I find myself missing my family, friends and my country a lot lately. It’s been a while since I was last there (well ok 5 months..but still). I make sure to go to Finland every summer because I just love how the nature is so wonderful and the weather is at its best. Last summer I spent almost the entire summer there with the baby and this year we’re going to be there many weeks as well. I cannot wait to go to our summer house by the sea! Now that my daughter is almost walking she will surely enjoy the wonders Finnish nature has to offer and playing with her cousins on the beach. swan. finland

There are some things that I absolutely LOVE about Finland in the summer and here are my top 10:

1. Sauna. What can I say? I simply cannot wait to get in a hot sauna and totally relax! Especially the one at our summer house which was built over a hundred years ago and has very traditional style with views out to the sea from the windows and the best “loyly” you will find! Afterwards eating some delicious sausages we grilled in foil on top of the sauna stove, teamed with HOT Finnish mustard and a nice cold drink..bliss..For pics from this old sauna plus how my husband came to experience it for the first time go to this post.

2. Forest. The forest has always been very important to Finns. We connect with the forest and live beside it as friends. That’s maybe where our environmental awareness ultimately comes from. Finland is basically covered with forest, I mean you can walk into a forest anywhere. Best thing is some government dudes (or royals lol) didn’t hoard and close it all up from the public. On the contrary, everyone is allowed. There is even a law of “freedom to roam” which gives everybody the right to enter forests, pick wild berries and mushrooms, camp and make fire as long as they don’t disturb anyone with noise, litter or destroying nature. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_to_roam

3. Midnight Sun.

There is something magical about the long midsummer nights in Finland!

midnight sunset finland4. Sea

I love going out to the sea for sailing, fishing, swimming or even water skiing! The Baltic sea is not that salty so swimming in it feels very nice and refreshing!

5. Food. Ahh, another thing I can’t wait for! First thing I want to eat are rye bread with cottage cheese (NOTHING beats the Finnish cottage cheese folks), fresh strawberries (same thing goes for these sweeties and my husband’s favorite) mom’s blueberry pie, baby potatoes with butter and dad’s smoked whitefish :) My mouth just started to water! Oh and not to forget all those ice cream flavors! It’s crazy how people from such a cold climate love ice cream this much.

6. Festivals. The Finns really go all out and enjoy the very short summer we have and you can see this best from the ridiculous amount of festivals we have going on all summer around the country. For every weekend there are literally hundreds of festivals, events and exhibitions going on. There is something for everyone from small kids to seniors to choose from. Apart from some seriously awesome concerts with some big names performing each year, there are some pretty peculiar events such as the “Eukonkanto” (Wife Carrying World Cup) http://www.eukonkanto.fi/en/,  “Ilmakitara MM” (Air Guitar Word Championships)http://www.airguitarworldchampionships.com/en/event/agwc-2012, or “Suo Jalkapallon MM”(Swamp Soccer WC) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-10675003 and believe it or not one of the most popular events of the summer is the Tango Festival http://www.tangomarkkinat.fi/en/index.html Finns love to Tango!

7. Peace. Finland is a country with only five million inhabitants but a large area so we have plenty of space for everyone. People in general don’t like to cause lots of noise and will respect others privacy. It’s easy to find your own quiet spot out there and just enjoy the sounds of the nature.

8. Bonfires. Especially during Midsummer Festival lots of people will be putting up huge bonfires by the sea and lakes. I haven’t been able to enjoy this tradition for a long time so am looking forward to it this summer.

9. Sunsets. I’ve been around the world but still I attest to the fact that some of the most beautiful sunsets can be seen during the summer in Finland!

10. Flowers. I love how I can just go to my backyard at the summer house or any forest and pick up a beautiful colorful bouquet of flowers.


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  • IldiMay 10, 2012 - 6:26 am

    Ooo I adore your writings! You made me upgraded-courious (again) to put Finland into my travel destinations in 3 years! :) KIITOS :*ReplyCancel

  • NoorMay 10, 2012 - 9:05 am

    Its so pretty your home really sounds like where I am from in the South so much. I love reading about it. I have a friend who is a Finnish Sister as well online and I just adore her mothers Summer house while its not by the sea its in the country and just so serene and like something from a novel. Love it and I hope you all have a great time I imagine your ready to GO PLEASE TAKE ME LOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLReplyCancel

  • swedemomMay 10, 2012 - 10:35 am

    I have never been to Finland, though I lived in Sweden for many years. Many of the things you miss are things I miss about Sweden. Hope you have a wonderful summer! It sounds wonderful!ReplyCancel

  • Om Lujain©May 12, 2012 - 8:02 am

    I must go on a vacation to Finland WITH you one of these years enshallah! <3ReplyCancel

  • JeanMay 13, 2012 - 4:25 am

    I’m sure the midnight sun summer time makes it special in Finland. I’m still trying to get used to the sunlight streaming into home at 9:30 pm here in southern Alberta.

    Therefore yes, your sunsets should be terrific because you are further north. Maybe you see alot of stars on a clear night?

    I’m actually more homesick for Vancouver, more lush vegetation, bigger and brighter flowers, etc. The ocean, etc.ReplyCancel

  • FarooqMay 13, 2012 - 8:21 am

    Lovely pictures Laylah, finland does look like a lovely place. my wife studied for a while in sweden and she cant stop praising it as well.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahMay 13, 2012 - 9:47 pm

    Thanks everyone!! Om Lujain and Noor welcome to Finland and our summer house anytime :)ReplyCancel

  • KatjaMay 13, 2012 - 8:25 pm


    Ihania kuvia Suomesta! Sinä saat mainostettua hyvin ja totuudenmukaisesti Suomea muulle maailmalle. Hyvä Suomi!ReplyCancel

  • Susie of ArabiaMay 14, 2012 - 8:15 pm

    Take me with you – PLEASE!!! It looks and sounds wonderful!ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMay 21, 2012 - 10:32 pm

      Sure why don't all the Saudi wife bloggers have a meeting up there, you Noor and Om Lujain, who else wants to join :)ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMay 14, 2012 - 9:10 pm

    Hieno blogi. Voisit kertoa perheestäsi eemmän…ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMay 14, 2012 - 9:57 pm

    Fabulous post Layla.

  • avaMay 16, 2012 - 8:52 pm

    Lovely!! This post made me miss Sweden…and the food!! I spent bits of my summer there at a lakehouse too. No sauna, but I did manage to "swim" in the lake. Man it was freezing! Will you go dancing round the maypole on midsummer day? Have a blast! :)ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMay 21, 2012 - 10:34 pm

      ava-wow you swam in there without a sauna back-up! I wouldn't even do that :)
      We don't have the maypoles in Finland, it's more of a swedish tradition :)ReplyCancel

    • avaMay 26, 2012 - 6:02 am

      Hardcore then :) But it was in the shallower part of the lake that opens up to a beach, so it wasn’t as cold and as hardcore as say plunging from a plank and into the deep. Anyhoo, looking forward to your midsummer post :)ReplyCancel

  • DanielletriniMay 19, 2012 - 5:21 pm

    I love Finland as well. That's why I am a naturalized Finn. Finnish summers are the best. My dream is for my Family to some how be able to live in Finland during the summer months and live in Trinidad and Tobago in the winter.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMay 21, 2012 - 10:34 pm

      Hi Danielle! Your dream sounds like a fantastic idea!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahMay 21, 2012 - 10:35 pm

    Aiketa-I have family living in Oulu so it has special place in my heart too!
    Hope you get to go back soon!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMay 21, 2012 - 9:07 pm

    Ihanaa kun tuutte!! Ikävä on teitäkin jo kovasti!
    T.Oulun poppooReplyCancel

    • LaylahMay 21, 2012 - 10:36 pm

      Oulun poppoota on myos meilla ikava :)ReplyCancel

  • AnisahMay 31, 2012 - 3:47 pm

    I’m curious as to whether you wear niqab or hijab when you go back to Finland. How is your husband treated when he goes there? Are there many Muslims in Finland?

    You might have a post about that, if so just point me to it.



  • […] what my Finland looks like. If you’re not that familiar with Finland as a country, check out 10 things I miss from Finland, and you will understand why we want to visit every […]ReplyCancel

  • Ten Amazing Things from FinlandSeptember 22, 2014 - 9:53 am

    […] country with a population of just 5.4 million. For more awesome facts about Finland, check out this post! 1. Sauna All Finns love sauna! We have over 2 million saunas in Finland, that’s on […]ReplyCancel

  • […]  22. 10 THINGS I MISS FROM FINLAND […]ReplyCancel

  • Aaqib MalikJune 11, 2016 - 8:47 am

    I stayed in Helsinki, Finland back in 2012 when I was working with Nokia (in Espo).
    I can truly mark it as one of the best place and finns (specially). You name any good quality that a human should have, you will find in finns.
    Summary: if someone wants to see an ideal society please visit Finland (I can actualy write alot of incidents that happened to me and to my colleagues to justify my stance.)
    I miss suomenlinna island, icehockey discussions, helsinki city and Nokia office in espo. I still remember i used to buy one monthly travel card with unlimited travel option in buses, trains, trams, metro and fairies. the best thing was you can check online the timings and co2 emission with each travel option :)ReplyCancel

In response to the negative behaviors seen in line cutting post, I was asked by a Finnish reader to write about an example of a very good behavior or a nice deed I witnessed done by a Saudi.
No problem! It’s very easy to write about positive incidents in Saudi-Arabia because they do happen all the time, we just don’t hear about them often. Or then, people are blind to the positives and can only see the bad and negative in things. This is often the case with many expats here, unfortunately. For outsiders, all they seem to hear about from the media are the bad things which happen in KSA. So here’s a dose of positivity in form of mini-series of  “true stories” from Saudi Arabia.

I’m going to mention a few random things that came to my mind about Saudi-Arabia and GOOD manners, hospitality and friendship.

A very recent really nice deed by a Saudi man happened just last week. My husband and I had left for a long walk with the stroller on a Friday afternoon around Diplomatic Quarters. We had walked so far that we had actually gotten lost! Suddenly out of nowhere a vicious sandstorm hit. We started walking faster but realized it would take at least another half hour until we reached anywhere near home. Suddenly a car stopped and a man asked us to get in his car, insisting on driving us home without even asking where we live! So we gladly took the ride home (he insisted on taking us all the way to our door) and only then realized how far away we had still been. Here’s a pic of the sandstorm rolling in:

Sandstorm front

Once I was flying alone with my then 8 month old daughter along with three large bags in my hands. I had been struggling with all my stuff on the previous flight out of Finland, but no one had helped me. When I was boarding the next flight to Riyadh, there were Saudi men going out of their way to help me.

As I stepped on the airport bus I noticed it was full of Asian men without famlies (very common on flights to Saudi) and a group of Pakistani men were sitting and occupying all the seats but none of them moved their butts, they just ogled at me with no shame. I was standing there with all my things and a squirmy baby in my arms yet none of the men had the decency to give me a seat. A Saudi man had already helped me lift all the stuff on the bus and now another stepped in to clear a seat for me.

The Saudi man (he looked like a muttawa btw) noticed the situation and how uncomfortable those men were making me feel and told those staring men off. It worked, they suddenly remembered to lower or divert their gazes. He made way for me to sit on the benches, he even had to push (nicely, not aggressively) one reluctant guy to the side and asked the men to clear three seats for me. The men very reluctantly moved, but I was thankful the Saudi guy helped me because those men would’ve never listened to a woman.

Later one young Saudi guy insisted on carrying all my things up the plane, then went to search for an empty over head locker for them and when we landed he fetched everything and brought it all to the airport cart for me. He was so polite and respectful and didn’t try to chat me up or anything.
This was not an isolated case, I’ve been helped by Saudis with the baby and things every time I traveled alone with her.

Another incident from the airport, again I was alone with the baby and now had the stroller with me and needed to pass through the security check. I found it extremely difficult to handle everything with all the stuff and as we know usually all around the world the personnel don’t usually assist much. Well this time the Saudi national guards saw my despair and motioned for me to pass the whole queue.

One officer took the baby and started to play with her on the other side. The other one came to fold the stroller and lift it up on the xray machine. At this point the women have to go into a separate female check-up room so I left the baby with the men(they were so fascinated by her cute smiley face that they forgot to “check” her) and went in for the pat down. When I came out they were all gathered around admiring the baby, had re-assembled the stroller and placed all my belongings next to it. None of them were looking at the monitor :) That really warmed my heart and made me smile.

Just last week at Al Owais souq we had first a negative incident but it lead to such a positive response from others I want to mention it. I was walking along the souq alone while my husband was still at the car getting the baby out of her car seat. A car full of young Saudi guys pulled up and they all start trying to chat me up suggesting all sorts of things. I have zero tolerance for this kind of harassment and knowing my husband was nearby I started shouting back at them. I told them to eff off and their jaws DROPPED.

I turned around and followed them now openly flicking them off. They got really angry and shouted insults. I saw my husband approaching and pointed the car to him. When he realized the situation he RAN after the now panicked fleeing boys (with the baby in his arms). When the car reached the intersection they had to slow down and my husband was able to kick the car as hard as he could before they screeched away from the scene.
Immediately other Saudis watching the situation came to our defense asking my husband do we need any help and cursed those men out. One man said he saw how disrespectful and horrible they were and we were right to react. Then another passerby came and asked my husband does he want them to follow that car and catch the guys. People were also suggesting to report them to police and they had taken the license plates.
It felt good that this sort of bad behavior was condemned so strongly and people were openly supportive of us.

A few years ago the family of a long term patient of mine wanted to arrange a wedding party for me, after hearing we had just recently gotten married in Finland but we didn’t have the chance to have a celebration yet. They insisted on hosting a female only party for me. It was so sweet and to this day I keep contact with one of the daughters.

Another family I got to know well through a patient over a course of few years became really close to me. They invited my whole family over for dinner when they were visiting Saudi the first time. They gave me a wedding gift when they heard I got married, and another gift when I converted. I became friends with one of the older women in this family and she is a big fan of my daughter! This family has given me so much warmth and made me feel like I am part of their family. The best moment was when the 90-yr old grandmother wanted to kiss me on the forehead as thank you and high respect she had for me for caring so well for her husband.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked to pass the line to the front by Saudi men. It has happened at grocery stores, airports, all sorts of offices and places where lines have formed consisting mainly of men. As the sole woman they acted like gentlemen and let me cut in front and nobody ever complained, it is taken as granted that women shouldn’t be made to wait that long.

Once we had gone out for a desert camping trip in group of expats of various nationalities. One guy in the group got really badly stuck in the sand, the rest of the group tried to get him out to no avail. We were literally in the middle of nowhere (300km from Riyadh) there was a sandstorm and it wasn’t looking good. Luckily some Bedouins had seen us from far away and came to help us out. They pulled the yellow Hummer out of the sand with a Toyota pick-up truck and then lead the way to a very nice campsite we could never have found without them and then even made us Arabic coffee on the fire!

I had a patient once whose grand daughter has to be one of the most beautiful persons inward and out that I’ve met during my time here. I was new to the Kingdom and she helped me with many things in the beginning. We often had long discussions over Arabic coffee during my breaks on night shift. She confided in me about many problems from her life and I felt a real connection between us. She was my age and the sitter of her grandmother and present in the room most of the time. She was not married which is very uncommon for such a stunning woman of her age.  From her own will she remained single because she simply had not found the right person and had refused all the cousins and other relatives! I was impressed by her strong will.

I was very sad to hear when the patient was moved back to Jeddah where they lived but kept in contact with this woman.
A year later the same patient was back in our hospital and when they arrived the family immediately called me in the room. I was so happy to see them and vice versa. The grand daughter gave me an incense burner like the one they had had in the room which I had so much adored! I couldn’t believe she had remembered and brought it all the way from Jeddah for me.
What saddens me is I don’t know what happened to her after they left the hospital again. Suddenly her phone was cut off and her Facebook page deleted. I often think of her and wonder how she is doing and hope her problems were solved and that she found true love.

There are many many more stories to tell but I will leave you with these which I think are good examples of the considerate and polite nature of Saudi people.


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  • Kuwaitin kaunotarMay 2, 2012 - 5:13 am

    Meilla taalla Kuwaitissa, usein miehet ovat ystavallisempia kuin naiset. Oletko huomannut siella samaa?ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMay 2, 2012 - 8:38 pm

      Olen huomannut kylla! Oli vaikeampi muistella naisten tekemia yllattavia hyvia tekoja, ainakin julkisesti he on selvasti enemman pidattyvaisia. Johtuisko kasvatuksesta, etta naisen ei pida menna juttelemaan tuntemattomille tosta vaan julkisesti..Voisko siina olla myos kateus osasyyna,Tai sitten miehet vaan toisaan ON kohteliaampia!ReplyCancel

    • Abdullah From ArabiaMay 6, 2012 - 4:36 am

      Kyllä Saudi miehet ovat parempia. Naiset ei ole hyvä kuin miehet. Onnea meille.

      1 Miehet vs 0 naisia

      Olen yrittänyt kirjoittaa suomea!!!! Mitä mieltä olet?ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMay 6, 2012 - 9:23 am

      Abdullah-Taidat olla oikeassa ;) Kirjoitit hienosti suomea ja sait minut hymyilemaan :)

      I’m impressed!ReplyCancel

  • AliceMay 2, 2012 - 10:18 am

    Great post, really good idea to write about this small positive things!ReplyCancel

  • Umm GamarMay 2, 2012 - 12:55 pm

    Salammualykum Laylah,

    Thanks for sharing some positive sides of Saudi.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMay 2, 2012 - 1:24 pm

    Layla, thank you for this post. I believe it is human nature to notice the bad of situations. I have to MAKE myself look at the good parts of my life. Turning off the television helps too.

    I’m really impressed that the Saudis went after the young men in the car. I have often heard that bad behavior on the part of men is tolerated in the Kingdom.


    • LaylahMay 2, 2012 - 8:40 pm

      Annie-me too! I’ve not seen many times this before, that ppl so openly condemn this type of behavior.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMay 2, 2012 - 3:16 pm

    Love your story! Thanks for making me smile! I am quite impressed with the Saudi gentleman! Good on them for treating a woman with respect! Francesca from Ottawa, CanadaReplyCancel

  • FarooqMay 2, 2012 - 8:41 pm

    thanks for sharing your experiences. I firmly believe there are good and bad people everywhere, in every culture, in every nationality, in every race and every religion.ReplyCancel

  • Susie of ArabiaMay 3, 2012 - 6:12 am

    I know I’m guilty of complaining a lot about the things that bother me about living here in KSA too. But I have to say the Saudi people are the warmest, most polite and most generous people on the face of this earth. Unfortunately the ones who misbehave here are mostly foreigners.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMay 6, 2012 - 9:21 am

      Susie-True! One of the reasons behind the bad behavior might be the horrible and stressful circumstances those men live under plus being far from family(mainly WIFE) which might worsen their behavior toward women..Not that it’s any excuse though..ReplyCancel

  • nassimaMay 3, 2012 - 12:42 pm

    During my stay in Arabia I noticed that when somebody asked me for my impressions on the country I often complained about the things that bother me. i talked especially about the negative sides. I often forgot the positive sides which were more numerous.
    Now I am a follower of the positive thought and I try to keep in memory only the positive events of my life.
    Great post Leïla, really big idea to write about positive sides of your life here in saudi Arabia!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMay 3, 2012 - 4:52 pm

    This is really nice to read… I sympathize with the frustrations of living in another culture (I’m an expat too) but it is really a pleasure to hear all these acts of kindness. Always an inspiration….ReplyCancel

  • NasserMay 3, 2012 - 5:46 pm

    Nice post. I wonder about the intention when it is pointed out that “foreigners” are impolite. I note Susie does this too. Hopefully you haven’t adopted the Saudi fashion of scapegoating foreigners for all crimes committed. I’m Saudi and am tired of hearing all the “evils” by the Bangladeshi! Come on.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMay 6, 2012 - 9:25 am

      Nasser- We’re foreigners too so..My aim was to point out it was NOT Saudi men that were behaving badly. The world always seems to blame the Saudi man about all the bad stuff that goes on here. It’s simply not true. Look how many millions of foreign male workers there are in this country! They are not completely innocent either.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMay 4, 2012 - 4:30 am

    Maa shaa Allaah

    This was really nice. I really enjoyed reading your expereinces with the good natured people of Saudi. There are good and there are bad, but the optimistist focuses on the good and is pateint with the bad.

    I’v enjoyed, in my travels to the middle east, much hospitality from the people.

    I hope to read more such articles as this on your blog. It seems that you have much to share.

    Thank you :D and thanks to your friend for suggesting it. :)

    Umm Abdullaah Khadijah USA, KSA and UAEReplyCancel

  • flawlessvelvetMay 4, 2012 - 12:01 pm

    Very heartwarmingReplyCancel

  • Hilary BeathMay 4, 2012 - 5:58 pm

    I really enjoyed that post. It leaves such a nice feeling after reading it, and I bet it left you with a good feeling after writing it.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMay 5, 2012 - 9:38 pm

    nice post laylah…i hope it would enlighten some people who only think about the negative sides of being here in Saudi Arabia.ReplyCancel

  • KatjaMay 7, 2012 - 8:45 pm

    Hei Laylah

    Kiitos ihanasta postauksesta! Kyllä sielläkin osataan olla ihania toisissa asioissa. Suomessa emme saa heposti apua lasten ja matkatavaroiden kanssa. Ollessani matkalla lasten kanssa, kysyin rohkeasti, että voitko auttaa. Muuten olisin saanut yrittää pärjätä itse. Se oli bonusta, jos joku tarjoutui auttamaan, esim. junasta ulos lasten ja tavaroiden kanssa :) Ts. Saudit ovat ystävällisempiä ja avuliaampia, mutta suomalaiset ovat järjestelmällisempiä (kuten jonoissa ja muuttofirmoissa-heh!).

    Hello Laylah

    Thank you so much so nice post, Laylah! There are many things good and very nice way. In Finland we don’t get so easily help with stuff and kids. When I have travelled here I ask someone to help me with luggages and stuff. If I wouldn’t ask any help, I would have to get managed myself out from the train for examble(or someone can help me- then I’ll be happy and keep smiling whole day :). No I noticed arabic are more friendly giving more help (of course in Finland people can help, but not so often) and in Finland we are more ordinary (or how to say it) and doing what we have promised like movingcompanies and in line.

    Have a nice spring to all!ReplyCancel

  • DanielletriniMay 19, 2012 - 5:53 pm

    Yes this post does warm the heart. I have heard of the extremely hospitable Gulf culture but this illustrates it well. I sometimes get very frustrated by the bad manners of my Finnish people. When I was pregnant, my belly was huge and my back was always hurting. On morning on my way to work on the tram I asked a girl to let me sit in her seat which was reserved for the elderly, infirm andReplyCancel

  • Nauman KhanJune 9, 2012 - 11:11 am

    Assalamualikum, I wanted to share ur this post on my fb but couldn’t find any sharing option, u can enable them in ur blogger.com options, for an example u can c mine http://naumankhan.blogspot.comReplyCancel

    • LaylahJune 9, 2012 - 7:21 pm

      Hi Nauman! I have the share buttons for fb, twitter and google+ at the end of the post, are they to visible to you? Can you try with another browser, I can see them with chrome :)ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousNovember 12, 2012 - 3:25 am

    Hi Laylah,
    I have always believed that in all peoples of the world you will find the good and the bad and I am happy that your post confirms my belief.. But many years in the magical kingdom have left me desillusioned.. and I still have to wonder, do you think the saudi men on the bus/plane would have treated you the same way if you were an asian or black maid carrying her child? Have you seen saudis giving up their place in a line for a Sri-lankan or Sudanese woman? Wouldn’t they just take for granted that the asian woman in the grocery store line is a maid sent by her employers to do some errands and never consider the fact that she just might be a top executive out with her family? The incident with the man that stopped the car for you and your family is heart-warming, but to be honest, anywhere else in the world it would not be such a remarkable deed.. If there are people around and they see a family with a small baby in such distress most compassionate human beings witll react, but I guess in the kingdom human compassion is a rarity that entitles you to internet fame.. And I am sure many women enjoy the chevalry on display, but unfortunately it is many times un-invited and quite patronising and reflects the view of women as lesser individuals “less of mind, less of religion”.

    • LaylahNovember 14, 2012 - 7:31 am

      Hi Bella! Thanks for the comment well you have got some valid points there of course..But I like to think YES they would also help ladies of other nationalities in those situations. Especially the guys on the flights..they would, I think a gentleman is always a gentleman no matter what.
      I think it’s also a privacy issue, in the Kingdom people act different, they keep to themselves more and it’s assumed that others don’t want to be bothered and rather left alone in their own privacy, you know what I mean? The step to intervene or help is much higher here.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousNovember 14, 2012 - 3:29 pm

    Hi Laylah,
    Thank you for answering and sorry if my posts to you have been critical or intense. I agree with you that one finds lovely people in the kingdom, but we also agree that there are flaws in the culture and hopefully, by talking about it we can be part of changing attitiudes. I think you are great for spreading positive vibes. Stay well and take care.

The first part of the Saudi wedding experience post left us foreigners still sitting at the table in amazement of the goings on. Read that post here.

The main event of the Saudi weddings is of course the arrival of the bride. Like I mentioned before the bride actually stays hidden from the guests for most of the wedding party. In a way I feel this is a shame since the wedding hall has been so beautifully decorated and so much time and money spent on it and the bride doesn’t get to fully enjoy it. All her relatives and friends are there too, so the arrangement of the bride only showing up for a good half hour during the entire evening, feels strange and like a sort of a waste for her to stay away from it all so long!

It’s hard to understand why the brides don’t fully participate in their own weddings! Sure she is the star of the show for the time she steps out of her closed room upstairs and slowly makes her grand entrance down the stairs and aisle to the stage for everyone to see. The bride then sits on the throne, sofa or chair whichever she has chosen, and watches women dance for her and come up to greet her. Usually this is the time in most Saudi weddings when the groom and some relatives such as the father of the bride and her brothers will make a short appearance on the women’s side which leads to frantic covering up of the unrelated women.

This wedding was different though. Not even the groom showed up which was really uncommon, I was told. When the bride was ready to come down the lights were dimmed and the music changed into a sort wedding march performed by the same music group. When she showed up in all her glory on top of the stairs the whole room seemed to gasp in amazement of her beauty.

She was indeed stunning. Thank God there was no “clown make-up” and she had kept it low key by Saudi terms. Her waist-long hair had been tied up into a huge bun that reminded me of the 60’s hairstyles and it was decorated with flowers and pearls. On top she wore an exquisitely embroidered long sheer veil secured onto her hair with a small tiara. Her ivory white dress had a simple A-line cute to it, with an embroidered form fitting top and a cute ribbon belt to accentuate her tiny waist. The dress had a beautifully detailed and long trailing hem on it. She was holding a small bouquet of flowers in one hand. She was the perfect bride.

The bright spotlight followed her steps slowly as she made her way down the red carpeted stairs. The bride was very nervous and had trouble smiling for the female photographer, but who wouldn’t be in that situation! Coming down the staircase seemed to take forever. I thought it must have felt like eons for her. Her dress had such a long and heavily embroidered hem it was difficult for her to take steps down. For each step she took down she had to grab the hem with both hands, kick it out of the way, then settle the dress again for the minute long pause she took at each step. I held my breath at every step and hoped and prayed she wouldn’t trip on the hem.

The bride eventually reached the stage and stood in the spotlight facing the crowd. As she stood there, now smiling and seemingly more relaxed, there was an announcement in Arabic and the crowd burst into applause and some women were loudly ululating. The announcements kept coming and the ululating got louder.

Finally she took a seat and her close family all gathered around her. Some were dancing, some were hugging her, some sat next to her. At this point I was clueless (again) what I should do. I was part of the closer family and unsure if I should go on the stage or not. I watched people slowly go up to her and congratulate her. I wanted to go, but then again I really didn’t! I felt really shy and didn’t want the attention.

At this point the first REAL drinks were served, the waitresses came around with trays of fruit juices. In very tiny glasses for my disappointment though. As I was dying of thirst at this point, having only had Arabic gahwa until then, I drank the juice in one gulp and snatched another one before the waitress left our table. I must have been her favorite person of the evening, always bugging her for something to drink! The waitress gave me a long look. I’m thirsty, woman! For God’s sake I could drink them all at once! Don’t look at me like I’m some sort of freak.

So after this refreshment I had decided to make my way to the stage. I grabbed my friend along for emotional back up. I was so nervous and I didn’t know what to do. My master plan was to quickly go congratulate her then quietly step off the stage and leave. It didn’t exactly work out as planned though.

After I had greeted her and some other relatives, I was pointed to stand on the side of the stage where women were cheering on the dancers in the middle, so I joined in. Suddenly one of the women approached me and grabbed me by the hand. I panicked. OMG! Now way I am going to dance in front of 300 women! I wanted to run or to shrink into a tiny little midget so nobody could see my so called dance moves. I know now how deer feel when they see the spotlight from the approaching car and freeze without being able to move, waiting for the smash.

I was at the center of the stage and could feel those curious eyes becoming even more curious now that the Amriki lady had been dragged into the spotlight for a great chance to LMFAO. I surely delivered. I had done this dance before and I do love Arabic dance, and music, even managed to pull it off somehow in familiar company. In this situation though, in fornt of so many strangers  I could not have been able to perform a simple freakin ballet plie. I was as stiff as a rake.

The beautiful woman who dragged me was smiling and encouraging me and she was an excellent dancer, probably the best of them. Which of course made me look even more idiotic up there. I felt like a pecking chicken among beautiful gliding swans. I held my dress with my other hand, tried to smile and look like I was having the time of my life (which in a way I was) and clucked around for the song that seemed to go on for eternity. Were the African women making it go on this long on purpose?

When it finally finished I was taken back to the side of stage next to other women. I clapped along to the songs and prayed no one else would come and ask for this dance, waiting for a chance to escape. Suddenly a young woman started dancing very provocatively facing me. She had one of those make-up masquerades going on on her face and her hair was so stiff from the hairspray it was the only thing not moving on her body.

The vamp was closing in, looking at me like I was the steak on her plate! Yikes! Someone HELP! I had no idea what was going on. I looked to my sides. Everyone acted normal. Is this normal? This woman had possibly been watching to much MTV music videos and thought she was Shakira. Her moves were straight from a provocative dance video. The Arab Shakira was nearly in my face before she abruptly made a 180 degree turn and continued her sexy dance. Phew. Now that was AWKWARD.

The awkward moment when you’re being vamped by a Saudi Shakira dressed in an evening gown in front of all her relatives.

After that I was wishing I could grow wings and fly off the stage. No Red Bull so that didn’t work out. Next one of the fully veiled women came up to the stage and I curiously watched her warmly greeting the bride. I wonder did they even know who she was? As this lady left she turned to me and I had another skipped heart beat-moment. Luckily she just laughed and showed me the thumbs up. That made me feel really good. I also took it as a sign of approval of my chicken dance.

After about half an hour on stage the bride left alone to her room where she would have dinner with her husband. It was now 1 am. The doors were opened to another hall where a sumptuous buffet had been laid out. Everyone started to walk in at the same time creating a crowd at the doors. Strangely the waitresses were smoking bokhoor at the doors. Certainly not the most appetizing experience to be smoked alive before dinner. The women were scrambling around trying to find plates and cut others in line, and I can’t count how many people (including children) took advantage of us suckers and jumped in front of us.

I really hope the animals underneath the table were not the ones in the stews above.

So many delicious dishes to choose from! Some of them I was familiar with, some were new acquaintances. The real enigma was the huge chunk of meat in the middle of the buffet served on a large silver plate and embedded in rice. My friend and I were wondering out loud was it camel meat? The chunk was so large and sort of resembled a camel’s hump. It must be camel right?

We asked a little girl what meat it was and she looked at us as if we had just asked her ‘what is a pizza’? We didn’t get an answer but we did get very long looks and whispers. The meat was surely popular among the guests. Many women were literally digging into it with their bare hands tearing big pieces off. That kind of put me off tasting it so it remained a mystery until I had the chance to ask my husband.

So what was it? Ladies and gentlemen (drum roll..) This is “leeya” aka a lamb’s BUTT. And apparently it’s a delicacy and yes the white stuff is blubber. The best part, I was told. So I will just leave it to that because I know many people really like this :)

After dinner it seemed most of the guests were leaving. There was a large freshening up room with mirrors where some women were re-applying lipstick after dinner. And as if anyone at this wedding needed MORE perfume, there was even a stand with a variety of perfumes to spray on yourself next to small mints and chocolates. About a fourth of the women had returned to the main hall where the music continued and some young women were dancing.

I couldn’t help noticing a gorgeous and statuesque young lady dancing among them. She could have been at the Oscars red carpet and stunned everyone. She wore a golden sleek one shoulder (the only bare shoulder of the night!) gown with minimal jewelry and must have been 6ft tall with a body to die for. Her hair was cut into a shoulder length trendy look and her make-up was perfect. She looked like a combination of Charlize Theron and Penelope Cruz. I thought to myself had this woman been born to a different culture, by now her other-worldly beauty would likely be known worldwide. In Saudi she lived a very sheltered life, most likely only a handful of men ever witnessing her beauty. Two so different worlds!

Back at the abaya cloak room where women were covering up all the glitz and glamour under layers of black veils and abayas. You would never know what what was underneath!
We left the wedding exhausted but happy from the amazing experience. I think I pulled it off OK. At least I managed to keep “calm and collected” on the outside! Inside I was a nervous wreck most of the time. I’m hoping the next wedding I go to will be less of an ordeal!

Do you have a Saudi wedding experience to share?

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  • JeanApril 24, 2012 - 4:04 am

    So I’m trying to understand this: so this lavish wedding allows women to dress a little more sexy and dance in ways, they normally wouldn’t?

    I only hope the couple have a happy marriage ..for life.ReplyCancel

    • HudaApril 25, 2012 - 12:47 am

      It’s strange because Islamically the women must observe modesty and not dance provocatively in front of one another, and there are dress codes which women must observe amongst other women, yet many disregard them. It’d be better if they did those things in the privacy of their own homes.

      Once when Laylah posted about the make up and how someone asked her why she wasn’t wearing makeup and “don’t you wear makeup for your husband???” or something to that effect… I just thought, what on earth does her wearing makeup for her husband have to do with wearing it in front of women? Seriously, its just a culture of showing off and lavishness and its so contradictory at times.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 26, 2012 - 11:54 pm

      Huda I think they asked that also because they were worried my appearance (too modest or not sexy enough) would not please my husband.. Husband’s pleasure is the most important right ;)ReplyCancel

  • diana | nessreenApril 24, 2012 - 9:32 am

    Haha! I know that feeling of being dragged on to the dance floor! So much weirdness.

    A friend and I did a podcast episode on this, if you’re interested in checking it out:



    • LaylahApril 26, 2012 - 11:54 pm

      Thanks for the link Nessreen!ReplyCancel

  • DanceApril 24, 2012 - 5:58 pm

    The details regarding a saudi wedding has to be my favorite post by you!! I’m a dancer and I’m really into how you were describing the dance styles over there. Can you please talk more about saudi women dance styles as well as the music? Are the African women who are playing the music are they saudi? Are there well known female saudi groups that play for special occasions such as wedding? Do you know any of the name of the songs that they usually play for weddings? I’m asking alot of questions , but i’m very interested in what you have to say!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousApril 24, 2012 - 9:00 pm

    Seems like the wedding was more about women trying to impress each other, rather than the fact that a couple made a big promise to each other. Anyway, nicely written, its a really entertaining article :)ReplyCancel

    • ربة منزلApril 25, 2012 - 3:35 am

      The Saudi concept of a wedding is different from a that of a western wedding. Wedding for us are a celebration for everyone, new connections are being made with new families. Us dancing and having fun is a way to show our happiness and joy. It does not mean that we do not care about the big promises we made, which are usually celebrated a few months before the wedding.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 26, 2012 - 11:51 pm

      Dance-thanks for your questions, I will try to answer but if someone has better insight feel free to help!
      The african women are usually originally East african and to my understanding most have been here for generations so yes they are Saudi(some might disagree to my definition of Saudi)

      Anyways I recently read an article on Arab News about a female wedding DJ, who is based in Jeddah and so popular that she is fully booked for months ahead. Cannot remember her name though! But she plays whatever music the bride has requested! So am guessing not just arabic music :) The weddings in Jeddah are far more relaxed and very different from the Riyadhian ones where often the drums are the only accepted form of music.

      I hope someone can tell you names for the wedding songs!ReplyCancel

  • SafiyahApril 24, 2012 - 10:21 pm

    Interesting story =) I think it also depends on the region, and the family, what a Saudi wedding looks like ;)ReplyCancel

    • ربة منزلApril 25, 2012 - 3:24 am

      True. Wedding rituals and dances differ from one area to another and from one family to another. I really enjoy going to different weddings and comparing between my family’s tradition and other families’.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 26, 2012 - 11:35 pm

      Yes I hear the same! I just wonder where the traditions come from ? I mean lots of the things done these days are from the western weddings right? SO they must be quite new traditions? So who approved them, and how do weddings evolve? Would the same family have almost identical weddings and doing something different would be looked down upon by some?ReplyCancel

      • yasminSeptember 7, 2015 - 7:13 pm

        “Would the same family have almost identical weddings and doing something different would be looked down upon by some?”

        i think this holds true for weddings in the usa…ReplyCancel

    • AnonymousApril 27, 2012 - 2:19 am

      I was surprised when you said that it is a common occurrence for men to appear inside the woman hall. What i have heard is the complete opposite that no men are ever allowed and this is something that used to happen among the ignorant/older generation. Also i think it defiantly depends on the tribe..not so much the location in saudi..as there are very conservative tribes in liberal cities..and very liberal tribes in conservative cities..it depends on Islam/culture/tribe.
      Some families dont even allow their prospective daughter to be seen by her husband until the actual wedding night and that is the most liberal city in saudi.ReplyCancel

  • JeanApril 25, 2012 - 1:40 am

    Thanks huda. I dunno, it just sounds like a bunch of women going over overboard during a wedding celebration..because they don’t have much opportunity to be this “free” in daily life. I can’t explain this, but alot of women showing off to each other in terms of fashion, cleavage (that’s what her blog post said, which I found strange in an Islamic, strict country), ultimately sounds a bit limiting. It’s fun to dress like that um..maybe once every decade. :) But other than that, life offers so much more other things to explore beyond home!ReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 26, 2012 - 11:32 pm

      Jean-I agree with you, some of the women might be going overboard because it is one of the few occasions they get to really go all out. SO they enjoy it to the max.

      From my observations showing off, or appearances are very important here. SO that might explain why the huge jewelry and so forth.ReplyCancel

      • umyousefNovember 10, 2013 - 9:07 pm

        As opposed to a Western wedding where women dress up in bling showing off cleavage to women AND other men. As a convert who has been married for 37 years, I think that we women like to dress up , dance,and party, regardless. But it really is not very appropriate to get all dressed up so other men can look at us. Every culture has their own way to celebrate, so I’m not judging. let them enjoy the celebration the way they want.ReplyCancel

    • AnonymousApril 27, 2012 - 2:10 am

      Salam Laylah
      You say that appearances are so important in the kingdom..i remember a photo from your photo journal explaining that obesity in women is on the rise..does the weight hold women back from going so “overboard” like it may for women in the west..who only see beauty as model thin?
      Also how did you find saudi women react to foreign wives who may have lighter features then they do…do they see that as something beautiful or are they still wondering why the saudi man didn’t pick someone from his tribe ?
      P.s. I just love your blog..thanks for being such an honest writer.

    • LaylahApril 30, 2012 - 1:44 am

      hi Morena, good questions! No weight certainly is no limitation here! Women will wear whatever they like , whatever their size and shape! Which is of course good that the self esteem issues we have in the west don’t exist and women are not that limited in what they “can” wear to such occasions.
      Well many Saudis do comment on my skin color (especially at work) how white it is, this made me feel very awkward and not know how to respond. I am guessing many perceive lighter skin and hair more beautiful, judging by how many try to whiten their skin for example.

      I’m pretty sure there will always be few people from my husbands tribe who don’t accept me and wonder why he didn’t choose from among them. Also he might be seen as a traitor of some sort. Some might even hope he takes a Saudi as a second wife some day.ReplyCancel

  • HudaApril 25, 2012 - 12:51 am

    I kept laughing while reading this… awesome chicken dancing by the sounds of it!

    Although the meat thing was a bit off putting I could see why people would like it. Besides it doesn’t sound as bad as what Syrian’s do… my dad used to get us to eat lambs eyes and tongues hahaha >:(ReplyCancel

    • HudaApril 25, 2012 - 12:52 am

      The lamb was cooked of course but I always opted out. However my brothers thought it was yummy lolReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 26, 2012 - 11:33 pm

      Huda-lambs eyes and tongues??? OMG I have no words!ReplyCancel

    • Don SolanoJune 14, 2012 - 6:38 pm

      the eyes i believe have aphrodisiac effects so in our country they were eaten by husbands to prepare for a long night with the wife.ReplyCancel

    • AnonymousAugust 8, 2012 - 3:20 pm

      “And, if the sheep’s eye, considered a delicacy by the Bedouins, is offered to you, you must eat it. The host had given you the highest honor he can think of.” ;DReplyCancel

  • DianaApril 26, 2012 - 4:54 am

    So this is the celebration,awesome,
    but what about the ceremony what is that like?ReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 26, 2012 - 11:29 pm

      Diana-the actual ceremony is very short and simple and only involves signing of some papers at the judge, basically just the official just. woman remains fully covered and is accompanied by her father, or her guardian who has to be present for her to marry.

      The ceremony can be held anything from a year or even more up until few weeks prior to the wedding party.

      In this case the ceremony (nikah) had been 6 months before the wedding party.ReplyCancel

    • DianaApril 27, 2012 - 1:33 am

      That´s very interesting! so there is not much religious ritual? it sounds more like a civil weddding.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 30, 2012 - 1:38 am

      The judge reads passages from the Quran and might briefly “lecture” about Marriage in Islam, and then he takes the two male witness testimony and asks the woman if she agrees to marry this man, and they settle whatever they want to have written down in the contract as additional clauses, not much to it other than that.ReplyCancel

  • The Black JubahApril 26, 2012 - 6:18 am


    I had attended a Saudi wedding before, His originally Indian from Makkah, a doctor, and she a Syrian nurse.
    My friend told me to eat enough before a Saudi wedding. Reception starts at around 9pm, with all the arabian belly dance, the bride and groom came in at Midnight, we have to don the abaya and veil and then food is served at 4 am…
    nevertheless it was an experience, not everybody get invitedReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 26, 2012 - 11:27 pm

      Black Jubah-wa aleikum salaam
      Food was served at 4 am? Wow you must ave been starving by then! So what happened during all those 7 hours before the food?ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousApril 26, 2012 - 3:14 pm

    I have heard that music is forbidden for conservative Muslims but apparently alright for weddings? I know that there are certainly Muslims who don’t consider music forbidden but are there Muslims who wouldn’t even have music at a wedding?



    • LaylahApril 26, 2012 - 11:25 pm

      Hi Annie, yes music is considered haram according to some interpretations of Islam. Thing is, there is always a way “around” things. Like music is ok if there’s only this sort of drum played, and singing only, no other instruments. Some people think just the drums are allowed. Anyways, I’ve never heard of a wedding without music. This was an extremely conservative wedding, and they had music.ReplyCancel

  • WhiteRaven SladeApril 27, 2012 - 5:37 am

    Wow! So glad you posted part 2 of the wedding! What a night! Could you tell by looking how many mothers and grandmothers were checking out possible future brides for their sons and grandsons? That would have been so interesting to watch.

    My mouth was starting to feel cottony reading about this wedding though! Hot and little liquid served? Ouch. Was this unusual, or are the locals just accustomed to a higher level of general dehydration?ReplyCancel

  • ربة منزلApril 29, 2012 - 2:45 am

    I remember my father telling me that people appreciate the “leeya” because it is the part that tells you the quality of the meat. The bigger it is, the healthier and fatter the sheep is. or was :)
    Here in the US all sheep have tiny tails and no butts so I guess they do not have the serving-the-butt-to-guests custom :DReplyCancel

  • AddoApril 30, 2012 - 7:54 am

    As an FYI; the ‘speech’ before the ululating of the women were praises and salutations to the Prophet :) It’s common in Saudi weddings.

    This wedding definitely seemed much more conservative than the average Saudi wedding. In my wedding (my wife is Saudi), I was present during her walk of fame from the balcony to the stage, pausing to cut the cake and take pictures along the way.

    Thankfully, wifey and I made sure we didn’t take it long into the night, as is the ritual. Dinner was served just before 1 AM.

    Quite the night to remember.ReplyCancel

  • HopeMay 5, 2012 - 10:02 pm

    I didn’t realized how nervous u were till I read the blogs! U presented yourself very nicely and you looked stunning! I enjoyed the wedding very much…eventhough we were the center of attention the whole time since u were the only Blonde at the whole wedding!!!! I think u even took the spotlight off the bride hehe…..I also enjoyed translating, however, I wondered why so many young ladies did not know English. I thought it was very strange!! I won’t forget the awkward translation moment hehe “Tell her I say Congratulations for baby” … “hah … what baby??” loool…”Layla ???” “ummm yeah I’m pregnant!” loool As if i needed more shock during the night! loool And i can’t believe that lady in the restroom thought we were sisters loool? that was a nice compliment :-) …but i still don;t understand how she came to that conclusion… I guess I look Finnish hahaha……. She said she came all the way from Khobar to attend the wedding… I wonder if she was trying to find a suitor….I could tell that your husband’s relatives were very impressed by you and I felt they were actually showing u off ;-)


  • I know this has no direct link to the post, but when I think of being offered cow’s tongue or brain on Eid by my Omani relatives and get disgusted, they remind me how eating bread out of a Turkey’s butt (i.e North American thanksgiving or Christmas dinner) is just as inane to them and maybe more so lol.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMay 12, 2012 - 3:28 pm

    I’m a Filipino here in Riyadh and I have attended a Saudi wedding once, with my other Western colleagues. I also felt equally embarrassed (my colleagues too) because everyone was looking at us – being foreigners. At the venue, you also need to greet the groom, aligned with 20-30 male relatives of his (mostly elders) and greet them. We did not know what to do, it was just so embarrassing… Some of the me kissed us on the cheeks, some didn’t, we just shook their hands. It was really confusing. But overall it was really an interesting experience.ReplyCancel

  • Daily RoutineSeptember 18, 2012 - 3:07 pm

    hello Laylah I really like your blog you’re creative mashalla ,but i just wanted to make it clear that not all weddings in saudi arabia are like that i’m from riyadh and our weddings are nothing like that we put simple makeup and wear cute dresses that are usually plain with no eye hurting sparkles.and women don’t wear niqabsReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJanuary 16, 2013 - 12:14 am

    hi layla! i just discovered your blog and i really enjoy reading it!

  • Mohammed AhmedFebruary 11, 2013 - 10:12 am

    Mrs. Layla…..when i was reading Saudi Wedding on your blog i fall down from my chair laughing…. lol and i am still laughing and laughing…. but i hope you enjoyed it…..ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousFebruary 12, 2013 - 6:31 pm

    Salam alaikum Layla
    Terveiset suomesta,ihana blogi!ReplyCancel

  • Saudi Wedding Extravaganza | Blue AbayaFebruary 26, 2014 - 3:18 am

    […] So I attended my first big wedding party (walimah) here in Riyadh! What an amazing experience! The second part of the wedding party v=celebrations can be read here. […]ReplyCancel

  • Margaretha Beverloo SmithNovember 26, 2014 - 9:32 am

    Amazing reading Layla! Thanks for the entertainment :) As you know from my blog, I have not attended a Saudi wedding myself – just heard inside stories from others. The difference between our Nordic culture and life in Saudi could not be vaster. You have to live it to believe it…ReplyCancel

Apologies for being away from the blog so long. But I had a good excuse! We were finally able to move into our new place in the Diplomatic Quarters in Riyadh. For the move we were planning to hire a moving company. Last time we moved the company destroyed many precious items I had brought from Finland and some things (like a huge painting) went MISSING.

So this time we searched for a moving firm we could trust not to destroy everything. A company was recommended to us that seemed really professional and even had a good website, but they would’ve charged us over 8000 riyals! For a days work I think that’s ridiculous, considering petrol is almost free and labor for such work is very cheap.

So we tried to find something we could afford and ended up using a company that seemed OK and signed the contract which included price, time frame and most importantly that any destroyed items would be reimbursed. The manager came to our house to evaluate how much stuff we had and how many men were needed.

When the moving day came, the moving crew arrived in the morning and we had hired two maids to help us pack, unpack and clean. I felt like I needed at least ten extra heads and sets of hands to be able to supervise and direct all these people

 The way the “movers” were handling and packing stuff was amazing. I mean we are talking about people who do this for a living right? You would assume they knew what they’re doing huh? Pack clothing nicely in plastic bags and other things in boxes with padding and wrapped in newspaper, labels and so on.

In reality what was going on was about six Afghani men were mercilessly throwing and stuffing random things into plastic bags and boxes as fast as they could while an Indian supervisor was leaning on walls and “managing” them. I didn’t have time to label anything despite my desperate efforts running around after the men from room to room trying to figure out what they were stuffing where.

They mixed everything together with no logic whatsoever. Like toilet bowl brushes, opened laundry detergent box, baby bath toys and uncovered toothbrushes in one bag, for example. Their idea of padding was a single sheet of newspaper placed between items, not around. No plastic wrap, bubble wrap nothing. Just a single sheet of paper. I’ve never seen anything that ridiculous in my life.

So next getting the things into the trucks. To my horror they’d shown up with open trucks that I’ve seen camels and sheep transported in.

The mindless movers had managed to pile the bags, boxes and furniture onto the trucks, in that order. Lamps were hanging out from the sides and an armchair had been placed on the top of everything, kinda like a topping on a cake. No padding or wrapping anywhere, of course. My husband had to show them how to secure the things with ropes so that we wouldn’t leave a trail of things falling out of the trucks behind us.

I took a deep breath, tired to think positive and thought with careful driving everything could still work out well. Careful driving? Who was I kidding? Did anyone ever see anything resembling careful driving in this country?

When we finally got to our destination, we realized the trucks were too tall to drive into the underground parking hall. This meant the load had to be carried from a nearby parking lot to our building and up one set of stairs. In other words the men were now forced to walk an extra 200 meters and instead of having to carry things up two sets of stairs (which would’ve been the case if the truck had been able to drive into the garage) it would now only be one. Just a minor set back, you would think. Actually, less work because of less stairs right?

Nope. This was the END OF THE WORLD. Suddenly the men became so lazy and slow, sloths would look like cheetahs next to these people. They dragged (not carried) one small bag at a time complaining about having to walk. In our apartment they tried to avoid having to take anything upstairs and kept piling the things in the foyer, blocking entrance to any other rooms. We had friends over to help supervise and carry stuff but even that wasn’t enough to make sure things got done. I swear for each one of these movers, a personal assistant was needed to ensure everything doesn’t break and that they do at least something!

The supervisor walked so slowly I could hear him coming from a mile away by the way his sandals dragged on the ground. He sounded like this: “Swoosh swoosh. Sigh. Too much heavy! Swoosh swoosh. Too much work!”

It was around 1 p.m and the supervisor was already giving up. He said “this will never finish!” Oh yeah? Well if you slouch around like a freakin SLUG it will probably not end even by the end of this year! But do your job and it just might! I saw him THROW a box into the laundry room, a good two meters across the room, upside down. He thought no one could see him but I was watching like a hawk. When I confronted him he pretended it was ‘an accident mam.’ How professional. Ugh.

After long talks and persuasion, the mover-snails finally got to moving some of the larger furniture. My husband and his friend were helping them since things were seriously not moving along fast enough. However these movers would not listen to any advice. They completely IGNORED all talk. As if we did not exist.

Our staircase is quite narrow and some larger things are difficult to get upstairs, so my husband tried to tell the men how to turn furniture around to make it fit. Instead, the men kept turning the stuff around like it was the Rubik’s cube, until finally after half an hour of talking, sweating and some shouting they figured out what my husband had told them was in fact the only way to take things up.

So after they had thrown our stuff around and finally emptied the trucks they started refusing to finish the job. WHAT? We have an agreement! We signed a contract! They said it’s too much work. Excuse me, you knew exactly how much stuff we have and said it’s no problem. Plus most of the stuff had already been brought to the new apartment. They had left the heaviest things in the previous apartment to bring for last. We told them if they don’t finish the job today no money will be paid! It was only 5 p.m and there was still plenty of hours in the day, as agreed they were supposed to work until the late hours.

Truth is they were just too darn lazy. The laziest of them all was the boss or some sort of so called supervisor/manager. His job was apparently to finish all the food and drink we provided for his crew and to sweat like hell after carrying a pillow. His job description also consisted of CONSTANT whining and sighing. And the sandal dragging, of course.

So when they got back to the old apartment, they QUIT. Just like that. In the middle of the move. Without getting paid. They QUIT. WTH? How can someone’s laziness be so profound they even forget about money? So they did all those 8h work for free? I wanted to kill them, how can this be possible?

My husband started calling around for another company and finally someone agreed. They came that evening with the promise of finishing off that night, despite it being late already. This all-Pakistani crew seemed more professional in their packing techniques, plastic and padding was actually used. I was hopeful.

Oh and a small setback at this point, my husband’s car broke down.

So when the next truck was all packed up and my husband had managed to get another car they arrived at DQ at the parking lot. And guess what?

They REFUSED to work. So our stuff (including all beds, baby stuff and food!) were in the truck. They were holding our stuff hostage! They asked for more money. My husband initially refused but when it became evident the things were going to be held ransom, he agreed to pay a small amount more because we were getting desperate at this point. No luck. The asses locked up the truck and left. Just like that.

Grrreat! Now what??

Well we all ended up sleeping on a small mattress on the floor, exhausted, in the same dirty clothes with no idea where the baby stuff was. Not the best of nights. Our cats were howling like crazy and jumping all over the place the whole night. The kidnappers were supposed to arrive 8 am the next morning because the truck was parked in the blazing sun and it contained food items. it can get close to 40c at around 10. Surprisingly there was no sign of the men, when my husband called they said “Oh we’re still sleeping, maybe around 11.” MAYBE? 11? I was already sizzling.

The hauler-pirates arrived around noon. Same scenario as with the previous crew happens: After carrying a few boxes and things they start moaning and groaning. “Too much work. Too much heavy. Too much hot“. Well why didn’t you show up in the morning you morons, of course it’s hot in the midday sun!

The boss actually told us he’s going to just drop off the things on the street and leave. No motivation, no respect. Unbelievable.

I thought I had seen it all with the previous crew but these guys were in a whole other league. Reckless is an understatement. I had to watch them every second. Possibly the height of stupidity was when they started to fill the corridor outside the apartment with our things. It looked like the gypsies were moving in. So instead of carrying the said item five more meters into the house, they blocked the corridors and left the things in the blaring sun. Some things were conveniently placed inside the neighbors foyers. Nice first impressions huh?

When we complained to the manager he said it’s better and faster this way. Really? Isn’t that double the work actually? I knew why they were doing it, they wanted to do a half-assed move. Well I was having nothing of it.

I was so annoyed, enraged and embarrassed at this point that I started to carry the things into the house myself, which I normally would without hesitation but I happen to be pregnant so it’s not exactly advisable. My husband had to stay at the truck to make sure they didn’t run away and/or destroy our things.

What really was the last straw for me was whenever one of these useless movers came around they would refuse point blank to listen to me. The men would walk past me as if I were a piece of furniture. You don’t take orders from a woman eh?! I could strangle you from your balls right now because I’m so angry so you better listen to me jerks!

One of them was a total CREEP he would stare at me with no shame even in front of my husband. No use telling him off, the staring would continue. The same guy destroyed the house by dragging our outdoor pool, which was full of mud and dust, up to the rooftop. He went through the house and staircase leaving a trail of mud all over because he was holding it the wrong way. He got a good shouting for that one but it didn’t brighten up his attitude one bit.

I asked one of them to carry a box containing food (left in the +35c sunshine in the corridor) inside to the kitchen before it gets ruined. The guy just looked at me and said with a poker face I don’t carry boxes.

WHAT? Did you just say you don’t carry boxes? Here’s a newsflash for you: You’re a MOVER. You know, the guy that carries boxes for his living? If you don’t carry boxes, what DO you do, stare at women? And then, he just ran away and I didn’t see him for a good two hours.

Many of the men just ignored me when I asked them to do something. The worst was when they just turned around and left me standing there like an idiot, and an idiot I was for even trying to get some sense into these men. They were lucky I didn’t have a rifle.

I saw another moving-hero carry a box labelled Fragile UPSIDE DOWN and then drop it on the floor. I opened it and found a broken expensive glass item inside. Showed it to him and said “you can’t carry stuff like this look what you’ve done, it’s broken.” His reply? “Mafi malom” (I don’t understand) then he laughed and left. He was lucky I did not have a bazooka on me.

The creepy mover peed in all of our bathrooms, on the floors and the rims, so disgusting. Probably on purpose. I was going bananas. Then I went up to the rooftop to check if he’d done what I asked. The a-hole had actually left everything half-way in the staircase, entirely blocking the way up. He obviously thought I wouldn’t go up and check. You’re in no luck CREEP-O, get back here right now to finish! “Mafi malom.” again. He tried to escape but I blocked him from going out of the house and forced him to carry the things in their places. He was not happy. I was furious.

So after thousands of similar scenarios that day all of the things were finally in the house. Most of the stuff was carried inside from the hallway by us. Next the moving geniuses needed to re-assemble the wardrobes and beds. They tried to run away but we took revenge and kept the supervisor hostage upstairs. The rest of the crew vanished into thin air. My husband was left to assemble everything with the supervisor who was completely clueless. That took a good three hours.

When they were leaving the manager of the company came to our house because we had complained. We showed him all the things they destroyed like one chest drawer ruined because of rough handling, the broken glasses and scratched items and guess what he has to say? More money. Oh yes, more money, for this SUPER DUPER professional, swift and personal service. More money.

NO WAY. We won’t pay you another halalah for this crap service. In fact, you should pay US for what your crew destroyed because of lack of respect, unprofessional attitude and by handling everything the wrong way! And apologize for your staff’s totally frivolous working ethics!

In the end all was OK, since we only ended up paying a very small amount for the “half-assed-move”. Things are just things and at least we are finally here. Forget these slimeballs and unprofessionalism that is flourishing in this country. I’m happy we’re in our new home now.

P.S. Two days after this chaos we managed to pull off my daughter’s 1 year birthday party ;)
P.P.S After we had emptied all the boxes we realized that all the expensive kitchen appliances had gone missing, altogether worth over 3000sar.

P.P.P.S I realized a few months after the move when things settled that the movers had also stolen some cutlery and vases.

P.P.P.P.S NEVER hire a moving company in Saudi Arabia. Ever.



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  • ربة منزلApril 12, 2012 - 1:29 am

    Oh my goodness! I have experienced moving a few times but never had to go through such a bad situation. When I was young, my father hired a moving company that packed and moved our furniture, books and clothes in a day. and we are a big family of 7 children and 2 adults.

    I guess those moving guys you hired are the kind that study their customers well and if they sense the slightest opportunity, they use it to make more money.

    Happy birthday and best wishes to your daughter and your home, sweet home.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 12, 2012 - 9:25 am

      I’m sure they studied us and because we were initially so nice and friendly to them they took advantage..

      Thanks, we’re finally beginning to settle in here :)ReplyCancel

  • SoileApril 12, 2012 - 6:56 am

    Unbelievable! I can’t believe how bloody unprofessional they were, in any other country they would be fired.

    Onnea uuteen kotiin :-)ReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 12, 2012 - 9:38 am

      Soile-kiitos! I doubt they would ever fire their workers here, seems like everything is ok and allowed. We told the manager also about the urine around the toilets and the mud trail and how one of them was disrespectful toward me, staring and would not listen. He didn’t say anything.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousApril 12, 2012 - 5:15 am

    I am not trying to be disrespectful but I think that you are very disrespectful in the way in which you refer to people. Slimeballs, slugs, maids, Afghani men, Pakistani men. Perhaps this is why you have so many problems in your dealings with people. Treat people as you wish to be treated as an equal, no one is less than any one else. You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar…I’m just saying.

    • LaylahApril 12, 2012 - 9:27 am

      If you don’t have sense of humor whatsoever I suggest you don’t read this blog.
      You are barking at the wrong tree Sahar.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 12, 2012 - 9:32 am

      Umm Gamar-thank you! Yes they were indeed disrespectful despite us treating them well and like the professionals we had mistaken them for. Their behavior was unbelievable and totally unacceptable.ReplyCancel

    • Umm GamarApril 12, 2012 - 8:09 am

      Really Sahar?u hv to be kidding.if i was Laylah i would give those incompetent fools much worst names.they are disgraceful n disrespectful.on top of all the chaos,she’s pregnant also(mashallah Congratulations Laylah). Uggh i despise incompetance.ReplyCancel

    • Om Lujain©April 16, 2012 - 5:56 pm

      I know Laylah PERSONALLY.. and can tell you that she is very respectful to all people equally. (I have personally seen her deal with people of different nationalities with the utmost respect).ReplyCancel

    • SFAugust 11, 2012 - 9:33 am

      hey, This is my Story, I recently shifted my house to an area besides DQ.Those pictures with the stuff lying throughout the way, this is exactly what happened with me, I would never hire those paki / punjabi assholes again. not to mention that supervisor type guy was staring at my wife too.ReplyCancel

  • miolannApril 12, 2012 - 5:47 am

    My impression was that the moving company gave a professional image in the beginning and they were treated respectfully until they showed their unprofessional attitude. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    It must be really frustrating to get anything done if the work ethics are generally like that.

    Hope everything starts to be in its place already :)ReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 12, 2012 - 9:34 am

      Miolann-yes they seemed really professional and when the boss came to evaluate our things everything seemed fine and I overlooked so many things along the way. But when people start trashing our belongings and treating us like idiots then I have an issue.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 12, 2012 - 9:35 am

      and yes the work ethic is like this in most places.ReplyCancel

  • NoorApril 12, 2012 - 9:28 am

    Wow I am sorry you all have to go through all of this. We hired companies in the states bc they were professional and we knew they would be but here we have just always packed and moved ourselves with some help with the large things from someone my dh hires so we have not had any problems alhumudllah. Its a lot of work but after reading this it seems like LESS work actually ya Allah.

    This sounds like such a nightmare ugh I hate moving.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 14, 2012 - 3:43 pm

      Noor-you've got a really good point there! It's what I told my husband all along, we should just do everything ourselves! Unfortunately Saudis tend to have the mindset that you need to hire help for everything and he wouldn't listen :pReplyCancel

    • Om Lujain©April 16, 2012 - 5:53 pm

      This is how we do it. I pack everything myself (don’t trust the hubby).. move the things in their boxes.. and furniture and stuff by some guys my husbands friend knows. I unpack everything myself.. and believe me.. it’s much much easier. lol.. even though I was 9 months pregnant with a 3 year old and a 1 1/2 year old… my official move was 1 week after my last baby was born… and yes.. I still have loads of stuff at my father-in-laws.. lol.. gotta finish that up soon enshallah :)

      I have only done one move since I have been married, but with my mom we movies a LOT.. and I learned from her.. if you want anything done right.. just do it yourself.. lolReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 16, 2012 - 9:11 pm

      Om Lujain-how did you convince your husband this was the best thing to do? I tried telling him this all along but he wouldn’t listen. Maybe he’s just lazy :p or used to hiring ppl for everything! I’m the opposite!ReplyCancel

  • Abdullah from ArabiaApril 12, 2012 - 8:51 am

    This could be a scenario for Tash ma Tash.

    Talking about work and ethics, I wonder to what extent the ideas of Calvin about the predestination, hard work, being elected, influence the ethics through out the Protestant nations today. On other words, how many people who wake up and leave the house and work hard not only to be paid salary but also to fit the description of Calvin about the person who is elected. And I wonder whether these ideas taught to children by parents or in school? I think accordin to my understanding of the ideas of Calvin the Saudi populations will go to hell because they are wasters and lazy, 99% of them. please correct me if my understanding is wrong. ThanksReplyCancel

    • AnonymousApril 13, 2012 - 2:49 am

      Hi Abdullah, This is Annie from the US. That is an interesting thought. I’ve never heard anyone speak of learning this Calvanistic philosophy directly ie I’ve never heard anyone adhere directly to the Calvanist idea, but the idea/theology probably does affect western culture. I recently read a memoir by a Scotsman who mentioned that in Scotland “Work is love,”. Perhaps this is a descendent cultural characteristic of the original Calvinist ideology.

      Blue Abaya, I’m so sorry your move was so very miserable; however I’m very glad you didn’t shoot any of the workmen as I really enjoy your blog and you probably wouldn’t be allowed internet access in prison. I’m also glad you managed to not pay much.


    • AnonymousApril 14, 2012 - 3:02 pm

      Actually, that kind of work ethics is an intrinsic part of many western cultures that has a protestans majority (work will, basically, keep you away from sinning). It's is definitely different in many other western/european cuntries that are not protestant. It is really sad though that this is happening in Muslim countries when this is completely contrary to Islamic teachings. That just showsReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 14, 2012 - 10:02 pm

      Abdullah-None of the persons involved in the incident were Saudi remember :) But that said I wouldn't call the work ethics of some Saudis any better than these!ReplyCancel

    • AnonymousApril 15, 2012 - 1:21 pm

      Completely agree. The Calvin ideas found in Protestan Christianism have a lot to do with the work ethics of people. You can see this reflected in south Europe, with Catholic majority, how things are going. (no offense to anybody, really, I just happen to live in South Europe).
      People around here are kinda lazy (I do include myself in this group, sometimes, hehe).
      But look at theReplyCancel

  • Karen KingApril 12, 2012 - 1:23 pm

    A**holes. (I know I’m not suppose to use foul language, but this is the only thing I can say about this even.t)ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousApril 12, 2012 - 11:07 am

    How aweful! Ugh, I hate moving! Happy birthday to your sweet daughter!!! Francesca from Ottawa, CanadaReplyCancel

  • LouiseApril 12, 2012 - 4:47 pm

    Funny blog. I liked the part about the guy sweating while carrying a pillow.

    Maybe it’s time Saudi’s stop hiring labor for nothing and doing their own work. Let’s see how well (or not) they do it.

    Good luck with your new home.ReplyCancel

    • HudaApril 14, 2012 - 4:39 am

      This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyCancel

  • JeanApril 13, 2012 - 12:44 am

    I’m not sure it’s useful to be trumping up the Protestant work ethic, etc. Every culture has its share of lazy folks, fraudsters, etc.

    More to the point: What has been the moving experience of upper class to middle class Saudis when they had to relocate their household?ReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 14, 2012 - 3:48 pm

      Jean-I'm guessing those that can afford to pay tens of thousands of riyals just to move their stuff around have better experiences.ReplyCancel

    • flawlessvelvetApril 17, 2012 - 11:49 pm

      Don’t know about upper class, but being a middle class Saudi I can tell you that in my experience we will try to move most things ourselves with the help of our extended family. We do have to hire peoplesometimes though and you just have to grin and bear it when it comes to their unprofessionalism (or yell your guts out at them lol).ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousApril 12, 2012 - 10:06 pm

    Abdullah from Arabia,

    We, Protestants, learn our pride from hard work ethic, from the Puritans (Christians) who escaped religious persecution in Europe and were some of the first people to move to the USA (New World) in the 1600’s. The Puritans learned it from the theology of Calvin/Martin Luther. It is the basic culture in the USA. It is taught from when you are growing up at home, church and in school. At work the same attitude is expected, too. Working hard for success and being proud of your hard work is engrained in US culture. SSBReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 14, 2012 - 3:47 pm

      Not only is it ingrained in the US culture but many other western and Asian cultures too. In Finland we take pride for being such a hardworking small nation, and just look what we have accomplished worldwide, and we are only 5 million people. Then we have countries like Pakistan and India where billions live but work ethics of most are as they are and well what is the result?

      I don&#ReplyCancel

    • RaazApril 15, 2012 - 4:20 pm


      Let me first tell you that i LOVE reading your blog! It's filled with great information! My question is, if the service over there bugs you so much why do you choose to stay in saudi arabia? Why not move to a western country that would meet your needs better?

      Also, I just want to state alot of South Asians ARE hard workers. For god sake, in the west (US) alot ofReplyCancel

    • AnonymousNovember 28, 2012 - 4:10 am

      Yes, I want to reiterate that many South Asians are hard workers. They have the highest income level of any ethnic group in the USA because they work really really hard – many of them including my husband’s family literally came to the USA with ten dollars in their pocket and slept friend’s couches to put themselves through school and work their way up at work. Straight A’s, perfect SAT scores, and Ivy league educations are the norm in that group. No one in my husband’s family would even dream of missing a day of work even if they’re ill (they are all doctors, lawyers, engineers, or high powered executives). They make me look downright lazy in comparison.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousApril 12, 2012 - 10:10 pm

    Unbelievable moving experience. Maybe someone needs to start a website for Saudi people to post their negative and positive experiences with different Saudi company types so people can review the customer’s experience. Enough bad reviews can usually change how a company functions or they will go out of business. And, since a foreigner can’t own a business in Saudia, the Saudi who owns that company should be called out in shame for the service his moving company is hiring. SSBReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 14, 2012 - 3:41 pm

      SSB yes I wonder what the owner of the company would have to say to that! It might be just a person who is the owner on paper but in reality the companies are run by other nationalities.ReplyCancel

      • mahaOctober 26, 2016 - 11:49 am

        I think you should post then name of these two companies so all other people wouldn’t go for them. I myself am in the process of hiring a company but asked my friends and they recommended one that I am going forReplyCancel

        • Arabian LauraOctober 26, 2016 - 7:39 pm

          I just asked my husband if he remembers, he couldn’t remember either one from the top of his head. Checked our phone we have a company called arabco listed as movers. Can’t say which one it was, although both were horrid. I would hope that they would not be operating anymore if this is how they treat all their clients.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousApril 13, 2012 - 2:40 am

    I was just stating an opinion Laylah, no need for attacks. I will not visit your blog again, I do not nor did I wish to offend, it is not nor was it ever my intention. This is not about a “class” of people. I truly believe that this is what divides us as Muslims. Astaagfir’Allah. I realize that this is not about religion, it is about a particular task as it were BUT it is about humanity, ultimately and that is my opinion as well. I want to “save” the world, forgive me.
    So I will leave you and forgive me, if you choose not to publish this, it is your right but I would not be your sister in Islam if I did not wish for you what I wish for myself. I would just remind you of our dear Prophets last Sermon and his general message to follow Quran and his Sunnah and that no man being any less than any other man.
    Salaams dear sister.

    • HudaApril 14, 2012 - 5:00 am

      Islamically there is nothing wrong with publicly exposing those who expose themselves. There are 6 instances when this is permissible: one is when you need to complain to a judge or people of authority about oppressors & transgressors and another to warn other Muslims and advise them against their evil. So really, it would have been even better if the sister named the company she used, that way no one else would bother using them.

      Besides, this is business ok, they paid these people for a service and they didn’t get their money or times worth! In Islam is this okay? It isn’t incumbent on the person who has suffered at the hands of oppressors to be silent. And this is a form of oppression… to take peoples’ money and to give them false promises and then to turn around an do that.

      Also urinating all over the place? Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “Protect yourselves from urine, for most of the torment of the grave is because of it”

      Not everything is about protecting people and Islam isn’t about keeping quiet ALL THE TIME when someone hurts you. Especially when they offer a “service” to the public or they have a duty of care/responsibility towards other Muslims!ReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 14, 2012 - 3:55 pm

      Sahar-you really don't get me at all. Look you had an issue with me calling someone a maid. That's like having a problem with calling someone a doctor or a gardener. WHat is your problem here really?

      Also, you complained about me saying Pakistani and Afghani? So what? What if they were American and Finns? I would have mentioned that as well. Just to describe the situation. AndReplyCancel

    • AnonymousApril 14, 2012 - 3:05 pm

      Hear hear!ReplyCancel

    • AnonymousApril 14, 2012 - 3:06 pm

      @ Huda, you are completely rightReplyCancel

  • Proud MuslimahApril 13, 2012 - 1:16 pm

    Just can’t even believe this. You’d think for a country with so much money to spend on lavish things, they could afford to actually have good customer servie. STOLE your painting!? What!? Are you kidding me? Is that not illegal there? Is there no one who you can even complain to who will follow up with these kinds of invasions of your property?

    Just insane. This seriously makes me realize that I have to start preparing myself for this kind of crap when I move out of the USA too. I’ve been spoiled with the luxury of knowing that my things will still be there if I have a company help me move. I’ve apparently also been spoiled by the postmen who don’t steal the contents of my mail. Just can’t believe that Saudi Arabia doesn’t crack down on this stuff! That’s so wrong.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 14, 2012 - 9:42 pm

      Proud Muslimah-You'd think this richest country in the world would have a few pennies to spend on many things, such as public transport,public parks, decent roads and so forth.Good customer service?? Only for the rich and royals I guess?

      I have no idea what happened to the painting. I still kinda miss it. Either they downright stole it, or it got so destroyed they got rid of itReplyCancel

  • Faisal HajiApril 13, 2012 - 10:26 am

    For all who are ranting about how this post might be disrespectful, take your heads out of the ground (I had another word in mind, but I shall digress)! There is definitely no discrimination of classes, ethnic, and race in islam, and that all honest jobs are respected. BUT the Prophet also mentioned that whatever job one might be executing, he/she must complete it professionally! And I agree with Laylah on her amazing post, there was no disrespect in what she wrote. The workers are the ones who were disrespectful because they left her personal property in the hallways, in the sun, and tossed it around like a football. Such unprofessionalism should be brought to the general’s awareness. What was missing in the post was the name of the company!

    Oh and another thing, the company should’ve respected the contract between both parties, its highly against Allah’s laws to void a contract without all the members’ consent.

    Please be aware of what you quote when it comes to Shria and Sunna, rather than a quick judgment

    Here are some Hadiths for you:

    Narrated Hadrat Hakim bin Hizam (may Allah be pleased with him): Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) said; “The seller and the buyer have the right to keep or return the goods so long as they have not parted or till they part; and if both the parties spoke the truth and described the defects and qualities (of the goods), then they would be blessed in their transaction and if they told lies or hid something, then the blessings of their transaction would be lost.” (Bukhari)

    The Prophet also said: “A truthful and trustworthy merchant is associated with the prophets.“ Al-Tirmidhi

    There is much more in the Quran and hadith too, but I think my point came across.

    Thanks for another lovely post, Laylah, and may Allah bless your little daughter and give her good health and longevity.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 14, 2012 - 9:38 pm

      Faisal-Thanks for your comment! I like how you described it, throwing stuff around like a football! That's just how it was :)ReplyCancel

  • American BeduApril 14, 2012 - 12:21 am

    I’m sorry to hear about your experience, Laylah. We had two moves while in Riyadh and I’m thankful to say that the experience was good. My Saudi husband made all the arrangements.

    However when moving from the Kingdom, a word of advise… if English is not the native language of the movers, be sure and have helpers who watch what goes in to each box so it can be labeled in regards to contents and destination of which room. Movers may speak some English but many do not write in English.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 14, 2012 - 9:44 pm

      American Bedu-glad you had better luck with your moves!
      Or the movers may not be able to write at all :)ReplyCancel

  • HudaApril 14, 2012 - 5:03 am

    Mabrook on your pregnancy Laylah! How exciting!

    And sorry about your terrible experience. Absolutely pathetic how they could do those sorts of things and still stay in business.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 14, 2012 - 9:45 pm

      Thanks Huda and I wonder the same thing!ReplyCancel

  • Reem PhilbyApril 14, 2012 - 8:58 am

    OMG that is just terrible Laylah!! Sorry you had to go through all that crap ,, some people really need to shapen up and act professional!!

    On the bright side, congratulations on the pregnancy and happy birthday to your daughter :)ReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 14, 2012 - 9:45 pm

      Reem-thank you!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousApril 15, 2012 - 1:03 pm


    • AnonymousApril 15, 2012 - 1:03 pm

      Forgot to write my name, sorry.

  • MeApril 16, 2012 - 2:01 am

    I love, love, LOVE your blog! As an American who cannot imagine giving up my freedoms I must wonder with all the issues you have encountered (forced Niqab, no driving, horrid “customer service”, raw sewage, random violence by religious police, arrests for speaking with a male or not having a license, etc, etc) I must wonder why you would live in such a country. Saudi has such a horrendous track record on rights for anyone (especially women) and will not even give children back to parents when it is obvious they were kidnapped. Add to that the honor killings (when a women is raped!) and I don’t know how you, coming from such a wonderful open-minded country could stand it. Aren’t you also terrified of raising a daughter in such a country?

    I realize these are Saudi issues and not all are Islamic issues but wouldn’t you are your wonderful husband (not to mention your Saudi-Finnish princess) be happier in a country where you could at least drive to the store and buy your own milk?

    Keep posting! I love your honest views of KSA!


    • MeApril 16, 2012 - 3:10 am

      Faisal Haji,

      I love your comment! I believe in freedom completely. My religion is is very conservative in that we do not drink, smoke, wear revealing clothing and are asked to refrain from any promiscuity at all at the risk of being excommunicated but I choose to do these things.

      Not being able to simply drive my child to school, buy groceries, etc is simply beyond comprehension and this is done by certain Saudis to control women. It is a sad mark on the Islamic religion that this is done. Women have so much to contribute whether they choose a career or they stay at home full time with their children (I do not work outside the home so I can be here for our sons).

      I don’t believe there should be control but rather guidance. Someone cannot be truly pious if their decisions are made for them. I truly hope I have not offended anyone and if so I sincerely apologize. My children have friends who are Muslim and we have many neighbors who are Muslim as well. Most are Pakistani so the language barrier has kept us from talking much.

      Thanks again!


    • Faisal HajiApril 16, 2012 - 2:31 am

      It’s true that some of the things you mentioned in your comment occur in the Kingdom, many are “un-islamic” and demonstrate extreme interpretations of the Holy Book. But there is more to the Saudi Arabia than rape, niqab …. etc. It has a great desert and rich culture. I appreciate that you acknowledged that its not based on islamic laws because islam is actually a very moderate religion and is HIGHLY against extremist.

      Also, freedom is not a universal fact, instead its based on personal preferences. I live in a “free” country (Canada), but I still think that there is more freedom, in some aspects that are important to me, in my country (UAE) than here. I sometimes believe that freedom is way overrated in some aspects in many western countries and it just leads to chaos and disarray. I mean its basic laws of physics, when the control factor is completely lifted, then the system is in chaos (entropy).

      Please keep in mind that my comment is not defending the women right abuse in KSA, but its just something that came to my mind and I had the urge to share it with you.ReplyCancel

    • Faisal HajiApril 16, 2012 - 3:20 am

      I wasn’t offended at all. It was just something on my mind. Besides back women’s rights 100% and true islamic followers should to. In the Prophet’s era, women were soldiers, caregivers, mothers, doctors, and ever businesswomen. There is no excuse that women should be banned from working, driving, or living in that sense. I believe many women are afraid to talk about this in KSA and come out very defensive to make them feel better. Some might argue that Islam restricted some jobs to men and not women, actually what islam mentions was: if a job is labor intensive, them men should offer working there unless a women wants to. Islam respected the femininity and tenderness that is associated with women but didn’t limit their abilities.

      My friend lives in KSA because her husband is Saudi, and it drives me insane. She is a great neurobiologist (PhD) but her husband refuses that she works and limits her contact with the outside world. I always argue about this when secretly speaking to her. If she were my wife, I would show her off to the world and not hide her.

      Let me also say that your comment shows that you are a truely open minded person and not someone who would put one general label on a group of people. :DReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 16, 2012 - 9:24 pm

      Kathryn-well those are some valids points but also like Faisal already commented on some things are simply not true..
      Well every country has its own problems and good sides to it is all I can say. Everything is open, but if I wanted to move elsewhere it would not be to Finland, I always wanted to move abroad..Many issues there not going to get into right now, although on all statistics and polls it seems Finland is the ideal country to live in. Surely it is for many :)
      At least now that we moved to dq many issues are gone, like going to grocery store :pReplyCancel

  • MeApril 16, 2012 - 4:17 am

    Faisal Haji,

    What a lovely compliment! Thank you so much. I honestly try to be open minded with all religions. With most Muslim atrocities (as with most RELIGIOUS atrocities I should say) it comes down to culture vs Islam. I grieve for those lost in the 9/11 attack and think Al Queda and their ilk have a special place in hell reserved just for them but I think that of anyone who does anything so horrid and violent in the name of God, Allah, etc.

    Reminds me of a bumper sticker that says: Dear God, Save me from your followers! So true in so many situations!

    Laylah…Sorry that we have hijacked your comments section!!!


  • Om Lujain©April 16, 2012 - 5:47 pm

    My God.. what madness…. if I did not see all the pictures on Facebook.. I would have NEVER believed the perfect home I walked into for Lamia’s birthday party had endured such madness! lol… You and the Mr are amazing. I probably would have been in jail after murdering one or all of them :)

    I hope you feel better now after letting all that out.. lol.. will come over for a playdate with Lamia soon <3 Miss you hon! And hope you had an AMAZING birthday <3 <3 <3ReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 16, 2012 - 9:19 pm

      Om Lujain-madness indeed! Thanks for your sweet words :)Miss you guys too and btw she loves the toy you got her! It’s the only toy she actually goes to play with herself, genius invention!

      My own bday was shadowed with some harassment at the grocery store, was pushing baby in her stroller but some idiots still insisted on followin me and making some disgusting sounds and gestures. In Carrefour!! HELLO!!! Get a life you loosers!Uff…

      Pls come over soon!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousApril 17, 2012 - 6:56 pm

    Hi, Laylah, I am a European expat leaving in Riyadh. I love to pass by your blog from time to time, just to remind myself that one can take Saudi experience with humor…really, most of the time, I am just fed up with all this laziness and incompetency all around.ReplyCancel

  • flawlessvelvetApril 17, 2012 - 11:37 pm

    Your story reminded me of when we renovated our house last year. My mom is a tough woman who doesn’t take sh** from anyone… She want ballistic on the workers so many times. It’s extremely hard to find professional laborers in KSA, and the good ones cost a FORTUNE.

    P.S. I love the design of the building! Very Arabian.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousApril 17, 2012 - 8:54 pm

    Why you did not just pack yourself everything safely and have these guys move safely packed boxes? Forgetting our Finnish root are we? :)ReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 17, 2012 - 10:39 pm

      hahahaha I packed all the most important and fragile stuff myself. They still managed to break things so..ReplyCancel

  • DanielletriniMay 19, 2012 - 6:11 pm


  • Lalalala....August 5, 2012 - 2:18 am

    mafi malom means forgive me lolReplyCancel

  • AnonymousAugust 7, 2012 - 1:08 pm


    Well, you pay two times, once you buy cheap, and once when you buy good. Maybe the 8000,- “too expensive” was that for a reason. Or then it could have been worse.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousDecember 7, 2012 - 4:36 am

    You should have really called the police on the first movers. The police is very helpful and such people really need to feel fear over their heads to work. I know is it not really a work principle and I should not condone it, but there is no other solution.

    I once wanted to move out some old items from a room and the company that I called seemingly came, but were not let in the DQ. Then I went to the DQ police station to talk with officer in order to allow them to proceed. On calling those movers back on the phone they said to the officer they would only come back but they wanted an extra 50 SAR.

    Thus- here is the good bit: the officer was upset by them and went and brough movers himself from Umm Alhammam with his police car. They followed him with a van, charged half the price while he supervised them :)
    They worked very disciplined and fast as you can imagine and their was no hagling for further money.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahDecember 12, 2012 - 12:56 pm

      You are absolutely right and I don’t know why we didn’t think of that! If ever there is a next time we sure will.ReplyCancel

  • Abdul BasitMarch 16, 2013 - 12:48 pm

    sister laylah, i went through many pages from your blog, you were sooooo funny in this ‘house shifting’ post, i laughed a lot throughout reading this article.ReplyCancel

  • Abdul BasitMarch 16, 2013 - 1:02 pm

    oops looks like i posted multiple posts!!!!!!!!!! sorry for this if it happened.ReplyCancel

  • STApril 27, 2013 - 8:53 am

    Complete and utter dismay! **NOT**, lol … The language used in this post was very funny, but I genuinely felt sorry for you and your family Sr. Layla (trust me i can relate), been there done that many times. Being a brit and moving to riyadh lock and barrel from the UK a few months ago I was in a similar position, luckily I knew the language of the workers! and believe me if u don’t get the right ‘variety’ you better get prepared to crack that whip.

    Unfortunately, the working classes doing such work here in saudi are almost always from india or the sub continent. I’ve found some of the things you mentioned very common amongst the workers here and your right its usually down to a very strange level of laziness, personally i feel its the SAUDI complaicency displacement syndrome (SCDS) effect, you know monkey see, monkey do…

    Anyway, the secret is to find a gang of these guys that actually take some pride in their work, which is a task as hard as moving house and home in itself, after many bad experiences, from which I hope i learnt alot,I think i’ve now got a collection of relatively ‘reliable’ people whom I can call upon to carry out plumbing/electrical and leg work … If the need ever arises ‘again’ i’ll be happy to pass along any useful details! Reply back to this post and i’ll email my contact details.

    Adam GReplyCancel

  • Tina maryamJune 3, 2013 - 7:43 am

    Salaam waluakum sister,

    you blogs are hilarious ma sha Allah. I am wondering how come you and your family prefers to live in diplomatic quarters when you are able to live with the saudi citizens? :)

    i hope u r loving ur new home in sha Allah!ReplyCancel

  • LaylaJune 3, 2013 - 11:32 am

    Wa aleikum salaam! Thanks for the comment, well to answer your question, actually the diplmatic quarter is the only place in RIyadh where all nationalities can live as neighbors without boundaries. I really like the concept of that. When we lived in a private villa we had Saudi neighbors but all behind high walls and we hardly ever saw anyone..And on the compounds they don’t even allow Saudis to visit, let alone live there, so, it’s like a normal neighborhood here, like in any other country :)ReplyCancel

  • NmbOctober 22, 2013 - 4:25 pm

    Hi, I have used four winds movers many times and they were always very good. I suggest u try them next time InshallahReplyCancel

  • Best Of Blue Abaya 2012 | Blue AbayaApril 26, 2014 - 1:42 pm

    […] 2012 our dreams came true and we finally found an apartment inside the Diplomatic Quarters. Moving in was nothing short of a nightmare! Read the hilariously horrible ordeal here: http://blueabaya.com/2012/04/move-from-hell.html […]ReplyCancel

  • TanweerSeptember 3, 2014 - 11:48 am

    I used Namma Cargo when I shifted my house couple of years ago. They are costly but have very professional staff. I didn’t go through all the pain you went through. By the end of they day we were in our new home without any efforts from our side…sometimes it is good to spend extra bucks for piece of mindReplyCancel

  • DeeNovember 5, 2014 - 1:34 pm

    I can relate. Me and my friends rented a moving company 10 months ago. We have agreed that we will only pay 800SR since our new flat is 6 blocks away. a band of 4 Pakistani and Bangladeshi men carried all the stuff plus the driver who acted like a supervisor watching over his men.

    They were all up to speed not until we have gone to our new flat. Everybody became so slow (maybe because our new flat is located on the 3rd floor) it took them 3 hrs to carry all the stuff up to our flat and re-assemble our wardrobe. while doing these men went on complaining and whining. then after, they have demanded an extra 500SR. we argued and ended up bargaining to 300SR.

    That is quite disappointing and a total waste of money. If we were not in a hurry of moving to our new place, we could’ve save at least.

    I don’t want to generalize all south asians but most of those who are working in this labor category job are the worst.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaNovember 5, 2014 - 9:13 pm

      Sounds very familiar..it seems this is their tactic they use to lure the customer with a low quote, then they always start complaining, asking more money and refusing to work when they get to the new place!ReplyCancel

  • 10 Activities For Women in RiyadhDecember 19, 2014 - 3:23 am

    […] meant to post this on earlier but what stopped me was the Move From Hell which we experienced this week! Believe it or not we were sleeping on the floor in the new house, […]ReplyCancel

  • 10 Activities For Women in RiyadhDecember 19, 2014 - 3:24 am

    […] I meant to post this on earlier but what stopped me was the Move From Hell which we experienced this week! Believe it or not we were sleeping on the floor in the new house, while our beds and foods were being held hostage overnight in the moving truck by the greedy and totally unprofessional moving firm men. If you want to hear all about this moving experience with not one but two incompetent unprofessional and rude moving companies then go to this post: http://blueabaya.com/2012/04/move-from-hell.html […]ReplyCancel

  • Salhah HamadJanuary 20, 2015 - 8:07 pm

    High expectations, high disappointments, we moved twice and passed through something like that, in the first time we learned and we applied in the second. The idea is that they move the heavy items like furniture. I believe that the work equals the low price they take. and this justifies the left out movers who escaped completing the job. They are mostly unskilled labours not professional ones. If I was in your case, I would pay 8000 to move every item right in its new place to save my time and effort, :). Good luck :)ReplyCancel

    • LaylaJanuary 25, 2015 - 3:57 pm

      Maybe next time inshallah..but just the thought of having to go through all that again makes me not want ot move ever again :)ReplyCancel

  • John SonJanuary 22, 2016 - 3:25 pm

    Thank you for share this blog . It is important blog and work is great,then to move it.ReplyCancel

  • Aisha MohamedFebruary 25, 2016 - 12:29 am

    I have never laughed so hard after a long day of work. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Asma BaigMarch 10, 2016 - 6:43 am

    I have moved quiet a few times in the recent years& have been tremendously disappointed each time. No matter how professional their website may seem, they are anything but professional. Each time I paid a little more thinking, the more you pay the better service you may receive but turns out I was wrong. Yes the men do not like taking orders from women and they look through you. Every time we move I go through the emotions- anger, frustration and the need to strangle someone.ReplyCancel

  • Saima RizwanMarch 10, 2016 - 10:23 am

    Thank you for the post.we are thinking about moving in a few months and hiring movers.i will remember to pack everything myself :)ReplyCancel

  • WafaNovember 25, 2016 - 2:52 am

    Omg l laugh so hard, you are so funny ?
    Sorry for what happened to you.
    I’m wondering if you are still here in Saudi ArabiaReplyCancel

  • MOHAMMED AMIR JAMALJanuary 4, 2018 - 4:16 pm

    I feel sorry that you had to go through this but it was a hilarious read ??.ReplyCancel

  • Dr. Amira Hayat (Aga Khan Hospital Karachi, Pakistan)May 21, 2018 - 11:13 pm

    Around the world, Packers and Movers do good job except in Saudi Arabia!
    There are two types of workers which movers utilize
    1. Labourers trained in moving furniture
    2. Labourers trained in moving building material.
    Unluckily you came across the second category.

    I had moved my luggage and furniture across multiple stations in Pakistan and I initially was faced same problem that workers destroyed every thing. However, in next turn, I came across a professional mover who very nicely packed every thing (with paper wraps, bubble traps, packing material et) and when I opened my things, not a single glass or cup was broken.ReplyCancel

  • Raheema from franceOctober 3, 2018 - 7:00 am

    Subhanallah such a terrible service im sorry you had to go through that! We moved twice here in saudi and had no issue. I was quite impressed actually at how quick and efficient they were. it was a random moving company my husband found. I did pack everything myself first but as well we dont own much here so it didn’t take long plus i cant imagine having strangers going through my stuff.
    And as well me and the kids stayed well away from the movers and never saw them really.
    Nice post!ReplyCancel

I meant to post this on earlier but what stopped me was the Move From Hell which we experienced this week! Believe it or not we were sleeping on the floor in the new house, while our beds and foods were being held hostage overnight in the moving truck by the greedy and totally unprofessional moving firm men. If you want to hear all about this moving experience with not one but two incompetent unprofessional and rude moving companies then go to this post: Move from…

Now after all that stress, a picture of colorful lollipops to change the mood.. :)

lollipops in riyadh


And now to the positive things! Sorry men of Riyadh but you’re out of luck this April! Looks like there’s TONS of stuff to do this month but mostly it’s for the ladies in Riyadh. This is the month of exhibitions so be sure to check out at least one of these if you haven’t been to a female only expo in Riyadh yet! Not to be missed!

I cannot stress how much fun it is to go these exhibitions and it’s a great chance for the female expatriates in Riyadh to get to know some Saudi women too. I often hear women complaining it’s impossible to meet and talk to Saudi women here. This is your best chance to see them without any barriers such as the veil and abaya and out of the public eye. You will find Saudi women very friendly, warm, welcoming and curious toward expats at these events.

Here are the Ten Activities  going on in Riyadh this April:


2. Wedding Fair at Nayyara Banquet Hall 22nd-25th April: http://www.nayyara.com/

3. Cosmo Beauty Fair 2012 Four Seasons Hotel 21st – 23rd Apr

4. Go Karting at Reem International Circuit 5pm – 12 am. Every Thursday and Friday.

5. Join Riyadh Quilt Guild more info here: http://riyadhquiltguild.blogspot.com/

6. For women in Saudi participate and learn at the Glowork Workshops:
Job search for women in Saudi: http://www.glowork.net/

7. GCON 1st Girls Gaming Convention! April 11th-12th, PSU

8. Write a restaurant review and win an iPad: http://www.riyadheats.com

9. Riyadh Women’s Exhibition 16th to 23rd April: http://rywomexpo.alriyadh.gov.sa/en/

10. Art Expo by Abdulnasser Gharem 10th-12th April, French Embassy, DQ more info: mdfriyadh@yahoo.com


Have fun ladies!



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  • BoxieApril 6, 2012 - 3:46 am

    0_0 all girls gaming con! That is a dream come true.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousApril 6, 2012 - 1:32 pm

    Assalaamu Alikum!

    I’ve recently moved to Riyadh and I’m looking for a women’s swimming centre- if such a thing exists! Or a leisure centre providing swimming sessions for women.

    Do you have any idea?


    • LaylahApril 10, 2012 - 8:57 pm

      There’s also indoor swimming pools in Al Multaka center and Yibreen spa has an outdoor pool both have lessons as well!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousApril 9, 2012 - 6:08 am

    I am new in Riyadh and looking for ladies and kids who are interested in learning Indian classical dance(kathak) and bollywood dance as I am an expert from the same field,also wanted to know that can non Saudi girls get job in banks or not, I am a graduate and looking for a reputed job in bank.I will be glad if you kindly guide me for the same,

  • Proud MuslimahApril 10, 2012 - 2:51 am

    A gaming convention!? That’s freaking awesome.ReplyCancel

  • SdfApril 14, 2012 - 10:42 am

    Hi, Riyadh Women's Exhibition 16th to 23rd April, is this only for Saudi Ladies, or anyone can come?ReplyCancel

    • LaylahApril 14, 2012 - 2:13 pm

      sdf-all expos are open to everyone!ReplyCancel

  • Afsal_ AlifApril 16, 2012 - 7:08 pm

    Aaahh….I really luv’d that Kingdom Tower, nite view Pic. So,keeping the cursor over it, I right clicked !! U are so cunning that u won’t even allow ur blog viewers to copy or save the images……!! :-)) ny how ,Nice blog……!!
    liked it !!ReplyCancel

  • Princess AfiaApril 11, 2014 - 10:22 pm

    Add a comment…ReplyCancel

  • annonymousApril 18, 2014 - 2:28 pm

    hey am searching for a job in this month or later i speak fluent english and arabic i can help in translating or representing any booth.
    so any job to applay?ReplyCancel

  • Jemma templemanApril 20, 2014 - 12:06 pm

    Morning. Really need some help to find something to do with my Children this week. Please help me xReplyCancel

    • LaylaApril 22, 2014 - 5:19 pm

      Hi Jemma!
      What age are your kids? How about visiting the Al Aghar Equestrian club in diplomatic Quarter? it’s open to everyone, family days Friday, after 5 pm. you can pay for horse rides there when you go.ReplyCancel

  • ReemJanuary 27, 2015 - 8:38 pm


    I’m from Abu Dhabi and I’d really love to pay a visit to anything happening that would allow me to interact with more saudi females. I always see them in the UAE but rarely get a chance to socialize the way I want to even though I do have many saudi friends but I don’t think it’s the same.

    Anyhow, I’m very interested and I’d love to hear back from you for some advice.ReplyCancel

  • ManonJune 5, 2015 - 5:37 pm

    There are pretty many activities for women … I am impressed! Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

I’ve noticed myself pretty annoyed lately. Lots of stuff going on last week. Some things in Saudi just tip off my irritation. I’m going to have to rant to let some steam out. If you’re easily offended and don’t have a sense of humor, stop reading now PLEASE.

What really gets to me is the constant DUST. Seems like it’s been here since January. The last sandstorm started Thursday and only cleared up a week later. Saturday came along, the weather was perfect. We headed out to the desert for a nice outing and picnic with friends who haven’t been out in the desert for many years, so I convinced them it was a fantastic idea to go. So after five hours of preparations and driving all the way to Rawdhat Kuraim. BOOM. Sandstorm hits. Fantastic.

This wasn’t the type of somehow barely tolerable-kind of sandstorm. Nope. It had to be the brain-blasting, bloodstream-invading, eye-quenching, hair-raising type of a hell of a sandstorm.

go away sandstorm

After two days of the blasting sand I got my usual sandstorm headache aka BRAIN BLUR and was not able to think, breathe, sleep let alone write anything intelligent.

If you want to have your house clear of this nasty ass stuff, you’d need to clean and wipe all over like every hourly. The dust is so fine it’s more like flour, or powdered sugar.  It’s so sneaky it seeps through the apartment building’s main door, then sneaks in through the hallways, to our front door, then makes its way through the living room door to reach the kitchen door and finally arrives at the cupboard door only to creep inside the freakin sealed (or so I thought) food boxes. Can you believe the nerve of this stuff??

What else.
No one gives a damn about where they live. The environment outside of the villa walls or apartment buildings simply doesn’t seem to matter. Seriously sometimes I think people here just live in pink bubbles floating around, oblivious to the world around them.

Who cares if the street outside your house is full of trash or the empty lot next to your villa has been turned into a dump yard?? Who cares if there’s a river of stinky sewage flowing through your neighborhood from a leaking septic tank and it’s causing multiple health and environmental risks to inhabitants? Who cares if jus outside your window there’s a pile of crap and dangerous looking stuff left there by the construction site next door? Who cares if I park my car sideways and take up three reserved spaces? Who cares if the roads are not lit properly causing accidents and who gives a damn if they build a power plant next to your neighborhood?

How about service.
You know like customer service?
Why is it impossible to find good customer service here? You would think with all this money and having hundreds of employees in one store that there would be at LEAST one person who knows something. But no. That’s just too much to ask for. And how about when you want to return something and they give you just a plastic card instead of money back? And then you go all the way to the other shop it works in only to realize they FORGOT to charge it. That is like someone handing you an empty cardboard box when you thought you were in fact purchasing a coffee machine. And then when you go back to show them their mistake you are not allowed to even return the EMPTY BOX.

So you go back to the original store (which btw is H&M in this case) with your empty card and the guy has to do the whole thing over again. Then another customer service killer expert comes in and suddenly tells you in a very rude manner that the items you’ve just successfully returned, cannot suddenly be accepted anymore. Because of policy he says.

The first customer service hero did not know. So now you end up being forced to take the things back as well as your pathetic few riyals on the ridiculous plastic card which at this point you want to shove down the manager’s throat. Off you go after spending three hours with this disservice. At home you realize the dimwit manager stole your receipt and the rest of the stuff on it cannot therefore be exchanged. EVER. What would H&M headquarters in Sweden for example say to this “service”?
Answer: They would fire these incompetent rude idiots.

That reminds me.
I was trying to bake some Finnish cinnamon rolls also known as pulla the other day for a visit. We didn’t have milk. But only in Saudi does this become a huge logistical issue. Obviously I’m not allowed to drive. Not even going to start on that one. Second, there’s no supermarkets nearby I could walk to. Third, people don’t walk anywhere, not even a 30 meters distance can be done without a car so there’s no sidewalks or safe areas to walk on, IF I had somewhere to walk to. Fourth, I don’t have a driver so I need to sit at home like a duck waiting for my husband to bring the milk after work. But he forgot and had to go somewhere else.
SO now what? Pulla needs to be ready in few hours. My husband has genius idea, he orders the milk from the small store and the Indian moped dude brings it over to me. Problem #5. I have no cash. Husband says it’s not an issue.
Ok so dude arrives at door. I open and see the milk on the ground in front of me. I confirm with him that they agreed husband will stop by later to pay for the milk. He had a sudden change of mind. No ma’m BIG problem! I say no problem! This goes on for a while. I start feeling desperate and decide to snatch the milk from the ground. As I reach for it he tries to take it from my hands which should be a huge no-no here, to touch a woman like that.


I panic and slam the door closed. OOPS. I just sort of stole milk. Meanwhile the dude goes crazy, bangs on the door, shouts and rings the doorbell for at least half an hour. For SIX riyals. He could be a psychopath killer and I have just set him off. Imagine the headlines: Finnish woman killed In Saudi over milk bottle.
I start baking and realize that just because they don’t allow women to drive I just had to go through this crap. How utterly ridiculous.
Why are we not allowed to drive again? Why are women forced to be nearly killed rather than drive to the supermarket, HUH???

How about professionalism then? Unheard of mostly. Ever heard of Handy Manny? In Saudi they are called Handless Headless Mannies. No skills, no training, no English OR Arabic language skills, no respect for others stuff, no common sense whatsoever.

Take a look at these pics:

Ladies and gentleman this is professional Saudi service at its finest. Words cannot describe my irritation when I saw this in our new apartment.
Did you blast it with dynamite? 
Can someone pass me the rifle?
Have you not painted a freakin wall before? You’re supposed to remove the nails and smooth out the holes, not paint around them! If you’re painting in a room full of furniture at least cover it or better yet take it to the nearby empty room! Don’t use furniture to climb and stand on and don’t scratch it! Don’t you have your own freakin ladder or something? And for the love of God don’t place the dirty items on the sofa when you’re done! Did you think it was placed there for your convenience! I bet you took a nap on it too! When you’re done clean up and air the room!


Ugh. And then last but not least. Saudi postal services. What freakin SERVICES? Took you two months to send a couple of freakin postcards by EXPRESS mail to Finland. WAY TO GO. Yeah, I know why. You’re too busy sampling all the chocolates and other candies and reading through the women’s magazines on your sugar high. I bet you took those ripped off pages from my health magazine home.

Saudi professional thieves and terminators I would say! Every single time I get a package from Finland you must snatch something or destroy something in it. You think you’re clever huh? You think I don’t notice when you take out something that has an actual packing list to go with it? You bastards.

How dare you open my long awaited special 300g Finnish chocolate bar and munch on it and then PUT IT BACK IN half-eaten?

And btw the last item you STOLE was not real gold you chocolate monster. It’s kids play money. You thought I wouldn’t know my sister sent me three bags instead of two? WRONG.
I hope you almost choked on the Finnish salty licorice when you thought it’s chocolate.

Next time at least get rid of the evidence and throw away the empty wrappers.
And look what you missed from my latest package!

See that there? WINE gum. congratulations. You have just allowed something that says “WINE” into Saudi-Arabia! So much for the censorship! You should have at least blacked out the word WINE, just like you black out the word pork on other products and women’s arms legs cleavages and faces on my magazines.

As we would say in Finland: “Break yourself into small pieces”.

That is all for now folks. Excuse my language. I’m off to bed.


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  • Faisal HajiMarch 22, 2012 - 2:50 am

    Nice post, let me say:

    The sandstorm, here is a tip, a moistened towel under the doors helps in collecting the dust :D …

    Sewage problem, hmm, sorry can't help. Not familiar with the services in the kingdom. A gas mask might help :P

    For the retailer problem (H&M), I think KSA should start something like what we have here. Called the consumer's rightReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 23, 2012 - 5:33 pm

      Faisal-thanks for the sandstorm tip! I heard about it but never got myself to trying it out..
      Where can I get a gas mask? Luckily we are moving out soon so won’t have inhale it anymore.

      If the dress was that expensive they should have insured it, surely they did right?

      Sure I can post the recipe lots of ppl have asked me for it but I havent had time yet!ReplyCancel

    • Faisal HajiMarch 24, 2012 - 7:44 am

      I am sure that it was insured, but it was still irritating to do that. Thanks for the recipe, no rush :PReplyCancel

    • IldiMarch 24, 2012 - 5:39 pm

      Dear Laylah, pls pls post the recipe as possible, I'm desire to taste Finnish cinnamon cake as well. Kiitos! :)ReplyCancel

  • Om Lujain©March 22, 2012 - 5:56 am

    I don't know if I should laugh or cry at this well put together post!! Sandstorm.. don't remind me.. a real killer to what was supposed to be an epic trip!!! ufff… the milk.. sorry.. I had LMAO again at it :P (Wasn't laughing at the time though.. you milk thief :P) Saudi Post.. aha… I don't trust them.. would rather pay an arm and a leg to get Aramex shop and ship to send meReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 23, 2012 - 6:29 pm

      Om Lujain-you think your husband will ever go through the hassle again and we’ll have another go on the desert trip?

      It seems this dishwasher problem is very widespread, we had same problem getting someone who knows how to install it..ReplyCancel

  • Kuwaitin kaunotarMarch 22, 2012 - 4:21 am

    Meilla myos tuo hemmetin hiekkamyrsky pilasi viikonlopun!!! Vihaan tassa maassa ehka eniten juuri hiekkamyrskyja.

    Tuo asunto nayttaa ihan samalle kuin Intiassa omamme, kun piti muuttaa. Olivat muka siivonneet sen. Kuulivat kylla kunniansa. Mutta siita kansasta mulla ei ole yhtaan mitaan hyvaa sanottavaa…

    Asiakaspalvelu meilla taalla Kuwaitissa toimii hyvin (useimmiten),ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 23, 2012 - 6:07 pm

      Kuwaitin kaunotar-Tuntuu et taa hiekkamyrsky on levinny koko arabian niemimaalle? Joko siella selkenee? Talla ei vielakaan!!

      Meneeko koulut kiinni kun on paha myrakka?ReplyCancel

    • Kuwaitin kaunotarMarch 24, 2012 - 4:10 pm

      Qatarissa oli myos ollut todella paha myrakka… eli ilmeisesti tama on ollut vaivana kaikkialla taalla pain. Nyt meilla on jo paistellut aurinko kirkkaalta taivaalta pari paivaa!

      Koulut menevat kiinni, kun riittavan paha myrakka sattuu kohdalle. Sunnuntaina ei tarvinnut menna toihin eika lasten kouluun.ReplyCancel

  • ShimshimMarch 22, 2012 - 5:48 am

    Wow! You've had quite a few days by the sound of it. Sandstorms are horrible and the dust does get everywhere, even up your nostrils. I hate the stuff. We used to suffer when a sandstorm would hit Baghdad, but there was no escaping it sadly. You just had to face the music (sand) later and keep cleaning :(

    As for the drainage, that is disgusting, I suspect the only way you will everReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 23, 2012 - 6:28 pm

      Shimshim-We have tried complaining to the land owners and who else about it, the problem started few months ago, nothing has been done, nobody cares. My husband called all over the place no one will do anything.
      They just said if it’s not fixed the land owner will get fined.Looks like they don’t care about fines.
      Thank God we’re moving out soon!ReplyCancel

  • ربة منزلMarch 22, 2012 - 7:02 am

    I know I should not say this right now because you are annoyed by a lot of things but your post really made me laugh hard. Every time I return to visit my family in KSA, I want to pull my hair out of its roots. I mean, simple things can be done to fix major problems but everyone decides to turn their back and leave the mess for others. Once me and my brother were in the car driving in one laneReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 23, 2012 - 6:31 pm

      don’t worry I’m taking it with a sense of humor so laugh all you like what else can we do?
      Please never get used to things and keep the fight against corruption going strong!!ReplyCancel

  • ♥●• İzdihër •●♥March 22, 2012 - 8:54 am

    You are awesome .Lmao after reading it.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 23, 2012 - 6:31 pm

      Izdiher-thanks lolReplyCancel

  • Omani Princess (not Omani LOL)March 22, 2012 - 9:21 am

    Oman is slightly better. But only slightly. We do care where we live lol. My husband’s Aunties fought the government over the right to put a welding shop in a family neighborhood. They’re not supposed to here, so if they do, it’s because of wasta and you have to counter wasta.

    And when you find a skilled carpenter, plasterer, builder, plumber, electrician, you save their numbers in an address book and phone them every few weeks to make sure they still live here and remember to tell you if they change their phone numbers even if you arne’t planning any projects or renos for years.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 23, 2012 - 6:32 pm

      Omani Princess-I have yet to find any of the above mentioned group of workers that are anywhere near to skilled..ReplyCancel

  • JeanMarch 22, 2012 - 12:52 pm

    Does such bad service exist for the Saudi nationals. Or do ex-pats get picked on for bad service?ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 23, 2012 - 6:37 pm

      Jean-it exist for EVERYONE. Saudis usually don’t care as much for good customer service because I assume they never had a taste of anything else, so what you don’t know of, you can’t really miss can you??ReplyCancel

  • HudaMarch 22, 2012 - 11:29 am

    Here’s a tip Laylah, next time your sister sends a package of those yummy chocolates, get her to lace it with something. That’ll make them think twice about stealing people’s food :)ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 23, 2012 - 6:33 pm

      Huda-thanks for the tip! Next time they will have lots of surprises in the package! I will ask her to put a rat trap in there so it will SNAP when his fingers reach for the chocolates!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMarch 22, 2012 - 12:26 pm

    looooooooooooool Love it…I can see the steam coming from your ears!!! You Forgot to mention about the Pious Academic guy who wanted to sell his TV only to NON-MUSLIMS so that “He” does not get sin for the stuff they watch!!! lol Don’t mention Saudi Mail Service in front of my HUSBND!… Last time someone sent him priority letter from Jedda, he had to go to the sorting facility and dig through 10 piles of MAIL to find it LOOOOOOOL , on top of it, the INDIAN lazy worker, asked him to PAY 10SAR if He wanted his help!! what a joke ….


    • LaylahMarch 23, 2012 - 6:36 pm

      Hope-thanks for the refreshing and relaxing walk/wadi hanifa tour yesterday :)
      I can’t believe Saudi post actually lets people off the street come into their facility and go through peoples mail like that! I mean in Finland that would be a crime, and your husband could have just took anything from there! What a joke indeed!!ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 23, 2012 - 7:51 pm

      Annoyed-you have misunderstood, she meant to say that the guy was not even Saudi (as in more open to corruption) but of another nationality, in this case Indian. nothing against Indians,it’s just very strange to find any non Saudi that would ask for bribery so bluntly here..ReplyCancel

    • AnnoyedMarch 23, 2012 - 7:00 pm

      Dear Hope,

      Was it necessary to emphasize the word “indian” next to the word lazy in your post? What exactly were you trying to say when you emphasized on someone’s nationality? You just end up looking like a racist person.

      I’m sorry if you didn’t mean anything by doing it , but that’s how it came of as!ReplyCancel

    • AnonymousMarch 24, 2012 - 8:54 pm

      Annoyed: Sorry to annoy u .. That was my not intention at all, I didn't even notice i had the word Indian all caps.. The worker couldve been Arab , Pilipino, or bangledish.. That wasn't the point of my story…Like Layla said my point is be wasn't even Saudi.. It's just annoying that workers are never trained in Saudi… Theyunprofessional incompetent.. Plus management is notReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMarch 22, 2012 - 12:55 pm

    Had to laugh and shake my head the whole article! You are so funny! Thanks for sharing! Francesca from Ottawa, CanadaReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMarch 22, 2012 - 2:08 pm

    Salam alaykum Sister,

    Really praying for you Sister.
    Sometimes life is hard for us.
    Listen to my story: My brother (who tried to kill my mum and rape me) returned to my parents´home from the Finnish so called “hoitokoti” = a nursing home.
    No garantee of safety for the most beloved ones.
    This is the reality in Finland now.
    I hope I`d have the sewege problem.ReplyCancel

    • HudaMarch 22, 2012 - 10:57 pm

      Asalamualaykum sister, I just read your post. I know you directed the comment for Laylah but I just wanna say may Allah protect you and your family from those evil actions. Look after yourself and be careful because there are many situations here where I live also that have this happen… within families. Its so sad and disgusting because you would never think that it would happen in your OWN family but it does! But at the same time, its a test from Allah SWT and everything is ultimately good for the believer, even if it seems bad for us. Imagine the rewards you and your family will get for your patience insha Allah. May Allah help you find a way out from this problem and keep you safe.ReplyCancel

    • Om Lujain©March 23, 2012 - 7:00 am

      May Allah protect you and your mother! That must be really hard :( I wish he was thrown in prison instead .. and the key lost :( I am truly sorry!ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 23, 2012 - 5:21 pm

      I’m so sorry to hear this!!How on earth did they allow him to return home?? Inhsallah everything will be ok despite these circumstances..I wish I could help somehow!

      I hope my post does not give the impression that I’m a person who complains about little things, because I’m not like that at all..I just had too much piled up in such a short time. In reality my problems and annoyances are petty and nothing compared to real problems in the world.ReplyCancel

  • FarooqMarch 22, 2012 - 2:17 pm

    Well written Laylah, was smiling wide.

    Regarding the sandstorm, the one that happened this week from Saturday made my son sick. He has been coughing since then. So less said the better.

    I don’t trust Saudi post at all. I once mailed a greeting card to Singapore, a month before my mother in law’s birthday and she got it 2 weeks after her birthday. (And I count her lucky) lolReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 23, 2012 - 5:23 pm

      Farooq-looks like many people, especially the children are getting sick from this weather. I have asthma which is pretty bad right now :(
      Hope he gets better soon!ReplyCancel

    • FarooqMarch 24, 2012 - 3:57 am

      Thanks Laylah. My wife has asthma too so its like double risky for him. Though he hasn’t shown any signs of Asthma yet. But it does break your heart to see a 3 month old coughing over and over.ReplyCancel

  • AlejandraMarch 22, 2012 - 4:26 pm


  • onesweetchickMarch 22, 2012 - 9:08 pm

    Hi Layla,

    I can totally relate to this !!! I too have had my mail opened,and had items taken.
    The customer service in Riyadh is not the greatest.I understand your frustration with H&M.I had a similar situation with returning a clothing item,that could not be returned,.I managed to sell the dress to someone else,for the exact price that i paid,for .In addition,I used to detest when the men would follow me around the store,and stare at me.I can recall a time when i was paying,for my groceries,and the man at the counter tried to touch my hand,i said to him,don’t touch me,and this guy just laughed at me.From that day onward i decided to pay with my bank card,or lay the cash on the counter.

    I have had men walk by me,and drop a piece of paper by my feet.I was like “what a dirty dog”.I find that to be unattractive&classless,After that experience i would cover my hair&wear sunglasses on my face when heading out to the mall,

    As,for the Handless,Headless Mannies, Hopefully something can be done about how your apartment has been left,this is just unacceptable.

    Take care
    And hope you have a better week :)ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 23, 2012 - 5:31 pm

      onesweetchick-I got an idea what I could do with the stuff I tried to return, it’s Marni accessories so I could use them in a blog giveaway :)

      Drop a piece of paper at your feet? OMG that is so pathetic.

      Where are you from btw?ReplyCancel

    • onesweetchickMarch 24, 2012 - 6:14 pm

      To answer your question,

      I am from Canada,
      and yes Men do walk by sometimes,and have dropped a piece of paper with phone numberReplyCancel

  • DentographerMarch 23, 2012 - 2:22 am

    I am sorry to. Say this but this is the first time you made me feel like you actually live in saudi!ReplyCancel

  • mrsbawazirMarch 23, 2012 - 2:30 am

    Hope u have a better week Laylah! The milkman sounds like a psychopath what with the banging and shouting, how dare he!!!It is funny that u cannot drive there in KSA but want to drive whereas I hate driving even though I can and have a license here in KL (I have no patience with traffic).But in most cases,it is a necessity to just pop down to the market without waiting for dear hubby to come back from work!But the way I see men in KSA drive, I wouldn’t want to get behind the wheels in any circumstances! Perfect maniacs and that is a lot coming from an Asian LOL!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMarch 23, 2012 - 4:17 am

    LOOOOOOOOOOL! i love you blog thats all i can say

  • GeoffMarch 23, 2012 - 11:14 am

    OK great job! You just cleared up a huge question I had, so the Headache two days after the Dust Storm isn’t just me! I was beginning to think I was the only one, and yes it’s the worst headache I’ve ever had! Also “nice” to hear I’m not the only one who has things “stolen”, “disappeared”, from the mail, the laundry, etc…or “magically price increased” when I walk in the store! I’ve met some great Saudi friends here now, well educated and true friends. They’ve unhappily explained that although they believe this type of behavior is unethical, the men who do this type of thing don’t feel that they are doing anything wrong because we’re American and not Saudi. I asked if I was a Muslim convert would that change anything, and they replied probably not, you’d still be American. Can’t believe that Government employee pilfering is tolerated based on nationality!ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 23, 2012 - 6:40 pm

      Geoff-I didn’t know Brain Blur was so common. Nothing, I say NOTHING helps. There is no cure!!! Except better weather of course.

      Everything here is based on nationality it seems. The prices hike up when a western expat comes, but they do hike them for my husband as well..ReplyCancel

  • Susie of ArabiaMarch 23, 2012 - 4:13 pm

    I’ve had all the same problems. Sometimes it’s good to vent… Hope things get better!ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 23, 2012 - 6:41 pm

      Susie-I guess it’s Saudi-wide problems lol
      Hoping so too, we’re moving this week so I have some doubts..ReplyCancel

  • LaylahMarch 23, 2012 - 6:34 pm

    Felicia-I’m glad I’m not a clean freak lol that would be the last thing combined with this dust invasion!ReplyCancel

  • NurieMarch 24, 2012 - 3:01 pm

    Assalamualaikum Laylah,

    Stumbled upon your blog last week while I was googling something about ksa and since then Im hooked on your blog!

    Im a malaysian living in Riyadh for the past 5 years and reading your post today really made me chuckled and yet at the same time I feel your pain! All these may sound humorous when we tell our friends back home but when you are experiencing it, you juz feel like killing somebody! hehehe…

    Hope your days will be brighter when this sandstorm goes away! Maybe it makes everyone a little bit cranky and crazy :DReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 25, 2012 - 11:33 pm

      Nurie-was aleikum salaam! Thanks and my day is much better today! Apt looks like there's progress and the weather is great, rained all evening!ReplyCancel

  • bigstick1March 24, 2012 - 7:38 pm

    This is the culture and mindset that you agreed to and it is the environment that you wanted to raise your daughter in. Enjoy. :)

    I am looking forward to a camping trip with the kids, family and some friends soon. We intend on all going out and enjoying the river, fishing, swimming, etc. All without the morality police, the women being able to be themselves not judged on how theyReplyCancel

    • KarenMarch 25, 2012 - 12:39 pm

      bigs tick 1: the only thing keeping you from personal perfection is your smug attitude. give the sista a break!ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 25, 2012 - 11:30 pm

      Bigstick I wonder what you want to really say with this comment. I think you have just made a fool out of yourself here. Even If you were trying to be sarcastic then you FAILED miserably. You end up looking pretty ignorant about Saudi, which I already knew you are in some aspects or then you just refuse to see the truth.

      Gloating at someones misfortune or whatever you call it is justReplyCancel

    • mrsbawazirMarch 26, 2012 - 4:36 am

      Bigstick, mocking someone on their decision to raise their daughter in any country and culture shows your extremist,fundamentalist, militant attitude.you are extremely rude, and unaware that this blog opens up a whole new outlook of life among Saudis, Muslims, culture, religion and life in general. You love to twist and turn every topic into a religion-bashing, culture-ridiculing and lifestyle-mocking rambling rant! If I were you, I would change my attitude 360 degrees and learn to stick to the topic and be more respecting towards other people.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMarch 24, 2012 - 10:50 pm

    Wow, those pulla look awesome! They are one of the few things I miss from Finland…delicious cinnamon rolles with the big sugar chuncks that melt in your mouth!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Mira BassamReplyCancel

  • StandyMarch 25, 2012 - 3:45 am

    LOOOOOOL.. this is sooo funny loolReplyCancel

  • Karen KingMarch 25, 2012 - 12:42 pm

    You know you live in a Finnish town, albeit Fitchburg, MA, when you can buy home-made pulla at any gas station. That's right, all the Finnish mamas here bake pulla, and the gas stations let them sell their fragrant wares right at the registers. Next time you need something Finnish, just ask me to send it to you from my hometown!

    Oh, and as usual, you have SISU! You will prevail,ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 25, 2012 - 11:31 pm

      Karen-how awesome that sounds just like Finland then! HAve you tried making them yourself?ReplyCancel

    • Karen KingMarch 30, 2012 - 3:09 pm

      I’m going to begin to photograph all the cars here in Fitchburg that have “SISU” bumper stickers on their car. I was thinking of putting one on mine in order to fit in.

      I haven’t made pulla yet because there are so many good Finnish breads and cooking around town that my attempt would be futile. You can buy Finnish products at our grocery stores – that’s how large a Finnish population we have here! And my house was built by Finns, as you know, and I own a sauna. It’s right next to the 40K gallon pool in the back yard! LOL!

      Maybe, with your guidance, I’ll make my own Finnish foods along with Armenian foods for Easter…ReplyCancel

  • bigstick1March 25, 2012 - 2:30 pm

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 26, 2012 - 9:47 am

      Bigstick get over that one comment already sheesh man don’t you have anything else to refer to? You were being so stubborn I thought that saying things simply in a metaphore would help but obviously it did the opposite since you misunderstood just about everything I wanted to say. But perhaps it was on purpose..ReplyCancel

  • bigstick1March 26, 2012 - 12:00 am

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.ReplyCancel

    • AnonymousMarch 26, 2012 - 4:42 am


      If Laylah’s blog is so concerning to you then I do not see why you need to be here. No one is forcing you to read it and get upset, so if that is whats happening just leave the blog. Its that simple.
      I feel like that is a better solution than repeatedly leaving condescending and inflammatory remarks, especially when theyre aimed at the owner of this blog.
      Of course if you want to stay and voice your opinions, that’s fine too, but perhaps you should try and be a little less disrespectful towards Laylah the next time you comment on one of her posts rather than just trying to show how “superior” you and your life choices are compared to hers.


    • HudaMarch 26, 2012 - 5:07 am

      Ashley, bigstick1 has just got some knickers in a twist and despises the fact that the majority of Laylah’s readers are Muslim women who are actually cool with Islam and cool with what Laylah says in this blog. We are h-a-p-p-y to be Muslim women and bigstick1 is just trying to be a party pooper. This is one party that no one wants you at if you’re going to be rude bigstick1.ReplyCancel

  • bigstick1March 26, 2012 - 4:53 am

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMarch 26, 2012 - 4:06 am

    Wow! What have I done! I just accepted an offer to come from the states with my family. Honestly, I knew that there would be some adjustments, but this is just crazy. Is the dust a problem in Jeddah?ReplyCancel

    • JayMarch 26, 2012 - 2:57 pm

      No, Jeddah is compleeeetely different from Riyadh! It’s super humid, not crazy dry and dusty like Riyadh.Correct me if I’m wrong, Jeddah-dwellers, as i’ve only visited there.ReplyCancel

    • Sandy :)March 28, 2012 - 8:47 pm

      This sandstorm hit everywhere. We didn’t have it blasting so much in Jeddah but there was so much dirt in the air school was cancelled for a couple days. It still is not completely cleared up.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 29, 2012 - 12:32 am

      This sandstorm hit everywhere but as I understand it’s MUCH better dust wise in Jeddah. But if anything is going to get to you, its the humidity. So you have to choose between the dust and Riyadh or Jeddah and the killer humidity lolReplyCancel

  • Afsal_ AlifMarch 26, 2012 - 6:15 am

    luv’d the blog……Will be in touch…..Thnk You……!!ReplyCancel

  • SaraMarch 26, 2012 - 8:52 am

    Laylah, you must have Egyptian men working there. I have same kind of mess here after what ever things we had to get fixed or built :D
    Same problem also with postal services here. Or we have even worse. Usually you get nothing at all what’s been sent to you. Alhamdulillah you got you wine gums at least.

    BTW I never use milk when I make pulla. I make it in water and you can’t taste any difference. Just try it next time when you don’t have milk.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 29, 2012 - 12:29 am

      Sara-nope actually they are Bangladeshi and PAkistani, might of been a few Indians in the mix as well. The floor ppl coming tomorrow will be Philipinos.
      So where is your “here”?

      I had no idea you can make pulla without milk!Thanks for the tip!!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMarch 26, 2012 - 2:53 pm

    I’ve been in KSA for a couple of months now, trying to set my household as a working single mother and I could have written this! I have shops withing walking distance, but the ‘handymen’ ARRRRGH! So your venting could have been mine :) Great blog, by the way, and want pulla now!ReplyCancel

    • AnonymousMarch 26, 2012 - 2:54 pm

      Sorry I had to sign as Anonymous as I don’t want a google account, Jay :)ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 29, 2012 - 12:30 am

      Jay-I can’t imagine how hard it must be to set up a household as a single mother here, seems like you always need a man to get stuff done here!ReplyCancel

    • FarooqMarch 29, 2012 - 6:54 am

      Nowhere does a man seem more important than here (evil laughter) lolReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMarch 26, 2012 - 3:36 pm

    ..just read bigstick1’s comments…
    man u got issues..seriously..especially the last comment.. u sound like those freaky stalkers that just don’t go away and always have dramatic words to end on. An educated/cultured/open minded person can voice their opinion and give their POV even if its not the same as the bloggers..unlike you who made yourself look like a fool!
    Thanks for leaving this blog you shall not be missed!

  • LaylahMarch 27, 2012 - 11:18 am

    Bigstick-your comments have been removed as per your request.ReplyCancel

  • Proud MuslimahMarch 27, 2012 - 9:18 pm

    That is so incredibly unbelievable. It makes me so happy to live in the USA when I hear these things. I cant believe the mailmen opened your packages and ate things!! Thats a felony here! I just cant even believe it.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 29, 2012 - 12:27 am

      Proud Muslimah-I know what you mean. it’s mind boggling, and that they get away with it without consequences..ReplyCancel

  • Sandy :)March 28, 2012 - 8:50 pm

    I’ve had my mail opened and eaten. I only ship through ARamex now generally. It still goes through customs- but I think they are more careful with ARamex because there is someone to follow through with complaints.

    Many people are boycotting the Al Shaya stores because of their stupid no refund policies. There’s even a Facebook group. But they are all the best stores- so I try to to get only what I must. I don’t want to make my own life harder either. It’s a fine balance.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 29, 2012 - 12:25 am

      Sandy-I would use Aramex all the time but some companies from abroad don’t use it so I have to take the risk :)
      I should start this boycott too! So annoying.ReplyCancel

  • nicoleMarch 28, 2012 - 11:50 pm

    i had to laugh at your story of you “stealing” the milk! :) in december i sent my husband a box to riyadh via ups, and it had some cake pops that i had made for him. a few got eaten at customs. but i guess that’s a small price to pay for not having them all confiscated, since they were in the shapes of christmas trees and snowmen. anyway, i hope they liked my baking. and i hope i can try pulla sometime!ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 29, 2012 - 12:26 am

      nicole-that sounds like a small miracle then, that they would let those shapes pass!ReplyCancel

    • nicoleMarch 29, 2012 - 7:44 am

      we’ve actually had lots of christmas-themed things get through–a spongebob stocking, gifts wrapped in christmas paper, candy canes. we’d never had anything taken until that incident. and then in february, i sent him a valentine’s box. it was chock full of valentine’s themed things; everything had red hearts, be my valentine, etc. on it. the only thing that got taken at customs was the card. :(ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 29, 2012 - 10:47 am

      nicole- that’s interesting! Saudis LOVE spongebob so he will always get through. They sell candy canes here. I dont think they know its a christmas thing!But your valentines box wow was there anything edible in that one?ReplyCancel

  • UmmIbraheemMarch 30, 2012 - 12:19 am

    I can totally relate. I lived in Madinah for sometime and although overall our experience was good and enjoyable some things just didn’t make sense!
    I was more patient with bad customer services and things like that, but my husband on the other hand just had enough. Maybe because he dealt with more people and services than I ever did so it’s no wonder he doesn’t seem to ever want to return…as much as I’d like to!ReplyCancel

  • nicoleMarch 30, 2012 - 3:06 am

    yes, some heart-shaped marshmallows and a big chocolate chip cookie in a heart tin. :) a few books, some valentine’s-themed angry birds boxer shorts (overshare? sorry, lol!), and his favorite easter candy, hershey’s marshmallow eggs. couldn’t understand why they’d let all the heart stuff through (easter stuff too, but like you said, they probably didn’t know that’s what it was) and just take the card! husband was pretty upset about losing the card; he called ups to complain and try to get it back. of course, they said it had been thrown away by then.ReplyCancel

  • maryMarch 30, 2012 - 2:44 pm

    Hahahahaha! Omg Laylah, your post just made me roll with laughter! You write well. ^_^ Thanks for the visit too!


  • MinäMarch 31, 2012 - 7:39 pm

    As always I am so glad to read your story from Saudis. These storys really open my eyes about life and sometimes it is scary. But I hope you will keep writing. I`ll be here. Looking forward.ReplyCancel

  • Proud MuslimahApril 4, 2012 - 9:59 pm

    Tell your family to make cupcakes with laxitives in them next time ;) Let’s see how they like eating things that don’t belong to them after that!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousApril 8, 2012 - 5:53 am

    As an American living in KSA, I love reading your blogs. I swear, I thought I was reading my own thoughts on this post!ReplyCancel

  • lalaApril 21, 2012 - 8:48 am

    Lmfao!!!! Sugar high part!!!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJune 15, 2012 - 1:55 am

    It is amazing how foreigners married to Saudis feel the same way and struggle with the same issues…though I would add the NIGHTMARE that can be to have a maid…it is killing me! You should also write about it…best regards.

  • Karen BrownJuly 20, 2012 - 1:53 pm

    I’ve just found your blog and this post is RIGHT ON! We’ve been living in Saudi for about 13 years now, and even though our experience is a bit different (not married to a Saudi), these irritants drive me insane too! If it’s alright I’m going to link to this on my Facebook page, my other expat friends will love you!
    All the best and happy Ramadan
    Karen BrownReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJuly 31, 2012 - 5:04 pm

    Lol, funny. Hope everything is okay now. I’m from England and actually envious of you living in Saudi. We would take any oppurtunity to live there in Makkah or Madinah.
    Do not take it for granted. This is an oppurtunity of a lifetime for some people.
    Here in England we have a lot of Islamic education alhamdulillah so we get taught a lot about Islam and stuff so we really take up these oppurtunities when we visit KSA.
    All the best for your new home!

    P.s. My cousin and her family live in Madinah and they enjoy it a lot there. Why don’t you move there too?ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousNovember 19, 2012 - 10:47 pm

    lovd your post. i wonder if there are educational solutions to many of the issues you raise regarding integrity and also sense of civic pride/duty. Are you aware of Ahmad Shugairy? he has an interesting tv show and website, based on his interesting attitude of trying to bring about improvements to Saudi and Arabic societies. do check him out.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahNovember 21, 2012 - 9:21 pm

      No I haven’t heard of him thanks for letting me know!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousNovember 23, 2012 - 5:39 pm

    thank you for responding to my comment Laylah!
    He has a website called Ihsaan to sponsor projects that are about reviving the true spirit of Islam through real actions such as volunteering, creating spaces that are wheel-chair accessible, educational projects, service to the poor, – all by encouraging regular people themselves to start such things – he is not a director of all these projects, just someone who wants to inspire them…so it’s a decentralized thing but quite empowring. He has a cafe in Jeddah for young people, and he is the host of the program “Khawater” – there are many episodes on youtube- including with subtitles – here is one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJssZ1ayDr0

    here you can read an article in the American press about him: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/03/world/middleeast/03preacher.html?pagewanted=all

    i just really think you and him would have many same ideas; by the way, he did visit Denmark, a Scandinavian country, and i think he even went to Finland and he did some Khawater shows on that experience (search Youtube for Khawater 7) it was really neat.

    • LaylahNovember 23, 2012 - 9:52 pm

      Thanks so much, I will check these out!ReplyCancel

  • AsiaAugust 20, 2013 - 8:52 am

    This is the awesomest rant I have ever read! Lol! Maybe because I can relate to every word literally. This makes me think if they are "already" like this (their ways and attitudes) even before expats came in?? If YES, is there a hope for the future? If NO, umm… let's just go back to "YES". LOL! Just like today, I forgot to remind my husband to get a drinking waterReplyCancel

  • AnonymousAugust 23, 2013 - 7:44 am

    I am just about to move to Saudi and read this page. Very interesting and I was actually crying with laughter at your last bit about the postal service. I guess when you get annoyed like this the only thing you can do is laugh! Thank you for helping me prepare for life in Saudi.ReplyCancel

  • Adelina RashitiJuly 23, 2014 - 8:34 pm

    Love your sense if humour and reading your post.. never stop writing! ReplyCancel

  • KashifSeptember 4, 2014 - 12:57 pm

    Hahahaha, this is hilarious. Just started reading your blog- keep it coming!!ReplyCancel

  • […] It is indeed remarkable how none of the chocolates have been opened for “inspection”. There were a total of four bars in the package, the same amount as my mom had put it (had to check of course). None have been nibbled on or half-eaten first, then left in the box. Which actually happened once, read about it here: Stuff That Annoys Me […]ReplyCancel

So I attended my first big wedding party (walimah) here in Riyadh! What an amazing experience! The second part of the wedding party celebrations can be read here.

Weddings are the most important social gatherings in Saudi. Often costing hundreds of thousands of riyals, this is the time Saudi families show off their wealth. The wedding party and all related expenses are usually paid by the grooms family but often the bride’s family chips in as well. Weddings are always gender segregated but most of the traditions and customs vary from region to region.

This was a special evening because it was the first time my husband’s entire tribe were going to see his western wife..So this would be the night all eyes would be on me to evaluate his choice of wife and to watch my every move. I felt an immense pressure to give a good first impression and also ease my husband’s life by being accepted into the extended family. I’m the only westerner, mind you even the only non-Saudi married into the entire clan. Needless to say I was HORRIFIED.

In preparation I had tried to “Arabize” my appearance a bit ie had Arabic eyebrows done, colored my eyelashes black and had some extra lashes installed at the spa. I’d found a beautiful evening gown at the “Princess souq” for 15 riyals! However the tailor I took it to for adjusting managed to do the opposite I was asking for so I had to choose another dress last minute. My friend wore the princess souq dress and she looked stunning! Check out the dress here it’s the blue one: http://blueabaya.com/2012/02/princess-souq.html

My husband advised me that his family is so conservative that even in an all female setting bare shoulders would not be a good idea so I had a bolero with my strapless emerald green evening gown. When I saw how the women there were dressed I was so glad I listened to my husband not to be remembered as the the scandalous shoulder -baring western lady!

Most of my jewelry got damaged in a fire we had last year but lucky me a friend borrowed her beautiful gold and diamonds jewelry set. Another friend gave me a gold designer handbag and I had a pair of golden heels. Ended up spending only few hundred riyals for some kohl and purple eye shadow to pop out the green shade of my eyes to match the dress. A wedding hair stylist came to my house to make my hair wavy ( and BIG) as was the trend according to her.

Saudi weddings typically start very late and end in the early hours of the morning. I was told by many not to go too early (before 11p.m!) but this family was different! We came at 9 p.m and hundreds of women were already there. My husband went to the men’s side and later told me was the last to arrive.

Most families will rent out huge wedding halls for the occasion. They are of course separated to men’s and women’s sides. The entrance to male section of the wedding is in the front of the building, open and elaborate and there will be a huge chandelier hanging in the entrance hall. The men’s side is otherwise not very decorative. It’s the women’s hall that is full of flowers and other lavish decorations. Both sides will have expensive bohkoor burning at every corner.

The women’s entrance on the other hand is closed and guarded. Even when the door opens there is no direct view into the actual hall. The door opens into a room with no mirrors so not even a reflection could be accidentally seen to the outside. There is an abaya cloakroom and a beautifying room for women to glam themselves up before making their grand entrance.

I was expecting that purses would be searched for cameras and phones confiscated but to my surprise nothing was said about my phone and the bag was left alone. I was able to snap some pics that night as well! All of the women were removing their ras abaya, (the most conservative over the head version) leaving them at the cloakroom run by African women. This room had mirrors all over and women were putting on lipstick and fluffing up their already HUGE hair. There was hairsprays and perfumes for women to use. I was already getting dizzy from all the sights, smells and sounds.

The women were all eyeing my friend and I probably trying to guess who we were. I saw women and girls pointing at me and whispering. Is that HER? She’s american right? Amriki? The daughter-in-law of so and so?
I could feel the pressure building up and slowly moving up to my throat. Another African woman dressed in a strange white costume covered by a black sheer veil brought an incense burner in my face to puff the smoke around and I felt like choking. I was only at the entrance and I wanted to RUN! Get me out of here! I can’t do this!

Thank God for my friend who came with me. She knows the brother of the bride from school in the U.S. She’s also Arab so I had a translator as well as an emotional support for the evening. I don’t know how I would’ve survived without her. We ended up having so much fun despite my failing nerves.

I was looking around and trying to recognize any familiar faces of the relatives. Honestly speaking the women all wore so much make-up I was having a hard time. Finally I saw one of the sisters. We asked her what we were supposed to do and she advised us to go inside the wedding hall and greet the women on the right side then take a seat anywhere. Sounds pretty easy and simple right? WRONG!

As we approached the wedding hall in all its glory the truth unfolded. There were about 40 women standing or sitting in a line waiting to greet the guests. In the background more women stood or sat watching the entering guests. On the opposite side was a line of another 40 or so women from the grooms side watching on. That’s a total of about 600 eyeballs. I almost panicked but managed not to faint or scream in horror.

I had thought out a theme on what to say. It all sounded so nice and collected in my head. Salaam aleikum, alf mabrouk, kef halek, you look beautiful, mashallah and so on..But my mouth did not listen to my brain. There was some sort of miscommunication and I ended up mumbling whatever came out in random order. More like marhabalek-queisa-dulilah. It’s too painfully humiliating to remember more clearly so I will move on.

It’s custom for Saudi women to kiss one another on the cheeks while holding hands as a greeting. Sounds so simple again, doesn’t it? NOPE. One woman might kiss you once on your right cheek and that’s it. The next will hold your hand and kiss you once then pull you in for three times on the other side. The third one might kiss you back on forth on each cheek. Some women that are not particularly fond of western women marrying their men will not kiss you at all. As a young woman you’re supposed to kiss some of the elderly women on the foreheads as sign of respect. Some of them will reject this, some will accept. Now try figuring out which woman is which type of kisser and do 40 in a row without accidentally landing someone a nose-ear-eyes or LIP kiss in the process. I must have offended 39/40 women in the line.

After the humiliation ceremony we proceeded to find a seat. Most of the tables were already taken so we walked all the way to the back to find an empty table. The hall was full of round tables and in the middle there was an aisle lined with plush arabic style sofas I’m guessing for the more important guests. The aisle had a red carpet sprinkled with rose petals leading to the stage which was elaborately decorated with flowers and vases and in the middle was a white leather sofa where the bride later sat.

Notice the little plastic water cup on the table? That was the only drink that was served during the dancing/waiting/ogling period. I was so thirsty that by midnight I swear I wanted to drink the water from the flowers and those small candle holders! The waitresses were serving chocolates, dates, salty pastries and more chocolates to make guests even thirstier. Arabic coffee, which I don’t count as a thirst quenching drink was being offered every 5 minutes. I asked one the waitresses for more water and she angrily replied there’s only one per guest and that I should have more coffee! Yikes. Ok. Chill. I’m just gonna sip on this 5 mls of coffee at a time and get more dehydrated from it. Did I mention I was also starving?

On the stage there were three African women that started playing drums called “duff” which is the only type of music that the most conservative people approve of. The women started singing Arabic songs and it was LOUD. I have been to rock concerts and stood next to the loudspeakers and been more comfortable. Women were starting to dance all around the hall. Some of the young women went on stage and there seemed to be no shyness whatsoever involved in their dance. Some girls were dancing VERY close together

Guests kept coming in and women kept eyeing us. All the tables were full now except ours. No one wanted to sit with us. We curiously watched how the women were dressed. Like my husband said, the fashion was definitely more conservative than I had heard rumors of. No bare backs, short skirts, bare shoulders or anything too sexy. Cleavage seemed to be ok though. There was however so much glitter, ruffles, lace, sequins, bows, bling bling and colors that it had my head spinning. Ultimate extravagance. The Oscars are nothing compared to this.

Most of the dresses were sort of tacky Saudi style you see in the malls, the kind I always wondered who wears this? Well now I know. Simple and sleek are NOT in. The more decorations on the dress the better! Many women had long trails on the dresses and plunging necklines were filled with gigantic jewelry. I mean out of this world in size. There also seems to be no rule of balancing the jewelry such as if you have a huge necklace, then no huge earrings, rings or bracelets. AS IF! Size and quantity does matter!

Despite the tackiness, exaggerated hair, heavy make-up and christmas-treeish outfits most of the women looked stunning. Some, looked umm..interesting. There was one particular lady wearing an extremely form fitting (read like sausage skin) evening gown made with what seemed thousands of small golden sequins. The dress had a long trail and a generous neckline to show off her enormous ahem goods including a solid gold necklace. Her assemble was so shiny I swear it might have done some damage to my eyes as I could not take my eyes off of it. Kind of like looking into solar eclipse.

I had never put this much make-up on but still I had the least stuff on my face from the wedding guests. The post I wrote earlier about the wedding make-up might have been a bit exaggerated but gives some guideline on how some of these women looked like. Some of the younger girls and women had less make-up on though.

The table next to us filled with teenagers all busy on their iPhones. I swear they were taking our pic secretly. I noticed the small children running around in pretty dresses upstairs and maids attending to them. Some of them waived to me and I smiled and waived back. Upstairs is where the bride stays hidden for most of the wedding. There is a room for her to get ready in and the groom and his father will come there for photography from the men’s side. She eats in this room with the groom as well. There is a staircase lined with rose petals and a red carpet coming down from the room to the wedding hall.

Some examples of the dress styles.

At this point some of the bride’s friends came to sit at our table (only seats available lol) and I talked to some of them (or rather shouted in their ears) who knew English well. They were all medical professionals, just graduated. Some of them had elegant and relatively simple dresses with not too much make-up. One of those girls narrated the whole wedding to me.

Next I started wondering how come some women were still wearing their hijab (head coverings). It’s only females, why? Apparently for the older women it’s a sign of status. But most shockingly I noticed there were women in abayas. And wait. Is that a woman wearing niqab? Why on earth would they come to a wedding in niqab? There was at least four such women in attendance who never removed their veils. One had pimped up the niqab with gold crystals. Read my previous post about women who even sleep in their veils here: http://blueabaya.com/2011/06/eternal-veil.html

More chocolates, anyone?

For the majority of the wedding women sit and chat and ogle others dresses. Unmarried women will try to show off by dancing for the potential future mother-in-laws in hopes of being noticed as candidates. The dancing on the stage got more intense as the wedding proceeded in anticipation of the bride’s appearance. Soon a belly dancer started performing on stage. She was actually a wedding guest in an evening gown but they switched the music to Egyptian and she started swaying around the stage while women excitedly cheered her on and started ululating. Kind of odd because I’m not used to women eyeing women like that but hey whatever rocks your boat.

The “Saudi” dance style is hard to describe. It’s nothing like the belly dancing that first comes to mind when imagining Arabic dance but more like the men’s sword dance in rhythm. The women sway their bodies, slowly moving sideways as if they are floating, their hips and upper bodies making rhythmic movements to the beat of the drums. The woman might hold her long skirt with one hand and wave the other hand in the air. Sometimes women will also swish their long hair back and forth. I love this type of dance! The rhythm is also very catchy. I don’t know exactly how to master this dance although i’m pretty good at belly dancing ;) So I thought to myself, thank God I don’t have to dance on the stage in front of everyone! Oh how wrong I was..

Here is the only clip I could find that has similar dancing to what can be seen at weddings and other women’s functions. I could not find out if it has a specific name but this is labelled simply under “khaleeji dance”.

Stay tuned for the second part of the Saudi wedding experience including the taunting bridal walk, my chicken dance and a lamb’s butt surprise!

Part two: http://blueabaya.com/2012/04/saudi-wedding-extravaganza-part-2.html



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  • serena mariposaMarch 21, 2012 - 3:12 am

    woow!, sounds like an interesting adventure…i would definitely love to go to one saudi wedding, thumbs up for putting your best foot forward! i can only imagine the pressure, lol! lovely post ^_^ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 21, 2012 - 8:06 pm

      serena-thanks yes the pressure was definitely ON and got worse as the night proceeded!ReplyCancel

  • mrsbawazirMarch 21, 2012 - 2:21 am

    Ahh Saudi wedding, the best weddings in the world (if you love all the glitz and glamour that is). Its strange though that you mentioned there are still niqabis at the event. the weddings I've been to are all but conservative. some of the ladies I've seen would rock the sexiest outfit they could get their hands on, I've seen some ladies in this kind of dress http://sabbah.biz/mt/ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 21, 2012 - 8:08 pm

      mrsbawazir-I did manage to have fun too and just take it all in sort of like watching a movie!

      I've heard of the racy dresses but there was nothing like it here.ReplyCancel

  • NoorMarch 21, 2012 - 8:10 am

    I LOVE Saudi Weddings.. My mother in law was like DRESS TO KILL you can not be to over done LOLReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 21, 2012 - 8:05 pm

      Noor-that seems to be the rule, nothing is too much at a Saudi wedding!ReplyCancel

  • miolannMarch 21, 2012 - 7:30 am

    Thanks for the very interesting story! I watched the beginning of the video clip and I immediately thought: this reminds of some Indian dance!ReplyCancel

  • SafiyahMarch 21, 2012 - 8:32 am

    Sounds like a nice adventure :) Although expensive weddings with lots of bling bling are not Islamic, but what in Saudi is, you can wonder.ReplyCancel

  • SafiyahMarch 21, 2012 - 8:36 am

    Also, some women (including lots of my friends) believe that you should be modestly dressed, even in front of women, because trying to show off with lots of make-up and cleavage is not good. Allahu 3alem :)ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 21, 2012 - 8:04 pm

      Safiyah-Isn't it sort of funny that the most conservative and traditional families would splurge and show off like this, yet on the outside be the most strictly following Muslims?ReplyCancel

    • AnonymousMarch 24, 2012 - 10:39 pm

      Exactly, many people don't think it's appropiate, even if they are only women…

  • Karen KingMarch 21, 2012 - 12:42 pm

    It's amazing how similar cultures are from the Near/Middle East. I'm Armenian (as you know), and I had a big Armenian wedding once. I would never have considered having a wedding without an Armenian band or a belly dancer. Yes, Armenians hire belly dancers for their weddings. The woman who danced at mine was Armenian, professional, and sooooo beautiful. We all watched in amazement: theReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 21, 2012 - 8:02 pm

      Karen-sounds interesting! I wasn't aware Armenian traditions would be so similar! I would love to visit there some day..ReplyCancel

    • AnonymousMarch 25, 2012 - 12:50 pm

      I am Armenian too and I am living in Saudi Arabia, I am not agree with Karen our traditions are not similar. I think that belly dancers now days everyone can hire on parties and its not some special tradition.
      Dear Laylah I like your blog very much its about reality in which we are living. Every country has its own traditions but anyway opinions can be different…ReplyCancel

  • ♥●• İzdihër •●♥March 21, 2012 - 1:46 pm

    loved it.ReplyCancel

  • Om Lujain©March 21, 2012 - 7:54 pm

    Didn't the grooms father and brothers and the brides fathers and brothers come out with the groom for that final walk down the catwalk (in the women's hall) and to take pictures together? That may be one of the reasons some of the ladies decided to keep themselves covered. I have yet to see a wedding where that is not done.. but maybe the weddings I attend are not of a conservative natureReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 21, 2012 - 7:56 pm

      Om Lujain-then this was probably Riyadh's most conservative wedding party since no men whatsoever entered the women's side at any point :) What have I gotten myself into lol jokeReplyCancel

    • Om Lujain©March 22, 2012 - 5:59 am

      hahahah.. sorry.. but I just visioned you have a HUGE dual with your mother in law when ur time comes to plan Lamia's wedding.. hahaha… the oys.. oh the joys :P

      I have actually even been to a wedding at the four seasons where men and women were completely mixed. ;)ReplyCancel

    • Om Lujain©March 22, 2012 - 6:02 am

      duel :)ReplyCancel

  • JoHannaMarch 21, 2012 - 7:39 pm

    Oh how interesting! Thanks so much Laylah for sharing this story with us. The wedding ceremony sounds mysterious & luxurious, not forgetting the old traditions. And the ladies' dress code is out of this world, xtreme glamour!

    Why do the female guests dress up so prettily and yet they are separated from the male guests who actually are their relatives? I would think they wouldReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 21, 2012 - 8:01 pm

      JoHanna-They separate because not all the men are their close relatives..there are distant relatives and friends, acquaintances and so on..
      They could only uncover in front of their father, brothers and uncles. Those men usually visit the bride in her private room so at least they get to see her all done up!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMarch 21, 2012 - 7:40 pm

    Well, that didn't go so bad! ;) Sounded really great and fun.
    About the women in niqab, my best friend is from a family really really traditional and adheres so strictly to the Quran and the sunna, some of the women never remove niqab, even with women only. They only remove it in the privacy of their home, with the husbands or their own children, but not in front of nobody else.

    • LaylahMarch 21, 2012 - 7:58 pm

      Mira Bassam-Ya I guess so although at the time it did feel like I messed up everything..
      I have to comment that I don't see how Quran and Sunnah would tell them to keep niqab on like you described, isn't it more a culture think don't you think?ReplyCancel

    • AnonymousMarch 24, 2012 - 10:31 pm

      I think so also, I think they are soooo used to wearing it always that they are like "well, for what am I going to take it off? whatever!" hehe, maybe they feel cozy??? But mostly is old lady stuff, or maybe in Saudi Arabia some young women do the same? I don't know…

  • Marokon morsianMarch 21, 2012 - 10:01 pm

    Mainio hääpostaus ja voin hiukan samaistua sun stressitasoon, kun mulla kanssa jalat tutisivat omissa häissä suuren suvun edessä..Tosin tiesin jo etukäteen, että kaikki olivat ylpeitä ja onnellisiä meidän puolesta eikä vaan minua arvostelemassa :) Meidän häät eivät kuitenkaan olleet noin blingbling, vaikka mulla vaihtui upeat puvut useaan otteeseen ja äitini ja siskonikin puettiin kuinReplyCancel

  • Omani Princess (not Omani LOL)March 22, 2012 - 12:37 am

    Sounds like every Saudi wedding I've known of:)

    Except, sometimes the men come into the hall to take pictures with the bride, especially the groom, so all the women re-abaya themselves.

    Omani white weddings are like this too. Fun, because I like sweets and dancing (always carry a water bottle in your purse) and my conzervative inlaws don't do any of this. Omanis arenReplyCancel

  • New WifeMarch 22, 2012 - 2:58 am

    lol about kissing the women. i was shocked how many kisses i got the day i converted to islam and every day since :-P

    also the saudi dancing… the video of khaleeji dancing it's sort of similar to the traditional saudi women's dancing but the movements would be much more subtle but i think you get the idea. what most saudi girls dance now is not that much like the traditionalReplyCancel

  • KristineMarch 23, 2012 - 12:05 am

    I have been to some Saudi weddings also, and surprisingly found myself as the American, more of the conservatively dressed guests. They rhythm of some of the Khaleeji dance moves reminds me of the gait of a camel. I love this kind of dance, and was told I did pretty well. One of the things that struck me as odd, was during the buffet, instead of filling the plates, some women would eat right from the dish at the table, sampling different items with the same fork. Tlak about double-dipping at its finest. :-)ReplyCancel

  • FarooqMarch 23, 2012 - 10:43 am

    Thanks for sharing this Laylah, I can understand the sort of pressures one feels when you are new to a culture and have to take part in a big event. I felt the same when my wedding ceremony was in Singapore while my wife felt very pressured for the reception back home in India.

    From the looks of it, you made it through in one piece which is more than enough for these first time things. I am sure now everyone knows you as the “amriki” daughter in law. :-)ReplyCancel

  • JayMarch 26, 2012 - 3:11 pm

    Thanks for sharing, I’ve often wondered what the big walimas were like. Sounds amazing, but not exactly fun…ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMarch 26, 2012 - 3:41 pm

    salam ..CAN’T WAIT FOR PART 2!ReplyCancel

  • HananApril 7, 2012 - 6:38 pm

    What is the chicken dance????

    i never seen a saudi wedding in saudi arabia i’m not invite :-s
    I dont know saudi families here…

    but i think the wedding is very big and magnificent ……..ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousApril 8, 2012 - 2:05 am

    Thanks for the look into the Saudi way from a suomalainen perspective. Am a total newbie here – never thought I’d have a link to this part of the world. Then my man starts his teaching adventure in Jizan, and I’m flying in soon,trailing abaya.
    He’s Finn, I’m German + 2 kids = Canadian family. All the best to you – also waiting for part 2!

  • HananApril 8, 2012 - 2:31 am

    nice oneReplyCancel

  • lalaApril 21, 2012 - 9:06 am

    Prob wore hijab to keep their picture from being taken and possibly spread around. I try my hardest not to let my s-I-ls take mine bc I have seen them play videos etc of women’s only events to the women’s nonmahrams. Not just them either; very normal for such things to be shared in some way… Of course only women are supposed to watch but duh. Sorry for the rant:/
    Sounds like you managed fine and enjoyed something new! Glad you brought your friend and it helped!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMay 27, 2012 - 10:35 pm

    Erm. The ladies working as the sababat (coffee-givers) and at the entrance are not African, but black saudis. We do have a large black community here, you know, and even though some of them have origins in Africa they are saudi born and bred and as thus should be called Saudi, because that's what they are.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMay 27, 2012 - 10:37 pm

    Also. Your in-laws seem very old-fashioned, in most big weddings water (in glasses), juice, coffee, tea, and turkish coffee is always served.ReplyCancel

  • sahilaDecember 10, 2013 - 10:41 pm

    i have always fantasized about Arab wedding..felt like i was there…thank you for the description:)ReplyCancel

  • […] The first part of the Saudi wedding experience post left us foreigners still sitting at the table in amazement of the goings on. Read that post here. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] to check out some nice Arabic style make-up I could try this time. Click here to read about the Saudi Wedding Extravaganza. While browsing the net I came across some very beautiful arab makeup styles, but boy, some of the […]ReplyCancel

  • Exotic Paradox: Expats Blog In Saudi Arabia » Blue AbayaAugust 18, 2014 - 2:46 pm

    […] surviving the tragic-comical challenge of a wedding à la Saoudienne, it’s been a mildly bumpy ride, to say the least, but her Finnish hardiness has helped her keep […]ReplyCancel

  • Salhah HamadJanuary 20, 2015 - 8:48 pm

    I liked every word and want to eat the whole post. I wish I was with you to help and support :) when you have a wedding like that in Eastern province, just miss call me and I will provide my personnels to comfort :)
    My dear you are doing very good and I appreciate your hard effort to make yourself accustomed to the Saudi culture. You ARE VERY STRONG LADY and YOU MUST BE RPOUD OF YOURSELF ! SERIOUSLY .ReplyCancel

    • LaylaJanuary 25, 2015 - 3:57 pm

      thank you so much for the kind words Salhah! Would love to attend many more extraordinary Saudi weddings :)ReplyCancel

  • Hallo AlMoajilOctober 15, 2015 - 12:20 am

    I’m saudi and from what u mentioned this isnt how it goes with my relatives and friends. I think you married a badu, they are usually like that. As for the hall you went to and service it doesnt seem like the typical upscale weddings we usually have.. Check @nasheedevents on instagram to see how our weddings really areReplyCancel

    • Laura of ArabiaOctober 15, 2015 - 7:04 am

      I wonder if you realize how arrogant and obnoxious your comment comes across?ReplyCancel

This Tuesday Ten will be a light-hearted post to balance out the recent heavy topics that have been discussed on Blue Abaya :)
I got this meme from a fellow Finnish expat blogger Heli who currently resides in Norway. Thank you Heli! Her Norwegian Diary blog (in Finnish language) can be found here: http://norjalainenpaivakirja.blogspot.com/.

So the idea is to list ten things that get you in a good mood. Pretty easy! And then pass it on to five other bloggers.
Here’s my list:

1. My daughter’s smile. She smiles all the time, even if I need to wake her up in the middle of the night she will smile for me. If I’m dead tired or suffering from a case of morning crankiness she manages to lighten up my mood with her sunshine smile.

2. Travel. Whenever I get the chance I want to travel! If only to a place we haven’t been to in the nearby desert, travelling and exploring new places just makes me happy and elevates my mood.

3. My nieces. I miss them so much! We try to Skype as often as we can and my daughter gets so excited on the Skype she cannot control herself and wants to go kiss and hug her cousins. As much as it cheers me up it does also sometimes make me sad they are so far away though.

4. Pancakes. The Finnish kind. It’s never too late or too early to have pancakes! Pancakes can totally save a crappy day. Last week my husband made me pancakes two times! Once at 5 am when I couldn’t sleep and the other time was for a surprise breakfast in bed.

5. My husband. Nobody makes me laugh like my husband! He always manages to make me in a good mood no matter how bad the day was.

6. Animals. Mainly my own pets but all watching all kind of animals makes me happy as long as they are not being mistreated which is when I get EXTREMELY upset.

7. A walk in the park. Not too many options in Riyadh but my favorite is the Diplomatic Quarter’s astonishing well groomed and private parks.

8. The Ocean. Whether it’s swimming or diving in it or just the fresh ocean breeze, the calming sound of the waves or the salty water splashing on my face when sailing, the ocean will always make me happy and relaxed.

9. Helping someone become happy. It makes me happy to make others happy. Satisfied patients are guaranteed to put me in a good mood.  A happy husband makes a happy wife. I hope I can make my family happy although we are so far away now. I love seeing my friends enjoy their time and I love organizing parties!

10. A good night’s sleep. Which used to mean 12 hours for me but now I will be ecstatic to catch more than 6 hours of undisturbed sleep at any hour of the day!


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  • AnonymousMarch 7, 2012 - 3:27 am

    Ahh thanks for that post Ms. Sisu (I don’t know your name).

    Things that make me happy
    snuggling into bed at night
    drinking coffee in the morning
    that post exercise feeling
    (gotta love those endorphins)
    people who do small, simple, good things
    realizing there are many of the above people
    my foster sister (we are both middle aged now)
    alpaca/cashmere/silk/linen fabric or yarn

    Thanks againReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 7, 2012 - 7:41 pm

      Thank you for posting your list! Are you from South America by any chance? I love alpaca too!Do you know of vicuna? I bought a vicuna shawl from Peru and it’s amazingly soft!!ReplyCancel

    • AnonymousMarch 8, 2012 - 1:19 am

      No I’m from the US but I have spent time in Bolivia and Peru. Vicuna and alpaca are just amazing.

      Your blog was the last thing I read last night before a lovely snuggle into sleep so . . .er . . . oops I forgot to sign my.

      Many apologies,


  • FarooqMarch 7, 2012 - 11:25 am

    Ahh lovely post…Now let’s see how people manage to turn it into an us vs them debate. haha

    Ten things I love:
    My son smiling
    My wife smiling
    Our families hanging out together
    Munnar (It’s a place in Kerala)
    Great food
    Great movies (Saw Frank Capra’s Its a wonderful life recently and it was lovely)
    Blue seasReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 7, 2012 - 7:42 pm

      Farooq-haha I hope not!
      Lovely list thanks for sharing, makes me smile :)ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMarch 7, 2012 - 12:38 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your positivity! I’ve recently discovered your blog and love reading your stories! Thanks again for sharing! Francesca, Ottawa, CanadaReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 7, 2012 - 7:42 pm

      Fransesca-thank you! I’m glad you like my blog :)ReplyCancel

  • mrsbawazirMarch 7, 2012 - 1:00 pm

    Even though I cannot see your daughter’s face but I think she looks amazing. I am a new mommy so I swoon every time I see babies. I just want to hug them and kiss them.

    Things that makes me happy

    1. My almost 5 month old daughter. She is always happy mashallah and laughs at the most random things such as dangling a cloth diaper in front of her face…
    2. My husband, the craziest, funniest, most casual person I have ever known. He makes me laugh, he makes me sane when I am almost bursting, he keeps me grounded and loves me through thick and thin…
    3. Fresh, clean change of bedsheets…ahhh I love the smell and touch of the fabric…
    4. Cream crackers dunked in hot cocoa…that reminds me, I had better pop over to TESCO…
    5. Driving in the rain and storm…I am just in awe when I see the rain splattering against the wind-shield…plus seeing my husband’s face when he sees the rain is just classic (the poor guy, coming from Saudi hehehe)…
    6. Watching a movie while snuggling up to my husband on our sofa…
    7. Brunch with my sister at Coffee Beans while gossiping about her evil boss and my husband’s latest antics…
    8. Chocolates and cheese, I could eat them all day long…thank God for my daughter who keeps my figure in shape…
    9. Seeing my daughter sleeping peacefully…and for me some sleep also…Sleep sleep, wherefore art thou?…
    10. Knowing that Allah has given me so much, a wonderful husband, a delightful daughter, living in a peaceful country, and acknowledging the fact that any dream is possible with hard work and lots of dua’a.

    keep writing Laylah, your blog makes my day! ah thats on my list of happy things too :)ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 7, 2012 - 9:25 pm

      mrsbawazir-thank you and Congrats for your little one!Our babies sound very much alike! It must be the nice mix of genes that makes them so happy and content ;)

      I love all the things on your list! May I ask where you live?
      All the best to you and your family!ReplyCancel

    • mrsbawazirMarch 8, 2012 - 11:21 am

      thank you Laylah. yes, I could just see our babies playing together :) I live in Kuala Lumpur, the beautiful capital city of Malaysia. If you ever decide to come here, do let me know and I’d be delighted to show you around while our kiddies play , inshaAllah :) I could just imagine them babbling Arabic with a dash of Finish, English and Malay hehehe!!!

      Thank you, Allah gv you and your family rezik always and keep writing, you do it so well mashaAllah!ReplyCancel

  • HudaMarch 7, 2012 - 1:55 pm

    This is such a nice post I love it! I can relate to so many of those points especially the animals, I love them and when I see them getting mistreated it just ruins my mood and my day.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 7, 2012 - 9:26 pm

      Huda-thank you! You will be having a bad moos soon I have to warn you about a serious issue I’m working on right now :(ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMarch 7, 2012 - 8:57 pm

    I dont’t know what happens to my comments when I send by iphone but those dont’t seem to appear here and no text to confirm that comment has been sent for…Anyway I wrote to you private message re the cats also. Maybe you never received it either? Now I wanted to thank you of recommending that pet clinic. My husband took the cats there and he was very impressed of that clinic. The cats are now staying there for antibiotics (and maybe i.v. also) for 5 days (so bad flu). They are going to look after the cats also when ever needed which is great.
    You have cute looking baby. Has she got brown/blue eyes and do you speak finnish to her?
    Are there good beauty-/hair saloons in Riyadh to recommend?ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 7, 2012 - 9:31 pm

      HI there! Sorry I did get your email but I didn’t get a chance to reply yet!Been very busy last few days, but I will reply within next few days! So are all the cats at the clinic now? Good to hear they on their way to recovery! I am so worried of the ones at the farm and hoping he goes get them out asap because the farms are only for mass breeding of cats until they die :(
      My baby has brown eyes and was born with a mop of black hair but now it’s already pretty light colored brown :) I always speak Finnish to her ans she has started to say things in Finnish already, she’s 11 months now.
      There are few good ones like AlManahiil and AlMultaka have good hair stylists!ReplyCancel

  • JeanMarch 10, 2012 - 4:53 pm

    Very cute kittie. What’s Finnish pancakes like?

    Here in Calgary, we call them flapjacks.

    My 10 favourite:
    1. A lovely bike ride when it’s warm, not too hot and there’s Nature budding green and scent of flowering buds. For several hrs.

    2. A bike ride at night during the summer –but no mosquitoes please. On quiet paths and streets.

    3. A lovely smoked salmon sandwich with cheese, tomato, Dijon mustard.

    4. Travelling, cycling with my partner

    5. Sharing a lovely home-cooked meal with my partner.

    6. Exploring new artisan bakeries. :)

    7. Blogging on topics that particularily inspire me.

    8. Chatting up with friends and family.

    9. Walking on residential streets at night with snow falling gently. So peaceful.

    10.Snowshoeing up in the mountains through thick snow-draped areas. Magic.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 11, 2012 - 1:34 am

      Jean- That’s one of our cats :) Finnish pancakes are more like crepes, thin and the batter is different than the american one.

      Thanks for posting your list!I love all of them! Especially #9ReplyCancel

  • NoorMarch 18, 2012 - 11:44 am

    I just saw this I will do it now :) <3 love your thingsReplyCancel

  • Zohra IqbalFebruary 7, 2013 - 9:06 pm

    Just read this post, it made me smile… :)
    Pretty much all of the things that make me happy make you happy too…ReplyCancel

The Princess Souk in Riyadh! Sounds like a souq for Saudi princesses right? Glamour, glitter and gorgeous gowns?
Not exactly.
This is actually a second hand souk located in Riyadh’s Batha, the infamous “ghetto” of Riyadh.
Princess souk is like a huge open area marketplace, fleamarket, garage sale, whatever you call it, it’s worth a visit!

At first visitors might be taken aback by the set up, looks like a shack village with all the ugly metal sheets, dirty carpets, and general uncleanliness of the area.
But this is a place where women (and why not some adventurous men!) can make incredible bargains and make some surprising finds.

UPDATE 2017: Princess Souk in Riyadh has moved to a new location. A new shaded area has been built for the souk, it’s located right next to the old Princess souk location. It’s now a much more pleasant, clean, organized and safe experience than it was before. Highly recommend to visit in the early mornings. 

princess souk riyadh

Dress from Princess Souk in Riyadh

The name of the souq comes from rumors that the clothing was donated there by royal family princesses. This might be partly true judging on some of the items that can be found there but the majority of the clothing is normal everyday brands (not saying real Princesses wouldn’t wear such but..) also some of the evening gowns are just..so interesting. Take a look at the pics below and you will see what I mean.

princess souk in Riyadh

Dresses at Princess Souk in Riyadh

 Check out the dude in the right lower corner. I will tell you about him later.

Princess souk is open everyday but the best days to go are weekday mornings. Not too much of a crowd and you can actually see the clothes! Sometimes at night the whole area might be out of electricity and even if they do have it, the lamps are ridiculously bad quality! The shops start opening at 6-7-am and close at Dhuhr prayer sharp. Muttawa roam this area frequently so shopkeepers will promptly close their shops in fear of getting arrested. Next the shops open after Asr and then close after Isha’a prayer. On Fridays the souq is closed in the morning.

The Princess souq is also called Haraj bin Gassem and most taxi drivers will know it by this name. If you want to venture out there on your own vehicle, be prepared to get lost a few times as the area can be confusing. Take the exit 22 ask for Haraj or carpet souq which is next to it and you will be pointed to the right direction.

When you get to the souq the amount of clothing will be overwhelming. It’s good to ask the salesmen who are mostly Indian and Pakistani and speak some English to point out the best evening gowns for you, if that’s what you’re looking for. Many of the nicest gowns hang from the ceilings and might be hard to spot. But there are some stunning evening gowns out there! This is also an indication of how many parties Saudi women attend (gown can only be used once then thrown).
The vast styles Saudi ladies wear to weddings and parties is really interesting. There are simple elegant ones and way over the top ones with the motto of “you cannot put too much lace, satin, bows, beading, crystals, ruffles and embroidery on one dress”. It’s amazing what women will actually wear! Reminds me of Christmas somehow..hmm..

Browsing the souq you will come across the weirdest things. Here some pretty raunchy panties hanging among other underwear. I will leave it to your imagination what else can be found there..

princess souk riyadh

One of my favorite things to search for at Princess souk are children’s clothing and little girls party dresses. They will go for as cheap as 5-10SAR a piece and the more you purchase the more discount you will get! I bring these back home to my nieces who love to dress up as little princesses. In Finland raw silk and handmade gowns like this would cost anywhere form 100 euros up, so getting them for a mere fraction of the price is totally worth the hassle.

^^Saudi Haute Couture anyone?

There he is again! The down side to shopping at Princess souq are the perverts. I also call this place Pervert Central. I would not advise women to go here alone but always in groups or preferably with husbands. If you absolutely must go alone then take a trusted driver to walk around with you. I have been groped here in full daylight by men walking past and just taking a go. Another tactic they use is lurking behind the clothing stands.

One of my friends actually caught a guy masturbating behind the racks. My tactic is to take their picture and shout at them. Sometimes they need serious actions! The above creepy creepers were following us around on different occasions.
The first guy pretended to be purchasing something. I told him to take a hike and he started asking if we were Russians and wouldn’t listen to me telling him to piss off, he just continued his game.I finally shouted at him very loudly and he shouted back F**k you Russians! He left cursing us.

The perv #2 was just staring at us. I tried to take his pic but he kept turning around. So next I told the salesman about his behavior (they know these guys sometimes) and he just picked up and old shoe from the ground and threw it in the perverts direction! The slimeball ran away.

So if you find yourself in these situations it’s best to make a big deal to expose him and do ask the salesmen for help, they are very friendly and polite.

For once the Hai’a who are strongly present in this area would come in handy but guess what? They only concentrate on shouting from their megaphones for women to cover and men to close shops for prayer and go pray. Sometimes they even beat people to go pray. One of my Asian colleagues got shouted at and beaten on her legs for wearing an abaya that had small butterflies on it. She was forced to cover it with a plain black one from the souq.
That’s the priorities of the religious police for you..

Blue dress Riyadh princess souk

Beautiful dress at Riyadh’s Princess souk

So what about the prices? It’s an absolute MUST to haggle here! Prices range according to the color of your face. No joke! Western women might get asked 100 SAR for something Indians or Filipinos might get for 10 SAR. I never paid more than 50SAR for an evening gown and that was only once! Usually they will go for 20-30 a piece, children starting from 10-20 a piece.
Normal clothing is much cheaper, you can get three shirts or skirts for 10 SAR. If you find an expensive brand name don’t mention it to the seller, sometimes they are not even aware. The above blue evening gown cost me 15SAR and it’s flawless and looks stunning! If you are not getting results with your bargaining skills, simply WALK away. 90% of the time the seller will run after you and sell for the price you asked.

You will not want to buy anything with a stain on it, but sometimes some stains have slipped my attention. Some do come off in laundry but the salesmen will try to convince you everything comes off. I always take the evening gowns to the dry cleaners in Saudi because it’s really cheap here and they will iron the gowns for you too. The rest of the clothes I just wash in the washing machine. It’s always a good idea to check that the zippers are working.

You can find the most beautiful wedding gowns here as well. Most of them have been custom made. The above dress came down from 750 to 220 SAR. It has intricate lace and beading detail and is high quality silk, the veil is simply breath taking! Below one of the beautiful gowns more my style that I found for 20SAR:
So is it worth the dust, traffic, perverts, sometimes heat and all the hassle? In my opinion it’s a definite YES! But I like little “adventures” and don’t mind a few setbacks. This place is surely not for everyone. I took my mother and sister there when they were visiting Saudi and they really liked it.
EDIT: Princess Souk has moved to a new location nearby the old one. It’s a much nicer experience now and taxis will know it by the same name, just ask them to take you to Princess Souk in Batha or Harraj Bin Gassem.
princess souk dress
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  • HudaFebruary 22, 2012 - 3:23 pm

    Aww the photos of your nieces are too cute!

    An interesting post – are there many shops such as these in Riyadh or in Saudi in general? This is the first of its kind which I’ve heard of. I was always under the impression that a shop like this would be hard to find given the notion of always buying new things, wearing once and throwing it out, and that the idea of a well to do Saudi woman shopping at a second hand store would just be ridiculous. Who are the main types of customers? Could the store be possibly run by women?

    I think its a great initiative actually, its a good way to give back to the community and to encourage others to donate their things.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahFebruary 24, 2012 - 8:12 pm

      Huda-there are not many "shops" like this anywhere in Riyadh. This is actually a huge area with maybe hundred shops.
      Saudi women do shop here, but they are the poor ones..You would NEVER see any other Saudi woman here that's for sure.
      Only buy brand new stuff.
      Main types of customers are the poor Saudis, Pakistani, Indian, Filipino and other Asian expats..SomeReplyCancel

    • AnonymousDecember 13, 2012 - 4:03 am

      Those countries are a complete mess because of essentially being robbed by European colonizers for over 200 years. Everyone was out looking for India cause of its wealth, resources, education, and the legendary beauty of the women to marry. Now after all these time it is recovering from a history that people from countries such as Europe and the Middle East have not experienced. The practice of not using recycled clothes comes from the Victorian era through which these countries were occupied, as some of these habits were introduced by the European colonizers.ReplyCancel

  • FarooqFebruary 22, 2012 - 4:43 pm

    mashallah very cute neices. easily the best pictures of the lot.

    Interesting to know of such a place. There are bargains to be definitely made in such places. Though as you suggested, women do have to be careful when they visit these markets. Preferably in the morning on a weekday when there are lesser crowds. My wife had a very bad experience in Batha once in the evening of a weekday even though I was with her. Not that I came away unscathed, my wallet got pick pocketed as well. But that’s another story :-)ReplyCancel

    • LaylahFebruary 24, 2012 - 8:14 pm

      Farooq-Please do tell us what happened! Strange things happen in Batha sometimes! It's the city of men so women usually feel VERY intimated there, plus the muttawa are just horrible there.ReplyCancel

    • FarooqFebruary 26, 2012 - 6:22 am

      Well I was in Batha trying to buy some stuff with my wife, who was about 5 days old in the kingdom. Looking back on it, I realise it was extremely stupid but well I learnt my lesson. Everything was ok while we walked along the shops in the main street for Batha. Suddenly there was a big rush of people selling something and in that hustle, i lost my wallet with all my cards etc and she got groped.ReplyCancel

  • NoorFebruary 22, 2012 - 9:56 pm

    OMG I can not believe what women here have to deal with and us Western women have to deal with it times 10000. This is why I always take my husband with me. My husband and I went through Batha but I was like ugh lets get out of here lol. And now after hearing this and the above comment I am scared even more. BUt wow that blue dress is really nice mashAllah I may have to go there. Actually now that I think about I think we did go there but we never got out of the car. It was all men and like you said they seemed weird and I did not want to deal with their crap that day.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahFebruary 24, 2012 - 8:17 pm

      Noor-I understand that feeling! Sometimes you just can't be bothered and other times I could kill those staring men, I can't tolerate the rude behavior AT ALL! That's not a good time to go of course..ReplyCancel

    • NoorFebruary 28, 2012 - 10:01 pm

      I think it may be somewhere else we went is there a place called hamam or something?ReplyCancel

  • flying finnFebruary 22, 2012 - 9:55 pm

    I´m moving from Finland to Riyadh 3 March and will working KFSH :)ReplyCancel

    • LaylahFebruary 24, 2012 - 8:15 pm

      flying finn- How cool!! Where will you work there? Do you know some Finns here in Riyadh already? Let me know if you need any help :)ReplyCancel

  • mrsbawazirFebruary 25, 2012 - 8:31 am


    Laylah, I loooove your blog.

    bigstik1, I happened to wander on your blog and I find that you seem to have a strong prejudice towards anything Saudi,Islam and Muslim men? U boldly stated Abrahamic religions are enemies of women? That all Saudi men are women-oppressing barbarians? The Quran and its problems? Certainly I can safely say that you are a veryReplyCancel

  • HudaFebruary 25, 2012 - 10:12 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyCancel

  • DanielletriniFebruary 25, 2012 - 5:06 pm

    This place sounds great. My god daughter would love those dresses. And so cheap too!ReplyCancel

  • HeliFebruary 25, 2012 - 10:03 pm

    Hei Leylah! Sinulle on blogissani hyvän mielen haaste :)ReplyCancel

  • mrsbawazirFebruary 26, 2012 - 8:31 am

    Bigstick1, I must say you are a very arrogant person, hailing proudly that you will continue to speak your mind EVEN if it offends other people and their beliefs. My 'sack' is something i am proud to wear without pressure from anybody but myself and the need to obey my God. Sometimes I do wear other kind of clothing besides the abaya (I live in Malaysia, a Malaysian married to a Saudi)ReplyCancel

  • mrsbawazirFebruary 26, 2012 - 8:32 am

    Islam teaches not only women but men to guard their desires and to lower their gaze among other vast yet simple commands. Combine and obey all the teachings of Islam and we will see no perverts, alas that can only happen in a perfect world. You stated that you have "read" all the Islamic books yet you are not convince. I pray Allah give you hidayah. Yet, millions of reverts will chooseReplyCancel

  • Sandy :)February 26, 2012 - 7:02 pm

    I would like to point out that part of why men would harass the more uncovered woman is because they’ve been TAUGHT that her dressing that way indicates availability. In the quest to encourage women to where black sacks they have created an understanding that women that do not do this are choosing not to in order to indicate availability. Also if they see a westerner doing it, after all their remarks about how western women all sleep around they assume what they’ve been taught is true.

    Bigstick as a Muslim I don’t find your calling abayas “black sacks” at all. That is pretty much exactly what they look like and you are under no obligation to respect them. Personally I think women have the right to wear them to the same degree they have NOT to wear them.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahFebruary 27, 2012 - 8:22 pm

      Sandy-Some men that grow up in certain cultures will always think the western woman is “easy” no matter what she wears. But I still think her walking around in abaya vs in tight jeans would generate a different response from such men..ReplyCancel

  • mrsbawazirFebruary 27, 2012 - 4:22 am

    Hi Bigstick1

    About the University of Missouri studies on sexy images and its impact on the human mind, exactly my dear bigstick1, once the men where told that they would have no problem in establishing relations with these women, their self conscience were not affected. Now tell me, would you say those PERVERTED men out there are in any way near to being understanding? Women are never to be blame in any sexual crimes against them but as I said, I cannot control those men but I can control myself.

    Next about our beloved Prophet Muhammad SAW. If you take the time to study a little bit about the history of the tribes in South America, Middle East, Africa, India and the far eastern Oriental countries 1400 years ago, you would find that many TRIBES even until today allow the marriage of females at a very young age.Child brides were common among the Byzantine emperors and nobility. It is important to know that girls during the Biblical and Islamic days used to be married off at young ages when they either had their first periods, or their breasts start showing off. In other words, when they turn into “women”, then they get married.The culture back then and in many third world countries today (NON-MUSLIM ONES TOO) is quite different than what you live in today.In Ancient Rome, it was very common for girls to marry and have children shortly after the onset of puberty.The American colonies were also not exempted. For example, Mary Hathaway (1689) was only 9 when she was married to William Williams.We all need to understand the culture that we are talking about. Life in the rural Middle East is a very simple one. It is a lot simpler than what our brain can imagine, because the simplest to you in America may be a very difficult or complicated thing to those folks who live in tribes in the rural areas where they don’t have TV, electricity, or any electrical equipment. They live on natural water and survive on what they have available from fruits, vegetables and animals as food.
    Parents look at the girl’s physical appearance when they prepare her for marriage. They don’t care about her age. She could be 9 or 13, it doesn’t matter. Now, I am not saying i agree with the matter, simply stating the facts and their circumstances. Pertaining to today’s Saudi Arabia society, the Justice Ministry is working on new regulations to control marriages involving very young girls. Many members of the Shoura Council are calling to make the marriageable age to 18. Gradual efforts alas still an on-going effort. Many Saudis agree that setting an age of consent is very important in the modern age.ReplyCancel

  • mrsbawazirFebruary 27, 2012 - 4:38 am

    The other statements you made are just too ridiculous (Bachi Boy, selling daughters, etc) because perhaps they are being done by “Muslims” but no way are they associated in the teachings of Islam. Again you prove to show difficulty in differentiating between Islamic teachings, culture and individuals. “And their business is (conducted) through consultation among themselves.” (Quran.42:38)

    You stated that you dislike all religion. I believe once we dislike something, it hinders us from seeing anything good that thing has to offer. I for one do not dislike any other religion or culture as I believe tolerance is vital. Once we start to dislike, we end up being disrespectful, arrogant, narcissistic and we become blind to everything else except our own narrowed mindset. The only things I truly hate are lies, exploitations of any kind and child abuse.

    I do not know so much about other religion but I could safely say that you are on the err when it comes to Islam. You mention once that Islam encourages killings, raping, oppression, apartheid. Please show me one verse in the Quran to support your claims and please play nice (do not skim the Quranic versus by taking some parts and leaving other parts). Islam clearly abhor these issues-
    1) Killings – “And do not kill any You shall not kill any person – for God has made life sacred – except in the course of justice, and whoever is slain unjustly, We have indeed given to his heir authority, so let him not exceed the just limits in slaying; surely he is aided.” (Quran.17:33) “And if you punish, you shall inflict an equivalent punishment. But if you resort to patience (instead of revenge), it would be better for the patient ones. You shall resort to patience-and your patience is attainable only with God’s help. Do not grieve over them, and do not be annoyed by their schemes.”Q. 6:126-7

    Rape/oppression – “… and do not aggress; God dislikes the aggressors.” (Q.5:87)

    apartheid – “.., we decreed for the Children of Israel that anyone who murders any person who had not committed murder or horrendous crimes, it shall be as if he murdered all the people. And anyone who spares a life, it shall be as if he spared the lives of all the people. ..” (Qur’an 5:32) “O mankind ! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly, the most honored of you in God’s sight is the greatest of you in piety. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” (Q.49:13)

    Again I ask you, please re read the Quran without prejudice. Therein are history, lessons and a teaching for a complete way of life. May Allah give you hidayah.ReplyCancel

  • FarooqFebruary 27, 2012 - 5:55 pm

    Funny how a blog post about a secondhand clothes market can turn into a big debate about the evils of religion.

    Someone earlier mentioned about the Prophet marrying an underage girl. I wanted to share a very well written article about this. I suggest that everyone reads it with an open mind.


    • LaylahFebruary 27, 2012 - 8:34 pm

      Farooq-ya I know it’s funny! I’m too tired to participate fully as sometimes it seems like fighting against a windmill ;)ReplyCancel

    • NoorFebruary 28, 2012 - 10:09 pm

      LOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL this cracked me upReplyCancel

    • Don SolanoJune 14, 2012 - 10:31 pm

      indeed, just like Don Quexote ;)ReplyCancel

  • Greetings from Texas!February 27, 2012 - 10:31 pm

    It looks awesome, with the exception of the masturbating perv. WTF!!!! Not expecting that when I started reading this post! =)ReplyCancel

    • LaylahFebruary 28, 2012 - 9:36 pm

      Texas-LOL I know this place is full of surprises!ReplyCancel

    • NoorFebruary 28, 2012 - 10:09 pm


  • YazzieFebruary 28, 2012 - 11:47 am

    This looks like a great place to treasure hunt! Do you know if there’s a used books section?
    It’s a good idea to take pics of the men who harass women if you can do so safely. This is what some women in NYC have started doing.


    I grew up in NYC and have encountered my fair share of gropers and flashers on the subway but I would’ve been too shocked or scared to even think about snapping a pic.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahFebruary 28, 2012 - 9:38 pm

      Yazzie-It certainly is! Nearby there are so many other used stuff souqs like furniture, other home stuff and appliances. But now that I think of it, never saw books. Next time I go I will ask someone and try to find out!ReplyCancel

  • ♥ααℓiα♥March 13, 2012 - 11:10 am

    Layla, you’re awesome :-D

    BigStick1 all I got from your long @ss comments was “Pastafarians” and “bat sack” something X-DReplyCancel

  • BobMarch 24, 2012 - 3:09 pm

    Went there yesterday to buy more weights for my home gym. I was with a friend who is quite buff from being a gym rat. HE got groped by a young Arab man while we were trying to get through a crowd, so yeah…lol. However, that was a first for both of us.

    I would suggest going in the morning after 8:00am or after Asr on a weekday as quite a lot of the market is open air. Come MhagribReplyCancel

  • Saadia MirzaSeptember 8, 2012 - 11:16 pm

    I’m so fed up of these groping perverts!!! They scare the shit out of me. Please do a post about dealing with these sickos.ReplyCancel

  • drtaherMay 26, 2013 - 7:32 pm

    Dear Laylah,

    The more I delve into your blog, the more I am in complete love with it. I stay alone here in a small village about 600 km away from Riyadh on the route to Jeddah. I visited Riyadh last week for an exam that I gave there. I have thoroughly enjoyed this post, as well as some of the others. My own blog is drtaherofarabia.blogspot.com, and you are welcome to visit it. I am greatly inspired by your writing – the content as well as the tenor of your comment and your brave renouncing of the negatives of this country.

    P.S. The comments section on this post was too good. I enjoyed the sparring between the American guy bigstick1 and the lady who replied to her so bravely. Kudos to you!ReplyCancel

  • LaylaJune 3, 2013 - 11:44 am

    drtaher- Thanks so much for the comments and sorry for not getting back to you earlier!

    What village is it that you live in? That must be very challenging, but also sounds very adventurous to me! Are there any historical sites near you? What do you do there if you don’t mind me asking? Sounds os interesting :)

    Hope to hear back from you soon,

  • UnknownAugust 18, 2013 - 8:07 pm

    I would definatelly go to the souq,I need gown for a wedding party! As revealing and flashy the better! hahahhaa!ReplyCancel

  • คอกกั้นเด็กNovember 5, 2013 - 5:56 am

    Hi, I do believe this is an excellent web site. I stumbledupon
    it ;) I’m going to return once again since I book-marked it.
    Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.ReplyCancel

  • Saudi Wedding ExtravaganzaNovember 25, 2014 - 5:42 pm

    […] In preparation I had tried to “Arabize” my appearance a bit ie had Arabic eyebrows done, colored my eyelashes black and had some extra lashes installed at the spa. I’d found a beautiful evening gown at the “Princess souq” for 15 riyals! However the tailor I took it to for adjusting managed to do the opposite I was asking for so I had to choose another dress last minute. My friend wore the princess souq dress and she looked stunning! Check out the dress here it’s the blue one: http://blueabaya.com/2012/02/princess-souq.html […]ReplyCancel

  • bushraMarch 20, 2015 - 11:21 pm

    Well i went there with my husband just one week after arriving saudia.he was already shopping there for used furniture.yes there arr thousands of varities of everything u can imagine. i also donot prefer wearing used clothes.so we bought ikea wooden chair and table set in 150sar which was of 800 sar in awsome confition.kitchen cabinet set.and amzingly we found curtains which were i guessed newly sewed and not even washed or dry cleaned just in 50 rayals. Strange thing we observed that so many ladies were selling the stuff and they were nt ready to bargain at all.
    we went after asar but as soon as rush increased yes poeple were trying to touch me.i tried to swope in and run away from there.when some one called my husband and told him to stay with me. he has observed some guy chasing me.
    my husband felt so bad he never took me again there.ReplyCancel

  • […] The Princess Souq (blueabaya.com) […]ReplyCancel

  • Donations for MuslimsJanuary 23, 2016 - 2:29 am

    I went this place last month and it was amazing. You can find any type of long dresses over there at reasonable prices.ReplyCancel

  • rebeccaDecember 6, 2016 - 2:05 pm

    have you read bickstick comments??how can you not feel offended by the way he speaks about islam in general and about the prophet(saw)and Aisha(ra)
    i dont understand
    we have the right to disagree and to not hold the same belief but im sorry his or her comment isnt appropriate at allReplyCancel

    • Arabian LauraDecember 9, 2016 - 3:17 pm

      No, I hadn’t read all of them. I simply don’t have the time to read all comments on different platforms and when they get older then you just forget about them. I have deleted them all because I still don’t have time to read :D so it was easier. Noticed his blog didn’t exist anymore either.ReplyCancel

  • […] used goods are in english expatriates.com and haraj.com (Arabic only). In Riyadh you can visit the Princess Souk ( Haraj bin Gasem) where you will find just about anything you can imagine second […]ReplyCancel

  • MarrAugust 23, 2018 - 7:16 pm

    Yes at Princesses souq people find very unique interesting suff. The Saudis cleanses them self by changing old stuff to new ones. So some stuff are good or oldest but you have to take your time looking around. It’s like Fleamarket in America but Princesses souq has more interesting stuff.ReplyCancel

  • TabithaSeptember 5, 2018 - 9:50 am

    I just arrived here on 4 weeks ago. I’m off for several days and would love to visit this Souk but may go alone early morning.Wondering if it is safer now?ReplyCancel

    • LauraSeptember 5, 2018 - 7:23 pm

      yes it is with the location change.ReplyCancel

Dear Riyadh, or ___(insert any city in Saudi Arabia here). We love you but you are so boring! There is nothing to do. No cinemas, no bars. What else is there to do anyways?   Does this sound familiar to anyone? Life in Saudi Arabia is of course different to what most are used to back home, but it’s only going to be boring if you choose to make it so! Staying active and connecting with the local culture will always help with dealing with culture shock and getting settled in the land of the sand better.

There’s so many events going on this February I thought of dedicating a post to it on its own in addition to the Blue Abaya Facebook page which I regularly update for events. Too many things going on this month not to be missed!  For more things to do in Riyadh please check out 10 Things to Do in Riyadh in the Spring and the complete list of Things to do in Riyadh here. To keep up to date with new events and activities in Riyadh and all over KSA, don’t forget to subscribe to Blue Abaya!!

 ***please note these events and exhibitions are all from 2012, however there are many useful tips and ideas for activities in Riyadh in addition to events held yearly such as Janadriyah and Globe Food Summit!

This list of events and activities available in Riyadh to help all the people out there effected by the dreaded “Sandpit Boredom- Syndrome”.

1. The annual Cultural Heritage Festival Janadriyah is the main event and a MUST SEE for all expats at least once! Starting 8th Feb running through 24th Feb 2012. Check more info about timings and dates Janadriyah Guide

janadriyah cultural heritage festival

2. Reem International Circuit “Family Fun Day” on Thursday 9th Feb 2012: 11 – 10pm. Safari animals, BBQ, Kids and adults activities,, campfire lunch and dinner provided. Reem circuit has events almost every weekend, updated on their Facebook page and Twitter!

3. Classical Music Concert at French Ambassador’s Residence Monday 13th February 2012, 8p.m. Check out Maison de France Riyadh website how to become a member!

4. Cosmo Beauty Fair 2012 11th -13th Feb. 2012 at Four Seasons Hotel Ballroom. Women only. Check the hotel website for upcoming events!

5. “Strike Out” Family Bowling Day Thursday 16th Feb 2012 2 – 4pm. Members SR 50. Non-members SR60. Inc. shoe rental and 2 games. Sign up by 13th Feb at http://www.acrsa.com/

 6. Stand-up Comedy Show 16th Feb 2012. Riyadh private compound, tickets available at Wayne’s Coffee – Azizia Panda, Takassussi Branch. Check out Luxury Events KSA on Facebook and Twitter for upcoming comedy shows all around KSA.

 7. Al Faisaliyah Hotel Globe Food Summit 13th -17th February 2012. From educational cooking seminars to outstanding gala dinners, brunches and High Tea with Michelin Star awarded chefs. Reservations essential. Full schedule and timings on hotel website, plus updates on current events.
8. Chocoflora Exhibition 2012 Nayyara Banquet Hall. From 18th-21st Feb 2012. Women only. Go to nayyara.com for the updates on their latest events.

9. “From Sea to Shining Sea” in the US Embassy Formal Gardens Thur 23 Feb 2012: 7pm – Midnight. SR 250. Tickets at USERA Gift Shop sold from Sat Jan 28th to Sun Feb 19th 9.30-3.30 Sat-Wed. Closed Feb 18th. Go to USERA Riyadh website or FB for the latest activities and events organized by US embassy.

10. Barney and Friends come to KSA! Reem International Race Circuit 22-24th Feb 2012 several shows during the day. Barney, Pingu, Thomas The Train, Bob the Builder and others perform for the whole family. Tickets to these events and more can be found here: http://www.tlbcksa.com/

 11.“Carnevale 2012” by OasItalia Cultural Center A cultural festival in the Italian Embassy Thur 1 Mar:  7.30 – midnight Tickets on sale Feb 2nd 10 – 12am (OasItalia members only) and Feb 3rd 4.30 – 7.30pm Nonmembers.

Go out and enjoy the lovely February weather and take a cultural bath this month!


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  • DentographerFebruary 8, 2012 - 2:07 am

    Just a small notice,the Jenadriya operetta has been cancelled in an act of solidarity with the happenings in Syria.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahFebruary 8, 2012 - 3:43 am

    Yes I heard! You think the King cancelled it because of the immense pressure from religious clerics to stop this “haram” or because of sincere solidarity?
    My guess is the first case scenario.

    Operetta is only on the opening day so actually it will not effect the festival itself.ReplyCancel

  • Mumbai FestivalsFebruary 8, 2012 - 7:06 am

    From this article it seems Riyadh is a culturally active city.

    Mumbai too has a cultural festival called the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. It is a street cultural festival that runs from Feb 4 to 12. The festival has events such as plays, films, dances, music, visual art, heritage walks, literature, book releases, workshops, food events, children’s events and much more.ReplyCancel

  • FarooqFebruary 8, 2012 - 5:44 pm

    Thank you very much for sharing information about all these events.ReplyCancel

  • SarahFebruary 14, 2012 - 12:32 am

    Does anyone know how late the janadria festival goes to, the hours during the day? I hope to try to attend.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahFebruary 14, 2012 - 3:28 pm

    Sarah-until midnight!ReplyCancel