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

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

The Walk for Cure-a walkathon for Breast Cancer Awareness was arranged this Thursday in Riyadh at the Kingdom school. The concept of a walkathon for supporting breast cancer awareness comes from the U.S where numerous such walks have been organized.

I was really looking forward to this event as I’m always eager to promote women’s rights and issues and curious to see how it had been arranged by the group of local women. I was anticipating a pleasant and relaxing afternoon and getting some high quality pics to share with the world but it turned out something totally different.

When mom and I arrived at the event, the honest, obsessive-compulsively rule-following inner-Finn in me whispered into in my ears, “you should ask permission” “you must obey the rules”. I tried to fight saying chillax, it’s Saudi! Playing by the rules don’t always go down like that. But the eager inner-Finn won the battle and I approached the people involved in arranging the event. BIG MISTAKE, huge.

Naturally I’m aware of how some Saudi women feel about photos, especially in women only events. However, having attended many such events, I knew women often took pictures with their iPhones and small compact cameras without any disturbance from on-lookers. I always thought Saudis thought images taken with anything other than a so called professional camera were in fact, not images at all.

I told the women involved in organizing the event that I would like to take some pics to promote the event and spread the message. I underlined the fact that I would just shoot places and things, not women. I mentioned I work with an agency that sells photos to various international media about interesting events in the Middle-East, and this would be a great chance to promote their event.

The woman I talked to started the blah blah blah of how Saudi women feel about photography. I stressed I would not shoot women and I was fully aware of the religious and cultural norms and restrictions.
I was told they already have volunteer photographers there and they could send me the pics.
So photography is going on at the event. Wait, didn’t you just say the women were so bothered by it? She wondered why they hadn’t confiscated my camera at the door.

I told this person I obviously can’t send other peoples pics to the agency as my own.
I think I’m a pretty decent photographer, so I asked can I be one of those volunteers and share all my pics with them?
Again, no. We already have seven.

Really, seven? So you have photographers in every corner taking pictures here, why can’t I do it too? Because of how some women feel, apparently.

As if I have no respect and dignity. I’m here for the important cause and wish to promote it. Not to violate faces.

I mentioned to this person how I wanted to at least just shoot the floating lanterns. No, it’s not allowed.
Come on it’s LANTERNS not women. Geez. I had envisioned an image of hands simultaneously lifting the floating Chinese lanterns into the sky, maybe having a slow shutter speed to make it look a little hazy to capture the movement. But I should have known better.

It’s just beyond me why the organizers didn’t want to promote their event and the cause as much as possible worldwide. This indifference is the typical Saudi attitude for anything remotely interesting, it seems.

I bet it would do a lot of good for foreigners to see that such events do go on in Saudi, and best yet, the event is arranged by Saudi women. So it would spread a positive picture of Saudi women as doers and makers and also of Saudi in general, in addition to the actual event.

No but let’s just keep to the bleak, joyless, confined image of Saudi women’s life the rest of the world has. Why show anything positive?

I was pretty annoyed at this point. I tried to stay positive anyway and enjoy the event.

So we went in the hall where they had a few booths selling some pink items and then other educational ones teaching women about breast cancer. We bought some things and took brochures. The best booth by far was the U.S embassy health services booth. They had some rubber breasts you could palpate and try to detect the tumors.

I had already noticed Saudis and women of various other nationalities snapping away with all sorts of capturing devices that don’t produce real images. Oh look it’s me and the flower arrangement. Snap. Or look I bought this pink hairband! Snap. No one seemed to care. My annoyance grew but I kept my camera confined because the uber-honest inner-Finn still had the power over me.

Here is an example of a non-image. You can’t actually see it, because it’s been taken with an iPhone, but I swear I uploaded it and its right below this text. It shows the ambassadors wife wearing a really cool knitted pink scarf. “Photo” credit goes to Zaki Safar, founder of Saudi Men for Women Driving, whose sister actually made that lovely scarf. Thanks for letting me use the non-image!Check out his excellent blog on Saudi women’s rights

At the U.S embassy booth my irritation levels topped off when I saw a large group of women start taking group pictures. Saudi women were around. Again, nobody really cared, or at least said anything. I kept my camera in my bag but my fingers were burning to take it out.

After a few minutes the U.S ambassador’s wife came to join them and the joyful photo shoot session continued. My irritation grew to the point I felt if I was a teapot my lid would fly in the air because of the steam in my head. Mom was pretty annoyed by all this too. She knew that I was missing a great job opportunity as well as the this whole absolutely no photos thing was turning out to be a complete joke.

We spent a few minutes talking to the embassy people, they were so nice and professional. Then something just clicked (not my camera, but perhaps the honest inner-Finn fainted from all the rule breaking going on) and I thought to myself why not just shoot a few photos here? So I asked the women and they agreed. The photo is not even that great because I was scared to use a flash in fear of being exposed and then jumped on by Saudi anti-camera activists, plus I had my wide angle lens on which distorted the photo a bit.

Luckily, no assaults occurred and my confidence grew a bit. I had stopped hearing my inner-Finn ranting about obeying rules and had started to feel more Saudi. So we went outside to sit on the nice chairs there and I walked to the end where there was no people. Like a criminal, I crept behind the chairs taking some pics of the flowers. I felt ridiculous. Seriously, people like I was committing the biggest crime. Those pics turned out acceptable.

Mom was too tired and freezing (unacceptable for a Finnish woman used to swimming in frozen lakes without sauna) to take the actual walk so we stayed behind as the women left. Again, I had envisioned how I would portray the actual walk without face violations. I wanted to capture the feet of a large group of the women walking, again capturing the motion and the different colors of shoes. But that was just wishful thinking.

I did have one picture opportunity of the walk as I watched the women far away pass a “Think Pink” sign. I focused with my mega zoom onto the sign and the women walking past behind the fence remained unrecognizable blurry figures. My heart was pounding. I felt like a sniper.

Since most women were walking I took my chance to go back in and took a few pics of the items on sale with my iPhone. I won’t post them on here because you would not be able to see them anyways.

I came back to the table to find this scene: One annoyed and freezing mother, pink flowers and women walking in the background. So I thought it’s time to take a break.

We went home which was in the neighborhood to breastfeed my baby, the plan being to return at 7 for the much awaited event, the launching of the Chinese floating lanterns. I had been looking forward to it the whole week so I was pretty excited.

I had set my goal to take that awesome lantern pic I had dreamed of. Nothing was going to stop me. Not even that enormous black clad security ninja. I knew everyone was going to want to capture that moment anyway with their non-camera capturing devices. The clouds were turning pink as if someone from above is sending a sign of support. it was a beautiful, amazingly clear evening.

We returned a little before seven, in accordance to what the woman responsible for the event program had told us, only to realize the whole event was already finished. WTH? I wanted to take my STC freebie stress ball out and squeeze the life out of it. I felt temped to confront this “expert”. I could not believe they had told us the wrong time. How unprofessional and above all annoying, which went well with the theme of the day.

No floating lanterns for us. I bet it was beautiful though.

Note to self: Next time mute the honest inner-Finn and act more Saudi.

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  • diana | nessreenNovember 25, 2011 - 8:47 am

    Grr!! It’s so frustrating when women do that! Notice, it happens especially when you have a huge camera/lens. For what it’s worth, from my experience, even when you’re appointed official photographer, they give you crap about it. I’ve been hired to shoot weddings where I was asked NOT to take pictures!! Anyway, you’re not breaking any rules. Sniper away.ReplyCancel

  • Om Lujain©November 25, 2011 - 2:06 pm

    Welcome to the Kingdom of Lunacy my dear! The land of double standards.. and where sadly half truths or committing the complete truth is the way to go :( I am sorry the even did not go as planned! I was supposed to go to the previous one… but when it was cancelled I did not have the chance to go to yesterdays as we had workers here all day! I think perhaps it would be cool to see a foreign planned walkathon here! Would be a hole lot more newsworthy! Your mom looks soo annoyed in that pic! Tell her sorry for the crap she has gone through :(ReplyCancel

  • Om Lujain©November 25, 2011 - 2:07 pm

    omiting not committing :DReplyCancel

  • FaisalNovember 25, 2011 - 12:26 pm

    Good for you, I’m from Saudi Arabia but I currently live in the sunshine state California in Los Angeles to be more spastic enough said. I know how some of the rules no wait what am i saying most of the rules can be annoying,frustrating and irrational.My advice to you is to always think positive and never let anyone let put you down .My favorite part of this story (review) and I quote.”the honest, obsessive-compulsively rule-following inner-Finn in me whispered into my ears, “you should ask permission” ” you should obey the rules”. Really cracked me up.Yeah and one other thing one of the worst thing is to be obsessive and compulsive,life is too short so enjoy it as much as you possibly can.

    With all the love and support

    Sincerely FaisalReplyCancel

  • FaisalNovember 25, 2011 - 1:08 pm

    Oh,i forgot to tell you happy thanksgiving,i hope you had a juicy and tender turkey.always roast it,my friends and i ( i mostly) tried to deep fry the turkey it was a disaster! by all means story short I almost burned my house down the backyard was a total mess the tree was set on fire but we managed to kick the turkey and the cocking pot into the swimming pool but we called the fire department to un set the fire, so the police,fire department and the fire ambulance all came and some of the neighbors come and they were lighting at what happened .they gave me a huge fine to pay for there serves on thanksgiving day and for being recluse as they stetted.ReplyCancel

  • miolannNovember 25, 2011 - 1:41 pm

    What a frustrating day you had, I’m sorry you missed the awesome pic opportunity. I hope Faisal’s story cheers you up, I think it is hilarious :D (sorry if it was not intended to be)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 26, 2011 - 12:10 am

    Diana-Nessreen-but what CAN you shoot at weddings? Flowers and food? How does it go, do you have to ask beforehand who you can photograph, and afterwards will they want the memory card to themselves? WHat about photoshopping, do you get requests to use it with a heavy hand, make the skin white and so on?
    I am thinking I could go into this field, but would you recommend it?ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 26, 2011 - 12:18 am

    Hi Faisal and thank you for your awesome comments.
    Well it looks like you had an interesting and memorable thanksgiving then! I have never heard of a deep fried turkey. What happened to the turkey, did you still manage to eat it?

    and btw I’m a positive person most of the time :)It’s just a Finnish trait to be obsessively obedient and follow rules. Finns are all like that, we cant help ourselves.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 26, 2011 - 12:19 am

    miolann-thanks, seeing all your comments cheered me up!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 26, 2011 - 12:22 am

    Om Lujain-ya, I have to take a more Saudi stance from now on. Actually, I usually do. I don’t know what got into me. Maybe it was because I was with my mom..Unfortunately she hasn’t had the best experience from Saudi.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 26, 2011 - 12:23 am

    Sakhina thanks for your comment and welcome to my blog! Where are in the ME? Right now I cant think of any situations the inner Finn would come in handy in..any suggestions?ReplyCancel

  • SakhinaNovember 26, 2011 - 12:03 am

    Heeeej, you got to let go of the Finn in you :D! You’re in the Middle East. Only use the Finn when you can benefit from it :). As a Swede in the Middle East I know the thoughts that come to mind when confronted with certain situations…many times things just don’t make sense…to us.ReplyCancel

  • DentographerNovember 26, 2011 - 4:36 am

    the main reason why all your requests were denied,is mainly to avoid liability incase anything went wrong,yes,saudi women are conspiracy theorists too,that make up on the pink suits makes them suddenly feel kardashians and all the camera holders suddenly turn paparazzi on them.

    i bet if you did not even blink at them and just shot away what you wanted,no one would have approached you out of fear that you are a diplomat,or the mere fact that you are western,which are above the law,according to them.

    there is a rule that seems to be golden here in saudi : Do what you want,as long as i dont “see” you. if you havent spoken to her,she wouldnt have “seen” you.

    take it easy,chances will come again. but to be very honest,this is one of the major reasons why i kept my photography a hobby,and didnt seek it as a profession,and now in the US i am having a hardtime getting over it.ReplyCancel

  • Om Lujain©November 26, 2011 - 7:44 am

    Whats funny is.. when in Saudi and I have my canon out (my husband got it for me a few years ago as a gift as he knows how much I love taking pictures).. I feel like a criminal.. I LOVE taking photos.. I love photography… but this country killed it :( Its to the point that when I am abroad.. I always think twice about what I am taking a picture of… hesitant to take a pic that may include someone (something people usually don’t even think about)… I heard there was a photography club here I wanted to join a while back.. but after thinking.. I gave up on the idea… what is the point of taking photo’s without pleasure.. and while constantly being freaked out if some one is gonna come yell at you for taking a pic of his wifes barely visible eyes!!!ReplyCancel

  • Om Lujain©November 26, 2011 - 7:46 am

    lol.. Dentographer.. I loved your Kardashian comment.. hahaha.. sooo true!ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 26, 2011 - 11:32 pm

    Dentographer-thanks for the comment it cheered up my otherwise pretty crappy day :)
    Love the Kardashian comparison, you are so right! Some of the girls there sure had the “kardashian” thingy going on. You know huge hair, make-up, dark glasses and high heels..hmmm not sure what they were doing at a charity event in the first place.

    I might have to use this in a future blog post it gave me an idea :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 26, 2011 - 11:34 pm

    Om Lujain-I’m sorry to hear that you feel so anxious about photography in Saudi..

    For me I used to feel that way too. Then I just started being more confident and ignoring the stares. Things got much easier and I think if you just act like you are professional and know what you’re doing, no one will say anything.

    I still don’t know what came into me at this event. Well other than that annoying inner-Finn.ReplyCancel

  • Carol (American Bedu)November 29, 2011 - 7:30 pm


    I do enjoy your blog and your photos but I was disappointed with this post. i felt like all the focus was on your disappointment in not being able to take the kind of photos you wished instead of writing about the importance of such an event in Saudi with support and attendance by Saudi women. What can I say… breast cancer is a very sensitive subject to me and I feel it should not be minimized.
    Best Regards,

  • LaylahNovember 30, 2011 - 1:11 am

    Hi there Carol!
    Thanks very much for your comment and I totally understand your point of view.

    However, the point of this post was not to write about the event or breast cancer awareness per se, but mainly the issue of photography and my disappointment was from not being able to spread the cause through it.

    Maybe the title is misleading.. but by NO means is this post about minimizing the importance of the subject.

    The reason we wanted to go was to support the campaign. And that’s the bottom line.

    My two aunts (moms only alive sisters after one died from cancer) were emergency operated on for breast cancer last week, on the SAME day. It was really a tough time for my mother, they told us after the operation was over. I can’t say I take this cause lightly or wish to minimize it.

    BY taking those pics and forwarding them I wanted to spread the word and awareness. Especially because the campaign was held by Saudi women, it would have been extra important to me.

    I was so disappointed that it did not happen, because I think such an event deserves international media attention.

    All the best,

  • Carol (American Bedu)December 1, 2011 - 3:21 pm

    Thanks Layla for your response!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousApril 13, 2012 - 6:39 pm

    hey. I think ur giving people a wrong picture about Saudi Arabia.
    What you should have done is took pictures without asking anyone, this is what we always do, and if someone said anything just tell them that ur sorryReplyCancel

  • AnonymousApril 23, 2012 - 10:48 am

    This talk is all so negative. I got negative energy just by reading it, we like our privacy you should try to respect that, snapping pictures of us makes us uncomfortable, we wanna go to an event and relax and have fun without anyone reuining it for us by snapping away, most Saudi women are religious so we wear hijjab infront of all men except our husbands and relatives cause its a part of our belief, but when the event is a women’s only we take off our hijjab, we don’t want someone to take a picture of us without our hijjab cause we worked so hard to be modest and only show our full beauty to our husbands, it would be devastating to me if someone invadid my privacy like that and took my picture without my permission! At the end of the day everyone is free to believe and do what they want and what we want is to keep our privacy youReplyCancel

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.


  • […] 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

Polygamy, the topic that always sparks up a heated discussion. Most non-Muslim women will find the idea of multiple wives appalling and unfair among millions of other things. Some Muslim ladies might feel somewhat the same, or would never want it for themselves and rather have a divorce. There are those who remain neutral and hope their husbands will not marry another, but won’t ask for a divorce if they do. And on the other hand we have women who are defenders and spokes-persons for polygamy.

This might come as a surprise for many. I certainly never thought I would come across a Muslim woman who speaks FOR polygamy. I imagined all women would kind of stick to defending women’s rights and not men’s rights. But I was wrong. Sadly there’s always women who think of men’s feelings and needs as superior to women’s.

These polygamy-activists make co-wifery sound like a walk in the park. A pleasant, calm and enjoyable experience. But how come all of the polygamous marriages I heard/know about are nothing like that? I would rather describe them as roller-coaster rides or even as life on a deserted island. In most cases, polygamy makes the lives of the women and children miserable. The husband is the one walking in the different parks.

Personally I don’t understand women who think they must advertise polygamy. Sure, Islam allows it under certain conditions, but that does not mean it encourages it. Some very few women might of course want to be in a polygamous marriage even going as far as suggesting it to the husband or helping to find the second, third or fourth wife. Voluntary polygamous marriages where all parties live happily do exist, but they are extremely rare.

Polygamy is not for all couples and not every Muslim woman has to accept it as part of their own lives. The fact of the matter is polygamy breaks most marriages and traumatizes children affected by it. Defending men’s rights to take second wives on a whim or for sexual pleasure and saying women should just suffer for the sake of Allah and pray they become better wives is just strange and even offensive coming from a woman’s mouth.

It’s not a Muslim woman’s duty to accept being a co-wife. Women are different. Most cannot handle being a co-wife, and that’s perfectly normal and human. I think acknowledging that is important. Thinking this way should not be made a shameful thing. That is one of the issues I have with pro-polygamists. They tend to think women who deny their husbands polygamy are MAJOR SINNERS.

Polygamy fanatics like to raise themselves above other Muslim sisters by saying things like “how dare she have the audacity to deny her husband his God given rights“. They say stuff like “Allah gave men a much stronger drive than women and to help keep him from committing sins He gave him the right to more than one spouse” or  best yet “none of us truly believes until we want for our sisters what we want for ourselves, and that includes sharing a good husband with someone who has not yet found one”.

Seriously? If you TRULY believe, the only way to show it is to share your husband, especially the good ones.

Sharing is caring!

The way polygamy is practiced in Saudi-Arabia today is just light years away from what it was back in the times of the Prophet Mohammed. The justification of sexual pleasure is not mentioned anywhere in the Quran, yet it remains one of the most repeated slogans from pro-polygamists. When speaking of polygamy, it should be considered how, where and why the verse was actually revealed.

The verse in the Quran was revealed after the battle of Uhud which left hundreds of orphans and widows behind “If you fear that you will not be just/equitable to the orphans, then marry as permissible for you, women, two, three or four. But if you fear you will not be just/equitable, then one or to whom you are committed to by oath. That is better so that you do not deviate from the right course“. 4:3

To me considering the background, this reads: If you’re a man and there happens to be a situation where there are much more women than men following massive loss from battles resulting in many orphans in need of a providing parent, then to solve this problem, and in this case only, you are allowed to marry up to four women from the mothers of those orphans in order to help them, but you must be financially, physically and emotionally equipped to treat them equally, and in order to be just to all, you must ask the first wife’s permission to do so, otherwise stick to just one wife which is better for you.

How can a man be just in his treatment anyway if he doesn’t get approval from the first wife? If she is against the idea, he is not treating her justly. Marrying another wife against her wishes results in one wife feeling betrayal and anger and thus getting unfair and unequal treatment. So from the start a man that marries behind the wife’s back or contrary to her wishes has gone against what the verse states as a clear condition to plural marriage.

Speaking about fairness and justice, I think this verse from the Quran “You will never be able to do perfect justice between wives even if it is your ardent desire,.. 4:129 sort of hits the nail on the coffin for pro-polygamy speeches.

If  according to the Quran, no man will EVER be able to do perfect justice with his wives, in addition to just treatment being the condition to taking multiple wives, then to me that either implies polygamy is HIGHLY discouraged (but still permissible) or downright not to be messed with.

Despite these facts, polygamy activists have a mind of their own. They like to pull out the “sex drive”-card. Those poor men have such strong urges, they NEED more than one wife to get satisfied and not to go searching for prostitutes. And the first wife MUST accept and understand this. To me this is just disgusting. First of all, is that what the consequent wives are for, only to act as sex toys to the poor husbands? Is this how highly some women think of other women?

What about those poor women that have much stronger sex drives than their husbands? What is their solution? Why do some women condescend to viewing men as some sort of sexual predators that only think of sex? As if men are not capable of controlling themselves whatsoever. What about women? How can they control their desires? As if women don’t have any desires whatsoever.

Another excuse I hear from polygamy defenders in Saudi is that there’s just so much more women than men here, it makes taking more wives in fact, charity. It is simply a noble act. Just think of all those unmarried women out there! Anxiously waiting at home, twiddling their thumbs and dreaming of becoming third wives to 60-year old men with 25 kids.

To those people I would like to show these latest statistics.
CIA fact book from Saudi-Arabia:
0-14 years: 29.4% (male 3,939,377/female 3,754,020)

15-64 years: 67.6% (male 9,980,253/female 7,685,328)
65 years and over: 3% (male 404,269/female 368,456) (2011 est).

So in fact, there are 2,294,925 MILLION more men than women of “marriageable” age in Saudi-Arabia.

Wait, doesn’t this, according to that same reasoning mean that Saudis should start practicing polyandry instead of polygyny?Hmm..What about all those poor mister spinsters, who will marry them??

One of His signs is that He created for you spouses like your selves so that you may live with them with affection and mercy – there are signs in this for people who reflect“. (Qur’an 30:21)

I wish some women would reflect and stop speaking for men’s rights over women’s. It’s a woman’s right to choose whether or not they want to be in a polygamous marriage.
It’s a mans world already, don’t make it worse.


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  • NoorNovember 19, 2011 - 10:07 am

    Maybe they are defending it bc of the bad image that it has. It even seems that Muslims are against it these days which as Muslims we should not since accepting it is part of our religion. Accepting things though does not mean we have to love it. I could never do it but my dh would have the right if he wanted. Although my dh would never do that alhumdullah. I know many women may divorce their dh which really is not right in our religion. Most mixed marriages here do not get along (the women) you see in America the non-Muslims are close ie Sister Wives. Its nice when a man marries a widow to help her or maybe his wife can not have kids. Allah knows all..ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousNovember 19, 2011 - 10:09 am

    OMG amazing post..well read and to the point. Sometimes it seems women are the enablers and make so many excuses for “if he doesn’t have another wife he may fulfil his needs elsewhere or with a prostitute”.. R U SERIOUS?..if u even consider that u have major problems ppl. It shows your husband might have a problem with his Islam not cos his mojo is in overdrive…Get what I’m saying?…sometimes women are their own worst enemy.

  • AnonymousNovember 19, 2011 - 11:06 am

    Great post and honest,straight to the point.Saudi men practice polygamy for all the wrong reasons. And only for selfish reasons or did someone hear of a man that married a woman older than him,or at least a widowed woman with many kids? Nope.Dont know any!!!
    They always marry a young virgin. yuck.
    And you’r right I too have yet to meet a succesful and happily married polygamy family.

    oh and have you noticed how a Saudi man will have no problmen taking additional wives for himself but when it comes to his daughter,oh no, dont you dare!!the hypocrisy and double standards!!ReplyCancel

  • Marokon morsianNovember 19, 2011 - 6:03 pm

    Salamaleykom. Pakko taas palata kommentoimaan, että ihan mahtikirjoitus! Jos vaan kaikki ymmärtäisivätkin kimurantin aiheen samalla tavalla, kuten se Koraaninkin mukaan menee, ei kaikkia meitä muslimien parempia puoliskoja tuomittaisi jonnekin jalkavaimo-kastiin.

    Taas kerran mainio esimerkki siitä, ettei koskaan pidä sekoittaa itse islaminuskoa, joka on pyhä ja puhdas, sitä harjoittavien uskovien kanssa keskenään. Valitettavasti kaikki “muslimit” kun eivät tunne Koraaninsa kukkasia ;)ReplyCancel

  • AlejandraNovember 19, 2011 - 6:38 pm

    amazing post!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousNovember 20, 2011 - 12:41 pm

    Excellent article mrs Laylah.
    But did you notice that the first comment you got was from such a defender of mens rights?She doesnt mind if her husband gets another wife. OMG.
    Because its his right.
    Come on women wake up from this brainwashing!!!!
    news flash-its also YOUR right to be the only wife.
    Why women dont put it in their contracts to be only wife? Then the husband takes more wives and that first becomes bitter, jealous and a monster.It could all be avoided by that simple clause!
    SOmetimes I think women are stupid (no offense anyone) or naive to think MY husband would never do it.
    I bet ALL the women who ended up as co wife said that. Evrey single one.
    O please stop complaining and do something about it is my advice.


    • MO007May 5, 2014 - 2:21 pm

      “More recent studies reveal that 45-55% of married women and 50-60% of married men engage in extramarital sex at some time or another during their lives” –


      Talk about rights of a Western Woman, not to mention STDs, illegetimate children, single-moms.

      Islam gives husbands the right to four wives – conditions attached, of course. At the same time, a woman has rights to be a wife, children have rights to a dad (not timed child support) …

      …been there, seen all in USReplyCancel

      • LaylaMay 5, 2014 - 3:06 pm

        and what about the thousands Saudi men who go to Bahrain/UAE on weekends? Just for the cinema? Probably 80-90% of Saudi men engage in prostitutes at some point of their lives.
        The husband then brings back to the wife STD’s maybe even HIV. if his sex excursions result in children they will grow up without a father, they will most likely not be raised Muslims..
        First clean your own backyard before you look at the west!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousNovember 20, 2011 - 1:28 pm

    “I know many women may divorce their dh which really is not right in our religion. “..
    If muslim women were more assertive and knew their rights God gave them to use (especially the converts) before marriage..then they could write in their marriage contract to be the only wife or else immediate divorce and conditions applying..we need to take the rights we have as muslim women.and yes the right to divorce is not encouraged but it defiantly is ok to do in Islam when all other options have failed.ReplyCancel

  • DentographerNovember 21, 2011 - 12:22 am

    As a Male,i bet my comment here is going to be read with the surgical precision and everything i will say here will be used against me harshly lol.

    its a confusing matter to say the least,and definitely an overused,or shall i say an abused right that is “given” to men.

    i remember a friend of the family who was married to two women,who always used to fight,and for him to punish those two wives,he married a third.

    any man who carries honest feelings to his spouse would know how much it hurts a wife to have a co wife,and if he was sincerely loving her,and there was no medical condition or any other obligatory reason for him to remarry,doing so will break a heart,and that alone is a good reason for him not to do it.

    not that i want to justify polygamy for this reason,but the whole sex drive thing have some sort of truth in it,especially with women going into cycles,and the fact that sexual activity is somthing that moodiness plays a big role in to make it an act of pleasure, my point is,sexual frustration does exist,however,it exists for both genders,not only for the male,which is one of the things that makes me wonder why is it justified for men,and not for women.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 21, 2011 - 2:13 am

    Noor-I think it’s also our right to be the only wife. It’s our right not to want to live in a polygamous marriage. Why put his right first?

    How is this against Islam?

    Why did one of the Prophets granddaughters have the “no second wife” clause in her contract put in, if its not acceptable?ReplyCancel

    • AnonymousOctober 12, 2012 - 8:50 am

      there can be nothing in an Islamic marriage contract that contradicts the Quran. Probably just gave herself the right to a divorce if he took another wife…wonder how the exact wording went….:)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 21, 2011 - 2:15 am

    GawjusGurl-I agree 100% with what you say-women are each others worst enemies sometimes.
    We should stick together and work for women’s rights and stop making excuses for men.
    We should stop defending men and start sticking up for ourselves.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 21, 2011 - 2:17 am

    I’ve noticed that double-standard of having multiple wives, but then not being ok with their daughters having to be a co-wife.
    But that’s what Saudi is all about, double-standards when it comes to men.ReplyCancel

    • AnonymousNovember 19, 2012 - 7:18 pm

      I completely agree. Some people don’t mind hurting others and doing it to someone else, but if it happens to their close family members they sing a different tune. This is how it is: If you don’t want it to happen to you, don’t do it to others.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 21, 2011 - 2:19 am

    K-You know why I think women so easily believe in that? Because they are brainwashed into thinking they will be better muslims if they become second wives, or that putting their husband’s selfish needs in front of all else and by sacrificing their own happiness, they will somehow become more “pious”.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 21, 2011 - 2:22 am

    anon 3:41-I don’t think it’s always the case that converts don’t know about their option of putting that clause in their contracts, but more their being brainwashed into thinking by not having it, they will be more pious wives and better Muslims.
    I think its sad because they are giving up their happiness and lives in the process.

    Even born Muslims rarely have the clause in their contracts.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 21, 2011 - 2:29 am

    Dentographer-thanks for your male point of view.

    What kind of man marries a third wife just as a punishment for the two? Didn’t he realize his life would become hell after that? I mean now you’re stuck with three angry and bitter women My God the logic..

    I have to disagree with you about the drive thing,I think it’s used only as an excuse.Men have good and bad days too.
    A couple should go to sex therapy rather than have the man run to get a new wife just for pleasure.
    Even the thought is sickening to me.

    Btw, what did you mean by “obligatory reason to remarry”?ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 21, 2011 - 2:33 am

    Marokon Morsian-kiitos kommentista!
    Niinhan se menee, ihmisilla on ainakin suomessa taysin vaarat mielikuvat millaista on olla muslimi, tai sellaisen vaimo. Naisten oikeuksista puhumattakaan..ReplyCancel

  • DentographerNovember 21, 2011 - 3:04 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 21, 2011 - 3:10 am

    Ahaa, ok thanks for clarifying :)

    So in your opinion would it be a just reason for a man to remarry, if the first wife cannot have children?
    Would that not be a double stab in her heart?
    What if that’s the way God meant it to be, that they are left childless..ReplyCancel

  • DentographerNovember 21, 2011 - 3:16 am

    I believe you misunderstood my comment, I ment that sex drive frustration exists but in equal amounts for both sexes and it doesn’t not justify one genders need to remarry over the other while the other cant.

    By obligatory, I meant left with no choice but to remarry, I apologize for using the wrong wordReplyCancel

  • DentographerNovember 21, 2011 - 4:12 am

    Sorry i had to rewrite my comment to make the point clear, which is way it came again after you replied to it..

    i honestly cannot say if its comes down to what the husbands priorities are,if she comes first to him then he would have probably considered adoption or seeked medical treatment,and if it was all with no avail,the least he can do is moving forward with marraige after an honest consent from her,which i doubt it ever happens.

    a true gentlemen would abstain from having children when his wife is in capable out of respect for her,and he should know that this is definitly rewarded by god to him,as this life is not all that is,and there is an after.

    if it was for me,i would have happily chose adoption,but Alhamdulillah we didnt have to go through such hardship.

    you know,its really intresting to look into history and find the time when islamic teachings were intentionally deviated to be in favour of man,had a lengthy discussion with a knowledgable person about it and it was quite interesting to say the least.ReplyCancel

  • QuranreadingNovember 21, 2011 - 6:48 am

    Oh lovely article in the morning. make my day so pleasurable. Got a feeling of a women but i am really feeling good for being a women. Well in this men’s world female are so much suppressed and feared of saying any thing to the male party weather it;s her father, brother husband or son making them more powerful and ruthless of taking care about the feeling of innocent women. Quran is the only book that give privileged to a women too. Islam is the only religion which tell men that women is some thing important for them to be deal with love and politeness.ReplyCancel

  • AliNovember 21, 2011 - 9:41 am

    I agree with you: Islam allows polygamy but some women in polygamy marriages spout stuff like:
    1) If a woman does not accept her husband marrying again happily, she is sinning
    2) There are many more women than men in the world. When you point out that in most Muslim countries, men outnumber women, they either divert the topic or call the population statistics “Zionist stats”.
    3) Its great to be a co wife, women in single marriages dont know what theya re missing

    Of course the other side is we shouldnt claim men need permission from their wife to marry again, they dont, if the wife wants she can put that in the marriage contract.
    Similarly, some cases may be such that polygamy is better for the man than a mongamoyus marriage and adultery, but lets not elevate polygamy to something that is encouraged, rather it is something permissible.ReplyCancel

  • SandyNovember 21, 2011 - 11:12 am

    Generally if it you put a no second wife clause in your contract- the courts in Saudi will not honor it because you cannot have a clause that takes away a man's right.

    I do want for my sister what I want for myself. I want her to have a nice monogamous marriage like I do.

    They continuously harp on how women should be "patient" about things and not get so hungReplyCancel

  • AnonymousNovember 21, 2011 - 4:02 pm

    "I do want for my sister what I want for myself. I want her to have a nice monogamous marriage like I do.
    They continuously harp on how women should be "patient" about things and not get so hung up on the "dunya" world- but the second a man must accept a disabled wife, or no children- suddenly he needs all his rights here as in the hereafter. ChildrenReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 22, 2011 - 12:25 am

    Quranreading-thank you for your comment,I'm glad I made your day pleasurable :)

    Ali-Thanks for another male point of view, appreciate it very much. I don't understand those people who insist that there's more women than men in the world. One such person is Zakir Naik.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 22, 2011 - 12:30 am

    Sandy-did you hear of such a case where the woman had that clause yet was not granted a divorce upon the husband taking a second wife>does this really happen? I wouldn't be surprised though.

    But if a judge was the person to agree to put the clause in the first place, wouldn't going against that be violation of the contract which is a legal document?

    btw awesomeReplyCancel

  • gotchaNovember 22, 2011 - 1:27 am

    Actually the birth rates are 105 males to 100 females. Most generally the male population outnumbers the female population up until some around 65 year of age. However China and India have really skewed numbers as they often times kill a female fetus. It is stated that there is actually 33 million less women in the world then men this year.ReplyCancel

  • gotchaNovember 22, 2011 - 1:33 am

    If you have ever read the old testament you will find that often time polygomy turns out very poorly. If there is a less there it is don't do it as it often time destroys the family life and has negative consequences on the children. All of this is actually depicited in the Old Testament. What is interesting is that some still try to say see they did it without seeing the tremendouslyReplyCancel

  • SandyNovember 22, 2011 - 5:24 am

    I don't know anyone personally to whom that has happened- but I have heard it often. I don't know if they put it in Saudi-based contracts either. It would be interesting to know.

    Really the issue is more child custody in these cases. Women don't want the divorce- even when they do- because they want to keep their children. And a foreign woman who getsReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 22, 2011 - 9:52 am

    Sandy-we have that clause in our Saudi based marriage contract, although the first judge refused to put it in and the second one gave me a hard time, in the end he agreed.ReplyCancel

  • SandyNovember 22, 2011 - 12:24 pm

    That's interesting Laylah. Ultimately I hope you never find out if it works! The main thing is your husband is clear on your wishes and agrees to them. It made me realize though that for foreign wives most are married OUTSIDE the Kingdom- so that is why they would have a harder time enforcing any conditions in their contract, as well as foreign women generally won't pursue divorceReplyCancel

  • GotchaNovember 22, 2011 - 4:47 pm

    I have to say that for western women marrying a muslim men and then going back to his country and having children is risky. It is definitely a great way to imprison women in a polygmous marriage by threatening to take away their right to every see the children. Of course it sounds as though Saudi has a system in place that keeps women in a constant state of fear. If I were you I would thinkReplyCancel

  • AliceNovember 23, 2011 - 3:07 pm

    A very interesting post and I like your way of thinking. I like the comments saying it's a women's God given right to be the only wife and that we should not put man's selfish desires first. Also good point that we should desire for our sisters in Islam what we desire for ourselves – a good monogamous marriage.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 23, 2011 - 10:34 pm

    Sandy-I hope so too :)
    I also didn't realize how western women who have already married their Saudis already and just apply for the approval would have a hard time. In that case putting the clause in would most likely be MUCH more difficult and I could imagine a judge refusing to sign such papers.
    The ones we went to were extremely difficult to deal with and I can see a woman bendReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 23, 2011 - 11:55 pm

    gotcha-thanks for your comments. I do have a legally bound "owner" arranged in case of worst case scenario.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahNovember 23, 2011 - 11:57 pm

    Alice-nice to see you around and thanks for your comment! Yes I agree that's what all women should wish upon other women :)ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJanuary 3, 2012 - 10:06 pm

    God made Adam n Eve right? Not Adam, eve,christy,kim,ashley. 1 man 1 women 2 b together. Ladies value yourselves. Theres a reason y the wives fight bc its not a good thing. yall are very pretty idk y yall let them have more than 1 wife n brain wash yall.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJanuary 10, 2012 - 8:56 pm

    Thank you for your post! I thought that in our generation who is under 30 it doesn’t happen anymore, but guess what… My best friend is very sweet Saudi girl who is happily married to Saudi man in the same age. But they’re married for couple years and they still don’t have children even they tried. And her mother in law “advices” as a “solution” to take second wife for her son! It’s not like he’s going to do that, but this pressure from his family doesn’t make things work better. I’m just wondering do those bedouins( they operantly are) understand that children comes from God, not from human bodies, it’s clearly stated in Quran that only God send soul to body and only God can take it back, so if it doesn’t happen till know best thing that mother would do is pray for her son and daughter in law, but not blame them for something which is not in their power.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJanuary 10, 2012 - 9:18 pm

    There is Kazakh smart joke about this. There were two friends: one married to one and another had two wives. Who had two all the time was telling another one: “try it, you don’t know what you’re missing, I have two beautiful women around me and enjoy it”. So second guy listened to his friend and married another one. On the next day he had to go at night to the mosque because when he came at night to his second wife she said,” you would love me, I would be your only one, so go to your first wife”, he came to first wife and she said,”you don’t love anymore because you took second wife, so go to her”. He had no place to go and went to the mosque and met his friend there and said,”why did you tell me that it’s nice to have two women, my life is living hell now and I feel more lonely than ever”. He friend said:” I spent many nights here alone and I felt bored so I thought if you will be here I will have someone to talk to”

    The same is when shaitan’s triyng to convince people to do wrong things it’s just because he doesn’t want to be alone in hell. :-)ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJanuary 24, 2012 - 6:54 pm

    I love your article Layla… Tell me, do Saudi’s every married older, widowed women to take care of them? Or do they typically just marry younger? I argue that women’s sexual desire is just as strong and poligamy is sort of like trading in one’s old car for a newer model. Marriage is more than sex. It has a spiritual, emotional element. Speaking of sex, I think women’s desire is equally as strong.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJanuary 25, 2012 - 6:31 pm

    I dont agree with your post about this subject. I am a second wife to my husband and i get along with his first wife very good. The children are like from one family and are not traumatized at all, they have one person more who loves them like their parents.

    In fact im from Scandinavia also and now living in Egypt.

    Like Prophet Mohammed PBUH said, that you do your best to be fair but in the matters of heart, you cant change it, and only Allah can change a heart. Thats what is meant by the verse in Quran saying you will never be able to be fair…ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 26, 2012 - 2:26 am

    Anon Jan 24-They marry young wives as consequent ones. I NEVER heard of anyone marrying an older woman. Oops sorry I am few years older than my husband LOL
    You’re right marriage is more than SeX but Saudi men don’t always see it that way. I guess taking on a younger teenaged wife for a middle aged man is almost always mainly for the sex and maybe more kids.It’s certainly not for spiritual and intellectual conversations :)ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 26, 2012 - 2:28 am

    PLEASE all commenters use a nickname for identification, there are four anonymous comments here in a row!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJanuary 29, 2012 - 8:27 am
  • bigstickJanuary 29, 2012 - 11:50 pm

    Here is some interesting infomation on sex ratio in Saudia Arabia. It seems men out number the women by a large margin.

    Here are some problems that have been found with polgamy.

    Hidden atrocities doesn’t help people nor does allowing disregard for another person to justify a selfish need to the expense of the other person. God will never justify that, nor should anyone aid or abet the injustice.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJanuary 29, 2012 - 8:50 pm

    Not a defender of Polygeny, but a Defender of Marriage

    Allaah allows a man and only a man to engage in “Polygeny” not polygamy.  Polygamy is forbidden, because the wife would have more than one husband. See definitions below:

    Polygamy (polys gamos, translated literally in Late Greek as “often married”)is a marriage which includes more than two partners. When a man is married to more than one wife at a time, the relationship is called polygyny, and there is no marriage bond between the wives; and when a woman is married to more than one husband at a time, it is called polyandry, and there is no marriage bond between the husbands. If a marriage includes multiple husbands and wives, it can be called group marriage. In social anthropology, polygamy is the practice of a person’s making him/herself available for two or more spouses to mate with.

    A man is not required to get any of his wives approval or permission to marry another woman. If anyone has proof from the Quran and authentic Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and prayers be upon him), then present it and I’ll accept it. 

    Just to let you know, I’m not in or ever have been, nor want to be in a marriage of Polygeny, but I do support those that choose it and those that don’t. Why, the neutral position, because Allaah legislated it, so there must be good in it. Allaah enjoins good upon us and forbids evil from us. He wants good for His “believing” servant. 

    I’ve been married for 20 years. My agenda today, is to encourage others to mind their own business, when it comes to what others choose to do in their marriage(s). 

    Marriage is a sacred relationship between a man and his wife and or wives. No one has the right to tell them how to handle their marriage, except Allaah and His Messenger, Prophet Muhammad (peace and prayers be upon him). 

    When the issue of polygeny is debated, whether those for or against, someone’s feelings get hurt. Someone leaves the discussion feeling beaten up on. This is not fair to either party. Those in a marriage of Polygeny and those that are not. 

    A Muslim is a brother to a Muslim. Instead of beating up on our brothers (husbands) and sisters (wives) in Islam, let’s help them to be just in their dealing, in their relationships, whether they’re in a marriage of Polygeny or a marriage of monogamy. 

    Let the readers ponder a upon the following:

    1: By Al-‘Asr (the time).
    2: Verily, man is in loss,
    3: Except those who believe (in Islamic Monotheism) and do righteous good deeds, and recommend one another to the truth [i.e. order one another to perform all kinds of good deeds (Al-Ma’ruf) which Allah has ordained, and abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds (Al-Munkar which Allah has forbidden], and recommend one another to patience (for the sufferings, harms, and injuries which one may encounter in Allah’s Cause during preaching His religion of Islamic Monotheism or Jihad).

    May Allaah guide all those that want to be guided and help their tongue maintain moister in His remembrance, ameen.  ReplyCancel

    • ShahedAugust 28, 2014 - 8:01 pm

      Anonymous January 29, 2012 – 8:50 pm

      This is the best post amongst all comments.ReplyCancel

  • LaylahJanuary 30, 2012 - 11:12 pm

    Bigstick-thank you for this excellent link, have been reading through the whole study all day! Fascinating albeit not so surprising findings :)ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJune 18, 2012 - 5:49 am

    Well almost all men are for polygamy and I think we all know why its definitely not the reasons that religious men claim it is, I’ve never heard of any rich man marrying a widow as a second wife and a great example would be the rulers in the Arab world or Islamic in general and this is also applicable to the ordinary man who get married again because of lust period only a very small number of men do it for other reasons and they want women to agree ofcourse so they make it easier on there selves but that is very unlikely because women are not dumb they can see what kind of girls become the co-wife usually a young virgin girl but some women agree to it why? because simply in that situation it serves them they are getting the benefit therefore they are staying, and they already know that the man is married its not like a surprise the surprise is for the first wife who will have to share and keep her mouth shut as religious men suggest and want and claim that this is what happened in the past and a women(first wife) have no right what so ever to oppose. And for women who are pro polygamy are usually the second wives( who want to defend themselves more like actions) the other are the brainwashed ones who do as they are told and the other ones are the women who agree that there is thing called “polygamy” but it does not apply to them. There is really no middle ground in this primarily reason is that religious scholars don’t want to hear the other side they always need to be right and claim to be more knowledgeable, the good thing tho is that women are understanding their rights better and are wanting to exercise them like refusing to be forced, threatened by polygamy or divorce and becoming more financially independent which helps them make their own decision.


  • KatJune 24, 2012 - 7:11 pm

    Have you ever seen an episode of the American reality TV show "Sisterwives" about an American man and his four wives? Or read the book or blog "Love Times Three" by the Dargers, another American Polygamist family?
    Here's the link:

  • Neli SaracenAugust 29, 2012 - 1:41 pm

    selam dear laylah, i quoted tiny part of this post in my blog post :D but i linked this post as well, hope that’s not a problem :)ReplyCancel

    • LaylahAugust 29, 2012 - 7:44 pm

      Hi Neli! Thanks for the link and quote my dear, and nice blog!!ReplyCancel

  • Saadia MirzaSeptember 8, 2012 - 11:35 pm

    Just after reading some of your posts, I love you now <3 the way you explain things is amazing Masha'Allah. Sister just wanted to say that Islam is very reasonable and beautiful. Because of ignorant people don't turn away from it. :) I cannot share my husband with anyone, can't even bear the idea of sharing. Not all woman are so big hearted. It is only recommended in certain situations and Alhamdullilah we are in no such dire circumstances.ReplyCancel

    • HeatherOctober 24, 2013 - 3:09 am

      Love this! I am a Christian who has been confronted with all the same arguments for polygamy and I have come to all the same conclusions you mention above. I find it fascinating what the Quran says and I feel the Bible says the same…it is permissible in rare cases but definitely not encouraged! Thanks for writing this!ReplyCancel

  • MaryamFebruary 18, 2014 - 2:35 pm

    I love this article. Thank you so so much for upholding women’s rights and that we dont confuse patriarchal opinions with women’s rights in general (which happens all too often living in the man’s world). And yeah, we should want for our sister what we want for ourselves, which is a good monogamous marriage for the majority of us. Polygamy is good for exceptional circumstances only, with the permission and acceptance of the first wife definitely if that is possible. But since we dont have particular exceptional circumstances happening often in today’s world compared to earlier times, we should go according to the norm; healthy monogamous marriages, with honesty, equality and justice between the partners.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaFebruary 18, 2014 - 3:32 pm

      thank you, amazing comment, so well said in a nutshell!!ReplyCancel

  • Um RayhanaMarch 27, 2014 - 3:37 pm

    Dear mrs layla pleaseeee research and study before you chose to speak about deen you REALLY have to watch what your saying. My husband wants to get a second wife and you know what i am telling him to go ahead. You know why? Because he is allowed.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaMarch 28, 2014 - 3:10 am

      Sorry to hear about your loss of half your husband Rayhana. and good luck, I do hope it works out for you.ReplyCancel

  • SalBMarch 30, 2014 - 2:56 pm

    If my husband came home and said he wants or has taken a second wife it will take me about 3 seconds to ask for a divorce and pack but that is because I know I would be a ightmare and make it impossible for all concerned.

    However, I think what is missing in this discussion is womens current attitude to sex. We know so many marriages break down in the west because the wife regularly “has a headache”. She is tired from working or caring for kids all day. She just isn’t in the mood and sex becomes a once a week duty. What man would enjoy that? Women see it as their right to have sex only when they are in the mood. Fine but don’t then complain when your husband goes looking elsewhere (either through adultery or a second wife).

    Perhaps if women put more effort into providing for their husbands needs and less into what they want, when they want it then we would have less divorces?!ReplyCancel

  • Misyar Marriage: The Prostitution and Betrayal of the Female Gender | Blue AbayaMay 4, 2014 - 4:59 pm

    […] certain very strict conditions in Islam, (which you can read more about in this article “Sharing Husbands is Caring“) misyar is not a legal marriage as it denies women their full rights as a wife, such as […]ReplyCancel

  • Usman BarqMay 9, 2014 - 5:45 am

    Eye opener and thought provoking….. Nice Effort Thanks ReplyCancel

  • Amer Al-jabrJune 6, 2014 - 12:11 pm

    I believe it’s a woman right to know if her husband is about to start polygamy, also she should know if he has any Intentions of polygamy before marriage.
    Men these days don’t think of marriage only after age of 30, he wouldn’t take such a responsibility in early age that’s why we see women get married in late age or even don’t get married at all !
    It’s really hard to find a good man cuz usually saudies women don’t choose thier husbands, they just wait for one, that reduces the possibility of finding a good husband.
    Most of men uses religion as a cover for their sexual appeals.
    In my opinion polygamy if done properly like what was mentioned in verses can help solve many problems.ReplyCancel

  • Ahmad AsaadJune 28, 2014 - 7:10 pm

    Muslim fathers and mother, teach your sons to avoid polygamyReplyCancel

  • Lucrezia PachecoJuly 31, 2014 - 6:16 pm

    I know a woman from Pakistan that was pestering her husband to take a second wife because she was tired of catering to her husband, caring about 3 boys from hell, sex and other things that do not allow her to “have her own life” ( music , movies, clothes, gossip). Now her husband has a young wife and she has a maid, a cook,a cleaner, a nanny and someone to boss around and yell at when she is angry for whatever reason. To each their own I guess…ReplyCancel

  • Ali AhmadMarch 4, 2015 - 3:49 pm

    Masha Allah Thanks for this beautiful article.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

  • […] 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

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