Author Archives: Laura

Hello there! I'm Laura, the founder of Blue Abaya- the first travel blog in Saudi Arabia, established in 2010.  Travel has always been my passion- so far I've visited 70 countries and I'm always on the lookout for new adventures inside and outside of Saudi Arabia!

This month is international Breast Cancer awareness month and it can be seen in Saudi-Arabia as well.

A National Awareness Campaign to Combat Breast Cancer has been inaugurated in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to coincide with international Breast Cancer Awareness month. The campaign is led by Princess Hessah bint Trad Al-Shaalan, the Honorary President of the Zahra Breast Cancer Association and wife of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, and Princess Rima bint Abdullah bin Abdulaziz.

The hospital I work in has also numerous happenings on Breast Cancer awareness. The Saudi patients affected with breast cancer still tend to be very stigmatized by society and unfortunately I feel this sometimes effects the outcome of the patients treatments.
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in the Kingdom and is the number one killer of women in the region. Saudi Arabia continues to work with the global community to fight this disease.

I’ve had several young breast cancer patients in their 30’s, that have been in terminal care. It is very sad and I see a profound sorrow in these women. If their cancer would have been detected earlier, the end results could be different. Breast cancer remains such a big taboo in Saudi that women often feel ashamed or scared to seek treatment until it’s too late.

This month I wanted to get a pink abaya (well not ALL pink because of Muttawa issues) so I had one made last week. It has like a Pink Ribbon-edge on the front where it closes and the whole sleeves are pink too! I have seen in fact many young women donning either pink headscarves, pink decorations or ribbons on abayas and pink handbags this month, and I’m sure it’s not all coincidence so I guess the message is spreading!

 

Saudi Cancer site: http://www.saudicancer.com/en/

Hello there! I’m Laura, the founder of Blue Abaya- the first travel blog in Saudi Arabia, established in 2010.  Travel has always been my passion- so far I’ve visited 70 countries and I’m always on the lookout for new adventures inside and outside of Saudi Arabia!

Yesterday my husband told me the touching story of what he had done for a little stray kitten.
He was leaving work and was greeted by a little black kitten at the parking lot. The kitten started following him and walked behind him all the way to the car. When my husband opened the car door the kitten tried to jump in. My husband then picked it up and tried giving it water from his bottle. The kitten kept crying and wanting to come in the car.
It’s still pretty hot outside and the kitten looked very weak and dehydrated. He then decided to go around the parking lot to see if there was a mother cat anywhere. He drove around and searched but did not find any other cats. It looked like this kitten was abandoned my the mother or then something happened to the rest of his family.
All the while the kitten was sitting in the parking space where my husbands car had been parked. It was just waiting for him there! So he drove back to the kitten which again jumped directly into the car. My husband then decided its best to take it somewhere safe, people drive reckless here and unfortunately many don’t have any care in the world for stray animals and would not even care if they ran it over!

So he took it home to his parents house and gave the little guy a bath, fed it and played with it a little. Since I’m pregnant at the moment my husband decided not to bring the kitten into our house because he feared it having toxoplasmosis or some other diseases. The kitten has found new kitten friends in the garden of his parents house where it has now a safe home and will be fed and get water everyday.

My husband is a good man, it warms my heart! You don’t find men rescuing stray kittens on every corner. I’m very lucky to have such a kind-hearted man!

kitten cute

Hello there! I’m Laura, the founder of Blue Abaya- the first travel blog in Saudi Arabia, established in 2010.  Travel has always been my passion- so far I’ve visited 70 countries and I’m always on the lookout for new adventures inside and outside of Saudi Arabia!

I recently visited Kuwait and was very surprised on how advanced they are compared to neighboring Saudi-Arabia. I had an image in my mind of Kuwait as being a post war-zone developing country. Although these countries share similar demographics, culture and history, they seem to be in different millennia when it comes to civilization and progress.Although being in Kuwait seemed very similar than Saudi-Arabia, it was as if taking a step into the future. Perhaps in another 100 years KSA can catch up with this tiny but efficient and advanced Muslim country.

Kuwait is definitely more advanced in many areas, yet it has managed to preserve its culture and Islamic practices without becoming another Dubai or Bahrain.

In fact Kuwait ranks as the top Arab country in the HDI (Human Development Index). Unlike its “Big Brother”, Kuwait is categorized as a developed country and also has the highest literacy rate of the Arab world.

Here’s some things that work in Kuwait but Saudi lacks altogether or drags way behind in:

Infrastructure:

Kuwait and Saudi are barren lands surrounded by desert. However Kuwait City pleases the eye with roads enveloped in greenery, well trimmed trees and lawns. Roads and sidewalks not only exist, they are kept immaculate condition and they are clean from trash.

Public parks are everywhere and can be used by everyone. Saudi-Arabia has been catching onto this, but public parks and green scenery especially in Riyadh are very scarce. They have started many projects to improve this in Riyadh but the difference is in Kuwait you will forget you are actually in the middle of the desert.

The Kuwaiti Corniche is lined with parks, endless kilometers of boardwalk, public beaches, restaurants and entertainment areas. I wouldn’t even call the one in Jeddah a Corniche, it’s mostly dirty wasteland. Damman has a slightly more pleasant Corniche but nothing compared to the one in Kuwait.
Gender segregation
In Saudi all public places are segregated which cause a multitude of problems because it’s against normal human nature.
Kuwaitis tend to their everyday business in a non-segregated environment, and all the problems related to harassment of women seen in Saudi are non-existent there. I did not see any men chasing women in cars, gawking and following them like they are prey in shopping malls, shouting or calling names or disturbing women in any way like they do in Saudi-Arabia.
Women are not forced to wear abayas and yet for some reason the young men are able to control themselves. Amazing! Perhaps the Saudi religious police could make a field trip to Kuwait and see how people actually manage to interact in a completely normal way without these constricting and suffocating elements they force on their people.
Tourism
Tourists are welcome in Kuwait, although the industry is not very advanced there, it surely is better than Saudi. A visa can be obtained from the airport for most nationalities.
For Saudi one will need a sponsor and the visa process is frustrating and long and once in the country lack of organized tourism makes exploring what the country has to offer very difficult.
Sponsor system

Both countries still have it for foreign employees, but Kuwait has plans to abolish it in February.

Empowering women
What it ultimately comes down to in my opinion is the amount of rights these two countries give their women. A country is as strong as its women are.
Women contributing to society is behind Kuwait’s success and advancement.
By allowing women to live with equal human rights in society the country has prospered after the devastating incidents of the Gulf war.

Some recent advancements in women’s rights in Kuwait:
Women can have their own passport without approval from husband which remains only a dream to Saudi women due to the slavery mahrem system.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8317921.stm

Women are allowed to vote and in 2009 four were elected to parliament. There are female ministers in Kuwait, but there is one as deputy minister in KSA too.

In both countries education of women is seen as important and they make up 70 % of the university students, yet Kuwait is the one enabling the women to use their knowledge for the benefit of society. The employment rates for women are 42.5% vs 14.5%. Saudi women tend to find jobs mainly as teachers, of other women, so benefiting the society as a whole and being seen working in public is very rare in KSA. In Kuwait, women are visible in public and working in various places in society.

What is the factor that enables Kuwait to take these major steps, yet Saudi always seems to need “baby-steps” for any kind of progress? The answer can’t be just the size differences. Kuwait has transformed itself from a bomb stricken land fill to a flourishing and modern Arab country proud of its heritage.

Saudi-Arabia could definitely take some lessons from its Little Brother!

Hello there! I’m Laura, the founder of Blue Abaya- the first travel blog in Saudi Arabia, established in 2010.  Travel has always been my passion- so far I’ve visited 70 countries and I’m always on the lookout for new adventures inside and outside of Saudi Arabia!

The first three days of the Eid al Fitr following the ending of Ramadan were full of different celebrations around Riyadh. This wasn’t always the case though, a few years ago there wasn’t much happening in KSA during these holidays. Most Saudis used to flock abroad this time of the year so now they have tried to keep people in the country by arranging these events and it’s getting better every year.
I went to the National museum garden where there was traditional singing, dancing and poetry recital shows. The audience there was segregated, men were in the front rows with best views.. Anyways the atmosphere was relaxed and the garden and fountain areas were packed with families having picnics enjoying the light and fountain shows.
The definite highlight was the event at the al Kindy square in the Diplomatic Quarters. The area was beautifully decorated and the event well organized.
The show consisted of traditional singing and dancing from various regions around Saudi. The dancers were great and the audience was really into the show, especially the female audience seemed to particularly like some of the dancers (all male)!! This time they hadn’t segregated all of the audience. Surprisingly only the single males were having the worst seats in their own pen away from the main audience.
Later on the local press wanted to interview us for live tv and we agreed (I was so nervous I can’t remember what I answered to the questions) Then when the event was over we were photographed for some local magazines together with the dancers and even got to hold the swords. They are very heavy btw.
Here are some random pics I took:
fireworks at the football stadium
Najdi singing/dancing group in DQ
the flower festival area
the fountain and light show at national museum
view from water tower looking down to the garden of national museum
a jasmine-haired girl from the Gizan dancers carries the bakhoor
the Gizan dance group reminded me very much of african tribal dances
this dancer from the Riyadh group had some seriously groovy moves, whenever he was on stage the ladies would start screaming!
boys all dressed up in daglah
girls in eid dresses
sword dancing which is called aardh, just the size and style of the swords vary from region to another.
bedouin man playing a rababah while singing poetry

A friend of mine posing with one of the dancers
Can’t wait until next year!

Hello there! I’m Laura, the founder of Blue Abaya- the first travel blog in Saudi Arabia, established in 2010.  Travel has always been my passion- so far I’ve visited 70 countries and I’m always on the lookout for new adventures inside and outside of Saudi Arabia!

King Abdullah was recently chosen as one of the world’s top 10 most respected leaders by Newsweek. This might come as a surprise to some since his actions do not usually make big headlines internationally. Nevertheless in the past few years he has accomplished a lot for women in Saudi-Arabia and often works behind the scenes to push reform.

In the headlines this week, the King has just appointed the new minister of labor for Saudi-Arabia. The new minister, Adil Fakieh worked previously as the mayor of Jeddah.

Another topic recently in the headlines is the Saudi female cashiers now working at a large grocery chain called Panda. This is great advancement in Saudi terms. Prior to this female cashiers worked exclusively in women only environments hidden from public view.
There are now a few brave women starting work at a Panda in Jeddah. This of course created an uproar of protests from conservative Saudis and some scholars.

Interestingly the Panda chain is owned by Savola group and the new minister Adil Fakieh happens to be the Chairman.
http://www.savola.com/savolae/A_Word_from_the_Chairman.php

So is this all just coincidence? Most likely King Abdullah is supportive of employing Saudi women and advancing their position in society, hence the appointment of Fakieh. Surely the newly appointed minister will be in favor of employing more women in the Panda grocery stores and later other chains will hopefully follow their example. Panda and Savola group will be protected from the attacks of extremist clerics and sheikhs by Fakieh and he has back-up from the King himself.

The King is known to be in favor of reform, especially when it comes to women’s issues in the country. Earlier this year a photo was released with Abdullah and the Crown Prince posing together with 40 women. This was another quiet statement from Abdullah in relation to relaxing the Kingdoms strict rule on gender mixing.

Last September, the King inaugurated the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST), a graduate-level mixed-gender school devoted to advanced scientific research. Shortly after the University was opened a high ranking cleric criticized KAUST deeming the gender mixing a great sin. This led to the cleric getting sacked by the King.

King Abdullah also appointed the first female minister, Nora bint Abdullah al-Fayez as deputy minister of education early last year.
Perhaps he has realized that the saying “a nation is as strong or weak as its women are” really does have truth to it.

The Saudi King is empowering the women of Saudi-Arabia slowly, but surely. He is enabling them to come out of the shadows to participate in taking the Kingdom to more modern times. Change does not happen swiftly in the Kingdom. Things take time to advance even a little bit. Although all these issues might seem trivial and insignificant, in the context of Saudi society they are enormous.

What is one small step for the rest of the world, is one giant leap for the Saudis.

Will King Abdullah be the monarch to lift the ban on women driving??

Hello there! I’m Laura, the founder of Blue Abaya- the first travel blog in Saudi Arabia, established in 2010.  Travel has always been my passion- so far I’ve visited 70 countries and I’m always on the lookout for new adventures inside and outside of Saudi Arabia!

The Holy month of Ramadan changes the daily rhythm drastically in Saudi hospitals. Basically the hospital becomes alive at night and quiets down for the day.
Read here how the Saudis usually visit the sick in hospitals. Needless to say the amount of visitors during Ramadan will at least double, especially during the last ten days. Visitors will come late and stay until early morning. They will bring along vast amounts of arabic foods to break the fast with like sambosa, all kinds of tiny pastries, cookies, dates, chocolates..

Large Saudi families come to the hospital to join in Iftar together with the sick family member.  It’s not uncommon to find the family eating on the sheets on the floors! Saudis will generously give the nurses a taste of everything, sometimes offering huge trays full of different sweets or salty snacks.

Another peculiar thing that happens during Ramadan is handing out money to nurses. Patient or relatives might slip money into the nurses pocket or openly offer money anywhere from 10 to 1000 riyals at a time. The gesture usually makes nurses feel somewhat awkward and because of cultural differences might be misinterpreted to be some form of bribing. Nurses are naturally not supposed to accept the money very few will reject. The person offering the money will become very upset if the offer is rejected and they can become pushy and just stuff the pockets with the money! The reason behind this is Saudi families wanting to show their gratitude and appreciation to the nurse.

Only few patients will be observing the Ramadan fast, and they will also abstain from all medications including injections and intravenous drugs during daylight hours. That makes it a bit difficult to accommodate the medication regime to the fasting timetables. Basically it means that the medications normally given around 8-9 am will be given at fast breaking time around 6:30pm. The next dose will be at midnight and finally just before the morning prayer at 4 am.

For some patients it’s fine to fast and it will not make their condition worse. Every once in a while there will be a patient who insists on fasting even if doing so will severely adversely affect their health. The patients don’t want to miss out on the blessings of fasting. Some are diabetic which means their blood sugar levels will be uncontrolled and it might put the patient in risk of coma, or they will refuse insulin injections resulting in sky-high blood sugar levels. Patients with bowel problems might get complications like obstructed bowel, may even need surgery and then there is the odd patient who will even refuse to be operated on.

Toward the end of Ramadan the emergency room usually begins to fill with patients with bowel obstructions. Many are elderly patients needing full time hospital care. Patients suffering from gastrointestinal diseases and disorders, diabetes, metabolic disorders and other diet controlled conditions further crowd the ER beds making it the busiest time of the year in the hospital. Nurses and doctors are often exhausted from the workload this month brings along.

The Muslim nurses will often opt to work night shifts to make fasting easier or alternatively if they wish to work days they can work shorter hours. The total amount of working hours during this month for Muslim nurses and other muslim personnel is also cut down. Generally there will not be any operations other than the most urgent ones.

The patients’ sitters will all usually be fasting and the hospital kitchen provides food for them and the fasting patients in the early morning hours. A three course ‘breakfast meal’ called sohoor will be distributed at 2 am well before the Fajr prayer.

The iftar meal will be distributed to the rooms at 6 pm. Even though a patient is not fasting they will be up all night chatting with relatives, reading Quran or watching Arabic soap operas or the live televised show from the grand mosque in Mecca.

I personally enjoy working during Ramadan, patients and relatives are in good spirits and it’s nice to spend some extra time with them in the rooms having some arabic coffee and sweets. Generally the atmosphere is more laid-back and patients are not complaining as much as usual :)

Hello there! I’m Laura, the founder of Blue Abaya- the first travel blog in Saudi Arabia, established in 2010.  Travel has always been my passion- so far I’ve visited 70 countries and I’m always on the lookout for new adventures inside and outside of Saudi Arabia!

Ramadan is a very special month to Muslims all over the world. In case you are not sure what Ramadan means to Muslims and why Muslims fast check out this post: The True Meaning of Ramadan
The crescent moon has been sighted and the fasting has started this morning.

Ramadan in Saudi-Arabia is a very different experience from any other country, even other Arab Muslim countries. Fasting is taken dead seriously and the whole nation accommodates to make fasting easier.Spirits are high, every Muslim supports one another. The whole country changes radically for a month. For some expats it seems to be a nightmarish experience. But again I think it all comes down to attitudes and what one makes of it. I personally think it’s a privilege to be able to experience it.

For expats it might appear something like this:

During Ramadan Saudis turn entirely into nocturnal beings, the daily rhythm reverses itself. Shops will open only in the late afternoon or after sunset and close around 2 am. Riyadh is like a phantom city until sunset arrives.
After the last prayer of the day Isha’a, thousands and thousands of huge SUV’s packed with the entire Saudi family start making their ways to their relatives houses or shopping malls. Slowly they begin crawling into the streets eventually stopping the traffic altogether.
When they finally reach the malls the women will go out looking for Ramadan sales. Everyone will be busy finding nice clothes to wear for Ramadan.
Tailors get packed with women and men having custom-made thobes and jalabiya ready for Eid celebrations.
Restaurants and food courts fill with families and screaming children throughout the night. Everyone including the smallest children will be stuffing themselves before they begin fasting. Some indulge in KFC and McDonald’s mega-meals followed by a box of Cinnabons until they cannot move anymore.
Special night prayers also known as Taraweeh prayers are called out from the thousands of mosques around the city. They can be heard as a discordant symphony throughout the night.

eid celebration lights riyadh saudi
Dental offices will be busy until 3 am with fasting patients that cannot be treated during the daytime.
Finally the streets congest once again with families hurrying home before Fajr prayer, which at this time of year is around 4 am.
After that, nothing. Absolute silence on the streets of Riyadh until it all starts over again the following day.
At home some will stay up until the morning chatting and watching tv, finally falling asleep when the sun comes up.
This was a bit aggravated, generalized version of Ramadan in the Kingdom, that said there are many (although of course not all Saudis and expats) who do spend the Holy Month along the lines of what this post describes.

For an “outsider” the experience may seem somewhat absurd and incomprehensible. First timers are usually either extremely irritated or fascinated.
What irritates non-Muslims is of course that they cannot do anything during the days since everything is closed and when the stores do open they are fully packed. But this is also the time that consuming any kind of fluid or food in public during the daylight hours becomes a horrendous crime.
Non-Muslims drinking publicly might openly be shouted at and at least glared down by angry Muslims. Basically non-Muslims are forced to hide all evidence of consuming.
If the Muttawa spots someone publicly drinking they might be in big trouble for disgracing the Holy month and might even end up in jail.

I personally think this is quite ridiculous and blowing things out of proportion. I don’t mind if someone eats in front of me when I’m fasting! I can always go somewhere else, look away or just not care. After all fasting is about self discipline too. I don’t see why some Muslims will get offended by this. It’s not like the non-Muslims are doing it on purpose to offend anyone although I’m not saying that might rarely occur.
Sure people should be sensitive but this kind of dramatizing and exaggeration is in my view unnecessary. Why does respecting other cultures and religions only seem to work in one direction in Saudi-Arabia? Religious tolerance should work both ways.
For example in the hospital all the staff’s water bottles have to be hidden out of public sight, they are stored behind closed doors or bathrooms where staff has to go to secretly have a sip. Fasting Saudi employees will generally have very flexible working hours, arriving late, leaving early and taking hour long breaks while non-Saudi Muslims will not have all these luxuries and they are expected to be just fine with it.

Anyways Ramadan Mubarak everyone!

Hello there! I’m Laura, the founder of Blue Abaya- the first travel blog in Saudi Arabia, established in 2010.  Travel has always been my passion- so far I’ve visited 70 countries and I’m always on the lookout for new adventures inside and outside of Saudi Arabia!

birch tree road journey finlandWe’ve just returned to Riyadh after a relaxing summer vacation in Finland. My husband and I spent most of our time at my families summerhouse by the sea in Southern Finland. It’s a wonderful and peaceful place to unwind surrounded by my family and my dear little nieces! So how does a Saudi guy find life in Finland? Here are some of my husband’s experiences from Finnish summer.

 

I´ve been a bit surprised at how much my husband genuinely enjoys my home country. KSA and Finland are so different weather wise, when it comes to the food, the nature and of course culture and traditions. Despite all the differences my Saudi guy really loves Finland and that just makes me love him more.

What surprised me mostly is how well my husband has adapted to the Finnish custom of spending the summer at our summer places. Most people will move to their summer houses, villas, or cottages for the time of their summer vacation. Life at the summer place differs quite alot from city life but that is exactly why people go there.
Like most Finns, we don’t actually have running water at the summer house. This itself naturally creates some “problems” and inconviniences. We haven’t connected the electricity to our sauna which is from the 19th century in order to keep it as original as possible. The idea is to leave the luxuries of the city behind and to . In short Finns like to keep it nice and simple and feel close to nature. Kind of like bedouins actually!
I asked my husband what are his favorite things about Finland. He replied the presence of water, the vast amount of it surrounding you wherever you go; in the rivers, the lakes (Finland has over 100,00 of them!)and the sea. One activity we enjoy is going out to the sea, either sailing or boating to surrounding islands. He also likes the lush green nature, that is so versatile and very easily accessible.
He loves being able to get so many things to eat by just stepping outside like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, peas, salad, potatoes, mushrooms, spring onions, rhubarb, black and red currants, apples, tomatoes..the list is endless and the majority can be found a few steps from the house.
Despite hating the summer heat in Saudi, my husband loves going to sauna. He knows how to chop the trees so they are just right and how to heat the perfect old-fashioned wood sauna. He will actually stay in longer than me sometimes and be the one adding more ‘löyly” (steam)! The only thing he won’t likely do (without peer pressure) is go for a long swim in the +22C seawater, which for us is very warm but for him it’s freezing!
Naturally my husband prefers the summer climate when the weather is not too hot or cold (if we are having a good summer!)This summer was really hot and the record highest temperature ever of 37.6 celcius was set in eastern Finland.
He also likes that everything is so well organised and easily available, that technology is very advanced and at hand everywhere.
One of the only things my husband doesn’t like about Finland (except the cold water) is when we go out people stare at him like he’s an alien. Especially when accompanied by Finnish women Arab and dark skinned men will get some long glares. Outside the capital Helsinki it’s not common to see many foreigners around and some Finns are unfortunately quite wary when it comes to darker skinned people. I’ve noted that the worst gawkers seem to be the Finnish men. I wouldn’t say they’re necessarily all racist, but at least very suspicious and possibly a bit jealous that the Finnish woman has chosen a foreign spouse..
In any case we had a fantastic time and can’t wait to go back next year inshallah!

Hello there! I’m Laura, the founder of Blue Abaya- the first travel blog in Saudi Arabia, established in 2010.  Travel has always been my passion- so far I’ve visited 70 countries and I’m always on the lookout for new adventures inside and outside of Saudi Arabia!

I thought it would be interesting to hear from a Saudi male nurse. Nurses in general are not always respected in the society, and sometimes male nurses get an even harder time for their choice of profession. Saudi nurses of both gender are still the minority of the workforce in KSA. Most nurses are recruited from Asian countries, North America, Europe and the surrounding Arab countries. Out of the Saudi nurses there is a higher percentage of males than females than there is in western countries in general. I asked one very inspiring and empathetic Saudi male nurse to be interviewed for my blog and he agreed.
Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed!

What inspired you to become a nurse?
Actually my sister showed me the first sign about nursing. She is also a nurse in childrens cancer centre. After I graduated from high school she mentioned to me about nursing ( I didn’t know anything about nursing at that time ) then I read about it, actually I liked it and then applied to the college and they accepted me.

How does one apply and get accepted to a nursing school in the Kingdom?
It was easy to apply in nursing. It was a new college and my grades were very good. I passed English exam and interview.
Where and how long did you study for? Do you specialize in a certain field during your studies?

At King Saud University nursing college. I studied 5 years the 5th year was internship. 
No they didn’t have specializing, it was generalized about everything (medical- surgical – ICU- psychiatric- gynecology- maternity. pediatrics- emergency and research) 

Did you mix with the female nursing students or doctors during your studies at all?

No, only in the hospital sometimes.

When did you graduate and where do you work now?

I graduated at 2009 and my internship was in King Fahad medical city then I joined King Faisal Specialist Hospital and I work on surgical urology ward.

In western countries nurses are sometimes looked down upon, do you feel that is also the case in KSA?
What kind of response do you get from your patients?

For me no I dont feel that way but some of my friends they feel the same until now.  
About patients many of them are very supportive and they are really proud of us but there is some of them that don’t respect us (I don’t know why).

The unemployment rate for Saudi males is very high, was it easy to get a job as a nurse?

Yes it was very easy for me because of my specialty its very rare in my country and they need Saudi nurses.


How old are you now, and where do you picture yourself in the next 10 years time? What are your career plans?

23 years old. After 10 years actually I don’t consider a position in management but I´d like to improve my knowledge and my practice by working as staff for maximum 2-3 years then I will complete my studying for master and PHD.


Male nurses are not allowed to treat female patients in Saudi-Arabia. Did the school still educate you on female anatomy? Do you know how to deal with emergency situations like assist in labor and delivery if no one else is available to help?

Working with female patients honestly, it embarrassed  me in the beginning but with the time I got used to it. In emergency situations I will do whatever I have to do.


Family opinion is important in all aspects of life in the Kingdom,what was your families reaction to your choice of career?

My family are supportive about anything I choose for me in my life.

Was Islam a factor in choosing your career? 

Of course Islam teaches us to help other people especially if the others really need us.

Would you like to share with us a memorable experience with a patient, something that made you feel you have made a difference in the patients and their families lives?
I liked this question the most.

I remember one patient he was case of bladder cancer and he was shocked and depressed after the news but I tried my best to solve any problem he will be faced with after the surgery and I even went with him inside the OR. It was really interesting to me and to him because he felt that I am helping him and he trusted me. Then I did a presentation about it, it was really nice and I will send the presentation to you inshallah. It was fantastic I felt like a hero and I was very proud of myself for being able to help.

 Jazakallahu khairan may God bless you on your journey!

Hello there! I’m Laura, the founder of Blue Abaya- the first travel blog in Saudi Arabia, established in 2010.  Travel has always been my passion- so far I’ve visited 70 countries and I’m always on the lookout for new adventures inside and outside of Saudi Arabia!

I thought it would be interesting of making a comparison between the Saudi and Finnish cultures every once in a while. They tend to be each others opposites sometimes!
These posts are not intended to be taken too seriously. I’ve written them with a dash of humor with them so please read accordingly!

This cultural comparison will be about moving to a new house and how the newly wed couples participate in moving process.

In KSA, typically the newly wed husband and wife will have lived in their parent’s homes until they get married. The girl will usually be around 19-25 and the boys a bit older because they have to save up money in order to get married. It’s required by Islam that the husband provides financially for everything. The couple will then move to the new apartment or house after the wedding celebrations called the walimah. At that point the house will usually be ready to move in, furnished, cleaned and renovated.

In Finland single young girls and boys will move out of their parents houses to live by themselves as young as 18 years old when they are considered legally adults. The rest will leave around their 20’s to other cities for studies and move into small apartments or shared student housing. Typically the age women and men get married is 26-30 after they have graduated and got jobs. They might move in together many years before actually getting married. Finnish women tend to be very independent and like to do things on their own initiative. All expenses will normally be divided 50/50 between the couple.

First I will shortly describe how in general the native couples would resolve the emerging issues. Then I’ll illustrate how the scene unfolds when these two cultures combine, Saudi husband and Finnish wife in KSA!

Choosing the new home/apartment
Saudi couple: The husband to be will search for the new apartment/house and choose whatever he can afford according to the preferences his fiancée has listed. The prospective wife will go see it separately with her mother or if she wishes to go along with the fiancee, her mahram (father, brother) will accompany them.
Finnish couple: They will usually move into one or the others apartment, whichever is more convenient for two people. Rent will be divided in half between them.
Mixed couple: Husband and wife will look for suitable house together and choose in agreement. Saudi husband insists on paying all expenses. Finnish wife refuses and insists on paying half because she is accustomed to doing so. They make a compromise and wife pays 1/3.

Furnishing the apartment
Saudi couple: Husband will search for furniture in few different stores depending on his budget. He will let the future wife know which store he has picked it from and it will be marked for the fiancée to look at. Wife to be will visit the store separately and approve or disapprove. Husband pays for all expenses.
Once decision has been made husband hires workers to carry the furniture to the new home, or he does it himself with his relatives. In the meantime the prospective Saudi wife goes to have her hair done at the salon.
Finnish couple: They will combine their existing furniture, or go buy new ones together and share expenses 50/50. They carry the furniture together or with help from friends.
Mixed couple: Couple looks for furniture together in different stores and come to mutual agreement. Saudi husband wants to pay for everything, Finnish wife refuses and they end up making the same compromise on the payment. Husband insists on carrying everything, wife refuses to let husband do all the work. Compromise is made and husband carries the heaviest things and wife gets to participate.

Cleaning the new home
Saudi couple: Husband will hire a maid/ maids to clean the whole new home. Mother of husband or wife will likely supervise. If he cannot afford the maid, his sisters will most likely do the job for him. Meanwhile the Saudi wife to be will be shopping for new shoes and a handbag.
Finnish couple: Presumably the wife will do majority of the cleaning. Husband might pitch in as a consequence to wife’s persistent nagging.
Mixed couple: Husband suggests to get a maid to clean the whole house. Wife refuses because she wants to do everything herself in order to get the wanted result and she is not comfortable with hiring maids. Husband agrees and volunteers to help.They start cleaning the house together. After a while the wife gives in and agrees to hire a maid. Maid arrives to clean house, but wife supervises and insists to clean with her. Husband pays and is relieved he is excused from cleaning.

Decorating the new home
Saudi couple: Most likely the wife will choose most of the decorations after they have settled in. Couple goes shopping together after the wedding, wife picks out what she likes and husband pays and carries everything.
Finnish couple: Wife will choose and pay most decorations, husband is not that interested.
Mix couple: Couple go looking for decorations together, same dilemma with payment arises. Alternatively wife wants to go shopping on her own, buys and carries the stuff home. Meanwhile Saudi husband is home watching football.

Renovations
Saudi couple: Husband will hire a Pakistani or Indian worker to conduct all renovations while Saudi wife will go out shopping with her friends. Husband pays for both.
Finnish couple: Most renovating will be done by the couple themselves. If they must hire help the costs will be evenly divided.
Mixed couple: Husband wants to renovate himself what he can, wife insists she can participate but husband refuses she overburdens herself. Husband then hires the Pakistani to do the rest and Finnish wife is pleased to be excused.

Returning broken things
Saudi couple: Husband will drive to the store and take care of everything; on the way he drops off Saudi wife to have a manicure/pedicure at the spa.
Finnish couple: Whichever of the two has more time goes and returns the things.
Mixed couple: Couple goes back to store together. Wife complains about broken/malfunctioning goods and causes a scene and a few raised eyebrows from onlookers that are not accustomed to females voicing their opinions. Husband gets embarrassed by the attention and makes note to self that next time he will drop off wife to the spa to have a manicure/pedicure and go by himself to the store.

Assembling furniture
Saudi couple: Husband will hire a Pakistani or Indian worker to come to the house to assemble all furniture. Saudi wife is visiting her mother in the meanwhile.
Finnish couple: Couple assembles most of the furniture together.
Mixed couple: Saudi husband wants to impress his wife and attempts to assemble all the furniture by himself. After a while he gets frustrated and goes and hires the Pakistani guy. Finnish wife is proud of her husbands attempts and makes him some special Finnish desert.

Hello there! I’m Laura, the founder of Blue Abaya- the first travel blog in Saudi Arabia, established in 2010.  Travel has always been my passion- so far I’ve visited 70 countries and I’m always on the lookout for new adventures inside and outside of Saudi Arabia!