudi blog? If so, the entire blog is now ‘invite only’ so you would need to send your email address to gain access to it.ReplyCancel

  • KristineMarch 29, 2014 - 10:33 pm

    Love ur page :-) can a single woman travel to KSA just as a turist? Not working for any company but just to travel?ReplyCancel

    • LaylaApril 1, 2014 - 12:18 am

      Hi there, unfortunately they just annoiunced a while ago that the tourist visas have been closed, so if you don’t come on umrah or hajj visa the answer is no :(ReplyCancel

  • KristineMarch 30, 2014 - 1:49 pm

    Can u send me the password to. I cant read the wedding extravaganza 2 without it.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaApril 2, 2014 - 2:04 am

      I’ve removed the password query now ;)ReplyCancel

  • Christa KleynhansAugust 10, 2014 - 11:41 pm


    Are female teachers allowed to wear pants to work (at school) or should they only wear skirts? The term ‘modest’ is a bit vague- should females wear a long sleeve button up shirt or are we allowed to wear a three quarter sleeve when teaching?


    • LaylaAugust 12, 2014 - 12:46 am

      Hi Christa!
      It depends entirely on the schools policy and dresscode. Most of the schools I’ve heard of in the Riyadh area had the no pants rule. 3/4 length sleeves are fine. try and make sure about the skirts directly from the school, good luck :)ReplyCancel

  • Christa KleynhansAugust 18, 2014 - 5:40 pm


    I am training to be a holistic massage therapist and need to complete 50 hours practical to qualify as a massage therapist.

    Will I be allowed to bring my massage bed with or not?


    • LaylaAugust 19, 2014 - 12:38 pm

      I don’t see why not, but how will you bring it, you want to ship it here?ReplyCancel

  • christa KleynhansAugust 31, 2014 - 12:59 pm


    I have a lot of concerns regarding my contact of emloyment at a school and would like whether one or some of the following incidents warrant a breach of contract or not:

    1. They didn’t forward me the complete contract- just * page stating my income, work hours and the 3month probation period.

    2,Our compound is not finished- so 3 people must share an apartment.

    3. We would have flown out on the 19th, but seeing that the visa application process had changed it is still not done.

    4. No indication had been given as to when we are flying. This is seriously unsettling and is starting to give me cold feet.

    5. We were supposed to start with induction the 24th and start on the 31st. My conclusion is that we are going to enter the classroom ‘cold’ I.e no clue as to the curriculum whatsoever.

    I find it forboding. If this is ‘normal’ by Saudi standards, please let me know as I am in an emotional state not knowing what is happening.

    Are there grounds for contractual breach? I want an organised place of employment with no little nasty surprises. If things are not what they are supposed to be, I don’t want to get in just to be trapped in a place where I can’t get myself out of.

    Thanks for your previous responses- I appreciate it.ReplyCancel

  • LaylaSeptember 11, 2014 - 4:17 am

    dear Christa,
    I hope things have cleared up regarding the visa and other issues.
    This all sounds pretty normal to me though. Unfortunately things aren’t that organized here as we are used to back home. So even the top schools and hospitals will not be without all sorts problems coming up along the way. You just have to go with the flow..if that’s not your thing at all then I would reconsider. But you can always resign if things go downhill. Going to the classes “cold turkey” is something I’ve heard about happens here..
    my suggestion for you to get a better idea and understanding of the pros and cons is to join our FB group Susie of Arabia, there are literally thousands of members and among them teachers, who can answer all these questions much better than I can :)

    Hope this helps and sorry for delay in response!ReplyCancel

  • LauaSeptember 14, 2014 - 12:39 pm

    Dear Layla,

    I have been looking in your blog for anything related to nurseries and day cares in Riyadh for a 2 years old boy because i find it difficult to trust in any of the ones I previously checked.Do you recommend any nursery here or you have any idea on the best ones?

    Thank youReplyCancel

  • SoniaOctober 28, 2014 - 10:46 am

    Dear Layla,

    I discovered your site last night and have been reading the posts every spare moment since I found it. I lived in Riyadh for 9 years, we moved to the US two years ago and I have been homesick for Saudi ever since. I never thought that I could miss Riyadh as much as I do because when I lived in Riyadh I was always homesick for Canada. Now that we are living in the States I find that I miss both Riyadh and Canada so I guess that Riyadh became my home and found a place in my heart without my realizing it. Reading about places that I came to know and love actually brings tears to my eyes (how silly right?).

    Anyways, the reason that I chose to reply to your Q and A is because you mentioned that Kingdom Hospital is where you had your first child. Although I have many wonderful memories of Riyadh, when I read the words “Kingdom Hospital” tears of sadness come forth. I also had my first born at the so called “best” hospital in Saudi. Wonder of wonders, this hospital didn’t notice that I had preeclampsia when I visited them a day earlier. The day after my appointment, the nurse at the school I worked in (may Allah bless her) actually gave me a urine test after seeing my swelling, told me I had preeclampsia, and had me rushed to ER at Kingdom.

    From that point on things are blurry, at Kingdom Hospital I was given medicine to take my blood pressure and protein levels down but nothing worked. Then they told me they would have to deliver the baby via c section or things could become deadly for us both. Hubby and I said okay.
    This is where things get even worse, the anesthesiologist couldn’t get me numb and tried for a half hour to do so, finally they decided they had to put me to sleep. When I woke up in an overly drugged state I was told that I had a small but healthy baby girl, her lungs were working well and she would have to be in an incubator for a few week. I asked to see her, they wouldn’t let me until the next day when they finally allowed me to see my beautiful girl. I asked to hold her, they said no , they let me touch her fingers after sterilizing myself and wearing full scrubs, and boy did she squeeze my finger with her tiny hand. A week went by like this, hubby and I could touch her through the little hole in the incubator after wearing scrubs and washing our hands. Of course we were fine with that, we just wanted her to be safe.

    By the end of the first week they told us that she was now sucking and I’d finally be able to hold her and breast feed her the following day. She was progressing more quickly then they expected. On a side note, they had placed another baby in the room with her, he was a bit older and in an open incubator, I asked the nurse if that was safe and she said that it was fine so I assumed they are the experts. Hubby and I went home, beside ourselves with joy that tomorrow we could hold our princess.

    The next morning, 6 a.m. the hospital calls my mobile, my baby is very sick they say, come now. I ask how, I can’t comprehend, she was perfect the night before. We get there, she is hooked up to machines and her tummy is bloated. They say she caught a bacteria from the environment of the hospital, and proceed to tell us she is like an engine failing (she was in septic shock). I could not believe they were comparing her to a car part, how could they? I could go on and on, and even discuss the nurse that was laughing at me when I started sobbing as the doctor explained what was happening to my child. To make a story that could go on for pages short, the end result was that my baby passed away (may Allah rest her soul). There is not a day that goes by when I don’t think of her, there isn’t a moment when I don’t feel guilt for what happened to her. I know that what happened was Allah’s will, and alhamdulilah He has given us another beautiful little girl, and we have one in heaven watching over us.

    The final message I want to put across in this post is please do not go to Kingdom Hospital to have a baby, they don’t care about you or your child. They treat you like machines and don’t even check you properly for problems that can happen in pregnancy (like preeclampsia) For my next pregnancy I went to Dr. Lamia Ismail Khalil at Dallah Hospital, she was a great Dr. However, I was afraid to have my second child in a Saudi hospital so I elected to go to Canada for her birth.

    Once again, thank you Layla for all that you offer in your wonderful blog. I only wish I discovered it while I was living in the “Magical Kingdom” as you call it :) Take care.ReplyCancel

  • Sans Abaya in SaudiNovember 11, 2014 - 9:17 pm

    […] During my family’s visit here in Riyadh, I noticed how my mother and sister behaviour how they became constantly aware of their looks and very self conscious stressing about their abayas being on correctly or not. Every time someone would stare my mom and sister felt maybe they did something wrong. They would ask questions  very common for newbies to ask like: What’s allowed to wear underneath the abaya? Is it ok if the lowest or highest buttons are open? Should I always wear a shayla (head scarf) with the abaya? Will wearing high heels with abaya get me into trouble with the notorious Saudi religious police? Answers to these questions can be found here. […]ReplyCancel

  • SaeedJanuary 1, 2015 - 1:34 am

    I just found this blog today. This is very interesting. I’m Saudi and studying in U.S but do not think about people as you did. This is impressive.
    Welcome to the Magic Kingdom : )ReplyCancel

  • DalalMarch 11, 2015 - 5:05 am


    Im a Saudi girl and Im having a Graduation Project and its about foreign nurses in Saudi Arabia.

    I read a lot of your topics and its very interesting and useful to me.

    and I want to Quote some of your words, But I need your permission to put your name or “nickname” in my project.

    Can I do that?

    thanks for your timee :)ReplyCancel

    • LaylaMarch 11, 2015 - 3:29 pm

      Hi Dalal!
      Sure why not, you have my permission, as long as my words are not taken out of context which opens them up to misinterpretations :)
      What kind of project is going to be?ReplyCancel

  • DalalMarch 12, 2015 - 4:47 am

    It talks about language difficulties that faces foreign nurses when coming to the kingdom and the benefits of learning Arabic to them. Pls dont worry :) I already made questionnaires and everything I just needed something smooth and nice to begin with as when you said ” I experienced hands on the generous side of the Saudi people by having the chance to interact with many families through my work.”
    ” Earn respect! Your Arabic speaking colleagues, clients, guests or business associates will be honored that you have taken the effort to learn their language and hold you in high respect.”
    or ” So having this close contact with the Saudi families gave me the chance to experience this amazing side to their culture which is hospitality and kindness to strangers.”

    So! thank you for your kind and honest words and feelings and I wish you all the luck and happiness here in Saudi and anywhere you are.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaMarch 16, 2015 - 4:49 pm

      Thank you Dalal, all the best to you <3ReplyCancel

  • georgiaMarch 15, 2015 - 11:25 pm

    Why muslim women in saudis doenst wear jilbab ? do they all only wear abaya ?and if i move there can i wear jilbab? :)ReplyCancel

    • LaylaMarch 16, 2015 - 4:49 pm

      yes sure you can wear jilbab if you like :)ReplyCancel

  • JanaAugust 27, 2015 - 4:51 pm

    I am European and my partner is Syrian. He is Muslim and I’m Christian. We want to Marry in Riyadh. We have no idea how to begin the process or where we can marry. Can anyone help? Thanks in advance.ReplyCancel

  • IvanSeptember 3, 2015 - 6:05 pm

    Dear Layla,

    I have been looking in your blog for anything related to tourism. Is it safe and do you recommend a tourist visit?

    Thanks in advance.ReplyCancel

  • Yasemen MacKinnonMay 23, 2016 - 7:33 am

    We plan to live in Saudi starting in August. I read the article “Items banned from bringing into Saudi Arabia”. it says JEWELLERY. I have got some personal staff that I carry with me all the time. It is possible to declare them at the airport that I will not re-sell them. Please can I get the information regarding this.

  • YasemenMay 23, 2016 - 3:10 pm

    We plan to live in Saudi starting in August. I read the article “Items banned from bringing into Saudi Arabia”. it says JEWELLERY. I have got some personal staff that I carry with me all the time. It is possible to declare them at the airport that I will not re-sell them. Please can I get the information regarding this.

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