My mother has visited us a total of seven times in Saudi-Arabia. We’ve visited many mostly unknown beautiful places in Saudi Arabia together and met many amazing people. During her visits in KSA, we’ve done the following to desert trips: Raghbah tower, Edge of the World, Maraat, Shagraa, Red Sand Dunes, Lake Kharrarah, Rawdhat Khuraim and Riyadh River (Wadi Hanifa)! We also took a weekend trip to Jeddah for some diving and beach time. The highlight of her visits was our legendary Saudi road trip of over 3000km from Riyadh to al Kharj, Hota Bani Tamim, Wadi Al Dawasir, Abha, Jazan, Sabya, Farasan Islands, Najran, Empty Quarter..and back to Riyadh!

 Here are some highlights of one of her visits in images.Mom

On our road trip around Saudi mom and her granddaughter are watching the sunset at Abha mountains. The green scenery there amazed her. Abha is definitely on our list of places to return to again, we were there off-season so many touristic places had already closed.

This is from a weekend in Saudi when it had rained and we found a small lake in the middle of the desert. She walked around in the lovely red sand dunes after having explored the old mud village of Raghba where she got to climb the watch tower for beautiful views.

At her first desert “Hash walk” in the desert, mom climbed the red sand dune just like all her younger counterparts. Climbing up this thing is not easy folks! Going down is fun though and we saw many different styles such as running like mad, jumping and even cart wheels!

In Abha region we stopped to buy honey from this local salesman. Mom ended up buying a huge canister of that honey which was from Yemen and tasted like heaven! Go to this post for more on tourism in Abha and Asir region: Top 10 Things to do in and around Abha.

A souvenir shop we found on our roadtrip. Mom bought replicas of houses of the Najran region. She was delighted to find the exact same ones to add to her collection that she bought on our trip to Yemen a few years back. This is one of the best souvenir shops I’ve been to in the Kingdom.

On Farasan Islands mom was in her element. She swam whenever she got the chance. The water was warm and lovely and there was no one else around. It was pure bliss and my daughter enjoyed those lazy days on the beach and in the water as warm as a bath tub!
We spent one night sleeping on a deserted beach on Farasan Island. It was amazing.

We had so much fun at the women’s souq in Najran. Here mom is trying on Bedouin niqabs.

The magnificent Empty Quarter, Rub al-Khali was simply breath-taking and we agreed to return there one day for an overnight camping trip!

Miss you, mom!

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  • DeemaDecember 7, 2011 - 8:32 am

    looks beautiful<3ReplyCancel

  • SeikkuDecember 7, 2011 - 3:16 pm

    Awesome pictures as always. The size of your guest room…. unfair! :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 7, 2011 - 11:19 pm

    Deema- Thanks!
    Seikku- Nice to see your comment pitkasta aikaa!Ya we have big apartments here in Saudi :)ReplyCancel

  • NikkiDecember 8, 2011 - 5:49 am

    This was so wonderful. :) My parents are so scared of Saudi Arabia, masha’Allah you are so lucky to have a mother that can appreciate the beauty in different cultures and ways of life.ReplyCancel

  • HamlinDecember 8, 2011 - 4:01 pm

    Awesome post..Moms are so much more powerful than they realize. How they are feeling on a particular day can have significant effects on the entire family. A Mom can and does influence so many things in her environment. And that can affect how she feels, and in turn how the other family members feel.ReplyCancel

  • ExploreDecember 8, 2011 - 4:03 pm

    After seeing your house.. I want to move to Saudi!!! That kind of room is reserved for castles here in Scotland.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 9, 2011 - 1:35 am

    Nikki-thank you :)Show them how my mom loved it maybe they will change their minds!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 9, 2011 - 1:37 am

    Hamlin-thanks for the comment and welcome to my blog! You are absolutely right with your observations. The mother is the core and soul of the family :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 9, 2011 - 1:37 am

    Explore-LOL do they also have bars on the windows ;)ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousDecember 9, 2011 - 9:36 am

    What a lovely post. My mother didn’t get the opportunity to visit me when I lived in Saudi but I’d like to think that she would have embraced it as much as your mother did…after all – us adventurous girls must take after some one, and who would that be if not our mothers? :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 9, 2011 - 10:15 pm

    You’re right it must come from somewhere :)In my case it has to be both parents!ReplyCancel

  • AliceDecember 18, 2011 - 2:35 pm

    Looks great! Especially sleeping in the desert! weren’t you afraid of the small animals (like snakes and scorpions)?

    And I would soooooooo want to climb that red sand dune too! I love climbing, exercise- like long distance walks, challenging myself.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 21, 2011 - 2:37 pm

    Alice-I was REALLY freaked out about all the creepy creepers and I sprayed some mosquito repellent all over my mattress (as if that helped)
    We woke up full of bites from some crawlers eww!ReplyCancel

  • Missing Mom and MotivationNovember 9, 2014 - 12:25 am

    […] to read more about my amazing mom and her adventures in the “Magical Kingdom” go here: Mom in the Magic Kingdom.   We walked around the ruins of the Ragba village and even climbed the watch tower. Which was […]ReplyCancel

  • OwaisFebruary 3, 2016 - 3:51 pm

    Nice clicks!!!

    In some pics you didn’t wear Abaya to cover your body. Is it allowed on those places which you showed to us? If yes let me know my wife will love to hear this ;)ReplyCancel

    • Arabian LauraFebruary 6, 2016 - 9:20 pm

      Yes some places in KSA are areas were it would be OK to remove abaya,for example Farasan islands, when you venture out further to the deserted areas there’s nobody else around so it’s OK.ReplyCancel

  • Arabian LauraFebruary 6, 2016 - 11:47 pm

    Owais; check out this post:

    Sans Abaya in Saudi

    all the places you can go without abaya in Riyadh, and in Saudi in general.ReplyCancel

I experienced hands on the generous side of the Saudi people by having the chance to interact with many families through my work. At the hospital a patient would have their own private rooms and the average length of stay would be 8 days. A nurse typically works around 12 hours a day, on average 4-5 days a week. Also the system in Saudi is that a certain nurse is assigned to specific patients only (usually 2-4/shift) and the nurse therefore get lots of one on one time with their designated patients.

At first it was a strange system for me as a western nurse used to having the responsibility of up to 35 patients at a given shift. Then I saw the good side to it, getting to really know your patients and following their progress and treatment. This way their outcome will be better because the nurses can observe the patients closely and report changes to the doctors.

saudi hospitalitySo having this close contact with the Saudi families gave me the chance to experience this amazing side to their culture which is hospitality and kindness to strangers.

I know some nurses who worked in Saudi or even the very same ward would not agree with me and might say Saudis are rude and arrogant. I think this has to do with personality and attitude. My approach is always open-minded and I would greet patients with a smile and “salaam aleikum”. Even though I was not a Muslim at first, I thought it was polite and respectful to their culture and always generated a positive response.

We have a saying in Finland:
Niin metsä vastaa kuin sinne huudetaan
Which translates to something like “the forest will answer you in the same way as you shout into it” meaning basically that if you speak nicely you will spoken back to nicely, or on the other hand if you speak to someone with disrespect, you can’t expect them to treat you with respect. Some expat nurses would always complain about how the Saudis are so rude. Perhaps a look into the mirror could solve this problem!

So that saying is what I like to go by. I think learning Arabic made a huge difference in communicating with the patients as well. They realized how much I respected them by making an effort to learn their language in order to be able to communicate better.

I would say in general, every patient of mine would offer something during their course of stay. Regardless of their background. The poorest sometimes were the most generous. It was touching how they would offer me from what little they had. I would of course refuse but they would literally stuff things in my pockets!

Typically people would give me chocolates, sweets or pastries they had in the room brought in by relatives or friends. On night shifts I would often be asked to join for some Arabic coffee, tea and dates. Some patients would give me juices, laban or water bottles. Basically anything they had to offer, they would give it. I would even be offered a plate of the food they were eating “to go” when I apologized I did not have time for dinner with them.

Many families would ask if I knew about Islam or wanted to learn about it. I would say I was interested and next time I saw them they would have a package ready for me full of booklets, small Quran’s, prayer beads and the sorts.  A beautiful Quran was given to by one of my favorite patients, an old Bedouin couple. It has both Arabic and English side by side, no distracting brackets and a brief explanation of the historical background of the events.

On occasions I received more elaborate gifts like jewellery, perfumes, bags and watches. A princess once bought me the same evening dress I saw her daughter wearing in her room during Eid time. I had admired how beautiful it was and she had sent someone to pick one up from the designer. Needles to say I was overwhelmed!

Generosity was extended to invitations as well, I have been invited to weddings and once to a royal wedding (sadly I couldn’t attend because I was abroad at the time) to family dinners, farms and coffee shops. I only had a chance to go to a few but it was well worth it and the hospitality was abundant.

I think the most amazing act of generosity happened once with another princess patient. She asked me if I needed more books on Islam in my own language. I said I had never really found any books in Finnish but would love to have some. She had me write down what my language was and said would see what she could do. The next time I came to work, must have been the day after, she gave me a whole boxful of books about Islam in Finnish! There was eight different books and of each five copies so I could give to friends and family. To this day I don’t get how she was able to obtain books in Finnish language in such a short time, in Saudi-Arabia!


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  • SoileDecember 5, 2011 - 8:54 pm

    Yet another interesting post!

    You can do the poll by going to “design”, then “add gadget” and choose “poll”. Easy.

    And my little project, it’s not going so well, same “setback” again as last summer. Still hopefull though, but if it doesn’t work out, I’ll be back in Saudi for sure :-)ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousDecember 5, 2011 - 10:34 pm

    This was a great post. I really like exploring different cultures and I currently can’t travel, so when I read your posts it’s as if I was living through your experiences :).

    Also, please keep up the posts no matter what people/that girl you refereed to in your other post, say. The fact of the mater is some are going to love you and some are not. I think your posts are positive and fair in general so please continue to share.


  • HussainDecember 6, 2011 - 2:09 am

    Your post reflects the true and ground level reality of culture of Islam – To love and share..ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 6, 2011 - 10:40 am

    Soile-Sorry to hear about the project not working out, hopefully it will be a success soon!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 6, 2011 - 10:44 am

    EvilEyeLola-thanks for the comment! I’m glad to hear my posts take you on a “virtual trip” to Saudi-Arabia :)
    I will keep posting! All the positive comments raised my spirits!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 6, 2011 - 10:46 am

    Hussein-thanks for the comment and welcome to my blog! Yes I agree this is what true Islam is, unfortunately it’s not seen as much in the everyday life, but it does exist!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 6, 2011 - 12:50 pm

    Stephi-I’m so glad that the proverb helped, it’s really common among Finns to refer to it.
    And Happy Independence Day to you!!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 6, 2011 - 12:52 pm

    Felicia-thank you, glad you liked it! An expats experience here has a lot to do with their own attitude as well, and seeing just the negative and hating all Saudis will guarantee a miserable existence here :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 6, 2011 - 12:54 pm

    Shireen Baig-thank you for the comment and welcome to my blog :) Glad you and your mother had also experienced this wonderful side to the Saudi culture!ReplyCancel

  • Shireen BaigDecember 6, 2011 - 10:06 am

    I have been in Saudi as a toddler but since then i haven’t been back there. My mom worked as a nurse there for about 6 years and even she had shared a similar experiences out of many from her side how once one of her patients was going out and they were so kind that the woman didn’t have anything to offer her to show her gratefulness, so she took the gold locket she had around her neck to give it to my mom.

    I agree how sometimes only the bad side gets publicized and I myself was pleasantly surprised when during an encounter with a saudi girl she was so kind in her speech without any ”your a strange i hate you” attitude. :)ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousDecember 6, 2011 - 11:13 pm

    Love the Blog! I agree with ure comments about being nice in order for people to be nice back…but also Arabs will tend to be much nicer to people who look a certain way…especially if they are from the West and have an interest in Islam and the culture.

    Ure blog about polygamy is absolutely right to the point..thanks for sharing..couldn’t agree more.


  • LaylahDecember 7, 2011 - 11:22 pm

    Hope-Hi there and welcome to my blog!Thanks for the comment, you’re right there might be some truth to the way you look thingy..BUT I think the most important thing is the way you act :)

    Well I’m really glad you agree with the polygamy post, gives me HOPE for women :DReplyCancel

  • AnonymousDecember 19, 2011 - 5:39 am

    Salaams dear. One question, is it not against professional ethics to take such extraordinary gifts? Just thinking a loud is all, I would think it would be unethical, no?
    Wa Salaam,

  • LaylahDecember 21, 2011 - 2:35 pm

    Sakina- We should not accept gifts as medical proffesionals you’re right. But there’s also the point to consider that not accepting them would be really offensive. Think if i refused the Islamic materials or the evening gown she had gone through all that trouble to get, for example..I do always tell them we are not supposed to accept, but they insist and literally stuff pockets with things :) In Finland it would be a different thing all together.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousApril 28, 2012 - 12:20 pm

    Dear Laylah,

    I am actually an Indian male; ran into your blog trying to assess the situation for ladies before my wife travels to saudi. I can understand the islamic tradition of wearing the abaya and have recommended my wife to be more open minded about the religion. But What I am just not able to digest is, the way saudis treat expats; more so the Asians. ISnt it against Islam to project oneself as superior and even worse, make an excuse to be arrogant & harsh.? Islam as I understand promotes peace more than any other religion in the world. However, I dont see a sense of compassion / respect for the other here. I do see a lot of people accusing expats of taking away their jobs. But do they really believe their way of work ( extreme laziness) will keep their fabulous kingdom stable?ReplyCancel

  • UnknownMay 13, 2013 - 8:38 am

    Thanks Laylah for this fantastic blog. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The “Saudi Hospitality” entry makes me laugh…because I could so relate to the ward “gathering” event. When my Lebanese husband got admitted into the hospital in Singapore, we had a Sushi and Cake Party LOL!! My Poor husband could not eat any due to liquid only diet restriction due to esophagus hernia. Nevertheless, it must have speed up his recovery seeing those food makes him wanna heal faster. LOL! Great blog! Love it! :)

    Singapore Girl ;)ReplyCancel

  • md shirazAugust 19, 2014 - 9:02 pm

    Hi lylah m shiraz from india.i am going to jeddah in a week i want to learn arabic in jeddah.what is the best possible way.
    Rply soon :)ReplyCancel

  • AmalMarch 7, 2016 - 9:18 pm

    I end up searching about Saudi hospitality in your blog. I really get amazed specially of your marriage story. Thanks google for sending me here and thanks for you as well.

  • […] A colleague I used to work with recently asked me, don’t I miss work at the hospital? My first reaction was yes in a way I do miss it. I miss the patients mostly. I miss interaction with them and the opportunity of meeting so many different Saudis from all levels of society and learning about the culture and customs. Especially I miss having the Bedouin people as patients and seeing those smiles on the faces of pediatric patients. Read more about quirky bedouin patients here:bedouins-as-patients Why I love working with Saudi patients here: thank-you-my-dear-saudi-patients Learn about the amazing Saudi hospitality I experienced with patients here: saudi-hospitality […]ReplyCancel

  • A. S. MathewOctober 23, 2018 - 12:11 am

    I have visited three GCC countries, but never had been to Saudi Arabia. Now I write dozens of comments in one of the leading News Papers of Saudi Arabia which is published from other GCC nations. I could easily sense through the publication of my comments, that the people of Saudi Arabia are compassionate-charitable towards the strangers and poor. Any comment I write touching charity and sharing towards the poor is published very fast. Hope and pray to visit that great country which has some import share while going back to the Biblical history. I read Koran which is giving greater spiritual lessons of life along with the Bible; thus getting more knowledge about the Islam religion. The Judaism-Islam religion and Christianity are cousin religions, I am so happy and proud about that.ReplyCancel

We took mom to the airport today and the house has been feeling really empty. We all miss her already! Two months flew by so quick..I find myself feeling blue and finding it hard to keep up the blogging because it really is hard work. We kept ourselves busy and met many of my friends here in Riyadh. It was also my mother’s last weekend in Saudi-Arabia so we wanted to do something memorable and visit a special place. We decided to drive out to the old town or mud village of Raghba northwest of Riyadh. Find the full guide and directions to this beautiful desert trek and Saudi heritage site here: Ragbhah and the Rolling Sand Dunes. If you’d like to read more about my amazing mom and her adventures in the “Magical Kingdom” go here: Mom in the Magic Kingdom.
mom in magic kingdom
We walked around the ruins of the Ragba village and even climbed the watch tower. Which was a lot of fun of course, but also a claustrophobic experience! I had to literally squeeze myself through the last part. I have no idea how an adult man could have fit in there! Maybe they used a kid, or a midget for the guarding purposes:) It’s unfortunate that many historical sites have been ruined by graffiti.

If you look carefully you can see mom waiving from one of the holes. This is where she turned back because she wasn’t able to move in there anymore!

I was determined to reach the top. A mild panic ensued when I couldn’t move at one point and there was absolutely no light coming into the staircase from the tiny windows. I was starting to envision in my head the fire squad being called to free the crazy lady that got stuck in the watch tower.

When people saw me up there they started honking their horns and some cars gathered to watch. I guess they don’t see ladies at the top too often. The visibility was perfect, no dust or hazyness after the rains.

Afterwards we drove around the desert looking for water after the rains, and managed to find a beautiful spot in the midst of the and dunes.

On friday we joined an expat gathering in the desert, the occasion, christmas celebrations! Mom said it was the strangest christmas party she ever went to.

A chorus of “angels” sang some christmas carols under a huge acacia tree. The songs echoed beautifully from the mountain.

The highlights of the evening were the fireworks and the bonfire. Lanterns were lit on the side of the mountain.

I’m glad we went because mom got to experience something so different and special on her last day. She also got a chance to do some off-road driving and we had so much fun we noticed only on the high-way that she had forgotten her abaya in the desert! Oh well, she doesn’t need it anymore, at least for a while. She liked it here so much she wants to come back in April.

Another thing I have been missing lately is motivation. I think it might have started from a comment I got from a Muslim blogger girl with a severe case of “holier than thou” attitude. She just had a lot of nasty things to say about me without having a clue who I am jumped to all sorts of conclusions on my character. Anyways I didn’t publish her comment because it was a personal attack against me and I state clearly in the comment rules that such personal attacks will not be tolerated and I wanted to just let it go and move on.

So that and a few other things going on in my personal life and mom being away kind of took me into a slump. I didn’t feel like posting anything lately. I felt like my blog is of no interest or benefit to anyone and nobody even reads it or comments because the posts are so dull and negative or something. I know might sound silly, but I do get those days when I truly think like this.

So after this depressive mood I was thrilled to meet a fan of my blog in person at this very desert gathering. It was a Canadian girl who had recently moved to Riyadh for work at the same hospital I used to work at. She had asked my Finnish friend if she knew who the author of Blue Abaya was and then my friend introduced us to each other.

Wow I was so flattered by her words, I still can’t believe it! She said my blog helped her so much and she had been reading it for some while now. She thanked me for keeping it and encouraged me to write more. She was so sweet! She even said she told all her friends there’s this amazing lady who keeps a blog about Saudi you have to read it!

So I want to personally thank you, dear fan in the desert for your encouraging words! Thank you for the inspiration! I wish you have an amazing time in Saudi-Arabia and make the best out of everything here :) If you need anything I will always be available to help out. Please don’t hesitate to ask!

I also want to thank all my readers and “fans” out there for reading and commenting. I love comments! Please write more comments :) It really means a lot to me and reminds me that there ARE people out there who are listening.

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  • JoannaDecember 3, 2011 - 11:50 pm

    Hi! I read your blogs and I wanted to say thank you and keep writing! Your photos are always so beautiful.
    There will always be people out there who are negative, you have to forget them and move on. They are not worth your time or fretting over so just forget them and stay positive.

    I am not in Saudi or plan on ever coming there but it would be kind of cool to own one abaya I guess so I would give my vote to the abaya.ReplyCancel

  • ASaudi'sGirl?December 4, 2011 - 5:15 am

    I read your blog and I love it!! You give me hope for my life in the future. It is hard sometimes when all I hear are warnings about what my life with a Saudi could end up like. Yes there have to be warnings about being with a Saudi but there can be happy endings such as yours. You seem like for the most you have it all together and live a normal life. I am glad you got to spend some time with your mom and that you all as a family created some wonderful memories. The thing I love best about your blog is the pictures. Lets face it; a pictures worth a thousand words :) I feel like even if I never go to Saudi I’ll have seen it all. I show my boyfriend all of your pictures and he gets so excited, he has a story to go along with almost every one. Thank you for blogging and don’t let the negative people stop you, rise above them! i hope this is motivation for you to keep going xoReplyCancel

  • Om Lujain©December 4, 2011 - 7:54 am

    Your blog my dear is amazing! Ignore any negative remarks from idiots! I love your stories.. your pictures.. your insight on things… I love your sense of humour… the way you say it like it is! SO please do not let some NOBODY typing nasty comments get to you! As you already know.. your blog is TRULY one of my favs! And after meeting you.. I have seen that you are an amazing individual that has a lot to share! So keep sharing… and again.. do not let some NOBODY get to you! XOXOReplyCancel

  • AliceDecember 4, 2011 - 8:12 am

    It’s great that your mother liked KSA and wants to come again soon. Seems like you had a lot of fun mashallah!

    I felt like my blog is of no interest or benefit to anyone and nobody even reads it or comments because the posts are so dull and negative.

    I’m surprised you feel this way sometimes! Because you have a very good blog, one of my favorites!  Several times it happened to me to think of your great blog, and how my own blog is useless and pathetic compared to yours! :)  You are such a talented blogger, an intelligent and wise woman who  has valuable experience and opinions to share! Your blog is very informative, interesting and fun to read.  I’m definitely a fan! :)

    I get impression  that your blog is actually very positive, because I learned from it that you love KSA, its culture, people and expats living there,love your Finnish culture, traveling, photography, going out, your family and many other things.

    I love that your blog also has a personal touch- you share some of your experience in KSA, which can be very useful to people in similar situations. Your blog shows that working and living in KSA is not scary but can be even enjoyable.

    The pics you post are unique!

    I  dont comment much on other blogs because  I often feel like I dont have anything important or special to say, or I just like to keep my opinions to myself.  But I’ll try to comment more on your blog!ReplyCancel

  • ColleenDecember 4, 2011 - 6:17 am

    I actually think your blog is quite positive, and even though I’m American and not Finnish, I appreciate your point of view as a Western woman in an Arab Muslim country. I have only had negative experiences with Saudi men – I lived in Morocco, and Moroccans hate the way Saudi men stereotypically talk about and treat Moroccan women – but you make Saudi look like a fun place to visit, and a cool place to live. I really thank you for your more balanced and honest opinions, and I wish you all the best of luck in the future.ReplyCancel

  • SoileDecember 4, 2011 - 7:49 am

    I love your blog, but you knew that already :-)

    I, too, especially live the pics, you’re a great photographer. And the more time passes from my last stay, the more I find myself thinking off doing
    Saudi on more time. There’s so many things I miss from there, especially the “easy life”, and reading your blogg brings back so many memories. So, keep up the good work!

    Oh, and you could do a poll to find out how many anonymous readers you have :-)ReplyCancel

  • NinaDecember 4, 2011 - 1:23 pm

    Don’t you dare stop posting! I love this blog so much. I live in Scotland and it seems whenever I’m really cold and miserable, you’ve posted something awesome with beautiful pictures.
    Don’t listen to people who say horrid things, they are just jealous.ReplyCancel

  • DentographerDecember 4, 2011 - 3:46 pm

    Really Laylah?
    you completely understood it wrong,
    for me the day that ill get a hater comment is the day i am celebrating my blog,because its the proof that i am on to somthing look at anything worth mentioning out there and tell me if there isnt any one dissing it.

    i honestly would have published the comment in a post by it self,hiding the user and ask the readers if they think this is true,it would be fun lol

    keep going laylah,blog like no one is reading,do your thing cos what you do in this blog is benefitting you before it benefit anyone else,its a pretty good blog with diversified contents and you everything figured out.

    as i said before,you make saudi look like a charming place to be,and i really like how positive your blog portrait saudi and brings the good in a time where bad is what all being said about it.

    keep the wheel rolling,dont let every pothole that comes in the way slow you down.

    P.s. i must admit i laughed hard when i read “I felt like my blog is of no interest or benefit to anyone and nobody even reads it or comments because the posts are so dull and negative.” i felt invisible too hahahaReplyCancel

  • EibhlinDecember 4, 2011 - 3:54 pm

    I think everyone who blogs thinks has moments of wondering “What’s the point? This is ueseless! Why bother?” – and you’re missing your mom, and feeling lonely, so of course you’re susceptible to that kind of feeling /thinking right now. I’m reading your blog in Rome. I too am an expat, and though my lifestyle and circumstances are very, very different from yours, I love the insights I get into the real life of women in Saudi Arabia though your blog.
    I’m thinking of participating in an online reading challenge next year, involving Middle Eastern fiction. Could you recommend any contemporary fiction about Saudi Arabia – available in English translation – that is a good read and gives a realistic picture of the country? Many thanks!ReplyCancel

  • beautifulmaldivesDecember 4, 2011 - 5:56 pm

    This is surely an awesome blog.. I love reading the posts by you. By the way I’m from Maldives and things are pretty different here, though I would much like to be living there. :)

  • LaylahDecember 5, 2011 - 12:36 am

    Wow so many comments!!yay!!!I’m so happy!!!thank you everyone for the encouraging words :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 5, 2011 - 12:37 am

    Joanna-thank you dear, that’s great advice. I will try to stay positive no matter what!
    And I will still think about the abaya giveaway for sure :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 5, 2011 - 12:39 am

    Tara-I know, sounds mad, but I was serious! But you’re right, there are people lurking here, I was just not sure if they liked what they saw.
    Of course not everyone is going to like my blog, that’s a fact too. But if I can make a small difference in someones life then I’m pretty content with that.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 5, 2011 - 12:42 am

    ASaudis Girl-thank you, that’s so sweet of you!I’m so happy to hear that my blog gives you hope, that really means a lot to me.
    That’s so funny you show your bf the pics and he relates so well, I guess I did a good job then :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 5, 2011 - 12:43 am

    Soile-thank you! And please come back to Saudi! How do I do a poll like that?
    P.S how is your “little” project going?ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 5, 2011 - 12:46 am

    Colleen-thanks for the insightful comment that was really nice to hear! I do wish to portray Saudi in a more positive way, because most I hear or read is negative, just to keep a balance and show people this is NOT a miserable, boring horrible place to live in :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 5, 2011 - 12:47 am

    Om Lujain-thanks for the pep talk! I really needed it :) I love your blog too because of your humour it always makes me smile. Ok, I will forget this NOBODY LOLReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 5, 2011 - 12:54 am

    Alice-your comment is so touching, thank you SO much for taking the time to write to me!
    You said you don’t write comments because you feel you dont have anything special or important to say, but what you have just posted was just that, really IMPORTANT and SPECIAL to me :)
    I feel like you have understood what I’m like and what’s important to me perfectly. So thank you for saying it and i look forward to hearing from you again soon :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 5, 2011 - 12:56 am

    Nina-OK I won’t LOL. Thank you for letting me know someone up there is enjoying reading my blog!
    And you know what I worked in Scotland for a while and I love their sense of humor and the nature there is amazing too :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 5, 2011 - 12:59 am

    Dentographer-Yes, really! But hey that’s a good idea, maybe I will share that comment and see what people say,might be interesting!
    Thanks for the comment and the encouragement, very much appreciated!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 5, 2011 - 1:05 am

    Eibhlin-thank you for your kind words, and for understanding :) yes I miss mom, I’m still depressed and haven’t left the house so that is having an impact on me..
    How cool that you are reading from Rome! Wonderful to hear of people from all around the world!
    Regarding the book, from the top of my head I can’t think of any book that would describe accurately life of Saudi women (certainly not Girls of Riyadh, stay far away from that one)but The Land of the Invisible Women is an interesting read by Qanta Ahmed.She worked here as a physician for some years.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 5, 2011 - 1:07 am

    beautifulmaldives-thanks for your comment and you are lucky to live in such a paradise on earth, but you want to live here? Can we swap, at least for a while :)ReplyCancel

  • mudassirDecember 8, 2011 - 5:00 am

    Hi Laylah. Now, every thing i wanted to say is already said by your fans above :(
    Nevertheles i wil say- i just love ur blog and i dont think you should get bogged down by some self appointed ‘saint’.
    I love the way you look at positive side of things which are otherwise soo irretating here. It sure must have been a huge culture shock for you. Iam a 26yr old Indian working in riyadh since 2 years. Ive been in Abha and Jizan for many days but i wonder where those places are(the ones in the pics). May be i was too busy with my work there (btw i work in Mobily as an engineer)Would realy like to visit them as a tourist this time:)And also to other places you mentiond in your blog.Hope you will be my guide when i need advice :)
    Til now i had known Finland only for Nokia :)
    Now Finland would always remind me of Laylah! :) Cheers!!ReplyCancel

  • DBDecember 8, 2011 - 4:36 pm

    Your blog is the only blog I read. Enough said.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 8, 2011 - 10:16 pm

    Mudassir-thank you for your comment and welcome to my blog! So glad to have you here :)
    Sure you can always ask for advice I will try my best to help!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 8, 2011 - 10:16 pm

    DB-WOW is all I can say ;)ReplyCancel

  • Proud MuslimahDecember 9, 2011 - 1:54 am

    LOVE the halo attached to the guys head. Thats the funniest thing ever. mA you are an amazing photographer.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 9, 2011 - 10:16 pm

    Proud Muslimah-thank you dear :)I thought it was really funny too and the guy sang in the choir!ReplyCancel

  • Ms RosenstareDecember 11, 2011 - 10:48 am

    That kind of despiteful comments you described originate very often in envy. It’s a good decision not to publish it -just ignore it eventhough it is hard. It is just litter that pops up now and then.
    Amazing place- the watch tower you visited with your mom! I cannot image how you had the guts to climb up there! I feel horor just thinking about it!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousDecember 12, 2011 - 3:08 am

    Assalamu alaikum Blue Abayah, I love your blogs. I have not been to Saudi Arabia, but I feel like I have. Your blogs are life like, please continue.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousDecember 12, 2011 - 3:08 am
  • LaylahDecember 12, 2011 - 10:42 pm

    Ms Rosenstare-That might be the case..I'm surprised there was no follow up on her side..will see if I publish a post with some of those comments I got but didn't publish. Some of them are actually quite entertaining!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 12, 2011 - 10:43 pm

    anon-thank you very much! Pls use a nickname next time so I will know who left this nice comment :)ReplyCancel

  • MAHARUKHDecember 13, 2011 - 1:54 pm

    asalamalaikum alailah…
    m ur new follower nd i feel proud to follow you, seeing world through ur eyes is magical the way u decribed it is superd loving it.. :)
    may allah give u hidayah and u keep dis up…
    m from riyadh too can relate to all this.. :)ReplyCancel

  • IrishTeenFebruary 9, 2012 - 10:29 am

    WOOOOW ! – I need to get out more :O Seriously, I thought my life ended after I moved to Riyadh this Summer, but after discovering your blog today, I realised there is so much fun to be discovered! So thanks so much for that (: Also, after a bit of reading, I can safely assure you that you're aMazING! Eeek, I love what you write! Your positive tone, unwavering Eemaan, and refreshing outlookReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMarch 4, 2012 - 10:39 am

    I live in Dubai, mixed-Asian Catholic and married to a European Muslim, with a beautiful babygirl and I would just like to say that people, women in particular, regardless of their religion will always try and get you down at any opportunity. It makes them feel good about themselves and probably helps them sleep better at night in their own sick little world. The girl who you speak of is probably envious of the freedom and life that you have in KSA and enjoys being a thorn in a sensitive place. I’m going to say something true but immature, “Scr*w her!”.
    I love your blog, it makes me laugh at work when all I want to do is take cover. I find it witty, intelligent and extremely resourceful. I must admit that I often come here on a daily basis to check if there is something new. My advice to you is to keep writing as you are clearly blessed to be able to write so well. It would be haram if you were to stop.

    Lotsa love and encouragement always,

  • AnonymousMarch 22, 2012 - 12:17 am

    I love your blog so much, I am from Canada and find it so interesting hearing a "western" view of the very different country of Saudi Arabia. I find it funny to see that the women in Saudi Arabia find Western women as interesting as I find them. If I could I would like to go to Saudi as you have described a very positive interesting and beautiful place. Keep on telling it the way itReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMarch 22, 2012 - 7:54 am

    Just another fan, your blog was posted/advertsied by someone on the Saudi forum so checked it out and now am an avid fan…as others stated before, you have a unique style of communicating…open, funny and honest. I also live the experiences though your blog even though I have been living in KSA a number of years, guess am not as keen or adventurous…so it is fun to visit allReplyCancel

  • RosieJuly 6, 2012 - 7:35 pm

    Dearest Layala,

    I like your blog very much and it shows what a happy ever after insaudi can be. I think you are blessed and wish you happiness always. sadly i have come to hate saudi in the past 10 months i have been here. things are not so rosy as you were fortunate to see. as a western woman who does cover the treatment is really bad.(i am also a surgeon and am in the NGHA so i have tasted the nasty corruption). i am sad to say truly do not wish well to any saudi. i feel that they are one of the most accursed and lowly people on the earth with a small (very small) exception for a few. i hope you stay safe and only have pleasant experiences.
    wishing the best,

  • chaaalalaNovember 15, 2012 - 10:22 pm

    Im from Estonia, I never been to KSA or heard anything about it.
    Last month I went to Turkey and in the airport I saw so many women in niqab and abayas. I saw that on passport control they didnt ask them to show their face and when I got back home, I decided to seek information about why is it so…didnt find yet. But I stumbed upon your blog. It is quite interesting, KSA seems a bit weird to me with all those rules and so on, I dont feel like Id want to visit it one day, but its surely is interesting to read about how different this place is.

    Keep writing ;)ReplyCancel

  • Shuja UddinJanuary 29, 2013 - 6:31 am

    Hi Blue Abaya,
    I am A Male from Pakistan and was really bored in Riyadh .. ( Though I was born in Riyadh and been here for 20 years.. I went back to my Country and now here again after 10 years gap.)
    KSA has changed alot and i was really bored being here.
    But out of somewhere i hit your blog and has been really interested in everything of it.
    I try to read every review and see aorund your recommended things.
    I would say that you are doing an amazing blog and must continue to do so.
    Haters will always be Haters… But you need to keep yourself motivated for those who support you.
    Best of Luck for future as well.
    I am following you on FB as well and hope to get more recommendations from you.ReplyCancel

  • LaylaJanuary 31, 2013 - 12:03 pm

    Hi there Shuja!
    Thanks for the comment and for following :)
    I will do my best to continue, always happy to hear how readers have benefited from my hard work!ReplyCancel

  • Jerry TeelerAugust 1, 2015 - 1:40 pm

    Hey there. I arrived in Riyadh 7 months ago to manage safety for all of the airport construcion. I am constantly looking for driveable excursions. In search of sharks teeth I found your very popular and very informative blog. You have certainly given me many more things to do. Thanks for all you do. JerryReplyCancel

What a busy week it’s been! I really don’t understand how the time flies like this. I thought I just posted the previous Tuesday Ten yesterday! I didn’t even manage to post this on time but better late than never..
Mom is leaving in a few days and we’ve been running around Riyadh trying to get as many things done as possible. Looking for souvenirs all over Riyadh and we went to Diira souq to find the best ones. It seems to be almost impossible to find nice post cards from Saudi-Arabia. The hotels do have some but many look out dated and the places pictured are not even that nice. I guess people just don’t send postcards anymore.

Last Wednesday we went to Intercontinental hotel for lunch by the pool, the weather was perfect! The pool rules say “women are not allowed to sit around the pool”. Pretty annoying, why not even allowed to sit?  What is the harm of women sitting around the pool enjoying the nice weather and having coffee. It’s an international hotel environment and this should be perfectly fine. Only men are allowed to enjoy  swimming, of course. Notice the UFO hat landed in the background which his the ministry of Interior building.

The SHOP&DROP winter campaign is ongoing at Harvey Nichols until Dec 4th. You can donate winter clothes and they distribute them to the needy families around Riyadh. Our clothes were put in the container by some really sweet volunteering Saudi girls. And yes there are that poor people in Saudi so if you’re in Riyadh or Jeddah go participate! The campaign is run by Sawa’ed Atheeb check their site here:

This is actually the old baby swing from my childhood. My daughter loved it so much last the summer, we brought it to Saudi because they don’t sell anything like this here. The kitten enjoys it too!

We went to Ha’ir and Riyadh river area to walk around.  Such lovely green scenery and flowers everywhere.  The date palms had new dates in them. Listening to the Birds singing and just the sound of the water flowing and the wind softly blowing in the trees makes my mind at peace.

The Riyadh river flows through Wadi Hanifa which is a very long lush valley full of agriculture and date farms in particular. There’s even fish in the river and many expats go there fishing on the weekends.

Lots of pink stuff on sale at the Walk For Cure breast cancer awareness event. I got the hair clips and a small bracelet, mom bought a medicine box and some ribbons for her sisters, who have been diagnosed recently with breast cancer.

We had an amazing Thanksgiving dinner at our friends house!

Mom is trying to purchase all her souvenirs this week. Here we are testing out some bokhoor. It’s pieces of special kind of dried wood that smell really good when you burn it slowly on a special kind of burner. This particular piece cost around 1500 SAR!

An evening walk around the neighborhood, we found some villas for sale open for people to walk in for viewing. Mom’s thoughts were it being as living in a jail with those high walls, bars on windows and such a small harsh yard.

We found this flower on sale at IKEA in Finnish it’s called a Christmas Star! The vase is from a trip to Jordan.

And finally this Tuesday, schools in Saudi were closed because it rained. From this picture you can maybe guess why.

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  • ♥hind♥November 30, 2011 - 2:06 am

    asalam aleykum
    nice pictures..wants me to take some in germany ofcourse.

    If your cat tends to eat leafs Oo dunno if cats do that!?? be careful because the christmas star contains poison?? well thats what I learned…


    ugh I cant wait for next Thursday,,,ReplyCancel

  • Proud MuslimahNovember 30, 2011 - 9:35 pm

    #1- LOVE the cute kitty swinging in the swing (mA mA mA)

    #2- LOVE the camel toy attached to it. hahaha.

    What beautiful pictures. It really shows the metropolitan side of Saudia that not a lot of people here know about. Really beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • Proud MuslimahNovember 30, 2011 - 9:37 pm

    Oh, and that villa is really beautiful too, I think. I’m more of an American farm house kind of girl, but I think that villa is lovely for the area that it’s in. I’d live in it :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 1, 2011 - 11:04 am

    Hind-was aleikum salaam! thanks for the warning I will place the plant somewhere she can’t reach it!

    Tara-it’s near my house too!

    Proud Muslimah-thanks! the tag on the camel says “baby’s first camel” :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahDecember 1, 2011 - 11:07 am

    The villa is of a typical style of housing here in Riyadh. I’m not the biggest fan of the bars on the windows or the high walls though :)ReplyCancel

  • DentographerDecember 4, 2011 - 3:52 pm

    Sadly the bars are becoming a necessity with increased robberies,at least for the ground floor,unless you have a decent anti theft system,or electrify your windows :p

    appearantly we all live around the same neighbourhood..that roundabout is near where i live in riyadh too,i pass by it when i go to the gym daily,i miss riyadh.ReplyCancel

I cannot believe how fast this past week went! Actually where did it go? I realized we only have two weeks left with mom staying with us in Riyadh. Times passes too fast when you’re having fun!

This week I met up with some ladies and their kids in Riyadh, all non-Saudis married to Saudis. Among them were some fellow bloggers so it was extra interesting and what a lovely evening it was! I met Tara Umm Omar, the owner of Future Husbands and Wives of Saudis, American Girl from Undertheabaya blog and Umm Lujain author of Ramblings of a Saudi wife, all amazing, beautiful women I was so impressed! Check out their blogs too!

Last weekend we went to a place called the Edge of the World which is located about 70km outside Riyadh. It’s a beautiful place I’ve gone to many times but this time was to show the place to my mom and she was really impressed. On the way we stopped to take pics of some camels. Directions and a complete guide to the Edge of the world can be found in this post click here.

This is the escarpment which is about 500miles long. The “Edge” is the cliff seen here in the far left.

It takes effort to reach it but the views are worth it. Despite the really hazy sky and a sandstorm blowing in the area, the view was stunning.
We were taking a walk in the DQ and I always thought this building looked like a spaceship and wanted to take a pic, but the guards would always forbid photographing it. This time the security officer laughed and just said ok, but please quickly so police won’t see you!
We had some Arab guests over and we served them some Finnish foods. Typical Finnish desserts are these blueberry-raspberry pie and cinnamon rolls called “pulla”. I had pearl sugar and rye flour from Finland to make them as original as possible. For the recipe I use to make the Finnish cinnamon rolls check out this post:
We also served the guests Saudi “wine” called JEW.Non-alcoholic of course.
Mom and my baby are relaxing at the lounge of Yibreen spa we went to have pedicures at.
At the mall we saw these arabic style dresses which my mom likes, but to me these look more Cruella Deville-style. I like wearing jalabiya at home sometimes, they are very comfortable and do also come in more simple designs! Check out the one in the far back it has even a collar the same as the evil cartoon character!

It rained this morning and this is the evidence, a few dots on the dusty table in the balcony. Note that the amount of dust came from just one day, which is typical to Riyadh. It’s pretty frustrating to clean the dust everyday because it doesn’t help to actually spray water form the hose on it, but needs always a thorough wipe to remove this nasty stuff! The lanterns are actually lamps from IKEA which never worked so I just removed the lightbulbs and put a candle in there.Looks pretty nice :)

So this week my daughter has been doing well with her potty training and she’s just over 6 months old. Here she is reading a ducky-book while sitting on her ducky-potty while one of our cats is supervising. Kind of cute I thought.

Until next week!

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  • ♥hind♥November 22, 2011 - 9:20 pm

    asalam alaikum

    Whaaaaaaaat!!!!??? @ picture 3… the leg close to the deep scared me!!!
    very nice pictures.

    stay safe


  • AnonymousNovember 22, 2011 - 11:31 pm

    Dear Laylah,

    A good post and I love it.

    I've been following your blog since early this year (read that youve just gave birth) and awareness of just how time flies sunk in when you said your little one is potty-training.


  • AliceNovember 23, 2011 - 2:51 pm

    nice pics!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousNovember 23, 2011 - 4:34 pm

    Beautiful pirctures! Thank you for sharing!

    – EvilEyeLolaReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 23, 2011 - 10:25 pm

    Hind-taking that pic did make me feel a bit dizzy :)

    thanks Alice and EvilEyeLola!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 23, 2011 - 10:28 pm

    Hi anonymous and thank you!

    Actually that news about women now having to cover "sexy eyes" is not true! I don't know how it started circulating but its everywhere around the media here too. So the Haia (religious police) issued a statement that its not accurate information.
    Of course the correction has not been circulating like the original "news" has been..ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 23, 2011 - 10:28 pm

    Oh and please you a nick next time you comment it would be nice to "know" you!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousNovember 23, 2011 - 8:10 pm

    I read your blog since summer and I absolutely love it. Few days ago I heard about this ->
    I know you live there for some time so I wonder what people in SA think about it?ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 24, 2011 - 2:59 am

    Zuza-that’s alright no worries :)Welcome to my blog!

    That story actually dates back to earlier this year when an incident occurred between a muttawa and a couple.The Haia guy thought the wifes eyes were too seductive and told her husband she needs to cover them,this ended up in a fight and as I recall, even stabbing(by the Haia)so they have taken this news out of context, its an isolated event by an obviously sick person..

    Thanks for commenting I hope to see you around!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousNovember 24, 2011 - 12:28 am

    Thank you for such a quick answer. I thought it might be misunderstanding considering the fact that media loves to write about poor/humiliated/enslaved women in Muslim countries. I heard it from my friend and I wanted to check it. I don't know any better place to do it than your blog :)

    It was my first comment here, sorry for being impolite by not giving any nick.


  • Ten Beautiful Places to Discover in the Desert » Blue AbayaJanuary 26, 2015 - 12:36 am

    […] I love to go camping out in the desert, the nights are beautiful, if the moon is full, the scenery becomes somehow otherworldly, you might feel you are on a different planet. And the silence of the night is so intense. You can watch the live show broadcasted live from the sky, just lay down and look up to the stars, it seems possible to touch them! A great place for camp-outs is Riyadh’s Acacia Valley. […]ReplyCancel

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 click here!

So here are the Top Ten things from life on the road in Saudi Arabia.

En route on our road trip my daughter met her great-great grandmother in this small village south of Riyadh.It was an amazing experience to get in touch with relatives from many generations away. I could never imagine anyone in Finland having this chance but in Saudi people married early (she was married at 14) and had lots of children so that is how it’s even possible.

It was Eid Al Adha time in Saudi and we saw LOTS of sheep on their way to Saudi families dinner tables. This also meant more traffic on the roads.

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:

I LOVE seashells! Another thing I collect from around the world. My house has LOTS of seashells as decorations all over, and also sand from around the world.

Most of the beaches on main Island of Farasan are ruined with trash! I was so saddened and disappointed to see even the one of the islands upscale hotel, the Farasan Coral resort was ridden with litter! Huge change from last visit in 2008 and big disappointment. To read more about trash and littering problem in Saudi-Arabia read this post:
These women were giggling and pointing at me following me around and acting really immature and rude. They started taking my picture with cameras and cellphones, which I don’t have a problem with per se, but I do when people are openly making fun of me. So I whopped out my BIG camera and started taking their picture, they turned around and got upset. Sheesh.

Back in Riyadh this week at Dirah souq they were selling these huge rings with a container on them.  What are they used for we asked the salesman? He said drugs like hashis!  I think the salesman might have made that up to make them seem more exotic or something.

This is the first all blue abaya I have found on sale in Riyadh at this very same souk. I didn’t like the design of the abaya that much so I didn’t buy it.

My baby has been under the weather this week and that’s another reason I haven’t had time to post. She felt a little better and we took a walk around the Diplomatic Quarter parks. She loves to look at the fountains there and it seemed to cheer her up. The weather was perfect for a picnic this time of the year in the Kingdom the weather is so lovely and pleasant not too hot or cold yet. We are expecting the winter rains to start soon though and that should make everything look more green and more flowers will start blooming soon.


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  • AnonymousNovember 15, 2011 - 11:46 am

    A good post and lovely pictures as always. Update on your road trip please :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 15, 2011 - 3:59 pm

    Thanks! I will try to do that very soon but first I need to go through some 3000+ pics :/ReplyCancel

  • DentographerNovember 15, 2011 - 8:14 pm

    i just admire how you see the beautiful side in everything in this country,godbless,and kudos for making those women taste thier own medicine!ReplyCancel

  • IldiNovember 15, 2011 - 8:34 pm

    Dear Laylah, regret for your daughter’s illness. I hope she got better. Finally at home probably she would heal soon.

    I love new pictures. I was amazed how nice that sheep pick-up truck was. It reminds me to kindergarten’s fences.hehe Saudis have t be colourful nation inside maybe they like to hid whatever they have… nice job! I missed you :)
    Have a lovely evening/night.ReplyCancel

  • KhadijahNovember 15, 2011 - 6:56 pm

    i am married to a Saudi and inshaa’Allah would love to move with him to his hometown….
    Can you please email me so I can ask you more about the life in Saudi personally?

    I also have a blog please visit
    reverted in March of this year and I’m from Canada :) !!
    I hope we talk soon Jazakilah KheyrReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 15, 2011 - 10:16 pm

    Thank you Khadija for your comment!Nice to meet you :) You can find my email address in the contact section I would love to hear more from you. I visited your blog I liked how you designed it, have not seen that before!

    Dentographer-thanks :)I hope they learned a lesson. But I highly doubt it.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 15, 2011 - 10:23 pm

    Hi dear Ildi so nice to hear from you always!
    My daughter is much better now and was all smiles as her usual self tonight, so I am relieved!
    Those trucks are quite common here, they transport all sorts off stuff in them, this time it was livestock, but could be hay or barrels too.

    Sandy-Last time we went was xmas/new years time, so not that big in Saudi terms I guess. But back then there was NOBODY there, I mean on the whole island we were the only tourists. Even the the marina had only one small boat for chartering, now it was devolped and full of boats to take tourists out, whic they did to the same few islands. They tried to take us there too, we told them its disgusting and we will not set foot on such a dump. Also my husband lectured the fisherman saying its their responsibility to make sure the ppl they take out leave with their refuse to take anyone back without them cleaning up!!

    Anyways, like you I just don’t get it. They honestly dont seem to mind the crap whatsoever!!ReplyCancel

  • NoorNovember 15, 2011 - 11:01 pm

    I hope you daughter feels better soon inshAllah I know its going around. My dh and I were already sick alhumdullah Talal did not catch that. The pictures are pretty mashAllah TONS of my dh’s family are in ahba I would love to go inshAllah one day I know them all and we get along so well. His great grandmother is there too. I also collect seashells :)ReplyCancel

  • SandyNovember 15, 2011 - 8:35 pm

    The last time, when the beach was clean did you go at a holiday time? More than 20 years ago we went to a beach in the middle of nowhere north of Jizan right after Hajj and it was like paradise as we drove up- and then along the shoreline trashed. People camped and just dumped everything right there. Even pampers. It is unbelievable to me- though maybe a remnant of true bedo living when everything was burned or eaten or biodegradable. But they camped with their kids in that mess! I don’t get it.

    Good for you for taken pictures of those women,

    and Khadija if you live in Canada be glad and stay there if you can.ReplyCancel

  • KhadijahNovember 15, 2011 - 10:23 pm

    Assalamualykum sister !!!
    I sent you an email hehee :) I hope you will be able to respond soon inshaa’Allah!!!! thank you!!! I hope you find my blog as interesting as I do yours !! (I mean the content hehehe)

  • Lady StaplerNovember 16, 2011 - 8:41 am

    Get well soon little one!

    Serves them right to have a taste of their own medicine. (the rude women)

    Great pictures, I love the seashells.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 16, 2011 - 10:07 pm

    Thanks Noor! She is much better, already herself today.You should def. visit Abha but I would not recommend going now, everything is closed its off season + its freezing :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 16, 2011 - 10:12 pm

    Lady Stapler-thank you!Yup, what goes around comes around as they say..ReplyCancel

  • DeemaNovember 17, 2011 - 7:35 am

    lol i found it funny of what u did to the ladies in the abayat.. how dare they point at u and laugh at u? rude rude ppl
    i love collecting seashells, im glad u had fun …
    p.s. happy belated EidReplyCancel

  • AnonymousNovember 17, 2011 - 8:49 am

    Salam..inshallah a quick recovery for ure cute little one mashallah.
    The photos were so cool thanks for always giving an interesting look into saudi. Btw just curious as to why the saudi women were laughing and making fun..don’t u look the same as them (i remember ure wedding photo in overhead abaya and u would never tell u were not saudi)? or can saudis spot a foreigner a mile away? lol

  • AnonymousNovember 18, 2011 - 10:06 am

    My thought exactly. Why where they laughing and pointing and taking pictures of you, that’s quite odd!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 18, 2011 - 8:44 pm

    Hi Deema! That happens occasionally, I dont know why they do it, never seen a western woman before? It happened on Farasan island so it might be.
    Happy belated Eid to you too!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 19, 2011 - 5:09 am

    GawjusGurl-I don’t look the same as then might be the most simple answer to your question why they laughed at me..I only wore that overhead abaya once to cover my pregnancy belly. BUT even on the occasions I wore a niqab, Saudis will spot a foreigner from miles away, and stare.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousNovember 19, 2011 - 9:51 am

    @laylah..thanks for replying.i noticed they do it quite a lot too and laughed so much when u told us how u got out ure camera and pointed it in their direction..loool u go girl!
    _Gawjus GurlReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 20, 2011 - 12:22 pm

    Ms Rosenstare-I don’t cover my face but as I said on the occasions that I did do it the reaction was the same!ReplyCancel

  • Ms RosenstareNovember 20, 2011 - 9:50 am

    Now I’m curious, how could the women see that you are a western woman? I thought you also use abaya and cover your face? The orange ring was marvellously modest!ReplyCancel

  • drtaherJune 17, 2013 - 2:52 pm

    Dear Layla,

    I enjoyed these “snapshots” from your experience. My favourite were those rings, and the picture of the sheep making their way to the Saudi dinner table. LOL, you have a great sense of humor! So, are the sheep going to the abattoir first or will they go straight to the table, ha ha.

    Dr. TaherReplyCancel

  • Mom’s Adventures in the Magic Kingdom » Blue AbayaAugust 13, 2014 - 5:27 am

    […] souvenir shop we found on our roadtrip. Mom bought replicas of houses of the Najran region. She was delighted to find the exact same ones […]ReplyCancel

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

    […]  11. SAUDI-ROAD TRIP TOP TEN […]ReplyCancel

  • […] My mother recently visited us in Saudi and we wanted to show her as much as we could of the country so we decided to go on a road trip around Southern Saudi-Arabia. What an awesome way to explore the Kingdom! I love the fact that you can stop wherever and whenever you like to check out the surroundings. It was Eid Al-Adha time and my husband got almost two whole weeks off work. 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, 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 Dawsir, Khamis Mushayt all the way to Abha which is about 900km. 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” […]ReplyCancel

  • EthelMay 7, 2019 - 5:45 pm

    Hi. I plan to go on a road trip with my family for the Eid Holidays. Are we ok and safe to go with a 4-year old Mazda6 or do we need to rent an SUV? Pls send me names of hotels you stayed on your stop-over and in Abha. Thanks! :)ReplyCancel

Dear parents in Saudi-Arabia,

I’ve noticed that many of you don’t care too much about the safety of your children in the cars.

I have always wondered how you can have this nonchalant attitude whilst driving among the most insane, irresponsible, reckless maniacs drivers in the world?

You love and cherish your children so dearly, yet you place them under such danger by not securing them in seat belts and car seats!
Don’t you wish to keep them safe in the crazy traffic of Saudi-Arabia? Did you know that Saudi Arabia’s roads are the world’s most dangerous ones? A person is killed on them every 90 minutes. A fifth of them are children under 12 years old.
The next one could be your child. Think about it.

Would you let your child run around on a highway, or play in a busy parking lot? I didn’t think so.
So why do you let your child jump around in your speeding car? Don’t you think its dangerous to let him hang out of the windows? How about having him sit between yourself and the steering wheel? Some people make fun of your careless attitude and say you are using your baby as an Airbag.

Fathers, do you think because you are such great drivers nothing will ever happen to you? Think again.
Do you realize how many children are out there actually driving the cars?

Saudi baby airbag

Have you thought about how many road hooligans there are in the streets chasing women and causing accidents?
There is nothing your excellent driving skills can do to prevent accidents caused by other peoples reckless driving habits.

You might think you don’t need a car seat or seat belts because Allah will protect your family. It’s time to re-think this.
Children are treasures given to you by the grace of God. He has put them under your care. It is your responsibility to protect your child from any harm that you possibly can. God trusts you, are you worth His trust? Parents will be held accountable for this trust on the Day of Judgement.

You wouldn’t let your child go in a lions cage at the zoo and just think Allah will protect your child. That would be careless and irresponsible. Just like having your child in your lap while driving. Or allowing her to stand out of the sunroof while speeding on the highway. Equally irresponsible and dumb as placing your child in that cage. Think about it.

In case of an accident, your precious infant will fly out of your lap like a football, no matter how hard you hold on to him. It’s proven to be impossible to hold on to a child in case of collision.

Did you know that car seats and seat belts save lives? According to various studies they can cut the risk of infant fatalities by up to 80%.  The tools to help parents protect their child the best way possible are out there. Fulfill your parental responsibility and secure your child into them!

You probably heard the Hadith about the Bedouin that left his camel untied. The Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) said to him: “Be wise [first] and tie your camel, then trust in Allah.

Wouldn’t this same golden advice also apply to the most valuable of possessions, your child?
Be wise and tie up your baby in a car seat!
The rest is up to Allah.

Tips on what kind of car seat to get, instructions how to use them and statistics on child car safety:



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  • Om Lujain©November 3, 2011 - 5:19 am

    Love this! YES for Road Safety Awareness!! I think every blogger should write a piece on it.. maye just maybe we can raise awareness ourselves!!!!ReplyCancel

  • IngridNovember 3, 2011 - 6:56 am

    Laylah, when I was a child in the US most cars had seatbelts but no law required us to use them. No one I knew did. Now, everyone I know does. I feel naked if my car is moving and I don’t have my seatbelt on. Buckling it is part of the physical routine of starting my car. But how did this change come to be?

    When I was small, we all thought seatbelts were for sissies and people who worried too much. Carseats for kids were unimagined. This is what I saw take place that changed our attitudes:

    News media began to talk a lot about big, bad accidents and how people who wore seatbelts survived accidents more often. Whenever there was a big accident anywhere in the country, the news would carry it like this. They began to talk about carseats and how they save innocent, beautiful lives.

    Doctors and safety experts were quoted a lot on talk shows and news shows. Doctors, nurses pediatricians talked about it to patients in hospitals and doctor’s offices, stressing how carseats save beautiful, innocent lives. Schools taught this to students and their parents, too.

    People’s attitudes changed enough that they asked their congressmen to pass seatbelt laws. Traffic officers gave tickets to people who didn’t follow the law, and this was in the news, too.

    For about 10 years there were a lot of advertisements, signs and television programs to teach people or remind them to “Buckle Up For Safety.” The 80s commercials that featured crash test dummies and the slogan, “Don’t be a dummy. Buckle up,” became so much a part of our culture that an alternative rock band of the late 80s and 90s named itself the Crash Test Dummies. People would buy crash test dummy costumes for Halloween. That’s how deep into our minds this campaign dug itself.

    Once people really understood that not using carseats or seatbelts is very irresponsible, they completely changed. I know of very few people who don’t use them anymore, and every person I know would say something forceful to a parent who didn’t put their child into a carseat.

    Saudi culture and politics are so different from my country’s, but could this approach be adapted to work there?
    Could doctors and nurses be pursuaded to plead with the King’s ministers change the laws or enforce them? What about gathering statistics on underage driving and traffic fatalities to these children?
    What about a charity (or charities) that would fund a prolonged advertising campaign to “Secure your child and trust Allah,” or a campaign showing that riding an arabian horse or camel at 10 years old shows responsibility, but driving at 10 years old shows criminally clumsy parenting?

    Sorry for the long comment, but this issue of traffic safety and children in Saudi shocks me a little. The US traffic safety campaign was very successfull, huh?ReplyCancel

  • Oum SanaaNovember 3, 2011 - 2:07 pm

    I noticed the same thing in Tunisia and apparently they are absolutely not aware that in case of accidents they will have maybe the safe life thanks to their child who will have been of use to them as airbag… And I can say that I have already tried to convince persons and even by using religious arguments (your body is an amana, how can you think you will have no accidents while only Allah knows, etc)… They don’t care at all?ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousNovember 4, 2011 - 3:53 pm

    same thing happens in Dubai… :[ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousNovember 5, 2011 - 11:17 pm

    Thank you for this excellent post I think you hit the nail for Saudis you have to approach things like this with taking that aspect into the equation will guarantee better success for change in attitudes. Speaking about judgement day should be efficient enough but the comparison about the camel left unattended is very thought provoking.
    Visual messages are very strong also,I would recommend showing parents pictures of injured children or videos of how dummies fly out of cars vs how they stay untouched in car seats.
    I would target hospitals!try maternity ward,women are emotional and will soak in any info better and birth of new life awakens parents sense of responsibility.

    Thank you for the interesting blog

  • SiivetönNovember 7, 2011 - 11:56 am

    Tämän postauksen voisi lukea joka ikinen Turkissa asuvakin! :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 11, 2011 - 11:31 pm

    Thank you everyone for your comments and apologies for not getting back to you sooner! I have been on a week long road trip around Saudi and haven’t been able to update my blogs much..

    Ingrid thanks for your insightful comment, you’re right things weren’t always so in the western countries either! We had a similar campaign in Finland too, we had constant reminders of accidents on TV, in the commercials and I can still envision those crash test dummies flying out of the cars!
    That would be exactly what Saudi needs, a public awareness campaign.
    They should enforce it on the children in schools and show educational clips on tv and all other media.

    Even though people didnt use car seats and belts back in the 50’s or whenever I dont think they used to let their kids hang out of windows and stand on the roofs..thats the shocking aspect of this whole thing in Saudi, the attitudes are just so care free its really unfathomable to me.

    People think if they die in a car accident, it was because it was meant to be, Allah took their soul. Thats why they dont care..

    The charity to fund an awareness campaign sounds like an excellent idea! Maybe a smart Princess could help out :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 11, 2011 - 11:33 pm

    Siiveton ja Marokon morsian-Kiitos!Sama halla-valia asenne siis vallitsee kaikissa arabimaissa..ReplyCancel

  • Marokon morsianNovember 11, 2011 - 8:57 pm

    So true! Mahtava kirjoitus, jonka vois julkaista vaikka missä valistusoppaassa missä päin maailmaa vaan. Hyvin kirjoitettu! Itse mietin aina samoja seikkoja ja katselen kauhulla liikennekäyttäytymistä Marokossa, lienee aika lailla sama hälläväliä-mentaliteetti :SReplyCancel

  • The Expat WifeNovember 13, 2011 - 5:14 am

    oh this is very interesting to me as we are moving to thailand very soon and my husband said when he was there he saw families with babies and children on motorbikes, kids on laps in cars and the taxi’s have no seat belts let alone baby seats. We have to hire a car for a few weeks until ours arrives and we are having so many troubles getting one with a child safety seat. Our baby is 18 months old and I am so afraid of just holding him on my lapReplyCancel

  • Angela VanlodsNovember 8, 2016 - 10:00 am

    Nice website

    This was very nice to develop such a nice website.ReplyCancel

I saw this idea on Noor’s blog Little Pink Strawberries and I thought I must give it a try too! The idea is to post ten random things from your life during the past week,
So here are ten random things from my life in the Magic Kingdom this week..Mom is staying with us for some while here in the Kingdom and I’m excited to show her all around Riyadh and the nice things there are to do here!

This is the scenery from the “Hash” which my mom refers to as the International Sports Activity Days. It’s basically a day of sporty activities out in the desert with a group of expats. There are Hash House Harrier group meant for expatriates to get together and enjoy the outdoors and wonderful scenery of their new home countries all over the world. In Riyadh the activity is more “secret” though and they don’t publish their information online like they do in other countries.

A man was walking with these funny shoes which look like socks that reminded me of my dad who uses them in Finland. Not sure if my father tested them in the snow yet.

We went shopping to IKEA and saw these clowns going around and people were taking their pictures. Even grown Saudi men wanted to pose with the clowns, it was quite funny. I think the other one (or both?) looked  a bit drugged up! I’m scared of clowns, they are so creepy!

I have some sort of a “obsession” of collecting sand from all over the world. I found some sand I had collected from my last trip to Farasan Islands and put it in this Iittala vase from Finland. The scented candles are Lily of the Valley, my favorite!
Speaking of Sand, this is the view from top of the sand dune I climbed at the hash. It was really tough! It seems as if every time you take a step up you slide two down, progress is SO slow and frustrating. Kind of like progress for women in Saudi-Arabia.

Going to meet the in-laws, we had some souvenirs from Finland with us. Blueberry chocolates and dried Cloud-berry-Strawberry-Blueberry powder which can be used to make tea.

We were offered some Arabic foods, coffee and tea to taste and my mom liked them all except that she mistake the Arabic coffee was tea because of the color and strange taste :)
The  flowers on our balcony smell so nice right now!
October was Breast Cancer Awareness month and the Kingdom tower was pink the whole month to show support to the cause. I wish it was always this color, it’s much nicer than the usual yellow.
Can you spot the third cat in this picture? This week my daughter learned to play peekaboo with the cats. One is hiding under the sheet. The black kitten was born on the exact same day as my baby. I’m happy that my daughter doesn’t seem to be afraid of cats or any animals at all and she is getting used to having pets around the house. The cats are so good with her they never scratch or anything eve if she pulls their tail!

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  • NoorNovember 1, 2011 - 10:40 pm

    Ahh I loved them all mashallah. The food looks so good and I LOVE cats very much btw I am obsessed with Jasmine I want to grow some. When we were in Bali it was everywhere and I fell in love.ReplyCancel

  • SennieNovember 2, 2011 - 1:56 am

    Toivottavasti ei tarvinnut vaeltaa aavikolla abaya yllä :)
    Todella mielenkiintoista vierailla blogissasi, kiitos avoimista kirjoituksistasi!ReplyCancel

  • ranaNovember 2, 2011 - 6:34 pm

    i love the idea with the candles, i will do it also!
    and I know those shoes well they are popular for running and trail hiking.
    Do you think you could possibly mention some blogs you know of other women living in gulf and even arabic women that blog?
    I would really love that!

  • Steve at the PubNovember 6, 2011 - 11:47 am

    Love these sandhill photos. So like home!

    That building with the pink lights lining it, looks ever so much like a big bottle opener doesn’t it?ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousNovember 7, 2011 - 10:07 am

    I have enjoyed your blog for a while now. Keep up the good work! I like the pic of your daughter and the cat. The cat looks like it’s ready to pounce and is as big as her it looks. How do they get along?ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 12, 2011 - 1:56 am

    Noor-You should try get some Jasmine trees, they sell them at those road side plant shops!

    Sennie-kiitos vierailusta:) aavikolla ei onneks tarvi abaya paalla vaeltaa, varsinkin kun menee tuon porukan kanssa niin ne on suorastaan kiellettyja sillon!

    Hi Rana and welcome to my blog!sorry for the late reply to your question, I havent been able to answer earlier as I have been on the road for the past week.
    On The blog list I have gathered are also some women living in Saudi that have blogs, check those out!

    Steve in the Pub- hmm, I guess htat depends on who you are asking ;)

    anonymous-thank you!they get along really well, both are quite curious of one another. If my daughter grabs the kitten too hard she will just move further away but will never scratch or do any harm to the baby. They are so used to each other since they were born!ReplyCancel

  • NoorNovember 12, 2011 - 2:17 pm

    Thanks Layla I certainly will I had no idea they sold it here.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMay 29, 2012 - 11:38 am

    umm it might be nitpicking, but the flower shown looks a lot like Plumeria (frangipani). Are they known as Jasmine in Saudi? The Jasmine flowers are very different to look atReplyCancel

  • AnonymousNovember 12, 2012 - 5:24 am

    Assalamoalaikum ,Layla i liked your blog very nice masha Allah ….ReplyCancel

One of the most unsettling aspects of traveling to Saudi-Arabia for women are of course the abayas. The abaya always seems to make women wearing it for the first time feel insecure and very self-conscious. Wearing abaya for the first time feels strange but expats quickly get used to them. That doesn’t mean we would love to have a chance to be without them every once in a while though. 

Women traveling to Saudi Arabia for the first time often would ask questions about the dress code such as: What should we  wear underneath the abaya? Is it ok if the lowest or highest buttons are open? Should the abaya be plain black only? Can abayas have decoration on them? Should I always wear a shayla (head scarf) with the abaya? Will wearing high heels with abaya get me into trouble with the notorious Saudi religious police? Answers to these questions can be found here.

Here’s a list of things to do and places to go in Saudi that do not necessarily require wearing of abaya and a woman could remove hers if she chooses to do so.


The Desert
Any place far off in the desert will be safe for women to take their abayas off when there’s nobody else around.

The most beautiful and secluded place around Riyadh would be the Secret Lake. Women can remove abaya and walk around the lake or climb up the hills for spectacular views. Climbing with abaya would actually be dangerous! Secret lake Riyadh desert
Rawdhat Khuraim  long walks around the huge area without abayas, there was literally no one else there. Also good for some desert female driving.
Thumamah park is a beautiful nature reserve outside Riyadh, we went there for a picnic with no one else in sight.

The historical area which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site is virtually empty from visitors on weekdays. We enjoyed a short walk on a farm and later a picnic in Wadi Hanifa. On weekends an evenings it can get very crowded in the picnic areas and taking off abaya would not be recommended during those times. UPDATE 2016: With the recent huge restoration project in Diriyah and Wadi Hanifa valley, this has become a very popular area an removing abayas is no longer recommended!

Faisaliah tower
Women can take their abayas off at the top of the tower in the “Globe” restaurant, the Cigar club and the viewing platform.

Ladies only Kingdom
For first timers in Saudi it’s always interesting to see how Saudi women really look like behind their veils. Third floor in Kingdom shopping center women shop and work in normal clothing

Quad biking
There are few areas around Riyadh for quad biking but the most scenic ones are Red Sands and Thumamah. During the weekdays its very quiet and women can drive around without being disturbed especially in the mornings. I would not recommend going to these places alone or without males on weekend peak hours though. Guaranteed unwanted attention from the hundreds of male drivers.

Women can take their abayas off as soon as they pass the checkpoint at Jeddah harbour.
In Farasan Islands women can explore the hundreds of deserted islands in peace.

Diplomatic Quarters
The DQ in Riyadh is the area where most of the embassies are located. The huge area has some amazing parks worth visiting. The area is safe for women to walk around in western attire.

Inside all compounds abayas can be removed. Some western compounds even BAN abayas inside!

KFSH Cave park inside the hospital compound has some lovely fountains and places for BBQ’s, which can be accessed by public and no abayas are required there.

Golf clubs
Dirab and Riyadh golf clubs out of the city allow women to golf sans abaya.

Horseback riding
Dirab stables, the stables in DQ and the Riyadh Equestrian club are abaya free zones.

Istiraha and other rentals
An istiraha “rest house” is a place sort of like a vacation rental outside the city where people go on weekends to relax. A family can rent out their own istiraha complete with private swimming pools, yards and housing equipped with living rooms, bedrooms and kitchens.
Another option is to rent a Bedouin style tent which will come with a private area where it’s perfectly fine for women to remove their abayas. Some nice tent rentals can be found in Thumamah park.

Private beaches
Women swim in “normal” swim gear in the numerous private beaches in Jeddah and Al Khobar.

Do you know of any other places worth mentioning?


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  • Miss Footloose | Life in the Expat LaneOctober 26, 2011 - 6:49 am

    I’ve in many places but never in the KSA, so I found this very interesting. I’ve always wondered about how hot it must be to be covered up head to toe, but I imagine everything surrounded by walls is air conditioned.

    I’m enjoying your blog and getting a peek into life in the KSA. Right now winter is on the way here in Moldova and if only you could send me ten or fifteen degrees of heat, I’d take it!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahOctober 26, 2011 - 10:51 am

    Hi Miss Footloose! Yes most things with walls will have AC but it does get hot in the summer, especially Jeddah has some NASTY humidity which will make your abaya like a personal swimming pool..

    Winter is on the way here too, I saw men in their winter thobes already! Its about 32C right now and in the evenings around 18C. It feels MUCH cooler than it sounds though because of the lack or humidity here in Riyadh.ReplyCancel

  • Om Lujain©October 26, 2011 - 2:33 pm

    Our Cars :D :D :D… At the hospital… when i have my babies and I am at the hospital.. i never wear my 3baya around the hospital till i am ready to go home :D

    Seriously though.. lemme try think… hmmm.. I think you covered them.. and Tara’s additions are also good :)

    I have noticed ladies not wearing their 3bayas at some hotels here.. and ofcourse the airport :DReplyCancel

  • LaylahOctober 26, 2011 - 2:55 pm

    Thanks for the additions ladies..
    I still didn’t go the Royal Mall but now I’m even more interested :)

    Def. some hotels are ok with ladies not wearing abaya Jeddah..And then theres the women only hotel in Riyadh too!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousOctober 27, 2011 - 4:13 pm

    Thank you for this info! its a relief to hear I don’t have to wear it all the time when I come there..ReplyCancel

  • nazliMarch 11, 2012 - 1:30 pm

    hi laylah..been reading ur blog bout saudi and it’s amazing how u expose the hidden vividness of this seemingly boring saudi..i’m also a nurse here in riyadh and i find ur blog sorta like a guide to explore riyadh..uhm can i know some compounds where i and my fiance can dine maybe after our wedding? thanx alot!ReplyCancel

  • nazliMarch 11, 2012 - 1:33 pm

    hi laylah..been reading ur blog bout saudi and it’s amazing how u expose the hidden vividness of this seemingly boring saudi..i’m also a nurse here in riyadh and i find ur blog sorta like a guide to explore riyadh..uhm can i know some compounds where i and my fiance can dine maybe after our wedding? thanx alot!ReplyCancel

  • LindaOctober 24, 2014 - 12:34 pm

    Salam, I was wondering if there is beach for FEMALE only. thanks :)ReplyCancel

  • […] The solution to being able to share with readers how to get there but not post the location publicly and risk ruining it for everyone was to write a guide book about it. The guide contains up to date detailed instructions, maps and GPS coordinates of the location. The downlaodable ebook can be found here: Guide to Secret Lake […]ReplyCancel

  • Adhyayan VermaJune 14, 2016 - 7:58 am

    can u guys please tell me where are the private beaches in al khobar??ReplyCancel

  • Ten Beautiful Places to Discover in Riyadh’s Desert » Blue AbayaSeptember 13, 2016 - 4:09 am

    […] 1. Red Sand Dunes. Easily accessible, just about 20 min drive from Riyadh are the Red sands, a beautiful area of red sand dunes surrounded by majestic mountains. This is a popular place to rent quad bikes to explore the area around Kharrarah National Park and on the way there you will see more quad bike rental places next to the road. You can rent them for an hour at a time, and women can drive without abaya without any problems. Check this post to find places in Riyadh where women can go abaya-free: Sans abaya in Saudi   […]ReplyCancel

  • […] 1. Red Sand Dunes. Easily accessible, just about 20 min drive from Riyadh are the Red sands, a beautiful area of red sand dunes surrounded by majestic mountains. This is a popular place to rent quad bikes to explore the area around Kharrarah National Park and on the way there you will see more quad bike rental places next to the road. You can rent them for an hour at a time, and women can drive without abaya without any problems. Check this post to find places in Riyadh where women can go abaya-free: Sans abaya in Saudi   […]ReplyCancel

  • NihJanuary 16, 2019 - 10:03 pm

    Panorama mall in Riyadh. There’s a floor dedicated to ladies only where you can remove your abayas. Saloons, dress shops…etc are there. And btw, love your blogs! :)ReplyCancel

I stumbled upon this news article on a Finnish tabloid magazine about the GCC youth camp that has been arranged for the first time in a tiny town in Eastern Finland. The article about these millionaire Khaleejis in the Finnish forest made me laugh a few times but it was also interesting. Looks like the reporter has been dramatizing the story somewhat although this might even be her real perception of Arabs. I think this article summarizes pretty well how Finns in general perceive Arab men and the Gulf countries.

What made this story even more interesting to me is the location of the camp. I moved to Eastern Finland for a short while to a small town nearby. Everyone seemed to know one another and there were always rumors about the neighbors. If someone had lots of money they never showed it because Eastern Finns are known to be quite jealous and always talk about other people’s money! The Finns of the Eastern province are also known to be talkative (to the point where they make up or blow up stories), laid-back and humorous but they might also have certain reserves for foreigners (or even Finns from other regions).
The mentality of the people of Eastern Finland shines through in this article and it made me smile.

Another thing worth mentioning: The man interviewed from Finland is the father of the woman who recruited me to Saudi-Arabia. We were even co-workers for a short while in the nursing recruitment agency. What a small world.

So here is the article translated into English:

Filthy Rich Arabs came to do forest work in Savo

Luxury palaces changed to everyday work in autumn Finland

Mohamed Hamed has previously met for example Saudi-Arabia’s and Kuwait’s heirs to the throne.Good relations to the Arab countries rulers made the oil billionaires choose Finland for their camp location. 

Three men are kneeling in prayer at the Vanamola camp grounds in Joroinen, Southern-Savo(eastern Finland). When the religious duties have been performed, the men gather around the campfire to enjoy some arabic coffee. Dates brought from their home countries are offered to guests too.

The majority of the 76 arab men are currently learning how to do forestry in the nearby pine forest. The temperature is only 6 degrees and with the chilly autumn wind blowing on the yellow birch leaves, beanies and quilted coats are clearly coming in handy.

The men are from rich oil countries:Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, UAE and Saudi-Arabia. In their home countries they are used to multistorey palaces and being constantly surrounded by servants. In Finland they must even make their own coffee in pots.

What made the millionaires come to the cold north?
We have a history of many years of co-operation with the Persian gulf councils (GCC) youth ministry. They decided to arrange the first Persian Gulf countries youth camp and the location was finally decided upon Finland and Joroinen, the projects organizer Mohammed Hamed says.

He works as a youth-worker for the city of Varkaus, but has known some big shots from the Arab countries for many years. Close relations to ministers and successors to the thrown played a crucial role when the arab countries started searching for a suitable destination for their youth camp. The camp is the first of its kind in the entire Europe.
-The ones that had been to Finland before described it as beautiful and safe, Hamed knows.

Salman AlMahmood, Abdulla Ebrahim and Mohamed AlRashedi would like to visit Finland again, even though the October weather does not suit the Arab youths that are used to temperatures as high as +60C. 

Life of luxury

The rumor in Savo has it that there could be even royals or at least some sort of sheikhs among the campers, but Hamed does not directly endorse the claim.

We are not elaborating on their backgrounds because we want to highlight everyone’s equality. They are all rich, that we cannot deny though. For them it’s perfectly normal to live in three to four story houses, which in Finnish terms is a sumptuous palace. At home they are constantly surrounded by servants, but this time I have been instructed to put them to work Hamed says.
A Finnish man that has been observing the hassle of the campers reveals that there have almost been some dietary issues. The guest’s religion forbids eating pork among other things and even the animals that have reached the dinner table have their own slaughtering regulations.

But when you ask the campers themselves, they have had nothing to complain about. Mohamed AlRashedi, Salman Almahmood and Abdulla Ebrahim from Bahrain praise the Finns to be open and friendly. The beautiful nature has also made an impact.
They think that Finland has been surprisingly expensive when compared to other European countries. Despite that the men don’t have to worry about lack of money, because the oil countries can afford to take care of their citizens.
-Back home our lives are very simple. We don’t pay any taxes, studying is free and if you want to get married for example, the government will give you money to organize the wedding, AlRashedi says.

Yonsef Al-Saady, Mubarak Jeaithin and Saleh Ghareeh are making coffee by the campfire.

One euro is currently only half a Bahraini dinar, so the men are hoping for some affordable shopping in the next few days. The entourage is leaving to Helsinki on monday, where they are hoping to meet the President of Finland herself. An application requesting to meet her has already been sent, but they do not know yet if it was accepted.
Hamed says getting such a prestigious group of guests to the 5000 inhabitant strong Joroinen was like winning the lottery, because the wealthy arab countries are willing to pay for the expenses of their campers.
-This visit will not cost even a penny to the Finnish government, because the participating countries are paying for every single thing. Instead the guests will leave big money to the surrounding communities and Helsinki, Hamed states.

The camp is organized and funded by the Persian Gulf council (GCC) youth ministry
The EU-like GCC consists of wealthy oil countries such as Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Saudi-Arabia, Oman and Qatar.
Almost 80 guests from different countries are participating in the 10-day camp
The camp programme will consist of introduction to the Finnish culture, meeting with Finnish youths, doing forest work and a friendly football game with the local football team. Next week the campers will go to Helsinki for some sightseeing.

I cracked up when I saw the guy holding the arabic coffee pot over the campfire!

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  • NoorOctober 23, 2011 - 11:23 pm

    LOl that was funny I love how they keep talking about how rich they are and the country.ReplyCancel

  • DentographerOctober 24, 2011 - 1:29 am

    Finland is really one of the places i really aspire to go to,to observe the aurora borealis with the naked eye,take pictures,and witness that quite part of the world.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahOctober 24, 2011 - 9:41 pm

    Noor-yes its funny how thats all they talk about yet we do not learn much about the purpose of the camp :)

    Dentographer-I hope you visit one day! I would recommend going in the summer when the sun doesnt set in Lappland and you can see the midnight sun!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousOctober 26, 2011 - 5:13 am

    Niin mikäs lahti se GULF on.. meksikonlahti, suomenlahti… taas nähään miten todellisuutta aivopestäänReplyCancel

  • LaylahOctober 26, 2011 - 10:46 am

    Niin, arabithan kutsuu sita ARABIAN lahdeksi, mutta auta armias jos menet sanomaan etta se on muuten PERSIAN lahti. Kansainvalisesti se toki tunnetaan Persianlahtena myos englanniksi.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousOctober 26, 2011 - 3:23 pm

    mun siskon koululla kävi noi jäbät, kaks niistä tuli kysymään että “are you muslim, where are you from” koska se käyttää huivia. mun sisko sano “yes, im from iran” vanhat rasistit nyrpisti nenäänsä ja kääns selkänsäReplyCancel

  • LaylahOctober 26, 2011 - 10:41 pm

    Aika torkeeta jos noin kavi, eiko ne edes sanoneet mitaan, vaan kavelivat pois? Tosi harmillista :(ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousNovember 1, 2011 - 5:12 am

    16v tytölle, ei törkeetä, vaan pelottavaa. kiinnostavia aikoja eletään, varsinkin sillä alueella.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 1, 2011 - 2:26 pm

    No johan oli aikamoisia juntteja jos ei voi edes nuorelle tytolle puhua. Ja mika oli heidan taka ajatuksena ylipaataan tulla jutteleen noin nuorelle likalle!!ReplyCancel

  • NasserMay 28, 2015 - 2:48 pm

    { وأما بنعمة ربك فحدث }
    Hello, i citied that from the Quran, maybe you ask your husband to translate it.
    As a GCC citizen, and an exchange student in New Zealand, I talk proudly how my government work for my comfort, not for their comfort. I like to show how I have basic things in life that i don’t have ro pay for and the government must provide, for example ” schools and textbooks “. Public schools in New Zealand are not free, plus you have to pay for your books.
    Taxation, I’ve never heard of taxation system until i moved to NZ and it was a shock to me as I was thinking “their governments are stealing them”.
    Public universities are free + you get paid monthly from the government with a free accommodation if you are not from the city you study in. Meanwhile, in new zealand, public universities are not free, and you have to go through ” studylink” which is a process citizens must go through to get loan from the government to study and do their degree. Trust me, if any country apart from thr GCC have what we have, they would talk about it to the others from different countries.

    Yes, i will talk proudly about what my government provide for me as a citizen, why not??? I wanna show the world how lucky we are, and how happy I am having those opportunities easily and free.

    I like your blog Layla. Thanks for sharing this articleReplyCancel

    • wwk5dJuly 8, 2015 - 12:21 pm

      Well, of course you can talk about what your government does for you…you have substantial oil revenues to subsidize all those costs for the citizens! Yes, you guys are lucky that your country has a natural resource that the rest of the world wants/needs. At your governments are managing it better than say, some countries like Nigeria…ReplyCancel