Saudi-Arabia is a country full of beautiful places to visit for those willing to make the journey to get there..While there are regular flights from Riyadh to Abha, we wanted to show my visiting mother as much of the largely unknown countryside as possible, so we decided to go on a road trip around Southern Saudi-Arabia, traveling with an SUV from our hometown Riyadh down to Asir region and the Farasan Islands. The distance between Riyadh and Abha is around 1000km when you drive on the route 10 through Al Kharj. We chose this route because my husband has family in Kharj, but according to the map the road via Muzahmiyah (route 30) the drive would be slightly faster (approx. 8h 30 minutes).

What an awesome way road trips are to explore the Saudi Kingdom! I love the fact that you can stop wherever and whenever you like to check out the surroundings. During our trip it was Eid Al-Adha holiday and my husband had almost two whole weeks off work which we took advantage of. We planned to have the following itinerary: Riyadh-Kharj-Layla-Wadi Al Dawasir-Khamis Mushayt-Abha-Jizan-Farasan…and back. But we ended up improvising and changed plans on the way, (we actually drove to Najran and Empty Quarter too) which makes road trips all the more fun!

In this post you’ll read about the journey from Riyadh through cities of al Kharj, Wadi Al Dawasir, Khamis Mushayt all the way to Abha which is about 1000km total drive. Check out all the amazing things which you can do in and around Abha in this post: Top 10 Things to do in Abha. More about the rest of our road trip in this post: “Saudi Road Trip

Road trips in KSA are fairly easy to make since the highways are mostly in excellent condition and well, gasoline is basically free. Or at least it’s cheaper than water.

There are affordable car rentals everywhere and we had our eye on a nice GMC Suburban but the agency screwed it up last-minute. So we ended up having to take whatever was left so last-minute: a crappy Land Cruiser. Sitting in the back seat of this so-called vehicle reminded me of the times I road on the buses in the Ecuador mountains. Fun times!

Lucky for me I was assigned the back seat and got to experience the constant rocking, bouncing, grinding and swirling motions of the car to its full effect. We left two hours late from schedule because we had to clean the car after the previous users. Apparently that’s not included in the service here. It might be a good idea to check on this before you rent.

roadtrip saudi riyadh abha

My little girl was only 7 months old at the time we took this trip and she was just such a little trooper. Sat in her car seat for hours without any complaints. We read books, played, watched the scenery and slept in the back seat while my mom was the head navigator in the front, My husband being the only one licensed to drive by Saudi terms (the one with male organ) was the designated driver, although I was dying to drive just a little bit in remote areas.. Which I finally did get to do while driving on a beach on Farasan Islands.

Our journey was so long and I took literally over a thousand pictures so I decided to divide the journey into three parts. All in all it was an amazing, surprising and enjoyable experience. The occasional setbacks and all the hours spent in the car were well worth it!

On our way out of Riyadh we saw many trucks carrying full loads of sheep on their way to Saudi dinner tables. During Eid it’s custom that Saudi families slaughter sheep for the special occasion.

saudi truck sheep

In Kharj we stopped to meet my husband’s great grandmother, my daughter’s great great grandmother! Her eyesight and hearing is a bit impaired and she didn’t expect us but nevertheless welcomed us into her house with such warmth and hospitality.
Births were not registered in Saudi back in the day so she did not now her age but estimated it to be near 90. She had 14 children that lived to adulthood and over 100 grandchildren. Imagine how many great great grandchildren that means!

While we were served tea and fruits by this sweet old lady, she told my husband how she had scolded some family members for not accepting his choice of wife because I was not Saudi. She said the most important thing is who she is and told him that she liked me and my mother. It felt so good to hear this. As the eldest family member her opinion will have powerful influence in the extended family.

We were shown all around her house and she would not let us leave, insisting we stay for lunch. She was amazed to hear we were intending to drive all the way to Abha that day. So we thanked her profusely and continued on our journey. This was one of the highlights of our trip.

The area around Kharj is dotted with green farmlands and date palm trees. My husband’s family has a farm in the town of Hotah Bani Tamim and we stopped by to take a look. It was like a small oasis! Huge palm trees, obese lemons and pomegranates. Nearby were some ruins of an old mud village.
In case you wondered, this is what an obese (raw) lemon looks like:
The road between Hotah and Wadi Al Dawasir was (according to the map) supposed to pass by a town called Layla. But we never found it! It remains a mystery. There was supposed to be some amazing caves near Layla, a town named after the tragic love story of Layla and Majnoon, the Arab equivalent to Romeo and Juliet.

This ^ is camel herding for the modern day (or very lazy) Bedouin.
Not much to see for about the next 500km. Read about what happened to us during this part of the trip, the terrifying near-death experience.

We reached Wadi Al-Dawasir and it seemed to be such a charming hillbilly town. The atmosphere was pretty laid back, men were sitting on couches at the gas station. Strangely there were no women in sight on the streets. Then we spotted a child driving a car, which is really not such an uncommon sight in the Kingdom. Women are not allowed to drive so the boy was most likely taking his mother around town for some shopping.

Finally we reached Khamis Mushayt, a small city next to Abha. It was very late so we only stopped at McDonald’s for a quick fix of ice cream. I was standing in line at the family section when a Bedouin man cut me in line(what line?). He started asking for a menu and didn’t understand the stuff was all up on the board. I cracked up when he started asking for “gambaari” He wasn’t asking for a drink but SHRIMPS! He kept repeating gambaari, gambaari, jib gambaari!
Dude haven’t you been to McDonald’s before? Mafi gambaari.

We reached Abha in the middle of the night. I recall it being almost 2 am. My husband went to the reception of the hotel we had booked. We wanted a family room with two bedrooms. They had an issue with this. They questioned him about my mother! Who is this lady and would not believe it’s his MIL despite the same surname. The staff told us to go to the police station and get a clearance that we were related! The nerve!

I was pretty pissed off at this point because a) It’s 2 am for God’s sake! We are checking into a family room with an infant, just let us go to sleep. b) if this isn’t my mother than who the heck is it? c) if she’s an unrelated random female why would she be travelling with us? c) if it were our Indonesian maid you would have no issues with her staying with us and d) are you implying that we are up to something haram in your hotel? Yet another example of customer “service” or should I say disservice in the Kingdom. This was the only hotel that asked for proof during our whole trip.
Needless to say, we changed hotels. But not to the above ‘I’m Hotel’-hotel! Duh we can see that you’re a hotel!

Abha turned out to be a very green and colorful city surrounded by lush mountains. Unfortunately very few traditional houses are left in the city. Most had been torn down. We headed out to the Asir National park, such a beautiful place!

Asir National park is famous for its baboons. Some of them were behaving aggressively toward the baby, showing their teeth and making weird noises. Unfortunately they seemed to be accustomed to tourists giving them food. I saw one man feeding them popcorn in order to get better pics!

We bought some delicious honey from this man. The honey was from Yemen and the man from Tahamah.

Unfortunately it was considered off season because Saudis find it too cold beyond October to visit the mountainous areas of Saudi and many of the tourist destinations were closed. As we wandered around the national park my mother and I surprisingly encountered some odd and even hostile behavior from Saudi men and women. I found this strange because I had heard people of Abha are friendly and welcoming. They shouted at us insults in Arabic, thinking we were Americans. I hate it when some people think you don’t understand when they say right next to you “hadi amriki”. You don’t have to be Einstein to figure that one out.
The three men in this picture were pretty rude and aggressive toward us. Still don’t understand why. My husband was walking further away from us with the baby so he couldn’t do anything. Later a group of young women followed us pointing and giggling. I guess we just look so amusing!
We found a perfect picnic spot! Or so we thought. Funny how Saudis are usually really private and don’t like people intruding on their privacy. Our picnic spot had lots of traffic and many “invaders” walked and talked loudly in their mobiles right next to us. Some Saudi women took their sweet time and the one in this above pic was stumbling around in high heels, peeking from underneath her scarf which she had thrown over her whole face. It was so weird I could only watch in amazement.
Look at this mess! Clean up after yourselves people! Would you throw this garbage on your mother? No? Then why do you throw it on your motherland!?
Mom and the little bear watching the sunset.
What is this? A stranded cruise ship?
Nope. It’s the Green Mountain. On top a restaurant and viewing platforms with magnificent views of the city.
On the green mountain we found what I would call the best souvenir shop in Saudi-Arabia! Loved these miniatures of the traditional houses of the region. They make pretty lanterns too. I bought similar ones from Sana’a a few years back.
When we were leaving Abha we managed to get lost a few times. Actually it was kind of my fault. I was acting as the navigator in the front seat and was reading the map. I opened the window in high speed and whooosh! The map was sucked out of the window before I could even say oops. That is what happens when you’re born blonde people. But hey we accidentally found this village of traditional houses so it didn’t really matter much. Or at least that’s how I like to see it.
Our journey continued to Jizan. The road from Abha to Jizan is very scenic and we stopped many times to take in the scenery or to get some snacks. Here a man selling corn on the cob.
Like I mentioned before in this post “I See Pink, people”  pink houses are very popular in this region! This one’s pretty lonely out there.
The baboons are a menace! They roam in large packs and jump around the roads all the time. Many had ended up as roadkill.

The winding roads in the mountains had occasionally only “suggested” speeds. Actually it doesn’t really matter what they tell you the speed limit is. Speed limit by Saudi terms means the limit is how fast you are physically able to drive under the specific circumstances. In these roads that would be about 140km/h.

The only time you will see a Saudi man driving 40km/h is when he is checking women out. So much for the suggestion. LOL



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  • bigstick1February 6, 2012 - 2:13 am

    Looks like you had a good time. You take some great pictures. Looking forward to the next post.ReplyCancel

  • bigstick1February 6, 2012 - 3:51 am

    I did not notice before but you mentioned some hostility as people thought your were American. So is there an open hostility toward Americans?ReplyCancel

    • AliFebruary 29, 2016 - 2:48 pm

      Usually any white European considered as American , cuz Americans have been working here in petroleum industry since 60s..

      And who in the world really hate Americans?!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahFebruary 6, 2012 - 3:20 pm

    bigstick-thanks! we had a great time! I wouldn’t say there is open hostility toward Americans. Some people are just so ignorant and rude..Mostly the really conservative ones. But as you can see from the pic the young men were dressed in western clothes, I think they just had the mentality that “all western women are w****s” and thus fair game for them to harass! That happens sometimes. I don’t understand why they would be hostile toward my 60 yr old mother though.

    The other incident was a middle aged man with his family (including small kids!) he starting shouting insults as we walked pass them. I was was in such shock I could not say anything! What an example he was giving to his kids..sigh.ReplyCancel

  • GeoffFebruary 6, 2012 - 3:33 pm

    Laylah you rock, great pictures. I wish I had the opportunity to see some of these places, but have so far been confined to Riyadh and Dammam and (Khobar). Funny thing is, when I first got here I told my boss I wanted to see the baboons, he laughed and said “their are no monkeys here!, this is not Africa!”.
    And if I may be so bold for poster above bigstick1: Laylah has a lot more experience here than me, but as an American I can tell you that its…Yes, no, maybe so. All seems to be luck of the draw. I’ll walk into a gas station in jeans and a t shirt to buy cigarettes and a Pepsi and end up having to shake hands with everybody before I can leave, they’ll try their English, I’ll try my Arabic and we have a good old time. Other days I’ll be in a suit on my way home from work and be openly stared at and hear the same comments. I’ve met some of the nicest people and some of the not so nicest, I can’t see any rhyme or reason to it. I doubt it would be any different for a Saudi in a thobe in the states.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousFebruary 6, 2012 - 3:39 pm

    Better than National Geographic ))) thanks for sharing

  • Stylish MuslimahFebruary 16, 2012 - 7:46 pm

    I love all ur pictures =)) I wish i could visit these places in the kingdom ! Unfortunately I m not allowed to enter this area with an umrah visa :( ..Urgh
    Anyways thanks for this post !ReplyCancel

  • TifyffeMay 29, 2012 - 11:03 am

    Hello Layla,what a lovely blog you have here.Please, i will like to know if i can use some pictures from this trip on my blog(i use it to communicate with my family back in Nigeria)I recently took a trip from Jizan to Abha-Khamis Mushayt(not recreational,so i could not take pictures)
    Looking forward to a favorable response from you.Thanks

    • LaylahMay 29, 2012 - 10:48 pm

      Tifyffe-Sure you can use them but please mention source and link back to this post, thanks!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJuly 14, 2012 - 1:42 pm

    Hi Layla

    when will we get the rest. We are planning a similar trip from the 16 Aug- 23 Aug so your imput will help a great dealReplyCancel

    • LaylahJuly 15, 2012 - 11:51 am

      Hi there!
      I have been working on the second part (of three) every now and then, problem is I’m on holiday and with very limited time and the post will be long with many pics :) So hopefully I would get it ready before your trip!
      It looks like you’re going on Eid? If you plan on going to Farasan book EARLY and be prepared for a crowd.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJuly 17, 2012 - 4:01 pm

    Thank you very much for your informative blog. I spent a good part of the afternoon today, reading and learning interesting tidbits about life in Saudi. I moved here in February this year, and I like it very much. I like the pace of life, the variety of Arab cuisine available in Riyadh and have enjoyed a few trips around the country. The people and the land fascinate me because it is the first time I’m experiencing desert living. Sometimes it can be frustrating having to rely on someone else to get from A to B, and the majority of expats I have met have been rather disturbed, frightening creatures, so generally I prefer not to engage other expats too intimately, and I have started to make friends with people who have lived here most of their lives. Thank you again for blogging such interesting pieces. All the best, and ignore the haters – cast them into oblivion, which is the sweetest revengeReplyCancel

  • AnonymousOctober 20, 2012 - 5:39 pm

    hi layla,can u plz tell me is there any appropriate place/hotel to stay in between riyadh to abha route?ReplyCancel

    • LaylahOctober 21, 2012 - 8:04 pm

      The only place in between those two cities worth staying is Wadi Al Dawasir and it’s a small town, not too many hotels for sure. We didn’t stay there. I remember driving through it and seeing some of those small apartment hotels on the main street but there are no large hotel chains.The next city is Khamis Mushayt and that is practically right next door to Abha so you might as well drive all the way there..ReplyCancel

  • KhurramOctober 24, 2012 - 9:59 am

    @Laylah, I really like the way you described your trip. Would like to read the next part of it.
    I am planning to drive this weekend from Riyadh to Abha with my family. Need some tips from you on:

    1. We would be leaving at aroun 9 am. do you think we will reach by 5pm to Abha City?
    2. Is it safe to drive to Abha after sunset?
    3. What is the best way to reach farasan islands from Abha city and the best time to start with?
    4. Are there any good resorts in the mountains in Abha?



  • LaylahOctober 24, 2012 - 11:47 pm

    Khuram-No you can’t reach Abha that fast unless you speed like crazy and don’t make any stops on the way. If you don’t want to leave earlier then you might reach Abha more like around 7-8pm. It really depends so much on how fast you drive and how many stops you make. The road is really good and you can drive fast if you want to. It’s safe to drive there after sunset the roads are well lit especially after Khamis Mushayt.
    From Abha you need to drive to Jizan first. If you want to take your car to Farasan, you need to book the ferry beforehand. It being Eid, I would recommend doing that a few days in advance because with all likelihood the ferry and hotels on Farasan will be fully booked for the holidays!
    The drive from Abha to Jizan does not take long, I remember us making the trip in less than 2 hours.Keep in mind the ferry leaves at 7am from Jizan to Farasan!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahOctober 24, 2012 - 11:48 pm

    Forgot to say I can’t recommend any specific resorts in the mountains because we stayed in a hotel inside the city, sorry!ReplyCancel

  • drtaherJune 17, 2013 - 3:02 pm

    Interesting entry! I am really amused that the hotel in question actually asked you all to prove your own mother’s relationship to your husband! Some people will always be morons.


  • nomanSeptember 30, 2013 - 10:35 am

    great .. planning to go Riyadh via Madinah from Jazan in coming holidays .. will try this route for return journey …ReplyCancel

  • […] Let me share a story and a valuable learning experience from our Saudi Road trip. […]ReplyCancel

  • Mom’s Adventures in the Magic Kingdom | Blue AbayaMay 11, 2014 - 4:25 pm

    […] our road trip around Saudi mom and her granddaughter are watching the sunset at Abha mountains. The green scenery there amazed […]ReplyCancel

  • Srikaanth SekarJuly 16, 2014 - 9:30 am

    Hi Laylah!!

    Me and 5 of my colleagues are planning a 5 days vacation during Ramadan Holidays to Abha. The decision was taken, just because of your article about the place. We too planning to go by road from Riyadh to Abha. Unlucky me, I couldn’t trace out the 2 articles which follows this one. If its already posted, please share us the link – it’ll be really useful. Also, we couldn’t access the picture blog. Self, being a wildlife photographer, am interested in seeing more pictures. Thanks in advance.ReplyCancel

  • KhaleelOctober 1, 2014 - 4:20 pm

    Hi Layla

    We are planning a similar trip from Riyadh – Abha – Jizan – Taif – Riyadh for 5 days.

    great experience. any idea which places I can visit in ABHA & JIZAN..

    Thanks for reply & Sharing..ReplyCancel

  • Maria RamirezDecember 1, 2014 - 12:54 am

    I really enjoyed your adventure and how you described what has happened on your journey (Y) …ReplyCancel

    • LaylaDecember 3, 2014 - 4:24 pm

      Thank you Maria, it was an unforgettable trip with lots of precious memories!ReplyCancel

  • Saudi-Road Trip Top TenDecember 5, 2014 - 5:46 am

    […] Last week I skipped posting because I was on a week long road trip around Saudi-Arabia. Our journey was awesome, surprising and eventful. Promise to post about it very soon with pictures from the most amazing places I never thought existed in the Magic Kingdom. For the Saudi Road Trip Part One from Riyadh to Abha post go here: […]ReplyCancel

  • Imran Ahmad KhanJanuary 19, 2015 - 9:57 am

    Hi Layla,
    I was expecting some directions on getting to the highway leading to Abha from Riyadh…… would’ve been very helpful , like you explained in your writeup for other places around Riyadh .ReplyCancel

  • […] over to this post Saudi Road Trip Riyadh-Abha to find out more about driving to Abha from […]ReplyCancel

  • Mohammed AneesSeptember 22, 2015 - 10:26 am

    Hi layla,

    Your blog seems to be very interesting and it shows that you had really wonderful time., I am going to Abha this evening with my parents on Eid-Al-Adha vacations. On random browsing to know more about Abha I found this website which gave me lot of information.
    Thanks for posting this article.I really appreciate it.I have prepared notes from your article and made plans accordingly.ReplyCancel

    • Laura of ArabiaSeptember 22, 2015 - 1:59 pm

      Thank you Mohammad for your comment, please let us know how your trip went! Have a safe trip and Eid Al Adha Mubabrak!ReplyCancel

  • Bushra Qamar AhmedDecember 3, 2015 - 9:21 am

    Moving to ksa was scary and it was soooo difficult for me to find something fun for me here until I found blue abaya website:-)
    For all the places I visited including tourist sites, peaceful gardens, spa or shopping places in kingdom ,I have always followed the blue abaya website. The best thing I like about her is her honesty focusing details which are “actually” important or interesting.
    So thanks to you for your wonderful guidance on road trip to abha we followed exactly the same and checked all top ten things to do smile emoticon it made our Eid very special.
    Keep it up Layla ! Your blogs are as amazing as you are!
    Bushra qamarReplyCancel

  • AnonMay 1, 2016 - 1:56 pm

    Your ” I m Hotel ” exp was funny dude !!ReplyCancel

  • zayedMay 5, 2016 - 11:18 am

    Hello I am very happy with this and I wish you a pleasant stay in my country and that Being may enjoy while you are here..
    thank you to show you a beautiful part of the nationalReplyCancel

  • Sameena Khan (Dr. Sam)August 12, 2018 - 4:27 pm

    Hi Laura,

    I am really shocked and sorry to hear your experience with the racist and rude Saudis out there in Abha. The problem is some of those people are really confined, havent seen or met many people and probably not very well educated (hence narrow-minded). Plus after all these years I’m sure you have figured it out on your own how people really behave here with foreigners. It is one of two extremes. But I want to comment here to let you know that I totally understand how amusing (and sometimes frustrating) it is when people take jibes at you because of the way you look. I visited France, Italy and Switzerland in March this year and being a niqabi, faced a lot of that slack that you faced here in Saudi. They thought I was either one of three things – a terrorist to be feared, an extremist to be hated or an oppressed woman to be pitied and ridiculed. They never thought I have free will and I am who I am by choice. People are the same everywhere in the world, they have the same prejudices and the same stereotypes. I wish we all started behaving civilized, started respecting each other as humans first. I wish you never have to face hateful people as you are an amazing person (from what I gather after being a regular, recurring reader of your blog) and I wish people around the world get some sense in them. I really wish that people like you and me could really write content that focussed on these issues and help towards shattering stereotypes especially about western women, muslim women, niqabi women, we need to empower each other..

    Till then, more power to you and keep up the amazing work.ReplyCancel

    • LauraAugust 23, 2018 - 10:20 am

      Thank you very much Sam for your message I fully agree ????ReplyCancel

  • Fahad JeeJuly 25, 2019 - 9:09 am

    Waaaooo …. you really know how to write… i just read your trip and trust me i m feeling like i was on the that trip …and really feeling tiredness of driving all the long wayy … today is thursday and really i will sleep who weekend and will get refresh after all this long drive.

    keep writting and dont loose your style its awsome…

    be blessedReplyCancel

  • AhmedOctober 6, 2020 - 10:09 am

    Took up my first road trip (& yes from Riyadh to Abha) inspired by your road trip to Abha. Couldn’t find Part Two of this blog ?ReplyCancel

Recycling, preserving the environment, conservation and green thinking are all mostly alien terms in Saudi-Arabia.

Wasting, exploiting the environment, littering and materialism are the way of life in the Kingdom.

“The GCC has the world’s highest levels of domestic waste, after the USA, generating more than 22 million tonnes of household waste in 2009. More than half of the waste, 58 per cent was generated in Saudi Arabia. Apart from domestic waste, additional refuse comes from littering parks, gardens and from the waste dumped in the seas and on beaches.” ( sadly this recycle site no longer exists)

stop trashing ksa

This is really a huge disgrace for the Kingdom as a Muslim nation. Islam teaches people to preserve nature, not to use anything excessively and to conserve the environment. Humans were entrusted by God with the responsibility of taking care of the earth. Here are some quotes from the Quran and Hadith: 

“Now, behold! Your Lord said to the angels: I am placing upon the earth a human successor to steward it” (Al Baqarah 2:30)
Rampant corruption and disorder have appeared in the land and in the sea because of what people keep doing. He will let them taste some of their doings, so that they might return to the Right Path.”(30:41)
“The Prophet Mohammed told his companion, Saad, that he was using an excessive amount of water to make ablution, (wudu) saying do not waste (water). Saad then asked if there could ever be wastage if water was used for the purpose of wudu. The Prophet’s reply was, Yes. Even if you are by a flowing river.”


Have people totally forgotten about this responsibility? Are they just ignorant of these teachings? Are people too proud to clean up after themselves or to recycle? What causes this atrocious negligence and irresponsible behavior?

How can people do this to their own country? Do they not love it? When I see places like this I think, they must really hate their country, why else would they throw trash on it?
To be fair it’s not just the Saudis who pollute this lovely country; many expats participate in it too. Mostly from third world countries, where the concept of recycling and reducing waste are foreign. Unfortunately the culture of littering is a problem all over the ME and both expats and locals from the region are engaging in the littering and remorseless wasting of resources.

There have been numerous grass roots efforts to change public opinion about recycling. Most campaigns are met with resistance and even ridicule. People simply do not take it seriously.

This past week was “Saudi Green Revolution Week” a campaign to promote environmental awareness in the Kingdom launched by Naqa’a Environmental Enterprise
Naqa’a was founded by a group of bold women from Jeddah who stepped forward to introduce revolutionary environmental practices across organizations in the Kingdom.

“The Saudi Green Revolution Week is a social initiative by Naqa’a Environmental Enterprise. It is a revolutionary movement of young people united to elevate the public’s awareness about the much neglected issues of the environment in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Green Revolution Week is a campaign of awakenings, new beginnings and hope for a healthier and cleaner Saudi Arabia. The campaign maybe for a week, but the Green Revolution is an ongoing movement towards an eco-friendly society; and ultimately a Greener planet.”

Jeddah is one of the most polluted cities in the world. Its beaches and parks are ruined with rotting litter. There are ongoing campaigns and efforts by locals to clean up the beaches and the Corniche, but it looks like a never-ending battle against the masses of trash. After the clean-up, more trash appears.

Typical attitudes: “The guy in the yellow overall will pick it up anyway, so why bother“. “I’m not a cleaner or a maid, I don’t pick up trash”. “Recycling is for freaks and weirdos, not cool people like me” or “I just don’t give a damn”.

What can be done to change the attitudes and spread awareness in Saudi? How to introduce these green values on the youth without them making a mockery of it?
Perhaps one way of waking people up is by making them realize that the plastic bag they have just tossed on the beach/street/park/desert will some day come back to them. What goes around, comes around. The plastic will dissolve into the ground water or animals will eat it. The chemicals will go up the food chain, until it reaches the human again…Their stomach..their bloodstream.
We should be kind to mother nature and treat her well, as we would our own mothers.


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  • JennyJanuary 26, 2012 - 3:49 am

    Texas in the U.S. had a terrible problem with littering in the 1980s; they were spending over $25 million per year on clean up with the costs rising significantly each year. They hired a famous researcher to help solve the problem and he concluded that emotional appeals to self interest and preservation weren’t going to make any difference. This expert came up with a brilliant solution: that the way to get the slobs who littered to change their behavior was to convince them that people like them didn’t litter. It was an appeal to their sense of identity. The state launched a now famous advertising campaign “Don’t mess with Texas”, and it was an instant success. During the first 5 years of the campaign littering decreased 72 percent. (I first read about this in a great non fiction book called “Made to Stick” by Chip and Dan Heath- the Don’t Mess with Texas portion starts on page 195- very interesting reading).ReplyCancel

  • HeliJanuary 26, 2012 - 9:05 am

    OMG! What a mess! I hope people over there start thinking and acting different.

    In Norway, there isn’t really a problem with littering, but what confuses me, is the way people consume and waste different things, eg. water, food, plastic bags (practically no-one uses clothbags when foodshopping). As far as I can see, it’s much worse than in Finland.

    It seems that sometimes people are so used to having plenty of everything and money to buy more, that they don’t feel necessary to be more reasonable when consuming. Or even thinking that being reasonable would be a sign of being poor! That is, keeping up a totally unnecessary facade.ReplyCancel

  • NamnaiJanuary 26, 2012 - 10:44 am

    I’m from a third world country and I was born and raised in Saudi Arabia. I just wanted to clarify that your statement

    “uneducated poor people who have no concept of what it is to recycle or to conserve are often the ones engaging in the littering and remorseless wasting of resources.”

    is a bit of a hasty generalization. Think about it. Third world, uneducated and poor usually means these people have few resources available to them and so are the ones more likely to reduce, recycle and reuse. They will try to make the most of their purchases. The educated believe that the uneducated need to be informed about recycling. Guess what, they’re the ones who have been doing it all along. Not because of social reasons like the educated, but because they have less and have to deal with the effects of excess garbage, poor farmers are a good example.

    It’s not the poor, uneducated that create the most litter but rather the more affluent and privileged that are more likely to have little remorse for wasting resources, regardless of where they come from. I’ll even go so far as to admit that despite reducing, reusing and recycling, I probably create more trash than my less fortunate countrymen. I say this because I am able to afford the consumption of larger amounts of resources.ReplyCancel

    • Leila KhojaApril 13, 2015 - 8:05 pm

      I was going to make the same point until I read your post. India recycles and reuses much more than most Western countries or those in the GCC. The older generation in KSA would never throw away things just for the sake of it or because they couldn’t be bothered to repair it. The article makes big statements and huge generalisations. It is not helpful in informing the dabate or in moving forward.There is an enormous problem in waste management in the GCC and it does need solving.ReplyCancel

      • LaylaApril 18, 2015 - 10:20 pm

        Thanks for your comment Leila! Interesting point about India being so advanced when it comes to recycling. I would have to still say that at least most of the european countries probably have the highest rates of recycles and reusing in the world. GCC is probably one of the worst when it comes to over-consuming and combined with almost non existent reusing or recycling of materials.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 26, 2012 - 1:50 pm

    Jenny-thank you very much for this information! I watched the videos you sent me and they were great and some would definitely appeal to Saudi public as well!
    They got amazing results with the campaign!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 26, 2012 - 1:52 pm

    Heli-the Scandinavian countries are still the world’s top recycling nations.But everyone can always do better and more!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 26, 2012 - 1:59 pm

    Namnai-perhaps you misunderstood what I meant. I did not by any means say it’s ONLY the poor uneducated folk that litter, on the contrary I stated the contribute to the problem as well.
    I was talking about littering and wasting resources in Saudi. In other words, the third world workers here and how they also litter and waste resources (although its not theirs but the employers).

    In a way they are less to blame like you said, because they do not know of any better. But the educated people that litter are the ones who consciously are doing harm. I don’t think many from third world countries ever thought much of nature conservation!
    It is our job to teach them the importance of recycling and green values don’t you think!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJanuary 26, 2012 - 3:50 pm

    Many third world countries are much cleaner than Saudi Arabia………..ReplyCancel

  • Abdullah from S ArabiaJanuary 26, 2012 - 11:05 pm

    I congratulate you for your constructive brain. I hope this article could be translated to arabic and I will try to do it if you don’t mind.ReplyCancel

  • Cheeky ChicJanuary 27, 2012 - 9:15 am

    Very nice article.Unless people start thinking than even one werson can make a difference this situation would never get better.You are right about uneducated but even educated ones are taking it for granted.It is about time government realise that recycling is mandatory.
    Glad to have found you..Loved your blog title..
    Following you now

  • LaylahJanuary 27, 2012 - 10:38 pm

    Abdullah-Thank you! Would be awesome if you can translate it to Arabic to spread the word :)
    Can you send it to me when you have finished? Thanks so much!!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 27, 2012 - 10:39 pm

    Cheeky Chic-thank you for the comment and for following :)
    Change begins from one person..ReplyCancel

  • AliceFebruary 1, 2012 - 7:43 am

    I had no idea Saudi was that polluted :( It’s scary.

    Great articles and thanks for rising the awareness. But much more initiative needs to be taken by the government, it should be made a priority, talking about it should be everywhere. Jenny gave a great idea. Maybe if some khaleeji pop and fashion idols talked about protecting the environment and their own share in it, maybe then it would appeal to fashion-conscious, consumption-oriented minds. Being Green should be promoted and made cool and fashionable, something for the VIP lolReplyCancel

  • Faisal HajiFebruary 1, 2012 - 5:50 pm

    I loved the post, I would also like to say that it is not enough to provide awareness to the people who contribute in messing up the beautiful golden dunes, its a responsibility for the “green” people to start talking about this issue. I remember when I was in Germany and upon leaving a public park, this women approached a couple with a plastic bag in her hand. She gave them the bag and told them that they forgot their trash behind. This moment inspired me forever.

    I encounter the same situation back home in Dubai, and I did the same. Surely, it wasn’t easily accepted by the other end, but it did get my message across.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahFebruary 2, 2012 - 12:19 am

    Faisal-thank you and welcome to my blog :)
    That was a very powerful way to intervene by the woman, I will have to try that sometime! But do you think it will work on Saudis ;) they might just take the plastic bag and toss it on the ground “for someone else to pick up”…ReplyCancel

  • parvatiJune 17, 2012 - 6:45 am

    Thank you for your post! I just came to live here a month ago..already went throught a shocking experience. At my the beach (even in Sunset beach!)..:((( rubish everywhere. How sad is this?

    I always was a person who wanted to protect the world, taking care of the environment, using environment friendly products, and reusable bags. Now I am truly disappointed. There is not any selective rubish container here!!!ReplyCancel

  • Terri PlezMarch 4, 2014 - 6:15 pm

    Layla, this is a topic that has disturbed me from the time I arrived a year ago. I couldn’t bear to discard plastic and paper and glass with all the other trash so I put it into separate bags hoping that somehow it might get recycled by the garbage collectors. I even started composting kitchen scraps. When I first arrived I had a dream (don’t laugh) of starting a recycling and composting program in the DQ. I woke from the dream because I don’t have the contacts of the confidence to get started. I’ve had a look at your list of ways to stop the madness and found that I do several already and those I hadn’t thought of I will start doing. I really appreciate your post.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaMarch 5, 2014 - 3:59 pm

      Thank you so much Terri! Are there any points I should add to the list? I’m planning on writing a new list of ways to recycle in KSA, so if there’s any I missed, please do let me know!ReplyCancel

  • Osama JaradatApril 13, 2015 - 3:11 pm
  • […] Saudi-Arabia has some beautiful and unique nature and by even the smallest changes we can make a difference in preserving the environment. It might feel like just a drop in the ocean, but when hundreds or even thousands of people make that one small change it becomes a wave of change. I’ve listed some ways to recycle in Saudi Arabia that are relevant to people living in the Kingdom and the GCC. This is a topic I’m passionate about and first wrote about in 2012: Recycling the Saudi Values […]ReplyCancel

  • KatyFebruary 2, 2018 - 2:59 pm

    My school is starting to compost and we would love for you to collect it! We are located in Saudi Arabia, Riyadh.

    I would appreciate a response, thank you.ReplyCancel

  • chrisApril 30, 2018 - 7:59 pm

Pink houses, pink villas. Pink trousers on fellas. Pink in the bathroom pink in the garage. Pink at the mosque, is this a mirage? Pink at the gas station! Is this a pink nation? Men with pink shoes, shirts and jeans,  can you tell me what all this means? Is there pink in masses, or is it just my rose colored glasses?

Pinkness seems to be everywhere in the Magic Kingdom. Surprisingly enough it doesn’t look like Saudi men have any problems living in pink houses, wearing pink clothing, going to pink mosques, pumping gas at pink gas stations or even driving in pink cars. Coming from a culture like mine where men are too “macho” to even glance at pink stuff, this strikes me as odd to say the least.


me weird, but I find this fascinating. The more I have started to think about it, the more I’ve begun seeing pink stuff! Everywhere. Maybe I’m just a nutter and this whole pink fixation is in my head. Or then it’s those rose colored glasses on my head?don’t mean to say ALL Saudi men dress in pink clothes but it’s not totally uncommon to spot pink items on men. Unlike in the west, it seems to be socially perfectly acceptable here.

saudi religious police muttawa

Also, pink houses and buildings are common. I started paying more attention to it on our road trip to southern Saudi. Special mentions go to Abha, Kahmis Mushayt and Gizan for men living in pink accommodation. What’s up with that? Did Saudi-Arabia just get an enormous amount of pink paint for free? Do the wives love pink so much they insist on it?

This got me thinking.. What might be the reasons behind the use of color pink in so many places? I mean I have never seen men so comfortable with pinkness anywhere in the world before or so much pink being used on buildings. For example a man driving around in a baby pink car in Finland would get VERY long stares, perhaps disbelief and laughter from women and in worst cases even land him in a fight.

Paint the house bright pink and people will think this dude also sees flying pink elephants. Or alternatively that he is a mere doormat and the wife obviously made the final decision on the paint color. Showing up at an ice hockey game in tight pink jeans and pink tennis shoes would be almost suicidal. The cultural differences of  how people perceive pink are striking!

So are men in my country and in the west in general just so insecure that they are terrified of using the color pink in fear of it somehow diminishing their manhood? Are Saudi men more secure in their manhood? Is it a cultural thing? Is pink just perceived as a gender neutral color in Saudi-Arabia? Why so much pink but not for example red, another “feminine” color? Is it only in the west that pink is perceived as a women’s/girl’s color?

This pink mystery reminds me of a true story that happened to my american friend who lives in Riyadh. She was in a shopping mall with her 1,5yr old son. His hair is a little longer which is unusual in Saudi but many parents in the U.S. find cute. A Saudi woman with a baby stroller stopped to talk to her asking, is this your daughter? My friend said no it’s a boy. So this Saudi lady dramatically threw her hands in the air looking toward the sky and began praying: “Oh Allah guide this woman to the straight path!” “Guide her to cut the sons hair!” “He looks like a girl, guide this poor woman!” She told my friend she MUST cut his hair because he looked like a girl. My friend was appalled at the woman’s behavior. Nevertheless she tried to be polite and said pointing to the woman’s baby dressed up in an all-pink outfit “What a beautiful girl you have mashallah”. The woman replied: “It’s a boy.” My friend asked why is he dressed up in PINK? She replied: “Oh, I don’t believe in colors being gender specific.” Btw my friend is an Arab Muslim. So long hair on boys=big problem, haram, makes boys look like girls=haram. Pink outfits on boys=no problems, doesn’t make boy look like a girl at all. Maybe Saudi men are dressed in pink as babies and get used to the color as being part of their wardrobe? So what do you think? Have you noticed this phenomenon? Why do you think pink is so popular?

P.S please note this post is labeled under humor and not to be taken overly seriously :)

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  • عبداللهJanuary 19, 2012 - 3:28 am

    I don’t pay attention to colours but from now I will start to take notice of pink people, houses, etc. Pink issue never came across my mind and I never heard people talking about someone who wearing pink, I mean mocking him. I can’t remember seeing any one wearing pink but as I say I don’t pay much attention to colours. In the photos you included, I think these are normal apart from the boy’s trouser and the sport club.

    Why they wear pink?
    I think they may be board and want to do something unusual and new. Or they may want to prove that they don’t care about any one and they are brave. Or they may want some attention.

    I think in saudi many people have no problem with looking like foolish they enjoy it and even if people look at them and laugh they will enjoy this and the people who laugh will understand why those doing unusual things. But in the west they are very careful and don’t want to be in the spotlight where people may laugh at them. I can see this deference in classrooms where western students don’t accept to be laugh at while saudi students enjoy it. Looking like a stupid and behaving like a stupid is prised by ancient arabian poets, When a man give an impression that he is fool.ReplyCancel

  • FJanuary 19, 2012 - 6:28 am

    What a funny story! She sounds like a real hypocrite judging your friends boy and seeing nothing wrong in her own actions.

    I think men in Saudi might wear pink because they want to show they are gay? Lots of gays! Every once in a while I notice pink clothing but also other bright colors like yellow or orange. Maybe it’s considered trendy?

    But why the other stuff I have no idea!

    Funny post!ReplyCancel

    • adamJuly 22, 2016 - 2:59 pm

      no its not about that its not easy to be gay in saudi arabia as saudi i see pink as normal color it doesnt mean its only for girls or something some times guys paint htere cars with pink to atrract people its hard to explain this cultureReplyCancel

  • NamnaiJanuary 19, 2012 - 8:06 am

    Pink or other feminine coloured houses or whatever isn’t too unusual. I don’t think it ever really was.

    However, not too long ago you wouldn’t see men in pink, orange or other “feminine” colours in Riyadh. You’d get stared at and maybe picked on because people thought you were gay. But since its become more and more acceptable to be wearing flashy colours and the various hiphiop designers are using them in their lines you see it more often on the “gangsta” kids. We all know how people here love western designers :D

    Neon/hot pink shoes and t shirts is quite normal now. Although I have yet to see people in pink jeans XDReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJanuary 19, 2012 - 3:38 pm

    I think pink blends in or matches sandy colors better than green. Maybe it’s a more natural choice for a building in Saudi Arabia than it would be in a greener environment. The long hair vs. pink clothes conversation about babies made me laugh. :) I doubt most of us fully appreciate how much our opinions are shaped by our culture.
    -Jenny from http://birthisbeautiful.wordpress.comReplyCancel

  • PiaJanuary 19, 2012 - 7:12 pm

    Did you know that pink used to be boys colour and blue girls colour! It was because pink was seen as a more decided and stronger colour, and it was more suitable for the boy, while blue was seen as more delicate and dainty, and it was prettier for the girl :)

  • AliceJanuary 20, 2012 - 5:10 am

    Pink is more popular in the UAE too. I’ve seen pink cars (and pink taxis for women with female drives) and pink houses. One of your neighbors lives in a pink houseReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 21, 2012 - 9:37 pm

    Abdullah-thanks for the very interesting insight! Had not heard of this phenomenon of making oneself look like a fool could be something to aim for! Wow and it comes from ancient arabian poets! Even more intriguing Thanks for this I will do some further reading about this for sure :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 21, 2012 - 9:39 pm

    Namnai-thanks for the comment, yes the clothing is more common now than say 5 years back! But still I’ve never seen so many pink buildings anywhere else than Saudi :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 21, 2012 - 9:40 pm

    Jenny-thanks for commenting, maybe the pink does contrast better, but one of the most pink areas Abha is mountainous and very green area :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 21, 2012 - 9:41 pm

    Pia-no I did not know that about the colors! Thanks for sharing very interesting :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 21, 2012 - 9:43 pm

    Alice-wow really pink taxis for women? I’m loving it! So it must be a Khaleeji thing then huh, this pink fixation!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 21, 2012 - 9:44 pm

    Stephi-LOL at your uncle and the pink polo shirts :)Have to agree with the skin tone thing, my husband has a pale pink tshirt and he looks soooo good in it (I got it for him years ago but he doesn’t like it too much)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 21, 2012 - 9:48 pm

    F-well I would have to agree about the gays. Sometimes I see men walking around holding hands and I wonder..are they?ReplyCancel

  • QusayJanuary 22, 2012 - 5:27 am

    How about a pink thobe, sunglasses, watch, and ghutra? :)

    I do not want to think about the underwear

  • LaylahJanuary 22, 2012 - 6:28 am

    Qusay-OMG this is pure AWESOME! Can I please attach it to this post? Pretty please:)ReplyCancel

    • UnknownApril 1, 2012 - 7:41 am

      Salam aleykum Leila,i am new blog user without a blog wow! I also live in KSA and i am new here ,also from Europe but from the souther Europe ,anywayz pink ,are u kidding me guyz ?That’s not man’s colour at all! Yeah it came across my country too before and men were wearing pink ,in that time even i thouhgt it was sooo….pink! just pink is for girls come on! Wear something black and blue ,be guyz and grab an energy drink or something! For masajid and builddings is okay to be pink but man’s clothes Oh my gash!ReplyCancel

    • UnknownApril 1, 2012 - 8:47 am

      Salam aleykum Layla ,i am a new blogger and new saudi expat living in Riyadh ,i also came from Europe but southern ,i like reading your blog u sound an intersting person and very intersting topics your posting ,about the pink colour that is never manly colour ,it used to be fashionable in Europe before but for special kind of man! lol anywayz here is my skype ,very cool to know u ,and keep with the intersting posts!
      c a l i e n t e _ 8 6ReplyCancel

  • Leigh B.February 26, 2012 - 5:11 am

    Salam Laylah!

    I traveled to Lebanon with my husband this summer, and I was also ASTOUNDED by all of the pink that the men wearing–especially pink skinny jeans. When I asked his teenaged nieces what was up, they just said that it's stylish there? So I guess it's just a gender neutral thing… :?

    Also–guys went around holding hands–grown men—in Lebanon as well.ReplyCancel

  • anime vanJune 18, 2012 - 1:03 pm

    I am from Saudi Arabia.
    I just wanted to remind you That most of these men’s clothes pink Came from the West. Why you do not Ask your people why they make this???
    In Saudi Arabia is most saudi men do not dress these colors.
    But some do not mind that worn in some cases.
    I have 8 brothers males in Saudi Arabia. Only two of my brothers
    I saw him wearing the color pink And my father did not like this And at the same time we laughed.
    Frankly I do not know why you focus on the Saudis.
    ((Saudi men wears pink oh gay. Saudis men Holding their hands together oh gay. Men Saudis Dancing together oh gay. Saudi enters the bathroom . Saudi out of the bathroom>>
    For this reason we think that most of the Americans Have a defect in their minds.
    In your west country gays Spreading in the your streets. And a lot of gay priests have raped children.
    And we did not forget the gay American soldiers And what they did In the prison of Abu Ghraib. And how they treated male Arabs.
    We are Arabs. We have a saying: the Who work dirty things the will Think of others like him.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahJune 18, 2012 - 9:02 pm

      anime van-thanks for the hilarious comment I really loved it :)ReplyCancel

  • bigstick1June 18, 2012 - 8:27 pm


    What is wrong with being gay? Next being gay doesn’t make you a pedophile. A pedophile is someone who likes children. There is a difference.

    Next the same can be said of Arab men treating others this way.

    In other words two wrongs don’t make a right.

    Her focus on Saudi is due to her being there in Saudi and it affecting her. People tend to write about things that have direct impact upon their lives.

    Next Laylah is not American, so she could care less about American’s defects as she is currently dealing with Saudi’s defects.

    Here is my American assessment. :)


  • LaylahJune 18, 2012 - 9:07 pm

    oh and anime van, notice how you mentioned the word GAY a grand total of EIGHT times in your comment, yet I didn’t mention it even once in the entire post.
    Wonder why you’re so obsessed with GAYS?ReplyCancel

  • Umm GamarJune 19, 2012 - 1:38 am

    Homosexuality is forbidden in Islam. But accusing someone without proof is even worst. Wearing pink doesn’t make a man gay, in fact the day my husband wore a pink tshirt was the day i finally gave birth to our daughter after being long overdue. Funny coincidence there but nothing gay about my husband.he was beside me like my knight in shining (pink) armour.ReplyCancel

  • NanieJuly 19, 2012 - 5:59 am

    Originally, pink was designated for boys, as it was thought to be the stronger color. In Christian tradition, red was associated as male, and its ‘little’ sibling pink was used for boys.(source) Blue was associated the Virgin Mary and therefore considered feminine.

  • AnonymousAugust 7, 2012 - 12:58 pm

    Interesting. This long hair – in some Levant countries there is a tradition to dress little boys as girls and put eyeliner on kids in any case to scare the djinn from stealing them. Of course, who would believe in djinns these days…

    As for the color – in Russia “gay” is denoted calling someone “galuboi” which is “light blue”. Well, they also call caucasians “black”, so it all depends… what is the color of mourning in different parts of the world.

    And what comes to pink being a macho color, actually it was used as war camouflage paint in the desert as it blends in with the shadows, also in war ships and reconnaissance spitfires.

    But pink pants – oh Layla have you seen the picture of Swedish King and Nalle Wahlroos a few years back? Pink pants is in vogue!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousOctober 6, 2012 - 3:09 pm

    i’ve seen many saudi guys wearing pink superman t-shirts……ia that a sign for sumthing?…lol….ReplyCancel

  • JeanNovember 20, 2012 - 1:25 am

    Instead of focusing on sexual orientation and meaning of pink, maybe a better explanation:

    If Saudi women normally wear dark abaya, then she is not wearing pink in public.

    So pink becomes less important as “feminine”.ReplyCancel

  • SueJuly 30, 2014 - 1:39 pm

    Even in japan pink is seen as a very manly colour while blue is seen as more feminine.
    It would be important for people to realise that colours and mannerism might mean different things in different cultures.
    Another example, A saudi guy holding your hand while walking, really imagine how awkward and “gay” it might sound and look. But it actually here means that he trust you a lot and values your frienship extremely, so dont even thing of pulling your hand away, thats a great way of hurting him. Though nowadays i hear its evolving.ReplyCancel

  • […] scenery or to get some snacks. Here a man selling corn on the cob. Like I mentioned before in this post pink houses are very popular in this region! This one’s pretty lonely out there. The […]ReplyCancel

  • Saudi-Road Trip Top TenDecember 5, 2014 - 5:47 am

    […] We bought five jars of delicious honey in the Abha mountains from this friendly  Saudi man who told us the honey had been harvested in the Yemeni mountains. It was so delicious! Pink houses are very popular in Abha and Gizan, I really don’t understand why this particular color is so common. I’ve never seen so many pink houses and villas and all sorts of buildings anywhere around the world before. I think it’s funny so many Saudi men actually live in “princess pink” houses! Read my post about the popularity on pink color (especially among men) in Saudi-Arabia here: […]ReplyCancel

  • AlyaniDecember 8, 2014 - 3:43 am

    It is just interesting how you noticed the Pink color and you searched and explained about it with a western person’s perspective.
    As a man in my 20’s I would explain this from my opinion, my family and I lived and grow up in south of Saudi Arabia (Asir) in a small town closed to Abha and I moved to the eastern of Saudi Arabia (Dammam) lately, I have not seen the pink color become a popular in my people interests in both areas. Back to my childhood when I was living in Asir, I knew and understood that if I use the pink color in my clothes, my family and my people in the community may even not let me get marred LOL :) I mean its shame unless the color come from candy or cranberry. Women, girls and (babies and girls more than boys) may wear shirts Thob (dresses)with little use of this color and it is acceptable. I agree with you and the other comments that some people especially teenagers or singles wear Pink these days in Saudi especially in large cities like Riyadh, Jeddah and East province’ cites . I believe those who prefer to wear and use it is only when they wanna act as (I’m COOLER than you)but still not a common thing that men wear pink in south of Saudi Arabia or even in north and other places in the country. The last 5 to 6 years I took my family to Abha City. Then, we hanging out around the city and we noticed the Pink Color been used a lot in some buldings. so my mom sisters liked that but me and my brothers make fun of how the city use this color painting buildings and appear as an ice cream lol . I also noticed some girls’ schools painted with pink color and purple!! which is not questionable for feminine, well its for girls so they may like it. But when it comes to some teens and men I would say they prefer it in their cars and shirts for some sneaky reasons; in order to been noticed by girls because they know that girls love pink so they well use it (im guessing) :)
    Anyway it is still not acceptable in our communities particularly from parents and mature people however I respect other people’s taste. from other experience here in USA, my American friends asked me why I’m not getting my hair cut!! however it was not long and they keep asking me if my family usually ask me to get it cut. I said yah especially when I went to school but it was not haram but bad when it become longer than it should be. They never let it grow and I was surprised too. it is also interested me, so I asked them why and they said this is how they grow up but others they don’t cut it. It is a globalization phenomenon that we consume from MEDIA and get affected badly with it.
    Thanks for this interesting Topic and ColorReplyCancel

Here are my top ten restaurants in Riyadh. There are so many good restaurants it’s not easy to pick only ten!
I am always amazed to see restaurant reviews on sites like Tripadvisor and others. They have stuff like McDonalds, Chilis and TGI Fridays and various average burger and pizza places on the top of their lists.
I would not place those places in my top 100. I would not even call McDonalds a restaurant!

So what makes a great restaurant?  It’s not only the good food, but the atmosphere, ambience, decor and service are all very important too.
Some restaurants in Riyadh are ridiculously overpriced for what you get in return and you’ll find they are not included in this list.

Restaurant in Riyadh are not in any particular order.

1. Il Terrazo Brazilian restaurant in Faisaliyah hotel. Situated on a terrace overlooking the Globe and the Faisaliyah courtyard fountains, this is a buffet restaurant serving a multitude of meats barbecued on the open grill. Good music, relaxed atmosphere, heavenly food, excellent Saudi “champagne”, no gender segregation. 

2. Tao Lounge on Tahlia street. The ultimate hip hangout for the trendy complete with high ceilings, comfy sofas, unbeatable ambiance and excellent international cuisine. Update: Bistro by TAO at Najoud mall is worth going to for some delicious cakes and specialty desserts, innovative and creative menu.

3. Lenôtre restaurant in Centria Mall. The famous French restaurant branch in Riyadh can be found on the third floor of the mall. They have a wonderful outside terrace overlooking both Faisaliyah and Kingdom towers. Delicious food and heavenly desserts! Owned by a Princess, and it is one of the few places in Riyadh where women can dine outside. 

4. Najd Village Restaurant next to Prince Sultan university. This is THE place to go for expats in Riyadh and also popular with locals. The restaurant is built in a traditional Saudi house and serves original Saudi cuisine. An experience not be missed especially for first timers in Riyadh! read more form this post: Al Qaryah Najdiya- Najdi Village Restaurant.

5. Rosso Italian at Four Seasons Riyadh- five star service and five star delicious food cooked by Italian chefs.

6. PAUL on Tahlia street. Especially lovely place to have breakfast, freshly baked croissants and breads from the famous bakery. Outside seating area is also open to ladies. Read a detailed review here: PAUL Restaurant and Bakery Riyadh.

pauls riyadh bakerypaul bakery riyadh

7. Maya Chocolaterie on Tahlia street. A chocolate lover’s paradise. This restaurant is all about chocolate, they even have liquid chocolate flowing in pipes! Indulge in heavenly fondue, rich aromas of the desserts, exquisite chocolate delicacies and get on a sugar high!

8. Mirage Chinese restaurant. Asian cuisine in a delightful setting, large fish tanks all over the restaurant will keep the kids busy. Guests can dine in chalets set over small pond with large goldfish in it. For a list of the Top restaurants to take the kids in Riyadh click here!eats-8.jpg

9. Nozomi, Tahlia street. Chic, low key ambiance, delicious sushi, fantastic service, gorgeous setting. For a list of the Top most romantic restaurants in Riyadh, check out this post: Top 14 Most Romantic Restaurants in Riyadh.

10. Elements in Four Seasons Kingdom Center. A new restaurant with an exiting concept of four different interactive open kitchen stations. Very impressive modern decor and relaxed atmosphere. For families they have amazing brunch with kids own buffet and play area on Fridays.

What is your favorite restaurant in Riyadh? For a complete list of Blue Abaya restaurant reviews click here!
If you’re in the Eastern Province, here is a list of the Top 10 restaurants in Dammam, Khobar, Dhahran and Jubail: Top Ten Restaurant in the EP.

Make sure to stay tuned for more great restaurant updates by Blue Abaya by subscribing with the form below!

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  • NoorJanuary 18, 2012 - 8:28 am

    I love all those places Ninos is also one of my favorites they have the best burgers and of course we love The Noodle House in Centria Mall oh and La Vela.ReplyCancel

  • LinaJanuary 18, 2012 - 6:34 am

    riyadh must have hundreds of hamburger places! seems the saudis are crazy about burgers and do not appreciate other kind of food too much.
    thanks for the list there are some I must try, but I like furosato and trader vics most.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 18, 2012 - 12:00 pm

    Noor-I wanted to include Noodle House, one of my favorites too! Vela is nice but their food has been a disaster a few times and service is slow.ReplyCancel

  • AbdullahJanuary 19, 2012 - 1:26 am

    I would like to see Finnish restaurant in alriyadh. Why don’t you establish a new business and bring the Finnish taste to the the lovely desert. I think you can make this offer ”buy a meal and get Nokia mobile free”.ReplyCancel

  • DentographerFebruary 2, 2012 - 10:37 pm

    though not a luxury place or a place for a night out,i do love thier food,probably the only place that offers mexican food, its called Amigos,its on the street where tamimi is in King abdulaziz street if i remembe right.

    well done Layla,ill plan to visit all those..and i have been waiting for my wife to take me to intercote which she promised me about two years before we got married :pReplyCancel

  • LaylahFebruary 6, 2012 - 7:40 pm

    Dentographer-thanks for the hint I will check that one out! Haven’t found a decent Mexican yet!

    When are you guys coming back? I want to meet your wife!ReplyCancel

  • FarooqFebruary 6, 2012 - 8:34 pm

    IMHO, the best chinese in Riyadh is Riyadh Chinese Restaurant in Sulaimaniya. The taste is great while the prices are very fair. Noodle house in Centria Mall has great food which tastes a lot like Singaporean food (my wife is Singaporean so you can understand the interest), but the prices are definitely on the higher side compared to other chinese places.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahFebruary 8, 2012 - 4:19 am

    Farooq-thank you for this information I will have to visit this Chinese restaurant as well!ReplyCancel

    • Amad HumairDecember 5, 2012 - 7:58 pm

      Hi Layla are you sort of food critic?ReplyCancel

    • LaylahDecember 5, 2012 - 8:38 pm

      Hi Amad, well I guess you could say so :)ReplyCancel

  • Food-Shop-TravelMarch 3, 2012 - 3:50 pm

    They are all my favourites. I like Diamond, Noodle House, Avadh & Copper Chandni too.

    Visited Lenôtre recently and loved it, not only the food is good but enjoyed the ambiance too. :)ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMarch 28, 2012 - 5:50 pm

    We love Copper Chandni on Tahliya street. Their lentil soup is to die for! The ambiance is really nice. By the way Burger Boutique have a very rich menu ranging from grilled meats to sandwiches, great appetizers and salads!! We dont go there for Burgers, which by the way are not bad!ReplyCancel

  • JohnJune 18, 2012 - 11:16 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousSeptember 13, 2012 - 11:39 am

    Lusin is good when the chef and cooks are in a good mood. They are often out of several items on the menu and lack consistency in quality and inventory.


  • MarjaMarch 26, 2013 - 8:24 am

    I left Riyadh allmost five (!) years ago after spending there wonderfull three years. I still miss Riyadh!
    I still remember TAO-restaurant and the delicious Chocolate-fondue!
    The Brasilian restaurant and TAO where my top two restaurants…I whish I could visit them…
    There was one good Turkish restaurant…and a Moroccan.
    This is a great blog!ReplyCancel

  • MarjaMarch 26, 2013 - 8:29 am

    I left Riyadh five years ago after spending there wonderfull three years. The Brazilian and the TAO-restaurants where on my top ten restaurants. I whish I could visit them one day! Still remember the delicious chocolate-fondue!
    There was also a good Turkish and Moroccon restaurant.
    This is an excellent blog!

  • RecipeG IrlApril 22, 2013 - 9:03 am

    I miss Riyadh!!!!! Hopefully I get to visit those restaurants when I get back! Such inspirations.

    Anyway, I’m actually a chef in our local community, and our restaurant just recently branched out. Problem is, I’m having a hard time managing inventories and recipes! Can you guys give me an advice on this? Thank you in advance!ReplyCancel

  • jhunOctober 28, 2013 - 12:02 am

    I Am a food lover…if you love Chinese style cuisine try to visit TOKYO RESTAURANT…Burger lovers well definitely A NEWLY OPEN RETRO CLASSIC DESIGN…AT TAHALIA STREET…BUD’S ROAD DINER…YOU WILL LOVE IT…ReplyCancel

  • momoOctober 28, 2013 - 9:43 am

    dear Laylah

    have you visited a Restaurant called Sultana , Moroccan cuisine with Modern twist , check it out and i would love to have it in your listReplyCancel

    • LaylaOctober 31, 2013 - 1:20 pm

      Thank you for the tip, no I haven’t yet!ReplyCancel

  • momoOctober 28, 2013 - 9:44 am

    sultana location: takhassussi street , nest to Hot stone spa and JuliasReplyCancel

  • sijDecember 9, 2013 - 7:54 pm

    How expensive is mondo restaurant intercontinental?ReplyCancel

  • TessaMarch 14, 2014 - 5:55 am

    Have tried out a few restaurants in Riyadh, my favourites are
    Kosebasi- for good Turkish food
    Sultanna – Moroccan
    Noodle box

  • Sunny ThomasMarch 18, 2014 - 1:11 pm


  • s.mohamed bilalMarch 24, 2014 - 1:53 pm

    riyadh food super i am uttract in food so good and tasty again food eat insaallahReplyCancel

  • omarAugust 28, 2014 - 3:51 pm

    Hi, great blog by the way! but I must say that there are not great restaurants in Riyadh, at best there are some good restaurants. The latest restaurant I have tried is Kampai, and will never go back there as it was below average in terms of food. I am tired of lebanese resaurants, burger joint and so forth. The tastiest thing I have ate here is Abo Adnan’s Falafel in a little street off King Abdulaziz road beofre Exit 5 when you are heading north. Other than that restaurant food is so average and boring in this city.ReplyCancel

  • jinkySeptember 15, 2014 - 4:27 am

    Can you recommend a good japanese restaurant here in riyadh? ThanksReplyCancel

    • LaylaSeptember 17, 2014 - 4:36 am

      I will ask my followers on Facebook and get back to you on that!ReplyCancel

  • yusoffNovember 17, 2014 - 7:07 pm

    i would perform umrah on this 13th dec. how could i reach the restaurant ? which place is the nearest..from medina or many km ?. Reply.ReplyCancel

  • yusoffNovember 17, 2014 - 7:12 pm

    layla- could you recommend the transport to reach the restaurant ? what about my previous question i.e.( i would perform umrah on this 13th dec. how could i reach the restaurant ? which place is the nearest..from medina or many km ?.) Reply.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaNovember 18, 2014 - 2:27 am

      the restaurants are all in Riyadh!ReplyCancel

  • SaebNovember 25, 2014 - 2:05 pm

    Hey Layla,

    Thanks for being a proper insider source on Riyadh!

    I’m a consultant working between Riyadh and Dubai, and looking to take my Saudi client team out for a business lunch. We’re tired of hotels and looking for something a bit more Middle Eastern, but not as fully cultural as Najd for example.

    Any thoughts on that? Thanks again!ReplyCancel

    • LaylaNovember 25, 2014 - 6:02 pm

      Hi Saeb! Thanks for stopping by :) Here’s some suggestions to try out:

      Lusin, Armenian Centria mall
      Bab al Yemen, tahlia street
      the Moroccon restaurant Sultana on Takhasousi
      Fairous Garden on Olaya
      Karam Beirut Tahlia
      Kosebasi Turkish restaurant on Tahlia
      Burj al Hamam takhasousi streetReplyCancel

      • SaebNovember 25, 2014 - 6:10 pm

        Thank you! That’s a great list, and quick response. Much appreciated Layla!ReplyCancel

        • LaylaNovember 25, 2014 - 6:31 pm

          you’re welcome! Please let us know how they liked it and which one you went to :)ReplyCancel

          • SaebNovember 25, 2014 - 6:35 pm

            Will do! Thanks!

  • […] Top Ten Restaurants in Riyadh at […]ReplyCancel

  • […]  2. TOP TEN RESTAURANTS IN RIYADH […]ReplyCancel

  • Faizuddin AlimAugust 4, 2015 - 10:14 am

    Hi, can anyone guide how many egyptian restaurants are there in riyadh compared to number of labanese restaurants ? Can anyone list top 10 of each?ReplyCancel

  • ajApril 3, 2016 - 4:39 pm

    Where can I find pizza that is similar to New York pizza in Riyadh??ReplyCancel

  • EricMarch 27, 2019 - 3:37 pm

    Thank you all for the tips. Some old friends amongst them and some new acquaintances yet to be made. Having availed myself of your advice I feel compelled to contribute. I offer you an Italian trio Fiamma, Serafina and Cipriani. The street names in Riyadh are too long to post so I entrust you to google map.ReplyCancel

Sauna..for most people the sauna might sound like a luxury, a special treat or something very exotic. For us Finns the sauna is a part of normal everyday life. Finns have a saying, Sauna is the cure for all illnesses”. It’s a necessity, not a luxury. For the five million inhabitants of Finland, there are over 2 million saunas! That makes for almost a sauna per household ratio.finnish sauna cure for all

Saunas are everywhere. You will find saunas in almost every house, in some newer city apartments, Apartment buildings’  basements, at health clubs, public pools, summer cottages,in hotel rooms etc. There are electric saunas, wood-heated saunas, smoke saunas, barrel saunas, sauna boats, balcony saunas, smart saunas, infrared saunas.. The favorite and most traditional form of sauna for the Finns is wood-heated stove sauna, where water is thrown on the hot rocks piled on top of the stove. This creates a soft enveloping steam into the sauna.

The traditional Finnish sauna has a specific way it needs to be heated and there are some rather peculiar traditions and practices involved, especially weird and fascinating, even scary for the first time sauna-goer. Finns take pride in their saunas and foreigners will without exception be invited for a sauna session.

The Finnish FIL’s have a reputation of “testing” the foreign spouses of their daughters in the sauna to see how “manly” they are. This is of course done tongue-in-cheek, but nevertheless it’s best to be prepared!

Here’s a humorous “Finnish sauna-making guide ” for all the foreign son-in-laws out there!

If you are a foreign guy (even more so if you’re Arab or Saudi) married to a Finnish woman, be prepared for the ultimate acid test when you land on Finnish soil. The FIL’s will surely have their fingers itching to get you into the sauna to test out your manhood and compatibility with your Finnish spouse.
Do not sweat(no pun intended). Here’s a step by step guide to survive your first sauna ordeal with flying colors. By following these instructions you will prove yourself worthy of his Finnish daughter.
After landing in Finland you will immediately be taken from the airport to the summer cottage for survival camp.
Be warned that there will be no running water, plumbing or even electricity in some cases.
Upon arrival act calm and ask where the outhouse is (you might need this information sooner than later).
Remember to make polite remarks on how the grass and garden looks so well groomed and how the cottage seems so inviting (even if you feel like running back into the car and heading to the nearest hotel).
Most likely next you will be asked to heat up the sauna. You must understand that sauna is a sacred place for Finns. Finns used to give birth in sauna. Sauna heals the body and the soul. DO NOT at any point, under any circumstances attempt to make fun of the sauna traditions. That will be your last joke.
To heat the sauna, you will need wood. Go and chop some up, carry it inside and place into a neat pile like this:
This would not be the best moment to be lighting a fireplace for the first time. You will need to know at least the basics on how to get the fire going without getting smoke into the sauna. There is something called a smoke sauna, but that is too hardcore for you.
After you have got the fire going in the stove (kiuas)without burning up the whole sauna, you must fetch the water. Take the buckets and fill some with rain water and others with lake/sea water. Put rain water only in the “löyly” bowl to prevent the stove stones from going bad.
Remember to keep checking the temperature of the sauna, you are aiming for 70-80C, not 100C. Heating up to 150C will NOT impress your FIL. That will burn down the sauna. You will need to add wood about every half hour.
Next you will assemble the vihta. This is a ‘whisk’ or ‘whip’ made of birch tree branches. Its used to beat yourself with while sitting in the sauna. You need to gather branches from a certain kind of birch and tie it up in a bunch. If you are lucky your FIL might assist you in this. Sometimes families have ready-made dried ones you just need to soak in water to use.
When using the vihta, start by beating your back and arms, then move to your legs. Be sure to hit yourself quite hard so that the skin becomes very red. You will be surprised how nice it feels.This means your blood is now circulating really well! Do not use the vihta like a camel whip! That will cause the leaves to fly all around the sauna.
If your FIL is impressed by your self-beating skills, he may ask you to beat his back for him. This is a great honor. Do not beat him too hard even if tempted.
You might be asked would you like a men’s sauna or a family sauna. Men’s sauna means you bathe with the men of the family, naked. Family sauna means you bathe with your wife and children, also naked. Don’t freak out about the nudity, it’s a perfectly natural thing and Finns won’t look “there”. Easiest for you would be family sauna, but if you do end up with the men, you can always use a towel to cover when you go outside for a cooling and swim.
In the sauna you will start by throwing water on the stove (kiuas). The steam this creates is called “löyly”. It is considered polite to praise the sauna and the excellence of the löyly. Try to stand the heat for at least 5 minutes then go cool off. The Finns will be throwing lots of löyly so be prepared not to chicken out too soon.
If you are next to a water source, you will need to go for a swim (even if the water is only 15c which is seen as normal). This will be seen as manly and give you high points in the eyes of your FIL (and maybe your wife). Extra points come from a spectacular jump accompanied by a magnificent roar.
If you don’t at least dip yourself in the water (not just the tip of your toes but entire body), you will fail the sauna test. Thank your lucky stars you didn’t come in the winter time when you would be required to roll around in the snow or dip into the frozen lake! The cold water stimulates the blood circulation and afterward you will feel like a hero because of the endorphines running through the body.
After the cold shock some people like to hang around outside chatting, having a drink and enjoying the scenery. Then the sauna bathing continues like this in cycles of hot and cold. Do at least three cycles to prove your stamina.
Don’t worry if everyone sits quiet as a mouse on the benches. Mostly Finns will just sit quietly without feeling awkward. Sauna is not a place for debates or lively conversation, but rather self reflecting and silence. The children in Finland are taught “In the sauna you must be as quiet as in the church”. Finns don’t know how to small talk much either.
When you’re finished wash yourself with birch tree soap. Mix hot and cold water from the large barrels in your washing basin. Rinse off with rain water.

finnish sauna cure for all

After the sauna cool off with a cold drink in the sauna dressing/living room or outside on the deck. Try some delicious sausage (makkara) cooked on the sauna stove served with hot mustard. Remember to once more praise the löyly to your hosts!
Hopefully your FIL will approve your sauna performance and you will be accepted into the family! Good luck!

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  • AliceJanuary 16, 2012 - 5:15 am

    Very funny! Sounds like a great experience! The pic of the dog jumping into the water is nice!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJanuary 16, 2012 - 4:26 am

    Great and informative story. I think it truly reflects the meaning of “from one extreme to the other.” Loved it.

  • JHENNIEJanuary 16, 2012 - 5:41 am

    I’ve seen this ritual many times on T.V and I;ve always admired people’s bravery doing it.
    honestly I’d chicken out, it’s so tough.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 16, 2012 - 12:00 pm

    Ann-Thank you! My husband “survived” with flying colors. He is actually more of a loyly person than me :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 16, 2012 - 12:00 pm

    Alice-thanks! That’s our dog, he loves swimming! (and sauna)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 16, 2012 - 12:01 pm

    JHENNIE-Do you mean the swimming part or the actual sauna bathing and throwing of the water part? For my husband the swimming part was the toughest!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 16, 2012 - 12:02 pm

    Miolann-lol me too :) Yes all the pics are mine, they’re from our summer cottage sauna and that’s my daughter bathing in the bucket.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 16, 2012 - 12:03 pm

    Almost a Muslimah-LOL too funny! Not even a 40c steam room?ReplyCancel

  • miolannJanuary 16, 2012 - 9:15 am

    I’m glad I’m not a foreign son-in-law, only a Finnish woman. I couldn’t survive the sauna experience you described :D

    The last pic is so cute! Have you taken it yourself? I could have it hung on my sauna changing room wall.ReplyCancel

  • Almost a MuslimahJanuary 16, 2012 - 11:58 am

    oh my goodness! this post got me in stitches :D i can’t do sauna, 30sec is the maximum I lasted lolReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJanuary 16, 2012 - 6:12 pm

    The last picture is awesome! :)))

    – EvilEyeLolaReplyCancel

  • S in NYCJanuary 17, 2012 - 3:28 am

    What a sweet, funny post! Makes me miss Suomi and our kesämökki so much. I LOVE the last pic, it’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Wishing you and your family all the best for the New Year :)ReplyCancel

  • IldiJanuary 17, 2012 - 12:31 pm

    I do love sauna! When I get a chance i go to use it. I like its effect so much. I became so calm, peaceful & muslces relaxed.:) But to swim in cold water after coming out uhhhh never tired… yet. :)

    I love the pictures. Is it your own one? How much is the temperature in your daughter’s tub?ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 18, 2012 - 12:05 pm

    EVilEyeLola-thanks! I love it too she is so cute in there!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 18, 2012 - 12:06 pm

    S in NYC-thank you and wish you an awesome 2012 :) I miss the summer cottage too!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 18, 2012 - 12:07 pm

    Ildi-You must try the swimming, even if it seems like you are going to freeze, the feeling you get AFTER is amazing! Your body produces adrenalin and endorfins so you feel really good and refreshed :)ReplyCancel

  • GeoffJanuary 20, 2012 - 7:34 pm

    I spent a year of my life in love with a Finnish Girl, after reading that I don’t know if I’m glad it didn’t work out or not. Her family was in the States, but made many trips home. Nice writing. Great pictures!ReplyCancel

  • Satu VWJanuary 25, 2012 - 8:50 pm

    Heh, I think your guide is very much applicable to other nationalities as well (e.g British son-in-laws), I wish I had given as good guidance to my husband on his first “mökki” visit! :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 26, 2012 - 2:00 pm

    Geoff-thanks! I think you can be glad :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 26, 2012 - 2:02 pm

    Satu VW-Yes you’re right! Goes for all foreign son-in-laws :) Would your husband have passed this test?ReplyCancel

  • […] Filed in: Finland | photography | Top Ten26 comments Here are 10 amazing innovations, inventions and inspirations that come from Finland, Europe’s 6th largest country with a population of just 5.4 million. 1. Sauna All Finns love sauna! We have over 2 million saunas in Finland, that’s on average one per household. Health benefits of the sauna include: lowers blood pressure, increases blood circulation, cleanses skin from toxins and impurities and blemishes, aids weight loss, relaxes muscles, decreases swelling and reduces stress. Did you know that back in the day, Finnish women gave birth in the sauna! Learn more about Finnish sauna traditions here! […]ReplyCancel

  • […] 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. […]ReplyCancel

  • Gone Fishing in Finland » Blue AbayaAugust 18, 2014 - 8:20 pm

    […] Did you know that Finnish people used to give birth in saunas? The labouring women used to get relief from the heat and warmth of the sauna steam and warm water was always available there. For more Finnish sauna traditions read this post “Saudi son-in-law’s Guide to Surviving Sauna“. […]ReplyCancel

  • Claire-Louise FrancisApril 3, 2015 - 9:27 pm

    Do you know where I can buy a sauna in Saudi and have it installed in my flat?ReplyCancel

Many of the blogs on Saudi you will find authored by western wives of Saudi men. I guess we have a lot to share about multicultural marriages and raising kids in a foreign country so different from our own. Keeping a blog can also be sort of outlet to rant out negative feelings. Sharing ones experiences can help in processing and coping with the sometimes stressful life situations a foreign wife to a Saudi can find herself in. Or blogging might just be something she enjoys doing to fight the Saudi boredom!

For anyone interested in Saudi-Arabia, multicultural marriages and parenting or expat life, these blogs are worth looking into. Here is a list of ten blogs maintained by western women married to Saudis in alphabetical order:

American Bedu
The veteran of “Saudi wife” blogs, American Bedu is a former CIA agent that married a Saudi, now widowed and fighting her own cancer battle back in the U.S. Lots of info on everything about Saudi, lively discussions, posts everyday.

Susie’s Big Adventure
Susie is an american woman who moved to Jeddah with her Saudi husband, her blog tells of her journey in the Kingdom, also contains lots of news, links and other info on Saudi.

Arabia Saudyjska

A Polish woman that maintains an interesting blog about Saudi-Arabia written in Polish language, but you can always use google translate to read it. At the moment she is taking a blogging break.

The Camel and the Kangaroo
The newest addition to the list comes from down under, she is an Australian woman newly married to a Saudi.
Looking forward to reading more from her!

Little Pink Strawberries NOW!

Noor is a talented graphic designer and her blog Little Pink Strawberries has lots of cool freebies and she keeps and Etsy Shop too. She actually has two blogs, her other cooking blog which is full of delicious recipes is called Ya Salam Cooking and can be found here:

Nzinghas Soapbox
This blog has been inactive for a while, but nevertheless it’s worth reading because it’s funny, the author is very witty and according to her own words “too bold for most”.

Ramblings of a Saudi wife
This blog by a lovely Canadian woman is fun to read and contains lots of hilarious parenting humor among other things from Saudi life.

Saudi Birth Story
A blog by Aisha Al-Hajjar, a Bradley Method birthing teacher, writer and founder of AMANI birth center. She has a passion for natural childbirth. Her blog has lots of info about birthing and also includes the birth stories of her own 8! children.

Under the Abaya
Written by “American Girl”, this blog is her touching personal journey of relocating to Saudi-Arabia to raise her daughter despite a failing marriage to her Saudi husband.

The Same Rainbows End
By Nicole Hunter-Mustafa


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  • IldiJanuary 10, 2012 - 11:21 pm

    Dear Laylah!

    Welcome back, I’m glad you arrived back to home in safe. Thanks for blog summarize, some of them I have already read articles.
    Which nation’s task or habit is writing “Tuesday Ten” Is it Finnish? Anyway I like top ten lists.

    PS. i wrote you an email after Christmas I guess, i know you were busy but hope that you got it. :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 11, 2012 - 12:20 am

    Hello dear Ildi :)
    Yes we have arrived safely after a somehwat gruesome trip thanks to rude Turkish airlines staff!
    I don’t know where tuesday ten originates from actually, saw it on Noor’s site and thought it’s a good idea and it’s easy to play around with!

    I will check my emails, sorry for not responding yet but I am too swamped with emails right now (or as usual) LOLReplyCancel

  • NoorJanuary 11, 2012 - 1:46 pm

    Ahh thanks so much for including me :) I did not know about some of these blogs so thanks :)ReplyCancel

  • EnasJanuary 11, 2012 - 2:48 pm

    Thanks for the informative list I will check them all out!ReplyCancel

  • CarolJanuary 11, 2012 - 10:40 pm

    Thanks for the lovely mention, Laylah!ReplyCancel

  • Satu VWJanuary 12, 2012 - 6:12 pm

    Thanks for the good reads! Started with the Nzinghas Soapbox, very interesting and entertaining reading. So different from the life in Norway / ScandinaviaReplyCancel

  • Greetings from Texas!February 27, 2012 - 10:28 pm

    Thanks for this list. Just discovered your blog and will be keeping up with it! So interesting!

  • AnonymousMarch 16, 2012 - 9:17 pm

    Hi Laylah, have you ever check Khadija Teri’ blog? She’s an American married to a Libya, not a Saudi. I found many similarities. I lived in Tripoli & I’m getting ready to move to Khobar.

  • Robert nateAugust 9, 2012 - 7:52 am

    Hey laylah i just saw your blog and i think its very interesting especially for foreign women who marry arab guys.i wanted to share this awesome website that i discovered its actually saudis biggest review website, you can write and read reviews about your favourite restaurants, hotel, spa’s.. check it out. #ksaReplyCancel

  • Prince FarhanSeptember 18, 2012 - 9:15 am

    Thanks for the good reads! Started with the Nzinghas Soapbox, very interesting and entertaining reading………

    Mobile Prices in Saudi Arabia

  • Onelovely MuslimahOctober 12, 2012 - 1:52 am

    assalamualaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatu dear Laylah!
    you can add me to the Saudi wives list if you want! though my blog is mainly about Islam …not sure if that is of interest to people these days (sadly!)
    butt i’m a CDN CHINESE revert married to a Saudi..moved to the US with him while he’s studying :)

    Khadijah @ http://www.onechinesemuslimah.blogspot.comReplyCancel

  • LaylaNovember 7, 2012 - 3:27 pm

    Have you heard of the wedding of the Saudi businessman Walid Al Jaffali and the Lebanese model Loujain Adada? maybe she’ll join this list of bloggers …I love your list!ReplyCancel

    • AnonymousNovember 12, 2012 - 8:36 am

      Yes, they say the wedding was wonderful, I saw few photos of Loujain in her wedding dress, … Enjoy!!!ReplyCancel

    • LaylahNovember 14, 2012 - 6:24 am

      WOW. I was browsing through the pics and thinking, where’s the groom because it looks like she’s always just pictured with her father..but then I realized..that IS the groom! Oh dear.ReplyCancel

  • AyeshaNovember 25, 2014 - 3:44 pm

    Hey, This is Ayesha from obai and hill PR agency Bahrain. We would like to contact you for a Potential business opportunity in saudi arabia, if we could please have your contact details, we would be pleased to be in touch with you. Please reach me @
    Obai and hill

Top Ten Amazing places to visit in Saudi-Arabia by Blue Abaya-Explore Arabia:

1. Hegra, AlUla If you visit only one place in Saudi-Arabia, let it be AlUla and its heritage gem Hegra (also known as Madain Saleh). The other-worldly scenery, breath taking nature, and rich history make it a destination worth exploring for many days. Hegra is not only the tombs of the ancient Nabatean people and Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO listed world heritage site, but it offers much more for the tourist to explore. The Hijaz railway built Ottomans runs through it. Nearby the town of AlUla boasts a beautiful oasis, a well preserved Old Town, and the Lihyan Kingdom sites Lion Tombs tombs, Dadan Kingdom and Jabal Ikmah, a canyon full of inscriptions up to 3000 years old dubbed ” The Open Library”.

A modern wonder an Guinness World Record holder Maraya concert hall rises like a mirage in the desert in Ashar valley of AlUla. Read more about visiting Hegra here: Saudi Arabia’s mysterious ancient city Hegra-Mada’in Saleh.

Want to see more amazing places in Saudi Arabia? Follow me on instagram here: Viking in Arabia 

Saudi Arabia’s Crown jewel, Tomb of Lihyan son of Kuza at Hegra, AlUla

camel, maraya, alula

Camels in front of Maraya, AlUla Saudi Arabia

hot air balloon, saudi, alula , winter at tantora festival

Hot Air Balloon Festival in Hegra, AlUla

AlUla Old Town

Corridor in AlUla’s Old Town

2. Najran The colorful city of Najran on the Yemeni border offers an unforgettable experience for travelers. Its unique history, architecture and culture blends in with the neighboring Yemen. Najran is a very tourist friendly destination in Saudi-Arabia that pleases even the most experienced traveler. Inscribed as Saudi Arabia’s UNESCO heritage site in 2021, the Hima Rock Art site is located in Najran. 

Amazing places to see in Saudi Arabia: Najran

Traditional Najran heritage house

3. Farasan Islands A favorite diving destination of Jacques Cousteau, Farasan Islands have more than just private beaches and sand for every visitor to enjoy. The Islands are a bird watchers paradise and also have mangroves and endemic Gazelle species in addition to the numerous historical sites on the main island.

Read more about Farasan Islands here!

Al Rifai house in Farasan Islands, Saudi Arabia

Amazing places to visit in Saudi Arabia: Farasan Islands

Farasan Island pristine beaches

Farasan islands magroves

4. Empty Quarter It is not empty. It is full of beauty, silence, wildlife and tranquility. 

Amazing places to visit in Saudi Arabia: Rub al Khali, The Empty Quarter

5. Al Soudah The Asir National Park and the Al-Soudah area near Abha are a lush, breezy paradise best visited in the hot summer months. The park offers trekking, camping sites, cable cars, and plenty of other outdoor activities in addition to interesting architecture and friendly people. Check out Blue Abaya’s Top recommended things to do in Soudah, Abha and Khamis Mushayt here!

Amazing Places to visit in Saudi Arabia: Misty Mountains of Soudah

soudah, sunset, view, girl

Amazing sunset views on top of Saudi Arabia’s highst point, Soudah mountain 3000m from sea level.

6. Wahba Crater This volcanic crater lies 700km from Riyadh towards Taif. It has amazing scenery including lava fields, an oasis and salt pans and can easily be explored by foot. The site makes for an unforgettable camp out experience.

7. Al Lith

Al Lith is a small town about 275 km south of Jeddah. It is the port of departure for diving the Farasan Banks eco system. This is Saudi-Arabia’s best diving destination, with incredibly clear waters, amazing wrecks and abundant marine life.

women diving, freediving, saudi

Snorkeling in amazing Red Sea of Saudi Arabia

coral reef, boat trip, red sea saudi

Amazing Crystal clear waters of Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast


8. Edge of the World One of the most spectacular views and amazing places to visit in Saudi-Arabia can be experienced from the Edge of the World which is part of the 800km long Jebel Tuwaiq Escarpment. When looking to the horizon from the edge it appears as if the plains continue endlessly. For the location and directions how to visit this magical place, go to Blue Abaya’s Guide to Edge of the World. Grab a free ebook guide to the Edge of the World HERE!

Amazing places to visit in Saudi Arabia: The Edge of The World, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Amazing Edge of the World, Saudi Arabia

9. Taif

The mountain city of Taif is famous for its roses and rosewater. In the spring the flowers and the whole area are in full bloom. Taif is also known for its glorious old palaces, fruit farms and the Al Hada mountain cable car with thrilling views. The best time to visit Taif is from March to through the summer months, when it’s cooler than the rest of the country due its elevated location.

rose farm, Taif, braided hair with roses

Amazing experience in Saudi Arabia: Rose bath in Taif

palace, Taif, old house, heritage , kaki palace

Colorful architecture of Taif grand palaces in Taif

Katib palace, taif, taif doors, saudi heritage

Amazing architecture of Katib house in Taif, Saudi Arabia


10. Qassim The northern towns of Buraidah and Unaizah in the Qassim region offer rich cultural heritage and history. Unaizah has ancient farmlands, beautiful unique mosques, historical sites and an excellent traditional marketplace.

qassim marketplace unaizah
Saudi doors, qassim, colorful doors, Saudi heritage

Amazing traditional door in Unaizah, Qassim Saudi Arabia


 Don’t miss also Al Balad Historical District in Jeddah, one of Saudi Arabia’s six UNESCO World Heritage sites.
albalad, coral house, unesco site, saudi

Amazing coral houses and architecture of AlBalad historical district, Jeddah

These are just a few of my favorite amazing places to visit in Saudi Arabia, for more beautiful places to see in Saudi Arabia go to the Explore Arabia page. 
More adventurous travelers will enjoy treks Off The Beaten Path in Saudi Arabia !

Don’t miss out on more travel inspiration from Saudi Arabia in the Wanderlust Wednesday KSA posts on Blue Abaya!

make sure you Follow on instagram to see the latest travel news including Saudi e-visa info: Blueabaya instagram

Post updated 08/2021

Ten Amazing Places to Visit in Saudi Arabia

Ten Amazing Places to Visit in Saudi Arabia

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  • bosnishmuslimaJanuary 4, 2012 - 2:38 am

    Love the pictures and would like to visit all the places. The deepest impact on me made the picture of the Empty Quarter. I already read a bit about it and am so longing to see it inshaallah…
    Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJanuary 4, 2012 - 6:04 am

    The only perfume I love is a bottle of Wardh taifi I bought from surrati’s. The smell is amazing and it is next to none compared to alcohol-based synthetic perfumes. The smell of roses must have lingered on your hands for days :)


    • Enjang Yusuf SupriadiFebruary 16, 2021 - 10:59 am

      Yes. i love it too. The natural rose smelling is so relaxingReplyCancel

  • Meraj KhattakJanuary 4, 2012 - 10:28 am

    Very beautiful.

    I wish I could visit Wabha Crater, Al Soudah, Najran and Farasan Islands especially along with Asir National Park :) I wonder if Saudia govt allows foreign visitors to these places with ease?ReplyCancel

    • SyedJanuary 5, 2018 - 1:06 pm

      Good News Buddy !!!
      Saudi Govt. has introduced a new Tourist Visa Bro !!!.ReplyCancel

      • LauraJanuary 5, 2018 - 9:43 pm

        Only available for 65 countries, and Muslims.ReplyCancel

        • AVIJuly 9, 2018 - 12:26 pm

          hi, yes open for all . not only Muslims. fee is reduced as well. brilliant move by KSA govt.ReplyCancel

  • HeliJanuary 4, 2012 - 11:51 am

    Those places look so beautiful and interesting, I’d really, really like to visit them. Is it possible to travel to Saudi-Arabia as a tourist and move around by yourself?ReplyCancel

  • Almost a MuslimahJanuary 4, 2012 - 10:46 am

    amazing pictures! i loved the one of the carved in stone (?) entrance/gate on Farasan Islands I believe. The pattern is so intricate and it shows beautiful craftsmanship! thanks for sharing :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 4, 2012 - 1:57 pm

    bosnishmuslima-I hope you get to visit it someday its really another world out there!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 4, 2012 - 1:58 pm

    sireh-yes the rosewater perfumes are sooo lovely! That is not me in the pic btw :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 4, 2012 - 2:00 pm

    Meraj-you can visit most places with ease but you will need permission to travel to Madain Saleh (you need police escort at all times because of the 2007 tourist killings),you need to plan and apply for permission for Empty Quarter as well because it has been closed off, and some sites in Najran need permission for foreign visitors.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 4, 2012 - 2:02 pm

    Almost a Muslimah-thanks! I loved tatplace too. It’s actually the gate to a house on Farasan Island, or its a museum now but closed from public. We were lucky and the owner of the house invited us inside and I cannot praise this place enough, I could’ve just stared at this place for hours. Inside was even more amazing and colorful!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 4, 2012 - 2:03 pm

    *that place*ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 4, 2012 - 2:04 pm

    Heli-at the moment it’s not possible because Saudi-Arabia has halted issuing tourist visas for unknown reasons until further notice, so most of these sites remain accessible for expats living in Saudi or persons on business or visitor visas.ReplyCancel

  • Chick Flick JournalJanuary 4, 2012 - 2:21 pm

    Heyy. Long time! Missed you! Lovely post. I’m loving the new tourism thing that’s going on hehe. well doneReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJanuary 5, 2012 - 6:26 am

    LOL, sorry mysterious Laylah, I thought that lovely lady was you :D


  • Dorothy Explor'rMarch 3, 2012 - 12:31 am

    beautiful. i’m enjoying several posts from your blog :)ReplyCancel

  • FarooqMay 13, 2012 - 8:23 am

    happy to say that i have been to two places out of ten in the list. Madain saleh and edge of the world. hoping to go to more places on the list. Would appreciate if tourism would be a lil more easier in saudi.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousSeptember 12, 2012 - 3:15 pm

    hey what is the best time for tourism in saudia arabReplyCancel

    • LaylahSeptember 15, 2012 - 1:11 pm

      I wouls say during the winter months oct-dec or then spring time march-april.ReplyCancel

  • Sarfraz AbbasiOctober 10, 2012 - 3:26 pm

    Winter is coming. Wahba crater and the so called edge of the world is on my list to visit as soon as possible. was really motivated by your other post about the edge of the world. Looking at those pictures, i really wished i was there to capture that.

    i do hope to go there on a clear day and the catches would come out good. Thanks for the details of how to get there.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousNovember 14, 2012 - 4:13 pm

    hi layla, great photos and description as well. I wish u can suggest few fun places to visit in riyadh besides the edge, its really boring here on weekend and nowere to go but malls and restaurants, ps. I used to work at the finnish embassy here in riyadh on 2009, lovely people I must say :) – zeinaReplyCancel

  • A Free SpiritMarch 5, 2013 - 6:24 am

    The crater is at Wahba , not Wabha.
    Never common in Arabic the use of word Wahba too. Here just to clarify but was taken by the Good pictures too ..Thanx.
    A Saudi.ReplyCancel

  • Rizwan RiyazMarch 29, 2013 - 11:46 am

    Great job writer and uploader. Excellent pics , it would be great if you share details of traveling from Riyadh.

  • yasirimranMay 21, 2013 - 7:22 am

    Quite useful review. I would try to visit some of these place in future.ReplyCancel

  • HaiderOctober 24, 2013 - 8:32 pm

    Commendable work. Nice pictures clearly showing the true reflection of each site. The supporting write up is short, crisp and reasonably informative, leaving the rest to be actually explored.ReplyCancel

  • AfrozJanuary 14, 2014 - 6:34 pm

    Thank you very much for sharing these. I am working in Abha for almost seven years and have seen Al Souda and Al Farsan. On the way to Makkah passed through Al Lith and Taif. I have not heard of Edge of the world and Wahba crater. I request you share the directions from any major city or the name of the city nearest to these two places :- “Edge of the world” and “Wahba crater”. —Afroz Ahmed Khan SaudagarReplyCancel

  • saudMarch 29, 2014 - 9:02 pm

    i love all those places i m trying for a visa to Saudi Arabia as i live in Australia i got a visa last year and i saw the edge of the world catch you dummies later .ReplyCancel

  • roseMay 14, 2014 - 5:05 pm

    been in these places …. magical and amazing!!!ReplyCancel

  • Naveed AhmadJune 11, 2014 - 3:38 am

    most beautful mosque and most nice is kaaba sharif ReplyCancel

  • Sair ShinwariJune 11, 2014 - 11:35 am
  • Elinor ZindJuly 6, 2014 - 3:25 am

    Gorgeous places. I had no idea there was so much scenic diversity in Saudi Arabia. Have a great time vacationing and tae lots of photos.ReplyCancel

  • Mark Andrew MallariJuly 20, 2014 - 4:36 am

    its so beautifull place

  • Arpit MathurJuly 25, 2014 - 1:24 pm

    shaandaar ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl Grace AdlawanAugust 3, 2014 - 3:21 pm

    hope i can go there….ReplyCancel

  • Sidhu RickySeptember 23, 2014 - 11:36 pm

    Soudi arabia means history ReplyCancel

  • AdelaSeptember 27, 2014 - 3:47 am

    Hi Laylah,
    I’m new to Riyadh (and Saudi Arabia). These places look amazing and wonderful and I want to go around and see things, but I’m a single female and it seems difficult/complicated to travel anywhere (can’t be with an unrelated male, and can’t drive on my own, and no public transport). Do you have any suggestions on how to get around this? Could I ask a married couple to go with me? Do you think it would be a problem if a mixed group went together? Would it matter if we were mixed ethnically (Indian, Filipino, Saudi, American) AND mixed gender? Or any other ideas :) Thank you so much and thank you for sharing all these wonderful resources!ReplyCancel

    • LaylaSeptember 30, 2014 - 10:28 am

      dear Adela,
      There’s no problem i traveling around the Kingdom asa single female, form the point of view that you can fly anywhere alone, take taxis, ferries, trains, boats buses, alone..all have female sections :) You can book a hotel as a single female too. Just make sure it’s one ogf the better hotels, preferable a known 4 or 5 star one.
      Traveling in groups in not a problem when you join organized tours. Some recommended tour companies; Amazing Tours, Haya tours, Najran Tours. Google and you will find more!ReplyCancel

  • 185 Things to Do in Saudi ArabiaDecember 5, 2014 - 4:08 am



  • DESSERT_ROSEDecember 7, 2014 - 11:04 am

    Amazing and beautiful places. nice people..been all of them and i would like to visit again..ReplyCancel

  • NasserApril 15, 2015 - 10:21 am

    Gorgeous pictures and nice descriptions! I can’t wait to move to Jeddah, and to explore!ReplyCancel

  • Abdul WaheedMay 4, 2015 - 9:49 am

    I believe in the oneness of Allah and his last Prophet Mohammad(PBUH)ReplyCancel

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    […] Ten Amazing Places to Visit in Saudi-Arabia » Blue Abaya – Blue Abaya’s Top Ten Amazing places to visit in Saudi-Arabia: 1. Madain Saleh If you visit only one place in Saudi-Arabia, let it be Madain Saleh. […]ReplyCancel

  • Amazing Places WorldJune 25, 2015 - 6:42 am

    […] Ten Amazing Places to Visit in Saudi-Arabia » Blue Abaya – Blue Abaya’s Top Ten Amazing places to visit in Saudi-Arabia: 1. Madain Saleh If you visit only one place in Saudi-Arabia, let it be Madain Saleh. […]ReplyCancel

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    […] Ten Amazing Places to Visit in Saudi-Arabia » Blue Abaya – Hi Laylah, I’m new to Riyadh (and Saudi Arabia). These places look amazing and wonderful and I want to go around and see things, but I’m a single female and it … […]ReplyCancel

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    […] Ten Amazing Places to Visit in Saudi-Arabia » Blue Abaya – Hi Laylah, I’m new to Riyadh (and Saudi Arabia). These places look amazing and wonderful and I want to go around and see things, but I’m a single female and it … […]ReplyCancel

  • Amazing Place In The UsJuly 6, 2015 - 11:04 am

    […] Ten Amazing Places to Visit in Saudi-Arabia » Blue Abaya – Hi Laylah, I’m new to Riyadh (and Saudi Arabia). These places look amazing and wonderful and I want to go around and see things, but I’m a single female and it … […]ReplyCancel

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    […] Ten amazing places to visit in saudi-arabia » blue abaya […]ReplyCancel

  • shahidOctober 15, 2015 - 8:22 am

    HI Layla,

    i am planning to visit in saudi arab next weekend. could you provide me complete details how i can reach in this places


  • Malik AzmatNovember 7, 2015 - 1:15 pm

    that’s a very beautiful placesReplyCancel

  • Shinadsayed Vk PadiNovember 14, 2015 - 8:39 am

    why u didnt put makkah and madinahReplyCancel

  • Expats life in Saudi ArabiaNovember 21, 2015 - 7:04 pm

    Visit my blog to more explore saudi arabia news , laws, culture and much more

  • Aliya NaazFebruary 1, 2016 - 7:53 am

    Nice article. this inbformation help to travel Saudi arabiaReplyCancel

  • Freed AliMay 24, 2016 - 5:58 pm

    Planning to visit that secret Lake this summer as more hot means more fun on that lakeReplyCancel

  • […] here. It seems like stepping into the past. Discover more amazing places to visit in Saudi Arabia here -Take weekend trips to the seaside, don’t miss Jeddah which is a city with quite a different […]ReplyCancel

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    […] Ten Amazing Places to Visit in Saudi-Arabia ( […]ReplyCancel

  • […] For example, if you Google: Amazing Places in Saudi Arabia. […]ReplyCancel

  • Adam AdamJune 10, 2018 - 11:05 pm

    Amazing list!
    thanks for sharing these interesting places.ReplyCancel

  • Naveed AhmedJune 22, 2019 - 5:32 pm

    Enjoyed the brief introduction and photos. excellent work and thank you.ReplyCancel

  • […] Ten Amazing Places to Visit in Saudi-Arabia ( […]ReplyCancel

  • BarakatalanJune 5, 2020 - 7:46 am

    Great ancient palaces with great pictures. You can visit more places like Caves in Makka n MadinaReplyCancel

  • WafiAugust 17, 2020 - 1:13 am

    I’m Saudi and looking for a relaxing place where I can meditate and stay alone to think.

    Where can I find such a place?ReplyCancel

In Finland where I’m currently writing from, this time of year (and for a very long time) it gets really dark, murky and gloomy. I haven’t seen the sun for over a week and I’m already feeling depressed and out of energy. Everything seems so expensive and has a tax on it. Public transport around Finland costs almost as much as international airfare. For example a train ticket from Helsinki to Oulu would cost around 120 euros. Gas is also ridiculously expensive and driving becomes costly due to all the other fees that go into owning and keeping a car. I went for a coffee and paid 24 euros for a sandwich, coffee and water! Things like this make me miss Saudi Arabia, and it makes you realize how lucky we are to have them as a part of everyday life.

When we think about it, we start to appreciate some things we often take for granted in Saudi-Arabia. So I thought I’d compile a list of ten things I like about living in Saudi. Yes, there are lots of good sides in Saudi life -believe it or not!

1. The sun!
The sun shines by default everyday of the year. It’s easy to be in a cheerful mood and to keep energy levels up with so much sunshine. No need to take vitamin D supplements since we can have it naturally from the sunlight, which is a much better way to absorb vitamin D anyways! Another thing many enjoy is sunbathing, people who live in compounds are lucky to have beautiful swimming pool areas perfect for lounging and swimming in the sun all year round.

2. Inexpensive food
Groceries are so much cheaper in Saudi than for example in Finland or most western countries. Everything except the imported stuff is affordable and good quality. There are countless restaurants to choose from and most are very reasonably priced and eating out won’t make a huge cut in your budget. Saudi foods are delicious and available everywhere for cheap prices.

3. The desert
I just love going to the desert and to experience the absolute silence that falls upon you out there. That is where your soul rests. There’s always something interesting out there to find and explore and it’s so easily accessible. Check out these 10 Beautiful places in the Riyadh desert

4. Mosques and athan
Every neighborhood has a mosque or two and they are all look different. It creates a peaceful atmosphere hearing the athan (call for prayer) throughout the day, even inside shops and at the hospital.

5. Tax-free income
This is definitely a big plus too with obvious benefits! Salaries also tend to be on the higher side compared to what expats would earn in their home countries.

6. Untouched places
There are not many places left in the world where tourists can have the entire site to themselves. Saudi has plenty of historic sites, nature reserves and other places around the country that remain unspoiled by mass tourism. There are spectacular World Heritage sites like the tombs in Madain Saleh and ancient city in Najran, virtually empty of visitors. One of my favorites are the pristine beaches you can have all to yourself, like the beaches in Haql north of Saudi Arabia. Elsewhere in the world tourists pay $$$ to find such places.

7. Women Only
Sometimes it works for your advantage, especially at the airport! Enables faster security checks, passing men in queues and so on. Ladies branches of banks are a breeze and it’s nice to go to the gym or swimming pool and know for sure there’s no men lurking around! Also I’ve noticed as a woman it’s perfectly fine to jump the line if there’s no female section, nobody will dare protest a woman walking straight up to the counter.

8. Cheap Travel
Travel around Saudi and around the Middle-East is affordable. In the Kingdom the roads are mostly in very good condition and the petrol is almost free making driving around the country easy. Domestic flights and flights to neighboring countries are cheap.

9. Red Sea
I don’t live on the coast, but just being so close to the Red Sea and being able to go to the beach or diving so easily makes for one of life’s little luxuries. The Saudi side of the coast is still mostly untouched by mass dive tourism and reefs remain healthy and rich in marine life unlike the neighboring Egypt side. Farasan Islands is a paradise that only residents of KSA can currently enjoy.

10. Unique historical sites

Saudi Arabia is a closed country to the outside worlds but those of u who are lucky to live there have the unique opportunity to explore and discover all the world class heritage sites like Saudi Arabia’s UNESCO listed sites: Madain Saleh,  At-Turaif historical city in Diriyah, Al Balad district in Jeddah and Ha’il archeological rock art sites.

What are the good sides of Saudi in your life?

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  • y3qobDecember 21, 2011 - 2:39 am

    On the outside, there appears many positive things about KSA. Indeed, there are many positive things. Yet there is equal measure in all things. Take for example the cheap petrol: it is environmentally ruinous! Fuel subsidies mean that consumers are exceptionally wasteful.

    And the sunshine is only a positive thing for Europeans. Most other countries in the world get good doses of sun :p

    Living in Australia and never having actually visited a desert in my life, I’m actually looking forward to doing activities in Saudi which aren’t common in Australia: picnics in the desert, dune buggies, etc.

    But I have to say, the natural environment and old way of life in Saudi (such as the traditional village museums) are a big, big positive!ReplyCancel

  • Sadiya MerchantDecember 21, 2011 - 5:43 am

    d one point i agree completely wid is abt mosques n azaan in saudi.
    evrythin els in my understanding has a ‘strings attached’ footnote to it :)ReplyCancel

  • HeliDecember 21, 2011 - 10:32 am

    If you think Finland is expensive, you should visit Norway. I think you’d be shocked! When I travel to Finland almost everything seems so cheap compared to Norway.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 21, 2011 - 2:11 pm

    y3cob-thanks for the comment and welcome to my blog!
    I agree with the point you raised about the fuel! They have never heard of driving in a manner to save petrol here :)

    But I disagree about the sunshine only being a positive for europeans! Lots of ppl around the world other than in europe don’t get as much sun as we do in Saudi..And I think the arabs should make more use of it since the ME has the highest rates of vit D deficiencies in the world, yet they have the most exposure to sun!

    SO are you planning to move here soon?ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 21, 2011 - 2:12 pm

    Felicia-ya but that happens wherever people live, they start to take for granted what they have and long for things they don’t have!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 21, 2011 - 2:13 pm

    Sadiya-lol but what strings would you say are attached to the unspoiled places and cheap travels?ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 21, 2011 - 2:14 pm

    Heli-Oh really! I didn’t remember it was so expensive!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 21, 2011 - 2:15 pm

    ummaryam-yes it’s good to remind ourselves every once in a while about these good sides :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 21, 2011 - 2:20 pm

    Pia-Exaclty leggings are the new trousers! It looks as if they are walking around in their underwear. I don’t get parents! And don’t they freeze?

    I didn’t know cannabis was so popular there, that’s alarming! In Finland I guess its the alcohol..its like part of our culture so cannabis will never become as popular.ReplyCancel

  • PiaDecember 21, 2011 - 11:22 am

    Sounds like the Finnish teenagers dress like British ones do… Couple of weeks ago I saw one girl wearing just leggings and a short jacket! I started to wonder that when did leggings become trousers? It basically looked if she had worn just tights- it looked really silly to me but maybe I’m too old to understand teenagers ;)

    One thing that really worries me raising my child in the UK is the drug problem they have here. Nearly everyone seems to be smoking cannabis and it’s much more acceptable to use drugs here than in Finland (at least it was frowned upon when I was growing up in Finland).ReplyCancel

  • PiaDecember 21, 2011 - 11:24 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyCancel

  • PiaDecember 21, 2011 - 1:01 pm

    Sorry, my comment was twice here, so I deleted the other :-)ReplyCancel

  • SoileDecember 21, 2011 - 5:24 pm

    Aww, now you really made me want to go back to Saudi again (despite of the stories you told the other day…And it was great seeing you again!) :-)ReplyCancel

  • Steve at the PubDecember 22, 2011 - 2:30 pm

    Whoa! It seems the muttawa have infiltrated this blog! Either that or some hardline pentecostal preacher!

    “Negative Western Influence” is defined as solely: Nightclubs, pubs, casinos. (“What good do these things do anyway?”) *snort*

    I have to question your methodology.

    “Negative influences” may be better defined as: Illegal narcotics, red light districts, conmen & scam artists, street muggers, ripoff merchants in tourist strips.

    Nightclubs, pubs & casinos serve on the other hand are all regulated & monitored legal activities.

    One important function they serve is as a pressure release valve & consequently are a calming influence.

    The Scandinavian model of binge drinking to excess & extreme may not be … er… the best example of pub culture.

    They are more usually the community meeting place, & the most common reason to enter one is for a relaxing conversation & a few drinks, in a convivial atmosphere.ReplyCancel

    • momJune 10, 2016 - 9:01 pm

      “Snort.” Wow. Classy comment. Way classier than a Pentecostal preacher.ReplyCancel

  • SylviaDecember 22, 2011 - 12:11 pm

    Great post! It must be wonderful to have sunshine all year round!

    Geez I hope that sandwich was at least very very good, that sounds ludicrously expensive!

    Unfortunately yes, the legging-as-pants thing has conquered the world…it looks terrible and I wish it would finally end :D Together with skinny jeans! :DReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 22, 2011 - 6:09 pm

    Steve at the Pub-dude chill there has been no muttawa influence on this blog! As I said SOME of the negative influences..I did not define anything!!

    You mention scam artists and street muggers, and ripoff merchants as western influences, I disagree.
    First of all, the ones doing these activities in western countries are mostly immigrants. The western countries got these influences from outside.
    Second, non western countries such as Egypt,South Africa or Thailand are full of scam artists, ripoff merchants and street muggers. Just because western tourists are the targets it doesn’t mean that it’s a western influence right?

    Anyways thanks for the comment I enjoy reading your thoughts and you’re right about the Scandinavian style of pubbing is not the best example. But I still think it’s better in the long run and considering all aspects to chill with friends at home than at the pub.


  • LaylahDecember 22, 2011 - 6:35 pm

    Soile-it was great seeing you too!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 22, 2011 - 6:37 pm

    Sylvia-I have the same wishes! I hate leggings they’ve always just looked like long underpants to me lolReplyCancel

  • AnonymousDecember 22, 2011 - 11:33 pm

    Hi Layla, hope you’re enjoying your time home. I find it interesting that you mentioned about the vit d deficiency rate being among the highest in saudi. Is it because of the abaya? Doctors in the UK did report that muslim women there have insufficient vit d exposure especially due to hijab and coverings but I suppose it is expected since in winter we don’t get much sun. A fraction (not sure the percentage) of women gave birth to babies with rickets. But in Saudi too? Do the doctors there make suggestions for the women to spend a fraction of time a day under the sun? Should not be a problem since the Saudis live in fortress-like homes (correct me if I am wrong). Having not enough sun exposure is a problem, not only for congenital rickets, but depressions among the women. Just a thought.
    Thanks for this post. Excellant as always.

  • AnonymousDecember 23, 2011 - 10:08 am

    @Steve at the Pub
    With all due respect, but that is your personal opinion. Not all people share the same values and find drinking, gambling and sexual promiscuity something “positive” in the society. One can find many, many other things that can work as “pressure release valve & consequently are a calming influence.” as you put it. =)


  • AnonymousDecember 23, 2011 - 1:58 pm

    Don’t Saudi women take of their abaya’s in their own back-yard? I find it strange that so many of them suffer from vitimin D defeciency while living in such a sunny country.All the women in my family wear niqab, but we do get sun. I guess their culture will not allow them to take it of on empty beaches or at picnics when there are no strangers around.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 29, 2012 - 12:22 am

    Sireh-Sorry for the late reply! Yes majority of Saudi women have vit D deficiency because of the covering and because thy dont fo out side at all in the daylight. they don’t want to get tanned. Also not all homes have backyards, or they find it too hot, or there is nothing to do outside, just a concrete “box”. Women who live in apartment buildings have it the worst! Saudi style homes sometimes don’t even have windows that allow sunlight in!
    I am lucky to at least have a balcony where I can suntan and swim with the baby and get my daily vit D intake from :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahAugust 31, 2012 - 11:04 pm

    Thank you Loli!ReplyCancel

  • kelsiesandsOctober 2, 2012 - 6:31 pm

    This is a great list! My husband is just starting a job in KSA; the kids and I will be joining him when we have our visas. So we’re just at the beginning! Hearing positives to life there is always welcome. Could I share the link to this page on my blog? It would be wonderful to share this happy list with our family and friends.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahOctober 2, 2012 - 7:52 pm

      Hi Kelsisands! Sure you can!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousOctober 24, 2012 - 10:07 am

    Great list and great blog! Good point about women only and the security lines at the airport. And conditions for women are improving very much – Saudi Arabia sent a female athlete to the Olympics. And make sure you check out Haifaa al-Mansour’s film:


  • AnonymousNovember 12, 2012 - 1:57 am

    Hello Leylah.
    You have a nice thing going here – interesting, personal and entertaining blog. You seem like a lovely person but maybe you are looking at Saudi Arabia through a rose-tinted lense this time?
    Obviously petrol is cheap in Saudi because it is just coming out from under the ground and no one really seems to care about the environmental impact of the exterme consumerism that is the hallmark of all life in this country.
    Also, food in a restaurant is of course very cheap when it is prepared by expat workers who are paid next to nothing and lack many basic human rights. The food itself is not very expensive, I agree, but in later years the prices have been increasing along with the rest of the world.
    Also, a country that relies solely on its mineral wealth and has no system of collecting or administering taxes is not a brilliant idea. The whole idea of being a country or nation is defined by people working together and then paying taxes for everyone’s common good – schools, hospitals, roads, universities etc. Everything that you are proud of in Finland is the result of these taxes. By paying taxes the peoples of a country show responsibility and solidarity and will be more involved in improving their country for themselves and future generations. What will happen to Saudi Arabia when the oil dries out?? I guess none of us who can read this will be alive to witness that day and as you pointed in one of your other posts – in Saudi Arabia no one cares…
    All the best to you and I hope that you manage to combine the best of both of your worlds in your lovely children.

  • NestiiDecember 11, 2012 - 5:33 pm

    Wow! For me, living in Poland these pictures are amazing! You are lucky! In my coutry is snow everywhere now!ReplyCancel

  • Georgette JupeJuly 2, 2013 - 2:09 pm

    Great article, I am always happy to read what positives there are to a country we may think of as only having negatives. I would actually like to visit Saudi Arabia one day though who knows how plausable that really is.

    I will say though, I can’t imagine living in a place with no bars etc. I see your point about them being negative influences but in Italy people enjoy a spritz or mojito on any given night in the piazza and there doesn’t seem to be that many negative consequences ;) but to each their own.

    I also love living in a place that you can soak in the sun, it really does make you happier!ReplyCancel

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Let me share a story and a valuable learning experience from our Saudi Road trip.

So we were cruising on the highway in the rented SUV somewhere between Kharj and Wadi Al-Dawasir surrounded by literally NOTHING else than rocks. The scenery out there is just flat. Not even the random camels you often see roaming in the desert could be seen, let alone any sort of vegetation. Not even a twig. Just flatness. And rocks.

This sign indicates there would in fact be camels around but I think they just put it there for looks.

This was the most interesting scenery and the only pic I took for about 500km. So now you get the idea of how desolate and completely void of any life or human settlements this area is.

So back to the story. I was sitting in the backseat next to our six month old  breastfed baby who was playing with toys in her car seat (or so I thought). I was pumping milk and had the lights off in case some over enthusiastic idiot drove too close and got all excited from a glimpse of that glamorous sight (let me tell you there is nothing glamorous or exciting about pumping milk, but with Saudi guys, you never know). So in order to save time I figured I could just pump the milk and give it to her in a bottle instead of having to make another stop for breastfeeding.

My mom and husband were listening to some weird radio program that sounded like it was being broadcasted from outer space. It was the only channel available in English out there. I think it was the news but I could be wrong because like I said it sounded like it was coming from light years away or another era. But anyways they had the volume so high I could not even hear the breast pump making its usual yatouhuuyatouhuuyatouhuu -sound.

Suddenly I realized the baby was making a gagging sound. Ok I was not so alarmed at first because my baby has some sort of obsession of sticking fingers in her mouth so far that it makes her gag. And she thinks it’s funny! This baby does not have a sense of humor! I mean who does that anyways? And please don’t tell me there’s something called baby-bulimia because there’s not. It’s just her thing ok.

So I told her to stop (as if it helps) but it just got worse. My husband switched the light on and we saw she was really gagging on something this time. From this point on the story becomes a bit blurry in my mind.

I shouted to my husband to stop the car because the baby was choking and he braked so hard the car almost flipped. We stopped on the side of the highway where maniacs are speeding by at 300km/h. My husband and mom ran out of the car to her side and took her out of the car seat. Did I mention I was still attached to the breast pump? Oh and that mom was not wearing her abaya.

It was so dark they couldn’t see clearly if there was anything in her mouth. I had taught my husband basic CPR skills in cases of emergency and stressed the importance of the “no blind sweeping” rule. I was so proud that he remembered it when he was forbidding mom from doing it! I saw the baby’s face turning increasingly red from gagging. Which could be seen as a good sign because at least there’s still oxygen in her system.

The only thing I could think of was to get to her. So I just threw the bottles on the floor and got out of the car with my ta-tas peeking out of the abaya (which I only realized later).

I took the baby and automatically started doing what I had been practicing many times with a dummy in Life Support classes. Somehow time stopped and things slowed down like in the Matrix movies except that thankfully I didn’t have to dodge any bullets. I was thinking to myself this is not happening. I am not going to let her choke here, in the middle of the desert! There is no time for an ambulance or even helicopter to reach us(and where the hell are we anyways, next to rock number 76,945,412?) I was determined to get the thing out of her.

Looking back I cannot believe how calm I was. I kept hitting her in the back to hope something would fly out but without avail. My baby was starting to get limp and blue and had stopped gagging. So I decided to look once more in her mouth by shining the iPhone light in there. And lo and behold there it was. A piece of clear plastic stuck down her throat.

I managed to get it out  while my husband was holding the light and mom keeping the baby still.THANK GOD she started breathing normally again! I just held her and cried out of relief. She had reached out to a small plastic wrapper on a juice and started chewing on it. Despite the 100 toys I had given her to play with in the car seat! Babies!

It was really quite a scare. Without knowledge of basic life support and CPR, the baby most likely would not have survived. The incident shook me for a long time and the thought of loosing her there and then sends chills down my back!

So what lessons can we learn from this story?

-Learn basic life support skills, and teach your partner and other family members too.

-While pumping breast milk in car in Saudi-Arabia, remember to close your abaya when finishing and getting out of the car

-That said don’t pump milk in a car in Saudi-Arabia.

-Or rent a car with tinted back windows

-Always keep your iPhone charged on road trips in case accident

-Babies like to chew on plastic bags

-Babies like to play with anything ELSE than their own toys

-Always keep your baby in a car seat

-The scenery between Kharj and Wadi-Al-Dawasir  most likely the most BORING you will ever see in KSA.

-Saudi radio stations suck


Learn CPR:
Why you shouldn’t blindly stick your fingers in your babies mouth:

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  • IldiDecember 14, 2011 - 8:58 am

    Thanks God you solve it together to remove plastic bag item from your baby's mouth. Ahhh i felt to cross fingers to manage it sucessfully during I was reading your lines. Mommy, you have to have eyes on YOUR whole body to observe what she is doing each moments. :)

    May i ask her name? She must be a cute & 'go-ahead' lady! :)

    Wishing a lovely day for you!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 14, 2011 - 9:48 am

    Mudassir-ya there was camels at one point but seriously, during those hundreds of km, just a few compared to elsewhere on Saudi roads where there’s literally hundreds!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 14, 2011 - 9:49 am

    Ildi-ya I should have like 5 more pairs of eyes around my body!

    She is cute, but I might be a bit biased..her name is Lamia :)ReplyCancel

  • mudassirDecember 14, 2011 - 7:27 am

    Hehe.. I used to travel that way ( Kharj-Wadi Dawaser-Abha) every weekend and u r absolutely rite that there is NOTHING except the boring rocks leave alone the beautiful sand dunes..
    There were occasional camels and yeah they DO come on the roads(have seen numerous accedents involving camels) so they are'nt supposed to be taken lightly..
    Thank god ur presence of mind and practiceReplyCancel

  • NoorDecember 14, 2011 - 12:29 pm

    OMG alhumdullah you all were able to help her and that you just happened to be back there with her. It is scarey when your driving out in no where even when we go to Khobar my dh drives slow bc were always thinking if their is a wreck and were hurt we will have no help, its scarey.ReplyCancel

  • NoorDecember 14, 2011 - 12:29 pm

    BTW are you going to Kristas tomorrow? I am :)ReplyCancel

  • ExploreDecember 14, 2011 - 10:47 am

    Babies can give you the fright of your life! Thank God that everything was okay in the end.ReplyCancel

  • Proud MuslimahDecember 14, 2011 - 6:58 pm

    amazing, Layla. This story was a great combination of both hilarity (the ta-tas peaking out of abaya, never ending supply of rocks, English-speaking aliens on the radio) and suspense (your poor baby choking). Great story and you are absolutely right about learning about the safety methods for emergency situations. I worked at an elementary school and we had to be trained in CPR and First Aid and, I will be honest, Idk if I could remember all of the steps in an emergency. Taking another class is #1 on my list when I expect a baby.ReplyCancel

  • SoileDecember 14, 2011 - 4:46 pm

    OMG, how scary that must have been! Good thing that you managed to be so calm, and luckily it all finished well.ReplyCancel

  • KatyDecember 14, 2011 - 11:21 pm

    This is the funniest thing I read in a long time! I love how you tackle serious issues with a sense of humor.

    And you write so well, keeping the up the tension until the very end!ReplyCancel

  • ChickLitGirlDecember 15, 2011 - 9:09 am

    whooaa, close call. Allah ka shukar hai nothing bad happened.ReplyCancel

  • undertheabayaDecember 16, 2011 - 6:36 am

    alhamdulillah little princess is ok! first the paper shopping bag and now this! she’s going to put a big dent in baba’s wallet someday :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 17, 2011 - 1:17 am

    Noor-yes we were every lucky nothing more serious happened! And I couldn’t come to Krista’s because I was in Buraidah at the food festival!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 17, 2011 - 1:19 am

    Proud Muslimah-thanks for understanding my humor! Sometimes I think ppl just don’t get that I’m joking!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 17, 2011 - 1:20 am

    habibil-amour-ya that’s true, but my dog in Finland is actually really picky and won’t accept many things as toys!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 17, 2011 - 1:21 am

    Explore & ChickLitgirl-yes thank God!!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 17, 2011 - 1:21 am

    undertheabaya-I know! The kid just loves chewing on bags!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousDecember 20, 2011 - 4:03 am

    Whoa! Now that’s a scary story! O_o’
    I probably would’ve panicked and done everything wrong ^^; but thank goodness you knew what to do! :)

  • AnonymousJanuary 25, 2012 - 6:41 pm

    I especially liked the iphone in the mouth for light. It brings me back to the day when I would pump on my break and run an extension cord from the hall of the office tower to the bathroom… then slip into the office kitchen with little warm bags of milk! Good on you!ReplyCancel

  • drtaherJune 17, 2013 - 3:07 pm

    This was a very good entry and the lessons you learned from the experience were so … comprehensive. You forgot one though: when someone’s life is at risk, to hell with the abaya. Shukrallah Lamia is fine. Great blog entry as always.

    Dr TaherReplyCancel

  • […] This ^ is camel herding for the modern day (or very lazy) Bedouin. Not much to see for about the next 500km. Read our near death experience from the trip here: […]ReplyCancel

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  • Nida Mumtaz, PakistanJune 3, 2018 - 12:31 am

    Fully agree with your take home message.
    Every one should learn basic CPR.
    plastic bags (especially very thin) should be avoided.ReplyCancel

Here are 10 amazing innovations, inventions and inspiration that you may not know come from Finland, Europe’s 6th largest 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 average one per household. Health benefits of the sauna include: lowers blood pressure, increases blood circulation, cleanses skin from toxins and impurities and blemishes, aids weight loss, relaxes muscles, decreases swelling and reduces stress. Did you know that back in the day, Finnish women gave birth in the sauna! Learn more about Finnish sauna traditions here!
 finnish sauna cure for all
2. Nokia
Did you know that there is a town in Finland called Nokia and the mobile phone company started out as a wood mill in the 19th century? Nokia also produces raincoats, tyres and rubber boots!
3. Xylitol
The amazing health discovery for dental health is a sweetener derived from the Finnish Birch trees. Xylitol’s health-promoting effects on teeth have been proven in many scientific studies. Xylitol cuts off acid attacks, prevents cavities, reduces the amount of plaque and prevents mothers infecting their children with caries. Xylitol also reduces children’s ear infections.”
4. Angry Birds Everybody knows Angry Birds but did you know they were created by a Finnish computer game company called Rovio? Today the Angry birds are popular all over the world and in Finland they have Angry Birds amusement parks, beauty products, evening gowns and everything under the sun in the Angry Birds theme.
5. Education System Not an innovation per se, but something to be very proud of! Countries all around the world (including very recently Saudi-Arabia) are trying to find out the secret to the success of Finland’s education system which consistently tops OECD charts. Learn more here “Saudis could take lessons from Finnish Schools”
6. SMS
Unfortunately the Finnish man that invented SMS messaging never earned a penny for his idea! 
7. Benecol The miracle product Benecol, which started out as a margarine that contains sterols and stanols which have been scientifically proven to lower cholesterol levels is now sold worldwide. 
8. Santa Claus The REAL Santa, Mrs. Santa and the Little Elves live in the Arctic Circle in Finland at a place called Santa Claus Village. The Santa Claus Village has a fully functioning post office which receives millions of letters from all around the world. Each and every letter will be replied to by Santa’s Little Helpers. You can write to Santa from this link. It’s not only children who write to Santa, sometimes he gets letters from adults seeking for advice in difficult life situations. Santa Claus could be called the world’s most famous Goodwill Ambassador!
rudolph pink nose reindeer finland
9. Ice Skates Apparently us Finns have already been ice skating for about 5000 years! No wonder Finns have the best Ice Hockey Team in the world! World Champions 2011!
10. Salmiakki
Only Finns will agree: Salmiakki, also known as salty liquorice, which is actually (Ammonium Chloride mixed into black liquorice!) is Finland’s gift to the world! Check out this HILARIOUS blog called Salmiyuck to find out how special this stuff really is! Adventures in Salmiakki, reviews of the endless world of wonderful salmiakki products. It is certainly an acquired taste ;)


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  • LaylahDecember 13, 2011 - 8:42 am

    Stephi-you must try it!!Maybe they have some sort of Finnish food stores? Or you could always order in online from the Finnish food shop:

  • LaylahDecember 13, 2011 - 12:17 pm

    Sireh-Finns don't wear anything to the sauna LOL
    At home we will go naked, some public saunas at the swimming pools actually BAN from entering with swimsuit! If we are having mixed sauna people will wear swimsuits, but not everybody. Some wrap a towel around themselves.

    What type of sauna was it? I find the saunas abroad are light years from the original Finnish saunas. Is itReplyCancel

  • AnonymousDecember 13, 2011 - 11:53 am

    dear laylah,

    a telephatic and timely post I must say. I just registered a gym membership earlier this afternoon and saw a sauna bath in the changing room. I was wondering what it does for health and now I know :P

    Thought perhaps tomorrow I would give it a try. It is already warm in this humid tropical weather maybe that is why te sauna is just empty all afternoon.

  • MAHARUKHDecember 13, 2011 - 1:51 pm

    pretty informative.. loved the way used the images.. :) keep it up.. :)ReplyCancel

  • AliceDecember 13, 2011 - 5:07 pm

    Very interesting!!! Thank you for sharing! I really want to visit Finland.ReplyCancel

  • JennyDecember 13, 2011 - 2:11 pm

    Enjoyed learning a little more about Finland! I tried salmiakki once and thought it was very strange.ReplyCancel

  • MoOnDecember 13, 2011 - 8:00 pm

    the sauna reminds me of hamam maghrebi we get in the Middle East or as they call it Hamam in Turkey,
    That was an enlighting post and very interesting. loved itReplyCancel

  • PiaDecember 13, 2011 - 8:36 pm

    My dad was born in the sauna!

    In the UK under 18 year olds are not allowed to go to sauna (at gyms), or if you are pregnant. Makes me laugh and it really shows they have no clue about saunas here! The best Finnish sauna I've been to outside Finland was in Malaysia funnily enough.

    Love your blog, it's so interesting to learn about Saudi culture and what life is likeReplyCancel

  • Almost a MuslimahDecember 13, 2011 - 10:26 pm

    I love Finland and other Scandinavian countries :) it's my dream to go and spend some time there. thanks for an interesting post, i didn't know angry birds were Finnish!ReplyCancel

    • finnSeptember 23, 2014 - 2:21 pm

      The upper peninsula of Michigan has a large Finn population. there’s a restaurant in Houghton called the soumi, even. Minnesota has a spread out Finn population. But we all take sauna (pronounced SOW-na) the traditional Finn way, naked! The best food I’ve had was a pannakakku (spelling?), Finnish pancake made by my grandpa’s girlfriend in the western UP. We finns are proud to be soumilinens.ReplyCancel

  • Meraj KhattakDecember 14, 2011 - 6:16 am

    Also add Linux (the most popular *nix system) to this list :) as it was born in Finland.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 14, 2011 - 9:33 am

    Maharukh-thanks and welcome to my blog :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 14, 2011 - 9:35 am

    Jenny-which kind of salmiakki did you try? Some of them are really strong and even some Finns find them..strange LOL
    You should start with a mild soft one IMHO.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 14, 2011 - 9:35 am

    Alice-thanks for commenting :) aah I wish you can visit some day!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 14, 2011 - 9:38 am

    Moon-thanks! The hamams in Turkey are not like the saunas we have in Finland..hamam is more like a steam room with lower temperatures..sauna should have temp from 70-100 and we control the heat by throwing water on rocks.
    But that said the Turkish hamam are fabulous! Absolutely love them.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 14, 2011 - 9:40 am

    Pia-OMG really??In which part of Finland? wow I thought this was like back int he 19th century or something LOL
    I remember as a kid we were not allowed in the saunas at the public swimming halls in the states, they were not allowed for under 16 yr olds!
    How can ppl be so clueless?
    And what’s gonna happen if a 15 yr old goes in?
    Is she gonna melt??ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 14, 2011 - 9:41 am

    Almost Muslimah-thank you, I hope you can visit Finland too! I would recommend going in July when the weather and nature is best!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 14, 2011 - 9:43 am

    Meraj Khattak-ya I was thinking of adding Linux but you know we just have SO many innovations from Finland that I could not possibly get them into one post ;)
    Also, it’s tuesday TEN so the list was full!ReplyCancel

  • PiaDecember 14, 2011 - 12:49 pm

    My grandparents lived in the countryside of Southern Ostrobothnia and in 1949 when my dad was born, my grandparents only had a horse and carriage. So, I assume the sauna was probably a nicer option when in labour than travelling to the hospital in bumpy roads :D Maybe in the countryside it was more common as hospitals were quite far away and not many people had cars those days. They probably had midwifes who came to people’s homes then.

    I will ask next time I see a sign like that that why they have such silly rules and what do they think will happen to a 15 year old who goes to sauna! :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 18, 2011 - 9:02 pm

    Pia-that is amazing, when you think of it,only one generation ago this was happening.
    Please do ask them!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousDecember 20, 2011 - 3:48 am

    What about that guy who helped invent Linux? He was Finnish too, wasn’t he? :D

  • LaylahDecember 21, 2011 - 2:32 pm

    Mary-Yes he was a Finn! Didn’t have space for more than ten things :)ReplyCancel

  • SylviaDecember 22, 2011 - 12:19 pm

    #1 is definitely the greatest thing Finland gave to the world, I simply adore going to (Finnish) saunas! Are there any in Saudi?

    All the saunas I have visited (this being in Croatia, Austria, Italy…) were +18, or +16 at best…I reckon this is because they are all mixed-gender saunas where nudity is compulsory. Though sometimes in Austria I saw very small children in the sauna in spite of this rule!ReplyCancel

  • SiivetönDecember 28, 2011 - 5:19 pm

    Santa is from Turkey :)

    I was amazed too! :)ReplyCancel

  • JeanJanuary 29, 2012 - 3:58 am

    Honest, I have difficulty enjoying saunas. So I’ll just stick to a hot (humid) days.

    Thanks for this trivia. We will be having speakers and exhibitors from Helsinki for our conference on cycling in ….Vancouver, British Columbia!ReplyCancel

  • […] this Blue Abaya post you can find 10 Amazing Innovations and Inventions that come from Finland, one of them being the famous efficiency of the Finnish Education system. […]ReplyCancel

  • sirkkuVOctober 1, 2014 - 9:08 pm

    Mirena, hormonal intrauterine device was developed in Finnland thirty years ago! A great birth control method and a great help for women with heavy menstruation.ReplyCancel

  • Ashish KumarJuly 9, 2015 - 9:34 am


  • Kimi LahtinenJuly 23, 2015 - 2:49 pm

    Nokia also produces bulletsReplyCancel

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