Experience iftar at the spectacular Fawanees Ramadan Tent in Riyadh’s Al Faisaliah Hotel.

The Fawanees iftar experience is no doubt one of the best Ramadan tents in Riyadh. Fawanees bestows traditional Arabian hospitality that is synonymous with the spirit of Ramadan and grants an exclusive Iftar experience in elegance and lovely ambiance. Bursting with a selection of  mouth-watering dishes, the indulgent spread prepared by the hotel’s talented chefs truly embraces the spirit of the occasion.

At Fawanees you’ll find numerous live cooking stations serving a wide array of traditional Arabic and international cuisines. My favorite Sushi station is here of all the Ramadan buffets in town. They have spectacular ice sculptures, an amazing dessert buffet, immaculate service and for the families with children they have a kids play area. The kids play area has nannies to help watch over your kids so you may dine on the ballroom and have your children well looked after at the kids area, where they even have their own buffet. Kids can play in the soft play area, play games, trampoline or bouncy castle. There’s face painting and many other activities to keep them entertained.

More information on the Fawanees Experience: 
 
ILLUMINATE THE TRADITIONS OF RAMADAN IN THE GLOW OF FAWANEES
 
The tradition of lighting the lanterns during the Holy Month is believed to have begun in the Fatimid dynasty in 10th century, when they were lit to announce the end of each day’s fast.
 
Rediscover this tradition with the ‘Fawanees Experience’ at Al Faisaliah Hotel, lit up by numerous lanterns. The largest Ramadan gathering in the Kingdom for over 9 years, Fawanees is the benchmark for radiant Ramadan experiences in Riyadh.
Faisaliah ramadan tent in Riyadh

The lavish decor at Faislaiyah hotel’s Fawanees Ramadan Tent

 

Faisaliyah Ramadan tent in Riyadh

The famous Sushi station with ice sculptures at Fawanees Faisaliyah hotel Ramadan Tent in Riyadh

The details of the Fawanees Ramadan tent in Riyadh:

SAR 375 per person

 
Children between 6 to 12 years of age dine with 50% discount
 
Children below 6 years of age dine with our compliments
 

Ramadan beverages, Arabic coffee and tea included

 
To avoid disappointment, advance reservations are required. Please call: 011 273 2222″
Discover more restaurants in Riyadh here: Riyadh Restaurants 
Find Things to do during Eid Al Fitr Holidays in Riyadh here; Eid al Fitr in Riyadh 
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  • Md.Ameenuddin ObaidJune 23, 2016 - 12:04 pm

    As always very informative. Makes things easy for expats Staying in KSA. Thanks a ton for alll the information.ReplyCancel

  • Hina AdnanJune 23, 2016 - 2:25 pm

    everything,its like my best friend always there for meReplyCancel

  • Tuba Z MalikJune 23, 2016 - 2:33 pm

    The best blog for expats all the best with ur future endeavoursReplyCancel

  • Hadeel AlwaniJune 23, 2016 - 2:52 pm

    I love that bkue abaya always makes my summer holidays in Riyadh enjoyable. You exposed me to stuff I didn’t know was even in Riyadh and keep things really fun with suggestions like ManahilReplyCancel

  • Muhammad TayyebJune 23, 2016 - 3:08 pm

    I like your travelogues and tips on what to do in RiyadhReplyCancel

  • Bushra Qamar AhmedJune 23, 2016 - 4:57 pm

    My ultimate source of information and support for living in KSA.before finidng this blog I was lost here and was unabel to enjoy my life here in KSA.Keep it up Laura!ReplyCancel

  • Aimen IbrahimJune 23, 2016 - 5:28 pm

    Would love to win it and spend an iftaar with my husband! :)ReplyCancel

  • Asma khurramJune 23, 2016 - 5:36 pm

    Beat blog ever. After following blue abaya i came to know what an interedting place is KSA to live in.
    Thank you so much
    Wish ti win.
    Take careReplyCancel

  • Huda MalikJune 23, 2016 - 5:48 pm

    Its such a great blog to follow. Wish you good luck for the future !ReplyCancel

  • Muhammad TayyebJune 23, 2016 - 6:04 pm

    I like your travelogues and tips on what to do in RiyadhReplyCancel

  • Hamza FarooqJune 24, 2016 - 9:33 am

    Its becoming a ritual for us reader to look forward for this ramadan treat from Blue Abaya. #blueabaya6yearsReplyCancel

  • LeianneJune 24, 2016 - 10:21 am

    Blue abaya has always been of great help and inspiration when it comes to my mini adventures here in Riyadh. Thanks again for this informative post!ReplyCancel

  • Shumaila KhanJune 24, 2016 - 9:16 pm

    Didnt know about your blog a year ago, now im hooked to it.. Not a day goes by when i dont visit your page and its set to my favorites list and i see your posts first on my facebook homepage.. Keep growing and keep providing us with the informative recreational posts #blueabaya6yearsReplyCancel

  • Mohammed AmeenuddinJune 25, 2016 - 11:54 am

    As always very informative. Makes things easy for expats Staying in KSA. Thanks a ton for all the information.ReplyCancel

  • Tahani JawedJune 26, 2016 - 11:32 am

    Your blog brings out KSA in a new light..its totally awesome seeing this kingdom through your eyes..!! Thanks for everything.ReplyCancel

  • Ghie BautistaJune 27, 2016 - 8:34 am

    Ramadan Kareem! What I like best about Blue Abaya is that I experience the best of Riaydh and Saudi Arabia with your wonderful posts. I enjoy your informative and adventurous blogs and hope to see more of it on my wall posts. Happy blogging!ReplyCancel

  • SimeenJune 27, 2016 - 1:52 pm

    Hi Laura,

    I follow your blog because for me it’s like a window with a view of the beautiful unexplored kingdom and you always amaze your readers with all the hidden treasures of KSA. Your blog is the best in providing detailed experience of your adventures that we can make ours without anywhere else to

    Keep up the good work n God bless!

    Simeen.ReplyCancel

  • Shierly NoraJune 27, 2016 - 3:07 pm

    Ramadan Kareem!
    Being an Expat, it would have been difficult to adjust living in Saudi Arabia, but with the help and guidance of Blue Abaya blogs, we have gained insights and information that made everything so easy for us. We came to visit places that we could never imagine to explore not without Blue Abaya blogs like the Secret Lake.

    Overall, thank you and continue to inspire and guide people through your blogs.ReplyCancel

  • Olshoppers PkJuly 15, 2016 - 7:36 am

    Thanks for sharing a useful infromation. olshoppers.comReplyCancel

Time for another Wanderlust in Saudi Arabia post! Let’s discover some of the lesser known areas in Saudi Arabia.

Who knew Saudi Arabia has such beautiful beaches? This beach and shipwreck is located 55km south from Haql city in Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk Province. The place is in natural state, meaning there are no hotels, restaurants or facilities nearby. Just a half-sunken ship and a beach all to yourself!

What a stunning backdrop and contrast the majestic mountains provide in the background of this beach scene.  The mysterious sunken ship makes the landscape at this beach look almost other-worldly. On the other side of the Gulf of Aqaba you can see the mountains of Sinai in the distance. 

The site is called is Al Bakhera site or ‘Al Mashee Well’ according to the Saudi Tourism authority signpost there. The shipwreck is a Greek vessel that sank there two decades ago. We stopped by this pristine beach with the most crystal clear deep turquoise water for a quick swim on our road trip to Jordan from Riyadh. The water was warm and we could have spent the whole day there relaxing if we had time. I would recommend to bring your own sun shade though!

To reach this beach by road from Riyadh one would have to drive approximately 1500km one way. We made overnight stops along the way though, there’s no way the drive is doable in one go with two small kids. You will find more images from our road trip with the hashtag #saudiroadtrip on my Instagram and Facebook.

This shipwreck is located on a large half-moon shaped bay and only accessible via the road from Haql direction. The entire area around Haql is pretty much endless wild beach coastline, there’s not much development going on outside the city. There’s a few hotels and holiday rentals called “isteraha” by the beach inside Haql city.  

The area around the shipwreck would make a really nice camping site. Maybe on our next trip there we’ll spend more time just relaxing on the beach. Spending the night there under the stars would be an unforgettable experience for my little explorers!

haql beach sunken ship

For more lesser known travel destinations inside KSA, check out the previous Wanderlust in Saudi Arabia post– also from Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk Province: Ancient Haddaj Well in Tayma 

Wanderlust destination: Crown Jewels of Saudi Arabia: Farasan Islands

Did you enjoy this post? Share it with your friends to show them the beauty of Saudi Arabia! Pin the below image to your favorite Pinterest boards :)

 

Haql Beach Saudi Arabia

Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter with the form below.  This way you will make sure you don’t miss out on any of these posts about travel treasures from KSA :)

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  • Nerissa Warner-oneillJune 16, 2016 - 8:07 pm

    This looks wonderful, I wonder how long it would take from Jeddah stopping at Yanbu etc. We are hoping to get a car soon but will be limited by having just the one of us being able to drive. I think a night camping out there would be very special. Thanks for linking to #TravelAtHomeReplyCancel

  • Sadhna Rajan Mhatre.June 23, 2016 - 9:03 am

    Hi iv gone through your blogs and other travel informatio.you have describe yor travel experience so nicely while reading I felt as if I’m travelling with you. I need your help to guide me site seeing in Abba area.my two daughters ,husband and me are here for fifteen days from Riyadh. Is there a city tour with guide?
    Regards and thanks.ReplyCancel

  • FarahJune 28, 2016 - 2:43 pm

    Loving ur posts! Thank you for ur dedication to providing us with such great info!ReplyCancel

  • […] WANDERLUST WEDNESDAY KSA: HAQL SHIPWRECK BEACH (blueabaya.com) […]ReplyCancel

  • […] -explore the mostly untouched Saudi side of the Red sea coast. Want to start start scuba-diving? Blue Reef divers 014644134 (in my opinion the best operator in KSA) has courses running all year round. The lectures and pool training are in Riyadh, and open water training will take a weekend in Jeddah. The Red Sea is full of amazing underwater life! Top diving spots in KSA: Yanbu, Al Lith, Farasan Islands, Farasan Banks, Haql Shipwreck. […]ReplyCancel

  • Monika MikolajczyJuly 5, 2018 - 3:20 pm

    Hello, looks like great place to visit! Do you know if we women could swim there? I mean I know it not allowed officially in Saudi, but in practice, I guess if there is nobody at the place I guess a women could risk a quick swim in bikini? :)ReplyCancel

    • LauraJuly 7, 2018 - 12:10 am

      Hi!

      I wouldn´t recommend the risk to swim in bikini even if nobody is there it´s culturally so unacceptable that it´s not worth it in that public place. Many people go diving there and they wear diving suits. So a t shirt and shorts perhaps would be better :)ReplyCancel

  • mukta kuteAugust 20, 2019 - 6:31 pm

    lovely posts ,LauraReplyCancel

Ramadan Mubarak to all Blue Abaya readers, it’s that time of the year again to reflect on the true meaning of Ramadan. Ramadan in Saudi Arabia is estimated to begin on the 16th of May 2018. To read more about what kind of changes Ramadan brings with it in the ‘Magic Kingdom’ read this post: The Magic Month in the Kingdom.
The following article ‘In Search of the True Meaning of Ramadan’ was published in its original form in Saudi Gazette newspaper in 2013. I wrote the article because each year that I spend in Saudi Arabia during Ramadan, the more all the over-consuming and spending madness is starting to bother me. The true, original meaning of Ramadan has been totally forgotten and it makes me feel really sad to see what is has become for some.

So writing this article, I wanted to reflect back on how I searched for and found out about the true meaning of Ramadan.

In Search of the True Meaning of Ramadan

Most non-Muslims know this month as the time when Muslims abstain from food and drink during the daylight hours.  Before I came to KSA, admittedly, just like most non-Muslims living in western countries, I was pretty ignorant about Ramadan. I knew that this was the month when Muslims fasted from sunrise to sunset, but that was pretty much it.

Before coming to Saudi Arabia, I had heard people in my country Finland saying things like  ‘the mohammedians’ can eat only at night because Allah doesn’t see in the dark (seriously some people really think this to be true) or that the ‘mooslomans’ (yes there people who still use these ignorant terms) fast only part of the day because they couldn’t handle a week in row of fasting (like any human could?). It was all made out to be some sort of big joke, this Ramadan thing. After having listened to all this nonsense and misinformation about Ramadan I remember wondering, what was the real reason behind the Muslim fast, because it didn’t seem to make any sense to me. I never bothered to find out the real answer though.

That is, until I came to work as a nurse to the “Magic Kingdom”.

During my first Ramadan in Saudi Arabia 8 years ago, I became very curious to find out more about the holy month of Muslims. Because of my living and working environment in a Saudi government hospital,  all this fasting business suddenly became much more of a reality to me.

To my surprise, as Ramadan drew closer, many of my expat friends grew grumpier. “I hate Ramadan!” “Everything is closed, nobody is working” “Muslims skip work and leave all the work for us to do” “Whatever you do, don’t stay in Saudi for Ramadan, it’s just crazy” “they will arrest you if they see you drinking water during the day” etc etc etc.

I did not hear a single positive comment about Ramadan. So naturally, I became somewhat weary of what Ramadan would bring along and started to dread the beginning of it along with all the other expats.

So Ramadan rolled along and the entire hospital turned upside down. Read here what Ramadan is like in a Saudi hospital. Patients ate at the strangest hours, visitors came and went in the middle of the night, Muslim working hours were cut, some Muslim employees would disappear in the middle of shifts, medicine regimes had to be changed and fasting patients could not even be administered intravenous medicines during daytime. It was all very confusing.What is the true Meaning of Ramadan?

Some of the things I had been “warned” about did happen, such as the strange hiding of all foods from sight and some colleagues skipping work. (Read more about it in this post The Different Sides to Ramadan in KSA)

Despite all the weird schedule changes, I could not help noticing other, more positive changes too. There was a remarkable sense of unity, cheerfulness and a feeling of high spirits among my Muslim colleagues. The patients, if possible, became even more welcoming, friendly, and hospitable.

There was a sense of elation in the air that I could not quite put my finger on, but it made me even more curious.

One day as I was doing some charting, I curiously watched as all the ward clerks, nurses and doctors prayed together in the staff room. I finally mustered up the confidence to ask about Ramadan, despite the fact that they were all Saudi males and I felt a little intimidated to approach them on this matter. I remember simply asking “why do you fast during Ramadan?”

I was blown away by the reply. Looking back, the way one of the men explained it to me in such a nice and respectable way was commendable, despite my seemingly super ignorant question.

He told me:

We fast to remember all those people who cannot eat and drink daily.”

“We fast to feel their suffering, to remind ourselves of how blessed we are to have food and water. “

“We fast to feel those same pangs of hunger that our poor sisters and brothers feel daily around the world.”

We fast to become more generous, to practise self-discipline and to strive to become better Muslims and better people.”

His words had a profound impact on me. Somehow I had failed to see the true meaning of the fast. From that day onward I started to look at it from an entirely different perspective.

I realized that Ramadan is so much more than just abstaining from food and drink during the daylight hours. I came to learn that Muslims are supposed to abstain from all harmful acts as much as possible during the month of Ramadan. They should concentrate on becoming a better person and do good deeds to others, give charity and avoid bad and harmful behaviors. Gold leaf detail antique Quran 17th century

Ramadan can be very different from one person to the other, depending on what their personal goals for the month are. Everyone can set their own goals for Ramadan according to their life situation and abilities. While one person struggles to quit smoking, another might set as a goal to read the entire Quran during Ramadan or start healthier eating habits. Some might plan to pray extra prayers every day, donate to charity or memorize a new Surah from the Quran.

So that day I learned from those Saudi colleagues that Ramadan is also about remembering the Creator, reading the Quran, which was sent down during the month of Ramadan, doing good deeds (out of a sincere wish to do them, not by habit or force), being kind to others, giving out Dawah (teaching, not preaching non-Muslims about Islam) and remembering the poor and the less fortunate.Ramadan is about being humble, modest and abstaining not only from food, but from extravagance, over-consuming, spending, wasting food, money and resources.

Sadly, what I see happening in reality is very disturbing, keeping in mind what I had learned about the true meaning of Ramadan.  I saw that many people in Saudi Arabia are doing the exact opposite.

The true purpose of fasting  and meaning of Ramadan has been long-lost and forgotten. I see people stocking up on food as if it’s going to run out from the stores, cooking and baking like there is no tomorrow. Women are spending their days in the kitchen instead of focusing on other more important things; some out of their own will or perhaps out of learned habit and routine, some by demands from husband and even peer pressure. Instagram and Facebook becomes flooded with the most extravagant iftar meal images, as if it’s a competition of who made the most food.

When time comes for iftar, often people indulge in huge meals and then lay around all evening snacking on deep-fried, highly sweetened and unhealthy foods.  Watching Arabic soap operas on TV, gossiping with friends and staying up all night is very common. Many go to shopping malls which are now open until the early morning hours for mindless shopping, just for the sake of shopping, not need.

Some even force their kids to stay up late or wake them up in the middle of the night so that the parents don’t have to get up early with them. The next day they sleep until the evening until it all starts over again at sunset.

The Prophet Mohammed taught Muslims by his own example to break the fast with simply dates and water, then eat a light meal later. He is known to have kept to the normal daily routines during Ramadan and not becoming  nocturnal despite the heat.

I wish people would not forget the true meaning of Ramadan, its purpose, and all the blessings of this month. I hope this post also helped non-Muslim and newbies to the Kingdom to learn something they didn’t know about Ramadan and fasting.

I wish everyone a beneficial, not superficial Ramadan!

Stay blessed :)

ramadan kareem lighthouse

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  • NoorJuly 18, 2013 - 10:40 pm

    You know before I reverted I really did not know much about Ramadan as well but I reverted right before so I was thrown into it and I really loved it :) I love Saudi only during Ramadan it is nice to be here mashAllah but yes many people all over the world end up thinking about food and cooking and forget what it is really about. I make small meals or get take out so that does not happen alhumdullah. But cooking for your family also has many blessings in it :) I can not judge anyone else that is for sure but inshAllah everyone is blessed during Ramadan.

    ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJuly 19, 2013 - 5:42 am

    … “Ramadan is about being humble,..” Also a break from the cynism of the cynic. Alhamdulillaah

    Ramadhaan MubaarikReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJuly 21, 2013 - 5:36 am

    Hi Layla,
    I have a question about tattoo removal, and you seem to know about the healthcare areas. My boyfriend and older brother got drunk last year and both got tattoos. My boyfriend is saudi from Jeddah with a strick family. It’s Ramadan now and he regretting the ink on his arm. He will be leaving to his home after summer and he wants to get rid of it, but it will take to long. He doesnt think they have the equiqment to remove it in Jeddah, like we have here, and is in a panick that someone will see it. He wants to go back and get a visa to come back and remove it, but he finished his studies and not sure of that. Do you know much about this topic?ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJuly 21, 2013 - 10:11 am

    Staying in Saudi Arabia during Ramadan becomes all the more delight & special, you see lot of warmth & love around. But lately we have forgotten the true essence & aim of Ramadan.
    Nice article to bring front this new norm.
    May Allah (SWT) guide us all.
    Ramadan Mubarak.ReplyCancel

  • Faisal HajiJuly 22, 2013 - 9:21 am

    Heartwarming post. Thank You, and (belated) Ramadan Kareem to you and your family!ReplyCancel

  • Manal MirzaJuly 22, 2013 - 9:10 pm

    The article is very well written and not at all biased. There are many muslims who sadly have forgotten the true meaning of fasting. Not only during the fast but after the fast as well, do we have to keep in mind the true objective of Fast. It is so upsetting becos this is from the own soul of the Muslim in this month as the devils are locked up. This month is truly to drop all our bad habits becos not only do we abstain from the halal (food &drinks) but from the haram as well.
    This is a month of forgiveness where Allah is waiting and asking for people to seek forgiveness. but we are sadly sinning even more. AstagfiraAllah!
    As Muslims, our main goal should be to remember that Allah is watching and due to His fear we would finally stop our sinning and bad habits. in sha Allah!
    thanks for ur post! I loved it!
    ReplyCancel

  • […] year I wrote a post called ‘In search of the True Meaning of Ramadhan’. In this post I talked about how I sometimes feel the real meaning behind the fasting has been […]ReplyCancel

  • […] In case you are not sure what Ramadan means to Muslims and why Muslims fast check out this post: The True Meaning of Ramadan The crescent moon has been sighted and the fasting has started this […]ReplyCancel

  • Alaa Abu RobJune 5, 2016 - 9:24 am

    well said ” Ramadan is about being humble, modest and abstaining not only from food, but from extravagance, over-consuming, spending, wasting food, money and resources “ReplyCancel

  • Susie Johnson KhalilJune 6, 2016 - 5:00 pm

    This is exactly the same explanation I got from my husband when I asked him about Ramadan many years ago. Seeing how the commercialism in Saudi Arabia has perverted the true meaning of Ramadan has been disappointing for me to see as well.ReplyCancel

  • RachelJune 7, 2016 - 1:41 am

    Good article! I love Ramadan in Saudi Arabia. I’m an American who’s married to a Saudi. I’ve lived with my husband’s parents for going on 3 years. I guess i’m fortunate because I haven’t witnessed some of the negative habits mentioned in the article. Everyone is very focused on the Quran and prayer here. Yes, there’s some good food, but it’s because its a potluck with extended members of the family. I have noticed some very frantic behavior at the grocery store though. I do feel like Ramadan in Saudi is a special experience. You can make umrah in Mecca. I love seeing everyone fasting, and the iftars given out at stoplights. I love praying taraweeh in the masjid. It just feels so peaceful.

    I love to read your blog! I’ve never been to finland, but I have been to Denmark and Sweden because i have family and friends there.

    Note from admin: no ad links please (url removed)ReplyCancel

  • Aryaan AsadMarch 19, 2019 - 8:28 am

    Heartwarming post. Thank You for sharing such a wonderful post.ReplyCancel

Every now and then I get asked questions about my blogging resources and what tools I’m using. I’m surprised to find myself giving advice to newbie bloggers because I never thought of myself as a person in a position to give advice on blogging. I suppose that after 6 years of blogging, a few international blogging awards, and learning to do it all on my own from scratch, I could give a tip or two that someone might actually find useful!

When I started blogging, my computer skills consisted of replying to emails and browsing the internet. No joke!  So I had to learn everything from zero. Blogging is actually a never-ending learning process, you learn something new everyday. I’ve tried different things and made lots of mistakes along the way, so this list will be from my experience and pov what has worked for me. I hope it helps someone out there just getting started. I’ve also candidly shared with you the cost maintaining a site like Blue Abaya for one year ( UPDATED FOR 2018) . You will not believe all the expenses that go into it.

Naturally not everyone who starts a blog wants it to grow big or to become professional bloggers. For example many Saudi based bloggers write for their families back home about their life in KSA.

This is a list of tools and resources I wish I had known and used from day one. It would’ve saved thousands of hours of wasted time and from having to pull my hair out and have mini heart attacks every so often.

What I’ve noticed is that quite a lot of people don’t realize how costly blogging actually is and how much hard work it requires. So for those people eager to start their own blogs or just starting out, there’s a few things to consider investing in, if you want your blog to be successful and take it a step further than a personal journal type blog.

At the end of this post you will see the cost of one year of (pro) blogging. I think many will be surprised! Or shocked like I was. 

12 essential tools for starting a successful blog

My Essential tools for starting a successful blog:

1. Sign up for wordpress account. I recommend wordpress over blogspot especially if you want to take things the extra mile and purchase a beautiful theme for your blog.

2. Get your own domain name. You absolutely need to purchase your own domain name if you want to have credibility and for the long run if you want to turn your blogging into a business. This way you also get an email address with your own domain name. Domain names cost anywhere between 10-20$ per year. Additional domain name privacy (I recommended to prevent spammers from contacting you) will cost another 10-20$ per year. You can get one domain for free at Bluehost when you sign up!) I went from blueabaya.blogspot.com to blueabaya.com in 2013 by purchasing a domain name and hosting plan from Bluehost and moving everything to wordpress. (From bluehost 15.99 per year and domain name privacy 11.88$)

3. Get a hosting provider. Bluehost has hosting plans starting as low as 2.95 per month, depending on what type of blog you have and how much traffic you are getting. I used this hosting service since 2013. Bluehost have 24 h customer service and tons of handy add ons.  (Blue Abaya current VPS cloud server hosting plan is 59.99$ per month, 708$ per year.)

4. Create Blog logo. You could design your own if you have the skills to save money. See the online image editors mentioned further in this post. if you decide to hire someone, the budget option is looking for people on networks like Upwork, Etsy, or Creative Market.

5. Purchase a custom theme. You can get nice themes for wordpress for free from ThemeForest, but it’s worth investing in your theme to make it more customizable, achieve a personalized look and make it easy to navigate. I’m using a drag and drop website builder ProPhoto (199$ for the ProPhoto license + 150$ custom PP theme + 79 $ installation.)

6. Customize and design your site. I designed my own site and learned everything on my own, it’s an ongoing learning process and at first can take months of your time. If you hire a designer make sure they know what they’re doing. Ask to see their verified previous work and talk to previous clients.

7. Watermarking. If your blog is going to have a lot of photography, especially if you are a professional photographer, you will need to get various software to edit your photos with. Photoshop, Lightroom are a must. You’ll also need something to watermark and resize a batch of images at once, the best option for this I’ve found in BlogStomp (49$ one time purchase). BlogStomp will batch resize, watermark, sharpen and rename hundreds of images at a time in just a few seconds.

8. Online photo editors and graphics maker.  I use mainly two online photo editors. Picmonkey is great for quick fixes, adding text, image layers, making collages and social media images. Picmonkey costs 4,99$ per month for the upgraded version which I highly recommend investing in. They have the coolest fonts and you get access to galleries of overlays with the upgraded version.  Picmonkey is super easy to use even if you have zero experience in editing graphic design like I did when I started! Picmonkey has a vast archive of tutorial videos you can learn with. ( 4.99 per month and 59.88$ per year)

I also love Lightroom CC which is a must for more professional needs in photo editing. LR CC can be used from mobile too. ( I use the 9.99 $ monthly for the basic Photography plan 119.88$ yearly)

9. Online storage. You will need to be able to access your images from various places not just your home pc or laptop, so the best solution for me has been Dropbox pro extra storage. Dropbox is really handy in sharing material too and serves as a backup for your images as well. This will cost you 9.99$ monthly for 1TB. ( 9.99$ x 12 months= 119.88$)

10. Back-ups. You will need to back up your blog regularly, for this I recommend Site Backup Pro which is easily purchased through Bluehost. Cost is 35.88$ per year. Or use a free plugin but remember to do it regularly.

11. Security. Don’t overlook this part! A good password is not enough to protect your site. I have purchased SiteLock which is 23.99$ a year from Bluehost. The amount of hacking attempts and malicious malware this program has stopped is amazing. I’ve been really satisfied with it, it’s worth the extra investment for your peace of mind. Consider that if your site gets hacked or infected with a virus, (like what happened to me before I got the SiteLock) it cost over 300$ to fix it.

12. Mailing list providers. You will need to get an email marketing program like MailChimp or Convertkit to send out email to your subscribers and create signup forms with. Mailchimp is free for under 2000 subscribers, but once you pass 2000 subscribers, it’s 30$ per month. I use Convertkit because of the more flexibility and additional features like landing pages, cool sign up forms and outstanding customer support they offer starting 49$ per month. For a list of over 5000 subscribers the monthly plan is 99 $.( 1,188$ per year)

 

And the grand total of this thing called pro-blogging?

2,561.56 USD 

That is when we count all the one time purchases in the amount.

the annual “maintenance” figure for keeping the blog running, for Blue Abaya is

2,283.56 USD per year. 

 

Add to this list does not count all the $$$ that goes into hiring freelancers for various tasks like the technical stuff or some more advanced graphic design work, coding, web development or a virtual assistant. I spent through upwork on hiring freelancers last year over 800 $ on top of this so the total expenses would be over 3000 usd for the past year 2017.

Shocking right?? I sure am shocked! This was the first time I ever added everything up like this. I kinda wish I hadn’t, it seems like a huge waste of money right now. Then again my blog is very important to me, it’s like my third baby! I’ve invested literally thousands of dollars from my own pocket into it because I believe in Blue Abaya and its future and I know it helps thousands of people. I can say I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved, mostly by just pure will power and probably some famous Finnish “Sisu” in the mix.

Perhaps the single most important tool a blogger needs is passion! You really need to be passionate about what you do or you will not succeed.

For anyone just starting out don’t be discouraged by these large figures, in the beginning you will not need so many upgrades right away and there are some free alternatives, whatever works for me might not be best way for another blogger in a different niche or different set of goals.

For sure a newbie blogger really has to be dedicated, persistent and not give up! You will also need to figure out ways to pay for these blogging bills with your blog which is easier said than done. One such way are affiliate links, (which this post contains, and bloggers should always mention) or advertisements, and creating products like ebooks, courses or webinars..But that’s a lesson for another time.

I suppose next time someone calls me greedy for writing an ebook guide and charging a WHOPPING 4.99$ for it, I’ll direct them to this post. Or when companies want me to write articles which takes me many days to compile and pay me in “exposure” “free meal” or better yet “tweets”. Yeah, I’ll definitely send them a link here :)

Good luck to all beginning bloggers, I wish you all blogging success!!

 

Are you a blogger? What are your favorite essential tools and resources for blogging success? Please share with us in the comments.

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  • Famidha AshrafMay 31, 2016 - 4:21 am

    Oh my! I knew there is a maintenance expense when we set up our own domain and then all the little expenses including valuable time! Even with just journaling like mine…its a lot of effort and most of the time I am bogged down. Hats off to you! Your blog is a window to Saudi.ReplyCancel

  • Jo JacksonJune 3, 2016 - 11:54 am

    Thanks for posting these tips. I am newbie blogger and found this very helpful, and good for setting expectations of how much my blog (my fourth baby) will cost. I figure that once I make 1 SAR from my blog, then I will spend some money on a better theme!ReplyCancel

  • Bushra Qamar AhmedJune 7, 2016 - 1:14 pm

    Ahh thats why i dont try ;) I guess I will continue volunteering for you then :DReplyCancel

  • Abeer SadiqJune 12, 2016 - 10:57 pm

    Dear Laura,
    I am Abeer, Mama of two little boys. I am moving to Riyadh in a few days now. I am from Karachi, Pakistan.I discovered you blog when we decided the move for our family and have been following ever since. It has helped me a lot and i feel like i already know a lot about life in KSA and RIyadh specially.
    I am writing to you to ask you a favour that would mean so much to me. You see, I have started my own Family Lifestyle blog. Its about my motherhood journey, travel experiences, food (recipes), photography, DIY crafts and fun toddler activities. I have always wanted to do this, I am an ardent blog reader and i even had another blog a few years ago but then i stopped writing on it. So this time, I am starting fresh with this new perspective that I am going to document my journey in KSA right from the start, along with my other passions. This has really inspired me and i think it will keep me going.
    I will cut to the chase. Every blogger needs readers or else whats the point of it all, right? I am asking you to do a short post on your blog or instagram and guide your readers towards my blog and Facebook page. That would mean the world to me, since i want to target the same set of readers too. Basically I want to target other expats families living there who can read about my family’s adventures and just making sense of the new city. Obviously my blog is nothing compared to yours and you can see that it has a different style to it so i hope I am not asking something inappropriate. I just want you to check out my blog, read a few posts and if it clicks you then you do it. I would be so grateful to you for this. Lets help a fellow sister out. Even if you don’t, i would still like us to be friends and maybe meet you some day when I am there? I will highly appreciate it.
    Please reply to me in either case. I will be waiting. I am posting the links to my blog and FB page below.

    http://www.thishappycorner.com
    http://www.facebook.com/thishappycorner/

    Regards,
    AbeerReplyCancel

  • azzydoonSeptember 21, 2016 - 3:39 pm

    Damn! I never thought it will be so expensive and required that kind of extraordinary effort…!! SALUTE BLUE ABAYA…!!ReplyCancel

  • Bons plans Voyage au CanadaDecember 18, 2016 - 7:33 pm

    Hi,

    thank you for this article. I agree with you Blogging is lot of work ! And I regret I didn’t buy my domain since day 1. I would love to do it but, the problem is I am going to loose or the referencing and the all linked articles on my post will be wrong. Is there a way to avoid that ?ReplyCancel

    • Arabian LauraDecember 19, 2016 - 12:55 am

      yes there is a way, you need to direct all those links to point to the new location on the new domain.ReplyCancel

I’m starting a new blog series called Wanderlust in Saudi Arabia! I will share a brief description and images of a beautiful place somewhere in Saudi Arabia in each Wanderlust in Saudi Arabia post. This way I can share with you some of my favorite travel destinations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and bring some light on these lesser known travel destinations. Hopefully these amazing places encourage and inspire people to explore the hidden treasures Saudi Arabia. 

The first #WanderlustSaudia feature is the ancient Haddaj well, located in Tabuk Province of Saudi Arabia. We visited the city of Tayma on our recent road trip from Riyadh to Jordan. You can see more images from our Saudi road trip of over 4000km on my Instagram and Facebook page with the hashtag #saudiroadtrip. My image of the Haddaj well was also featured in the Tabuk Tourism instagram account.

The oasis town of Tayma has a fascinating rich history which dates back thousands of years to the Bronze Ages. The ancient well in the center of the city has been used by many different people who stopped by the Tayma oasis on caravan trade routes and pilgrimages. Tayma was always a prosperous city because of its source of water and an important meeting point for different civilizations.

The Haddaj Well is estimated to be at least 2500 years old. It’s quite a large well, 20 meters in diameter and it’s said there used to be 99 camels at once that drew bucketloads of water from it.

Bir (arabic for well) Haddaj, is one of the most famous wells from ancient times and is an outstanding architectural landmark for the region. The well is known to date back at least to the middle of the 6th century BCE, during the Babel occupation. In the 5th century BCE, all of Tayma was abandoned and buried, so the well fell into disuse for many centuries until Suleiman al-Gonaim restored it to a functional state.

In 1373H (1953), King Saud added four pumps to increase production and help local farmers to obtain sufficient water for their crops. The nearby date palm farms still get their water from the well to this day.

Haddaj well Tayma, Saudi Arabia

 

Bir Haddaj is mentioned in the Bible in reference to Tayma: “The inhabitants of the land of Tema brought water to him that was thirsty, they prevented with their bread him that fled.” (Isa 21:14.7)

 

Some interesting history about Tayma

-The only confirmed hieroglyphic inscription in Saudi Arabian soil was found in 2010 on a rock near Tayma. It mentions Pharaoh Ramses III who ruled 1192 B.C.to 1160 B.C

-Tayma also used to be the capital of Babylonia when King Nabodinus lived there in 6th century B.C.

-One of the oldest Jewish settlements of Arabian peninsula used to live in Tayma oasis.

-A Jewish poet and warrior Samuel ibn Adiya, built the Qasr Al Ablaq palace in 6th century BC, which still stands in Tayma to this day. 

-A huge 11km long wall dating back to 6th century B.C surrounds the ancient city.

-Two queens have ruled Tayma.

-A Jewish Prince is said to have governed Tayma as late as in the 12 th century AD.

More hidden gem places to discover in Saudi Arabia: Wanderlust Saudi Arabia 

To get more Saudi Arabia travel inspiration, check out the Images of Saudi photography galleries here: Images of Saudi 

For Saudi Arabia travel guides head to the Explore Saudi Arabia section

Find more hidden gem places on the Off the Beaten Path page

Don’t forget to subscribe to Blue Abaya updates by email with form below this post, you will receive our latest blog posts directly to your inbox.

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  • Ersatz ExpatMay 29, 2016 - 4:46 pm

    This looks lovely, hope we get a chance to visit soon. I host a blog link up every month (next one due next week), called Travel At Home, featuring stories of local travel, would love you to join in and post this (or other pieces) on travel in KSA, will send you a prompt next week if you are interested.ReplyCancel

    • Arabian LauraMay 29, 2016 - 10:54 pm

      Thank you yes I would be interested that sounds very exciting, great idea!ReplyCancel

  • […] For more lesser known travel destinations inside KSA, check out the previous Wanderlust Wednesday post- also from Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk Province: Ancient Haddaj Well in Tayma  […]ReplyCancel

  • Muhammad Sabeeh KhanJanuary 16, 2019 - 2:46 pm

    great information, following your blog
    thanksReplyCancel

Here are 20 blogs from Saudi Arabia you should be reading in 2016. All of them give a unique glimpse into life in Saudi Arabia from different perspectives. Back when I started writing the Blue Abaya blog in 2010, the Saudi blogosphere was still relatively quiet, but blogging has since become more popular. A lot of expat-run blogs are written as journals of their time living in KSA. When the expatriate returns to their home country the focus of the blog shifts and some slowly fade away.

Only the active blogs that have been running for more than a year, based in Saudi Arabia have been included in this list. The only exception to this is the American Bedu blog, which has not been updated for a few years, but is the pioneer of all Saudi Arabia expat blogs and thus deserves an honorary mention.top 20 blogs in ksa

In this Top 20 Saudi Blogs listed are some of the most informative, active, versatile, unique, specialized blogs from Saudi Arabia. They’re all written in English language under one of the categories; personal journey, diary, travel, lifestyle, opinion, cooking and parenting.

Most of these blogs are written by native english speakers, but there are a few, who like myself speak English as a second or third language. Some Saudi nationals are on the list too.

Blogs listed in alphabetical order.

  • American Bedu The first Saudi Arabia blog from a foreigners perspective which posted daily for almost 6 years. Carol passed away in May 2013. Her blog remains a wealth of information about Saudi Arabia.
  • Black Chick on Tour Terri is based in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia and she’s a travel addict. I love her fun videos about life in Saudi Arabia.
  • Bring the Kids An adventurous American family of six who go on epic road trips and camping in every corner of Saudi Arabia. Great tips for travel and camping with small kids and a wonderful source of inspiration to get out there and explore.
  • Claire’s Ale Claire blogs from destination KAUST. “Expat life at a Red Sea Resort”, better known as the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.
  • Desert Enlightenment This is the go to blog for anything and everything about vegan lifestyle and organic in KSA.
  • Foreign Girl– Chronicles of a curious expatriate. Margo Catts is a professional writer and editor. Her outlook on life in KSA is positive and her curious nature takes her on some really interesting adventures.
  • iGina  This lifestyle blog by Gina Saeed is now called The Arab Mode. Based in Jeddah, she blogs about a wide array of topics.
  • Jeddah for Kids The title says it all- This is the go to source for all things Jeddah with children.
  • Jeddah Blog Everything you need to know about enjoying life in Jeddah can be found in this blog!
  • Kristine Wanders I love this blog because it reminds me of my “previous life” in Saudi Arabia, before I had kids. The expat life of a single female nurse in Riyadh, traveling the world on the side. Those were the days :)
  • Kiwi in Saudi A New Zealander in Riyadh. Lots of interesting places to see in and around Riyadh.
  • My Life in Yanbu Lifestyle and cooking blog written by an Indian expat based in Yanbu. Lots of delicious recipes from the region as well as insight and practical info about life in Yanbu.
  • Muslim Traveller Travel blog written by a Pakistani expat with destinations in Saudi Arabia and beyond many have not heard of before. My favorite are the Road trips!
  • Saudi Season An English teacher blogging from Saudi Arabia’s Eastern province.  Interesting snippets from the life of an adventurous surfer on Saudi Arabia’s east coast. The only person I know who is Surfing in Saudi!
  • SaudiWoman Written by linguistic professor Eman al Nafjan. This woman is a rockstar. You must read her blog. Valuable insight into Saudi political and social issues from a realistic view point. Eman also writes for Newsweek and many other international publications.
  • Susie of Arabia Susie Johnson Khalil has been blogging since 2007 and won several international blogging awards such as Best Asian Weblog 2009. Susie is based in Jeddah and she runs a photo blog, Jeddah Daily Photo Journal, posting an image from Jeddah daily since 2008.
  • The Odysseia Personal journey of a woman from New Zealand in Saudi Arabia. Penelope is based in Riyadh.
  • The Pink Tarha Three Filipina ladies have written this online lifestyle guide to Riyadh since 2009. Great for new food finds and sale alerts in Riyadh. Winner of Best Website Promoting Tourism 2014 at the SETA’s.
  • The Same Rainbows End “An American girl meets Saudi boy, adventures ensue.” This is one of the best blogs to show an insight into the “everyday” life in Saudi Arabia, from pov of American woman married to a Saudi.
  • Ya Maamaa hands-on best parenting blog in Saudi Arabia, written by a Saudi woman and mother of four. ‘Mama B.’ is also a founder of a school The Playroom KSA and a positive parenting coach in training.
  • Ya Salam Cooking By Noor AlQahtani. “From Tennessee to Riyadh” this popular cooking blog featuring delicious recipes from around the ME.

 

Bonus and as sugar at the bottom: Vlogger Deborah Garcia- Brazilian Expat in Buraydah

What are your favorite Saudi Arabia blogs? Please add them in the comments!

If you’re a blogger based in Saudi Arabia please share your blog in the comments :) 

Pin this image on Pinterest to save for later reading!

top blogs in Saudi Arabia

 

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  • GilianMarch 24, 2016 - 8:55 am

    Great list. I’m going to add these on my reading list. I also blog about Jeddah from time to time. :) http://www.islesgilian.comReplyCancel

    • Arabian LauraMarch 24, 2016 - 1:56 pm

      Hi Gilian!

      I’m happy to find your blog!
      Looks like I need more time to dig into your archives :)

      P.S The IG icon link on your blog doesn’t work, I wanted to follow your Ig as well.ReplyCancel

      • GilianAugust 3, 2016 - 6:38 pm

        Hi. It’s public now. Sorry for the super delayed reply. I was not notified. =) @islesgilianReplyCancel

  • Farhan KhanMarch 24, 2016 - 9:59 am

    I recommend to add this blog “http://www.saudi-expatriates.com” also into your blog.ReplyCancel

  • FareedMarch 24, 2016 - 1:01 pm

    Cool List, I already known few from the above mentioned list.ReplyCancel

    • Arabian LauraApril 7, 2016 - 11:26 pm

      for me it was hard to chose only 20, there’s so many great blogs out there.ReplyCancel

  • Claire SaleMarch 24, 2016 - 7:14 pm

    Thanks so much for including me in this list! It’s an honor to be included among this talented group!ReplyCancel

    • Arabian LauraApril 6, 2016 - 7:38 pm

      Thank you Claire for the wonderful blog and showing us about life in KAUST! Hope to visit one day :)ReplyCancel

  • GiovannaMarch 25, 2016 - 9:28 am

    Hi, I’m Giovanna from Riyadh my best blog is your blog, I like read also The Pink Thara and Kiwi in Saudi.
    I have also a blog in italien http://www.trampsinlove.blogspot.comReplyCancel

  • HafizMarch 26, 2016 - 12:22 pm

    Amazing blog ! keep it up. I have a travel blog too http://travelwithhafiz.com ..I am happy to read your blogReplyCancel

  • charmaineMarch 27, 2016 - 7:41 pm

    Wow! Awesome list!
    I’ve been following some of the blogs on the list. It inspired me to also make my own.. I just started blogging last month.
    Here’s mine: https://travelingmin.wordpress.com/ReplyCancel

    • Arabian LauraApril 7, 2016 - 11:11 pm

      Hi Charmaine!
      Thanks, it took me a few months to research and compile this list. I’m glad you’ve added yours here too!ReplyCancel

  • Ersatz ExpatMarch 31, 2016 - 4:02 am

    Thanks for this list – I am about to move to Jeddah so will find it really very useful indeed. I have been blogging for some years now based in my previous posts of Kazakhstan and Malaysia, I am looking forward to blogging about KSA now! http://www.ersatzexpat.blogspot.comReplyCancel

    • Arabian LauraApril 7, 2016 - 11:13 pm

      Hey there, and wow Kazakhstan and Malaysia and now KSA! You must have lots of amazing memories from your time as an expat. What kind of job do you do if you don’t mind me asking :)ReplyCancel

  • FamidhaApril 4, 2016 - 8:17 am

    Hi. Thank you so much for including me in the list of blogs. I know most of them and also yours! :-P I thought I had commented here the very next day.. but guess it didnt go through. Just came over to pin this post! :-p Thank you once again.ReplyCancel

    • Arabian LauraApril 7, 2016 - 11:15 pm

      Hi Famidha!
      I wanted to include a blog from Yanbu and I was surprised to find so many! Your blog is very active mashallah keep up the good work! I would love to hear more of things to do around Yanbu, day trips and stuff like that ;)ReplyCancel

  • GinaApril 6, 2016 - 1:02 pm

    Thank you so much for including me on your list, amongst such great blogs.
    Much thanks to you and your hard work on Blue Abaya for inspiring the rest of us.ReplyCancel

  • Arabian LauraApril 7, 2016 - 11:10 pm

    Thanks Penelope and Yes what a coincidence!ReplyCancel

  • Aimen IbrahimMay 19, 2016 - 6:27 pm

    Please follow my blog too. I’ve just started my blog it’s related to food, make up, lifestyle. https://aaimeeen.wordpress.com/blog/

    Pls help my blog grow. Thanks :)ReplyCancel

    • Arabian LauraSeptember 8, 2016 - 3:14 pm

      Hi Aimen!
      I’ve checked your blog out, are you still continuing it or just taking a break?ReplyCancel

  • M abu salehMay 24, 2016 - 5:52 pm

    You blog is must be on the top of the list.ReplyCancel

  • PadmajaMay 30, 2016 - 11:51 am

    Hi… I’m a chef from India… Decided to take a break from work and come with my husband to Riyadh for a few months… Almost a year and am still here! yours and a couple of other blogs have been my guide during this time. Today am looking at any job options for me in the food industry! I also write a food and travel blog where I document recipes and food from travels…
    Epicureantraveller.cucumbertown.com
    It’s amazing to connect with other women here, and I wonder why I did not do this earlier?!ReplyCancel

    • Arabian LauraSeptember 8, 2016 - 3:16 pm

      hey there Padmaja! Oh what delicious recipes you have on the blog! Thanks for sharing with us :)ReplyCancel

  • […] Check out my Top 20 Saudi Arabia based blogs list here! […]ReplyCancel

  • AkramJune 11, 2016 - 4:52 pm

    This is a good starting point to get into Saudi blogs to get different points of views and recommendations.
    Thanks for making this list.
    I have recently created a blog, do visit:
    https://pseudocultured.blogspot.comReplyCancel

  • Abeer SadiqJune 12, 2016 - 11:03 pm

    I have started Family lifestyle blog and I am about to move to Riyadh. I have two boys and I will be documenting our expat journey, everyday life and adventures.
    I hope to make your list some day :)

    http://www.thishappycorner.com
    http://facebook.com/thishappycorner/ReplyCancel

    • Arabian LauraSeptember 8, 2016 - 3:08 pm

      Hey there Abeer!
      really nice blog you have there, great job! Keep up the good work :)ReplyCancel

  • […] 20 Blogs From Saudi Arabia You Should Be Reading In 2016 (blueabaya.com) […]ReplyCancel

  • Hana AlNaamaAugust 9, 2016 - 10:04 pm

    http://www.convertconfessions.com is my blog :) from the perspective of an American living in RiyadhReplyCancel

  • NadiaAugust 10, 2016 - 3:34 am

    Hello laura, regular reader of ur blog, love it, keep it up, I run a baking blogbwith 100s of easy and make at home bakong recipes, recently been in top 100 baking blogsReplyCancel

  • Morag GardnerAugust 10, 2016 - 5:51 am

    I love your blog and thanks for sharing the others! I’m based in Eastern Province. My blog is mostly abou myt travels, mindfulness and foodReplyCancel

    • Arabian LauraAugust 21, 2016 - 5:48 pm

      Thank you Morag! Kindly share the url to your blog as well so we can visit it :)ReplyCancel

  • Eric RowellSeptember 5, 2016 - 8:09 am

    Hi Laura, My wife and I blog at ericandashley.com

    Our blog is a bit of a mix of exploring KSA, our international travels, and life at KAUST.

    Cheers,
    EricReplyCancel

    • Arabian LauraSeptember 8, 2016 - 3:07 pm

      Hi Eric!
      Thanks for sharing your blog with us. You seem to have many bloggers from KAUST, have you met any of the other in person?ReplyCancel

  • AatikaSeptember 11, 2016 - 10:01 pm

    What a great list! I didn’t know about a lot of these but yours I have been reading and enjoying for a while.
    I have a blog too and I have been writing about my motherhood journey in KSA for the past 3 months now. My website is http://www.mymumdiary.comReplyCancel

  • Sherine G.September 26, 2016 - 3:38 pm

    Hello Laura, this is such an interesting list! Thank you for sharing! You are a real inspiration! I love your blog!! <3
    I've been in Syria, France, Germany and now in Saudi Arabia from 3 years. I have recently created my blog which is mainly on Riyadh and my everyday life here, You can all check my new and simple blog here :

    http://thoughts-notes.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/ThoughtsNotesAboutRiyadh/?ref=settingsReplyCancel

  • A happy daughter in South KoreaOctober 9, 2016 - 10:40 am

    Dear dad do not worry for us, I have read the news in Saudi Gazette today that we have left our corrupt country Saudi Arabia.

    A country run by corrupt police and corrupt religious police, just to let you know and bastards, corrupt, coward, and corrupt officials, we hate our society, culture, which has nothing to do with our religion, South korean people are very nice and I love there culture, I know you hate me and my friend is your about too, both the families look at us as if it was a sin that we were born, although our brothers are useless, ignorant, stupid, think head, always looking into porn movies and pasing bad comments about girls, and see them only as sex slaves, which Islam do we have in Saudia, a self imposed corrupt and distort form of religion has been made only for the royals and Sauds. We have studied Quran, and we have more rights, but our society is highly corrupt, I know so many boys are involved in adultery and so many uncles travel to europe or Thailand just to have sex with other women, majority of men cheat on there wifves, you know how saudis and our young generation drink alcohols and want to have sex with women without marriage, I see Saudis people as they most dirty and sick mind people having no respect for women, I can assure you, many girls and womens/aunties also hate the life but they dont have the courage to raise there voices, and still sleep with a corrupt husband, I have seen movies installed from hiddencameras at home, how husbands cheat on maids and then get them deported after having sex with them, I know more than 20 people , whose movie we have seen, our society is the most corrut society hidden under the veil of Islam, and nobody is punished here by the royals, and this crime is spreading like a cancer, i know Allah will soon punish us if we do not change, as as are Arabs and Muslims, I have not done anything wrong, but ran away from corrupt society, so myself and my friend we dont become a victom, and our husband doesn’t use us as a whore and sleeps with european or american girls.
    Please do not contact me.ReplyCancel

    • Arabian LauraOctober 9, 2016 - 6:07 pm

      Interesting that according to your ip address you are in UK, not South Korea.ReplyCancel

  • NurOctober 26, 2016 - 12:52 am

    AssalamualaikumReplyCancel

  • NoorOctober 27, 2016 - 6:29 pm

    I am writing this as a salute to Saudi Arabia which is the most peaceful and blessed land in the world today. Those who complain and complain, why don’t they pack and just go back. Why are they staying here and enjoying all the luxeries and still complaining. What ingratitude.ReplyCancel

  • Fazeela IbrahimOctober 27, 2016 - 8:03 pm

    Hey! Its good to see a lot of inspiring blogs. Myself Fazeela started blogging over at http://www.mommyinarabia.com/ around 3 months ago!ReplyCancel

  • Armanda HoseNovember 8, 2016 - 9:28 am

    You ought to experience a contest personally with the finest blogs on-line. I’m going to suggest this page!ReplyCancel

  • meskie sprawyNovember 8, 2016 - 8:31 pm

    Hello I am so fpfoggd thrilled I found your blog page, I really found you by mistake, while I was researching on Bing for something else, Anyways I am here now and would just like to say thanks a lot for a incredible post and a all round exciting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read it all at the moment but I have bookmarked it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a lot more, Please do keep up the excellent work.ReplyCancel

  • […] 20 Blogs From Saudi Arabia You Should Be Reading In 2016 (blueabaya.com) […]ReplyCancel

  • aadilaNovember 27, 2017 - 2:16 pm

    Thank you for sharing so many blogs and can u tell me can I post my blog on your website?ReplyCancel

  • SangeethaJanuary 3, 2018 - 2:31 pm

    Great list. I have recently started blogging. Hoping to make to this list.

    https://straightfromgarden.com/ReplyCancel

  • Md Fazal RahmanJanuary 15, 2018 - 3:56 pm

    i read your bloglist it is very imperssive and helpful for me thanks fir sharing articles and please support me sirReplyCancel

  • […] To find out more about life in Saudi Arabia, you can access some other great blogs here. […]ReplyCancel

  • Saudi ArabiaMay 10, 2018 - 2:29 pm

    Great list! Saudi Arabia is a very special destination and this list of blogs about the country will help travelers a lot.ReplyCancel

  • OwaisMay 19, 2018 - 1:16 pm

    I am a regular reader of (https://www.khaleejtimes.com/region/saudi-arabia) am not at all interested in reading such blogs.ReplyCancel

  • shady ahmedJuly 5, 2018 - 11:09 am

    I am writing this as a salute to Saudi Arabia which is the most peaceful and blessed land in the world today. Those who complain and complain, why don’t they pack and just go back. Why are they staying here and enjoying all the luxeries and still complaining. What ingratitude.Reply
    ReplyCancel

  • itaJuly 15, 2018 - 4:23 am

    hi my name is ita i live in saudi arabia and i just kick started my own blog …you are an inspiration laura, kindly checkout my blog
    https://totallyafrican.blogspot.com/ReplyCancel

  • Jabir AhmadSeptember 5, 2018 - 3:07 pm

    This is Jabir Ahmad
    i live in Saudi Arabia and blogging about Sales techniques, Marketing tips and many more. kindly checkout my blog
    http://jabirahmad.com/ReplyCancel

  • InfratechSeptember 11, 2018 - 2:26 pm

    Nice information thanks for sharing these information…ReplyCancel

  • Farhan KhanSeptember 30, 2018 - 1:37 pm

    Nice Article..ReplyCancel

  • Ailsa lenaOctober 15, 2018 - 1:48 pm

    Thanks for sharing useful blogs..ReplyCancel

    • Bilal IzharDecember 19, 2018 - 1:09 pm

      Nice Articles thanks for sharingReplyCancel

  • Shayne HaridasJuly 29, 2019 - 2:58 pm

    Hey Laura,

    If you think my blog is worth the cut, I would be honoured to be featured!

    https://foodwithshayne.com/

    Shayne
    @foodwithshayneReplyCancel

  • Shajee FareediOctober 3, 2019 - 11:30 am

    Very informative article and helpful tips
    Thanks for the informationReplyCancel

  • Shajee FareediNovember 14, 2019 - 3:00 am

    I love this blog, very effectively blog and useful for Saudi Arabia.
    Thanks for the information about Saudia newsReplyCancel

  • Navveed AzizFebruary 18, 2020 - 3:27 pm

    It would be great if you could share more your experience with us. However these blogs are awesome. ThanksReplyCancel

  • Dr JuveriaMarch 19, 2020 - 6:06 pm

    Hey Laura!!
    Love your blog and good to see many other inspiring blogs.

    I have started blogging 2 months back .. Hope everyone likes it .ReplyCancel

  • Dr JuveriaMarch 19, 2020 - 6:08 pm

    My blog https://riyadhmommy.com/ .. .Everything related to mom and child healthcare, lifestyle in Saudi ArabiaReplyCancel

  • HaydenMay 28, 2020 - 8:16 am
  • Justin WattsJuly 8, 2020 - 1:33 pm

    Really Helpful!!!!!!!!!ReplyCancel

  • SitaraJanuary 7, 2021 - 2:52 pm

    Wonderful and Informative post about Saudia. Thanks a lot for Sharing!ReplyCancel

Have you ever tried golfing in the desert? Ever been to the beautiful desert during the spring time when even the Red Sand dunes are in full bloom after the winter rains? How about a leisurely walk or a sweat inducing run in the desert with fellow expats? Or a picnic to a hidden desert lake?

Spring is the best time to head out for some hiking and camping trips just outside Riyadh. Check out all the desert treks from Riyadh I’ve written about by going to this page: Off the Beaten Path Saudi Arabia.

If you’re feeling too hot for outdoor activities,  you can always visit and art gallery or musuem and stay cool. Read some suggestions below on things to do in Riyadh during spring time (around March-April).

Here’s a list of some suggested activities for those in Riyadh this March. Most of the listed outdoor activities could be done in other months too but they are at their best during the spring. ARTICLE UPDATED FOR 2018!

1. Visit the International Riyadh Book Fair. The fair starts normally in the first week of March and runs around two weeks, open daily from 10 am to 10 pm at the Riyadh International Exhibition Center. There is an English books section, a female only area and an excellent children’s book and activity area. Guide to the Book Fair found here: Riyadh International Book Fair. UPDATE Riyadh International Book Fair open in 2018 dates 14th-24th March 

pink desert flower

2. Go to the desert! Saudi springtime is almost over, now is the time to see the desert in full bloom and the weather is not too hot yet. Easy to reach, even with two wheel drives are the Red Sands area on Mecca highway and Thumamah sand dunes and park in the North. For further expeditions out of the city try the King’s ForestRawdhat Khuraim, Red Sands Flower Fields, For seasonal desert lakes try Lake Kharrarah. If you haven’t visited yet, now would be a great time see the Edge of the World in Riyadh!

field of desert flowers outside Riyadh

3. Visit the National Museum.  A fascinating time travel experience on the Arabian Peninsula starting from hundreds of millions of years ago when oil was formed, traveling forward in time through seven exhibition halls until modern day Saudi Arabia. The National Museum will keep you occupied for hours!

Around the museum you will find lovely parks and fountains perfect for a stroll or picnic. Don’t miss the Murabba palace nearby, where King Abdulaziz used to live. National Musuem is now open open daily 8 am – 8 pm except Fridays 4 pm onward.  Museum Guide here: Riyadh’s National Museum 

 4. Visit a compound function. For the expat ladies in Riyadh there are monthly coffee mornings in compounds such as Kingdom, Seder village, Cordoba, and Nakhla compound among many others. Kingdom compound has the largest ladies bazaar in Riyadh, organized every first Monday of the month. There are also bazaars and crafts markets aimed at families which are held outdoors, like the recent ‘The Gathering’ held at Bujairy Square. Al Nakhla compound hosts concerts and buffet theme nights at their Majdoool restaurant. To keep up to date with these events don’t forget to subscribe to Blue Abaya email updates! You can find the form at the end of this post. Like Blue Abaya on Facebook to stay tuned to event updates.

5. Go watch the horse races at Riyadh Equestrian Club. Located next to the Janadriyah village, the Riyadh Equestrian Club is open and free entrance for all. Races start after Asr on Fridays. There’s singles, family and a VIP sections. You can rent your own room complete with private service and brunch included, no abaya needed! Last race for 2018 season 24 th March. Check out this post for more info on the horse races: http://www.nzpounamu.com/2012/04/horse-racing-in-riyadh.html 

King Abdulaziz race track in Janadriyah

6. Learn to golf or watch (or participate in!) a golf tournament. The Dirab Golf & Country Club is one of the most beautiful of golf courses in Riyadh and they often have gold tournaments in the spring. Some of the other golf courses are Riyadh Greens Gold Club, Intercontinental Hotel Palms golf course, Arizona compound golf course. Dirab golf club is worth visiting because it has stunning scenery, a nice restaurant, swimming pools and horse stables with beautiful Arabian horses. More pics and info here: http://gavinlee.travellerspoint.com/8/

7. Go to a concert. April is the Europe Month in Riyadh and the various European embassies hold concerts and other cultural events. Check out Facebook page for the schedules and info. King Fahad Cultural center has free concerts almost every week. The Riyadh Music Society organizes concerts in Riyadh, they will be posted on the Blue Abaya facebook page- make sure you’ve liked and followed the page!

8. Desert hiking with expats Check out Riyadh HHH group. You can always enjoy the walking track at Diplomatic Quarter instead. Walk, run or cycle around the 20 km long path. (ladies can join and don’t need abaya!) More info on how to do that here. 

Join the Riyadh Road Runners! The running season continues until end of April and all levels of runners are welcome to participate. They have regular 10k runs, more info on their website: http://riyadhroadrunners.com/index.html.

9. Visit Musmak Fort. Open all day from 8 am to 8 pm.  Free entry. Friday’s open after Asr prayer.
10. Go to an Art exhibition of Saudi artists. Lots of art galleries in Riyadh frequently host exhibitions. Check out: Naila art gallery, SAMA Art hub, LAM Art gallery, Areej Art cafe, Hewar art gallery, L’art Pur and many others. You’ll find them all on instagram and can follow their updates on the latest expos there .
11. Go fishing at a hidden desert lake. On some years after heavy rains lakes form in various areas of the desert valleys. Check out Shoaib Luha pools, Salbuk dam and lake, Wadi Namar and Riyadh River.
Secret Lake february 2016
12. Visit a heritage village. The Ushaiger Heritage village is a lovely place to visit for a half day trip, about 1,5h drive from Riyadh. Close by the Raghbah village has a more rustic feel and hasn’t been restored like its neighbor. The crown jewel of Saudi heritage villages, At Turaif in Historical Diriyah is still closed for the huge restoration project. In the meanwhile the adjacent Al Bujairy square is open and bustling with things to do and see. Read more about what you can do there in this post. 
diriyah historical city of saudi arabia
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  • mominsanityMarch 5, 2012 - 10:44 am

    These sound fascinating – I really am interested in desert trips and the book fair!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMarch 6, 2012 - 6:00 am

    hi, thanx for the information.im new here and want to go the craftsmarket at najdi and the bazaar at jadawel. do you have any info as to locations and timings? is najdi compound the one in ghirnata? fantastic blog by the way!ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousMarch 6, 2012 - 6:03 am

    hi, thanx for the information.im new here and want to go the craftsmarket at najdi and the bazaar at jadawel. do you have any info as to locations and timings? is najdi compound the one in ghirnata? fantastic blog by the way!
    Umm saalihReplyCancel

  • LaylahMarch 7, 2012 - 12:36 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyCancel

  • swedemomMarch 8, 2012 - 7:22 pm

    Thanks for the info. I’m new to the Kindgom, so this was very helpful!ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 11, 2012 - 1:35 am

      swedemom-you’re welcome nice to see you around!ReplyCancel

  • FarooqMarch 10, 2012 - 7:49 pm

    Hello Laylah,

    I know that this isnt the place to ask but I do not know how to contact you. If I do offend you then I do apologize for it. I thought since you know Riyadh so well, maybe you knew something about what I wanted to ask. Anyway here goes..

    I wanted to know whether Riyadh has a spa for babies…you know the kind where babies can swim around in small pools. My two month old son absolutely loves swimming and while he was in Singapore, he had enough chances to have a swim. Was wondering if any such thing is available in Riyadh.ReplyCancel

    • LaylahMarch 11, 2012 - 1:38 am

      Farooq-No worries, of course you can ask!
      You have a good question, i might like to go to one with our baby as well!
      The only one that comes to my mind is the DQ recreation center pool which has kiddy pools,baby pools and a wave pool! You would have to buy the annual membership to enter and it’s open from May until September only.

      P.s you can find my email on the contacts tab.ReplyCancel

    • FarooqMarch 11, 2012 - 4:19 am

      Thanks for the info, will check that out.

      Stupid me, I was checking for the contacts tab at the bottom of the page rather than the top lol.ReplyCancel

  • AnonymousJune 10, 2012 - 1:44 pm

    Dear Traveller,

    I will be staying in Riyadh for only few days and would really really love go around the city to show my friends the beauty of the country.

    Unfortunately my travelling partners are females and they are afraid to go out. I saw my male colleagues who been to Riyadh and had taken so many beautiful pictures themselves (very jealous).

    Do you have any recommendation for a trustworthy tour company I can join the package?ReplyCancel

  • ory nellaApril 29, 2013 - 1:26 pm

    Hey thank you for the info! I’m new to Riyadh and I’m a fashion designer. I would like to know if by any chance you know when there will be an upcoming proper fashion exhibition? In a hotel maybe? And is there a website that informs us about all the coffee mornings and events?

    Thank you

    http://www.demariafashion.com
    Info@demariafashion.comReplyCancel

  • Muhammad NomanFebruary 20, 2014 - 9:38 am

    Dear Your Website is fascinating and have lot of information
    i am living in riyadh and want to know places to go where expats are present specifically barb q in desert area and camel racing to see with family
    please let me know how to manage these events with family and feasible times and location
    waiting for your reply thank youReplyCancel

    • LaylaFebruary 20, 2014 - 3:35 pm

      Hello Mohammad, thank you and please check the FAQ section for more info!ReplyCancel

  • MannyFebruary 27, 2014 - 9:36 pm

    Hi, i’ve come across your wonderful informative site. i would like to join your weekend desert trek, with my family. Let me know when and where. Cheers.ReplyCancel

  • MannyFebruary 27, 2014 - 9:43 pm

    i think you should visit Nofa Resorts down south. the place is not fully open to the public but golf course is open and equestrian also. Though families aren’t allowed but you can set appointment for a see-through visit. That place is very nice, soon to open is the safari area.ReplyCancel

    • LaylaMarch 9, 2014 - 9:04 pm

      Thank you for the suggestion, been wanting to go there for a long time now.ReplyCancel

  • LaylaOctober 30, 2014 - 9:17 pm

    Hi! Yes there are some tour guides, try Haya tours and Amazing tours for starters :)ReplyCancel

    • EleeshaOctober 30, 2014 - 11:43 pm

      Thankk youu!! I will check with them :)ReplyCancel

  • 185 Things to Do in Saudi ArabiaDecember 5, 2014 - 4:09 am

    […]  16. 10 THINGS TO DO IN RIYADH DURING SPRING […]ReplyCancel

  • Khatuna TavartkiladzeDecember 16, 2014 - 6:19 am

    Are women allowed to attend the horse racing any Friday?ReplyCancel

    • LaylaDecember 17, 2014 - 12:36 am

      hi, yes women are always allowed, there is family section and singles section.ReplyCancel

  • […] things going on this month not to be missed!  For more things to do in Riyadh please check out 10 Things to Do in Riyadh in the Spring and the complete list of Things to do in Riyadh here. To keep up to date with new events and […]ReplyCancel

  • hadeelNovember 3, 2016 - 4:10 pm

    Please inform me with fun activities in riyadh compounds so I can register and catch upReplyCancel

  • Sony FugbanNovember 25, 2016 - 1:46 pm

    That deep blue lake is awesome. Looking forward to going there soon.

    Thanks for the info, Blue Abaya.ReplyCancel

  • […]  12 THINGS TO DO IN RIYADH DURING SPRING (blueabaya.com) […]ReplyCancel

  • AlaaDecember 9, 2017 - 12:02 pm

    A free invitation to the whole family members for escaping Riyadh routine: https://r3h4.godaddysites.com/ You can share it with your Relatives/Friends. I am sure someone will be happy to joinReplyCancel

    • Laura of ArabiaDecember 11, 2017 - 1:36 pm

      Thank you Alaa for this link! Glad to see HHH is up and running again and even with a website now, wow! Great job. ReplyCancel

I have some very exciting news, I’ve finally finished my first ever e-book, a guide to the Secret Lake! The Secret Lake is a seasonal lake in the middle of steep desert valleys just outside Riyadh. It’s the perfect picnic spot and because of its secluded location, the lake area has remained clean and thankfully crowds have not found this serene place. To protect the Secret Lake nature from being ruined by the masses I haven’t been comfortable about publishing its exact location publicly since I first wrote about it in 2012. 

The solution to being able to share with readers how to get there but not post the location publicly and risk ruining it for everyone was to write a guide-book about it. The guide contains up to date detailed instructions, maps and GPS coordinates of the location. 

UPDATE 2018: it appears that someone has has burned down the forest at Secret Lake, we found the trees and bushes all completely burned and gasoline bottles were scattered around. There’s also been an influx of visitors to the lake who have left behind their garbage and the current state of this lake is sadly no longer as it was before. I can no longer recommend to go there and have removed the Secret Lake ebook off the site.

secret lake ebook cover

I’m so excited about this project and extremely happy with the outcome of the book. It was a much longer and more complicated process to set everything up than I had anticipated. Since this was the first time, for me to write an ebook and publish it, and set up a way for people to download it, everything needed to be done from scratch. I hired someone to help me with the technical stuff because I wanted everything to go perfectly.

I had finished the cover design and the writing part of the book during my winter holiday in Finland, which I had based on three previous visits to the Secret Lake. However once we got back to Riyadh I thought to myself, I must give the lake one more visit before I publish the book, just in case something had drastically changed on the route or any other details that might have been left out. So the very next day after we returned to Riyadh we headed out to the Secret Lake. And boy was I happy that we did! I ended up rewriting almost the entire eBook according to what I saw.

 A lot of work needed to be done behind the scenes to set up a way for people to download the ebook. Things got complicated once we realized that my current wordpress theme, ProPhoto, doesn’t support the e-commerce plugin, (among a bunch of other things it doesn’t support!), so we had to set up a new custom sub domain and install & design another WordPress theme to host the ebook store. All in all this has been months of hard work which I put into the guide and I’m very proud of my first eBook, I think it looks awesome :) 

riyadh hidden gem lakeI noticed a lot of changes on the route to the lake, which have all been documented in detail in the guide. There’s a huge restoration and landscaping project ongoing in the Historical Diriyah and Wadi Hanifa area which is also extending toward the direction of the lake. So that had some effect on the route and then we noticed some more changes to the last, most difficult part of the road. We actually had to get out of the car to move rocks and pieces of tarmac around to pass some parts, but we managed to get to the lake in just under 25 minutes from Diplomatic Quarter.

And what a sight for sore eyes this lake is! It just gets more and more beautiful year after year because the lake reeds and greenery has expanded and grown. The lake on January 24th 2016 was full of clear water, in the deepest parts it’s probably 3-5 m depth. Hard to say exactly how many metres deep it is but we could see all the way to the bottom when the kids were throwing rocks, it takes some while to reach the bottom. The lake will stay full of water for another couple of months because it’s been a very chilly winter and the water has not had a chance to start evaporating.

We spotted all sorts of little critters and tiny fish in it too. The fish being there always amazes me, it’s the same strange phenomenon as in diplomatic quarter wadi pond, which is shallow but full of fish. I’ve seen big catfish in there and people fish there. I think maybe someone brought a few fish there at some point and they managed to multiply…or something! But yeah, you could definitely try your luck fishing at the Secret Lake too. Who knows what loch Ness monster relative is living in there lol

 

Secret lake reeds

The tall reeds at the end of Secret Lake

We went to the lake on a Friday and found the entire lake area void of visitors, which is of course great. It’s definitely still a well-kept secret location. I have never been comfortable publishing the GPS coordinates online because my blog has a large audience and reach, so it might be that had I done so years ago, this place would now be in a similar sad state of Lake Kharrarah, another seasonal lake outside Riyadh. Also things published online tend to be more easily shared and copied/republished without permission, so to prevent that from happening I created the eBook guide.

The Secret Lake was much larger than I had remembered, it’s probably about 800m in total length. Walking around the entire lake would likely take an hour or so. We found a small “beach” on the banks of the lake, a soft sand ledge perfect for a picnic or small campfire even.

Watch this clip from the beach:

After our January visit to the lake, I decided to rewrite the ebook so it would be as up to date as possible, so that’s another reason it has taken this long to get things ready. I took photos of signs on the roads and the path to illustrate the way more clearly in the instructions part. I’ve also made some maps to try show in best possible way how to find the lake.

This was such a positive experience creating this ebook that I’m really excited to write more guide books now! Especially to places and areas that I would not be so comfortable to post publicly about. It’s just too much of a risk because unspoiled spots are rare nowadays. Unfortunately not everyone who finds these posts online is a responsible, environmentally conscious person.

If you’d like to check out some of the posts I’ve written about other beautiful Desert locations and outdoor activities in Riyadh area:

Off the Beaten Path

Outdoor Activities

Things To Do in Riyadh

Discover Saudi Arabia

 

 

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  • NancyFebruary 15, 2016 - 11:43 am

    Thank you for this! We have been waiting for the book so we can go this year before we leave the Kingdom. can we camp the night there?ReplyCancel

    • joyceFebruary 17, 2016 - 12:08 pm

      I was wondering the same, is it safe for overnight camp out?ReplyCancel

    • Arabian LauraFebruary 17, 2016 - 11:21 pm

      Hi Nancy, thanks for the feedback. Regarding the camping at the lake, I think you could do it as long as you take all the necessary equipment with you and let someone know where you’re going to be camping at, so the normal precautions that would need to be taken anyway.
      There’s a nice spot with soft sand and a flat area where a tent would fit in nicely!ReplyCancel

  • BushraFebruary 15, 2016 - 2:20 pm

    Wow.i just read the ebook.Its so complete. They way you have described every little detail is really awsome :-). I am so planning to visit it soon :-) thanks a lotReplyCancel

    • Arabian LauraFebruary 18, 2016 - 3:15 pm

      Thank you Bushra for the feedback on the Secret Lake book! I put a lot of effort into making it as detailed as possible so I’m pleased to hear you noticed this. Let me know when you visit and send pics please :)ReplyCancel

  • FatimaFebruary 22, 2016 - 2:57 pm

    Hello! I’ve been reading ur articles and find them very interesting. I also live in Saudi and I’m surprised to see that in ur pictures (for example in the desert) women are not wearing abayas and I remember u writing something about spending time on the beach in Jeddah. I live in Jeddah and but I have never seen anything like this. We’ve been visiting the northern area but women swam by wearing abaya so I wouldn’t call it an actual beach life lol. I don’t know any expats here so is it really true that foreigners have their own “rules” and places to hang out?ReplyCancel

    • Arabian LauraFebruary 23, 2016 - 5:53 pm

      Hi Fatima!

      yes it’s true there are places in Jeddah where women take their abayas off. Most are for expats only- no Saudis allowed. There’s one beach resort in Jeddah which is for Saudis and women are in their bikinis there. Being there does not seem like KSA at all, it’s a very upscale beach resort.ReplyCancel

      • FatimaFebruary 24, 2016 - 1:01 pm

        Thank you for ur answer. Is this Jeddah’s “Saudis” beach resort only for ladies or is it mixed, could u also tell me the name plz?ReplyCancel

  • FatimaFebruary 22, 2016 - 8:34 pm

    Hello! I find ur articles interesting since I’m also living in Saudi. I saw some of ur pics taken in the desert and the women weren’t wearing abayas. I also remember u wrote something about going to the beach in Jeddah. I live in Jeddah and I have never hear anythingReplyCancel

  • Sans Abaya in Saudi » Blue AbayaFebruary 23, 2016 - 7:05 pm

    […] most beautiful and secluded place around Riyadh would be the Secret Lake. Women can remove abaya and walk around the lake or climb up the hills for spectacular views. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] 2. Go to the desert! Saudi springtime is almost over, now is the time to see the desert in full bloom and the weather is not too hot yet. Easy to reach, even with two wheel drives are the Red Sands area on Mecca highway and Thumamah sand dunes and park in the North. For further expeditions out of the city try the King’s Forest, Rawdhat Khuraim, Red Sands Flower Fields, For seasonal desert lakes try Lake Kharrarah or The Secret Lake.  […]ReplyCancel

  • ShayeeApril 23, 2016 - 8:50 am

    The Secret Lake

    When I first read about this “hidden gem” I remember telling my husband ” a large body of water in Riyadh,we have to go and see it!!” After inquiring and learning about the ebook I thought hmmm do we really have to purchase an ebook to find this lake? After receiving the ebook we realized that it is impossible to get to this lake without the directions that are carefully detailed in this handy ebook, simple gps co ordinates would not suffice in finding this location!!! In following the directions to the T we came to a point about 1.5km from the secret lake, at this point we could not drive any further as the road was flooded by the recent rains and it was impossible to drive through it, we parked our cars,took whatever we could manage to carry and decided to brave the walk. We had no access to a pathway and had to climb up an embankment and walk along a path to get to the other side, the climb up was a bit tricky as there were many loose rocks but once we got to the other side, it was an easy walk along a flowing river.The sound of the water trickling with birds chirping in the background was music to our ears…. The children’s eyes lit up when they saw the flowing streams and immediately ran to play in the water.We decided to picnic and barbecue about 800 meters away from the lake…. An area which is normally a road to the lake itself,but now a pathway of a flowing river and shaded by trees.

    The lake is filled with a lot of water, beautiful reeds, birdlife, it’s so quiet and peaceful….. And it’s clean!!!!

    I would definitely recommend a visit to the Secret Lake, if you have little kids now would be a good time as they can play in the streams, the lake is deep so on any other day without the flowing river and streams they’d not be able to play in the water, I would recommend that you go in a group, it is a bit isolated so for your comfort it’s better to go In a bigger group. Ladies can remove their abayas and soak up some vitamin D.

    Please clean up, and be sure to leave the lake as you found it!!! If you decide to go during this week please do not attempt to drive through the water as we witnessed a car trying to do this and ended with their car flooding and they ended up on the roof!

    Have fun and be sure to visit soonReplyCancel

  • The Secret Lake » Blue AbayaApril 23, 2016 - 9:10 am

    […] to keep it so the coordinates and map will not be published publicly. You can however purchase the Secret Lake Guide eBook, if you want to visit the lake. It contains all the necessary coordinates, directions and maps to […]ReplyCancel

    • RizwanApril 23, 2016 - 11:26 am

      Hi I am trying to purchase e-book, but following is the error msg

      Your purchase couldn’t be completed

      Error Message

      This invoice has already been paid. For more information, please contact the merchant.ReplyCancel

      • Arabian LauraApril 24, 2016 - 5:14 pm

        Rizwan I have been trying to reach you via email can you please check your emails?ReplyCancel

  • SApril 27, 2016 - 9:16 pm

    Hi, just wanted you to know that although it did take me longer than I imagined to get my husband to agree to get up at 6.30 on Friday and head to the Secret Lake, we finally made it this past Friday!!
    THANKYOU so much for the clear details and directions in the book along with the wonderful photographs. The roads were flooded, due to the heavy rains during the week but we met an incredibly kind and helpful Yemani man who managed one of the farms, he waded through the water in front of the car and directed my husband as far along the “road” as possible before we had to leave the car. He then proceeded to lead us through a farm, over a wall and down an embankment to the lake and insisted we go for chai also!
    We loved every minute of our time there and apart from our kind guide we did not see one other human while there, which was just perfect.
    We spent hours just walking, sitting, talking,listening to the birds and looking for fossils so thank you so much for both the book and teaching us about the location of the lake.

    My husband is Saudi and he never knew about the existence of this place….I have a feeling it will be the first of many visits!!ReplyCancel

  • Arabian LauraApril 28, 2016 - 11:27 am

    There is a developer that is fixing a problem with the ecommerce site. I have asked him about this and he said today will be resolved. the whole week I’m trying to fix the issue. Sorry for the inconvenience! Your ebook payment did go through and the download link should have been sent to your email. Please confirm the same?ReplyCancel

    • EsamApril 28, 2016 - 11:41 am

      Thank you. The payment did go through and I have downloaded your very elaborate guide.ReplyCancel

  • Helmy AlhawaryMay 2, 2016 - 5:55 am

    Thanks for the useful information. I have an educational English group on facebook. Today’s topic in my group is about the biggest cities in the world. I’m going to use some of the information here.ReplyCancel

  • […] known amazing place in Saudi Arabia is this Riyadh Hidden Gem: The Secret Lake For more amazing places to see in Saudi Arabia click here! Experienced and adventurous […]ReplyCancel

Guest post by book addict, literary consultant and blogger Sumaiyya Naseem! Sumaiyya is a bookworm and reading enthusiast from Jeddah and I’ve been following her awesome Sumaiyya books Instagram account for ages. I’m always in awe (and admittedly a bit jealous too) of how she has the time to consume all the great books she posts about. I asked Sumaiyya to share with us her top recommended books from the Middle East.

The following is her top 15 book choices written by authors from the Middle East region. I loved this list and found so many great book recommendations I can’t wait to get a hold of some of these gems. Have you read any of them? My personal favorite from the ones I’ve read on this list is A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. What’s yours?

Here’s Sumaiyyah’s tip for finding these books for readers living in Saudi Arabia: “Some of the books are available in Jarir bookstore and Virgin (usually), but it’s best to order them from Amazon (they ship to Saudi post where people can pick it up) or Book Depository (free shipping). 

 

15 MUST READ BOOKS by Middle Eastern AuthorsMust Read Books By Arab/Middle-Eastern Authors

“Once in a while there are readers who realise they have limited themselves to a particular genre or literary comfort zone. So they decide to read diverse genres or explore various cultures through literature. In the middle of ‘Read More Books by People of Color’ what is often overshadowed is remarkable works by Arab or Middle Eastern authors.

So, here are some of the best books by Middle Eastern authors that you should definitely check out!

 

1.  The Bastard of Istanbul
Bastard of Istanbul 
by Elif Shafak

A mysterious family curse, a clairvoyant and her jinns, and two young women at the heart of it all. This is a beautiful, powerful book with strong female characters, a lot of history and family secrets. It also has its fair share of young intellectuals (in Café Kundera of all places) and the search for identity and heritage. The Bastard of Istanbul is definitely a must read and a wonderful introduction into the world of Elif Shafak.

“That was the one thing about the rain that likened it to sorrow: You did your best to remain untouched, safe and dry, but if and when you failed, there came a point in which you started seeing the problem less in terms of drops than as an incessant gush, and thereby you decide you might as well get drenched.”

The Bastard of Istanbul-TOP 15 Books by M.E Authors

 

2. The Forty Rules of Love: A Novel of Rumi
Elif Shafak

Rumi lovers this is the book for you. It spans two eras in time – the time of Rumi and Ella’s story in present day England – connected through the story of Shams of Tabriz. You will want to take your time with this book and you will definitely enjoy it. The Forty Rules of Love is woven with Shams’ wisdom and Ella’s rediscovery of her Self and love.

“The words that come out of our mouths do not vanish but are perpetually stored in infinite space, and they will come back to us in due time.”

40 Rules of Love-15 Must Read Books by Middle Eastern Authors

 

3.    The Museum of Innocence  by Orhan Pamuk

This is a beautiful book but it is filled with despair and sadness. Kemal falls in love with a shop girl while he’s engaged to be married. What follows is Kemal’s obsession with collecting anything that reminds him of her and their time together. Orhan Pamuk wrote this masterpiece after winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. But the book doesn’t end with its pages. There is an actual Museum of Innocence curated by the writer which contains every item that is mentioned in the book.

“It was the happiest moment of my life, though I didn’t know it. Had I known, had I cherished this gift, would everything have turned out differently?”

 

4.  Mornings in Jenin: A Novel by Susan Abulhawa

Mornings in Jenin- Top 15 of the Best Books by Middle Eastern Authors

This is easily one of the best books I’ve read, especially in terms of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. It spans four generations and five countries and it captures the sudden shift in the lives of the people of Palestinian and how it affected the generations to come. In the heart of it all there is love, loss and the struggle of living with memories of the past.

We come from the land, give our love and labor to her, and she nurtures us in return. When we die, we return to the land. In a way, she owns us. Palestine owns us and we belong to her.”

 

 

5.  An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine

Told through the eyes of an ‘obsessive introvert’ Aliyah, an old unmarried woman in a society that shuns women like her. Aliyah finds solace in her solitude and most of all through her love for the written word; every year Aliyah translates one of her favourite books intro Arabic. The book begins with an old woman turning her hair blue after she overhears her neighbours commenting about the whiteness of her hair, and when it ends it leaves us deeply satisfied and wiser than we were before. This is a must read and the book that made me feel like I was ignorant when it came to literature.

“No loss is felt more keenly than the loss of what might have been. No nostalgia hurts as much as nostalgia for things that never existed.”

An Unnecessary Woman- 15 Must Read books From the Middle East

 

6.   The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf: A Novel by Mohja Kahf

The Girl in The Tangerine Scarf-Must read 15 books from ME Here’s another must-read for young Muslims, especially those growing up in the West and those who are unable to define their identity. It’s a powerful book that will help you understand the difficulties of living in a non-Muslim community, and it will also help you appreciate the beauty and diversity of our Muslim community. Never before was a book so powerfully close to home for me.

“…Her eyes sparkle like she’s about to cartwheel through a mosque.”

 

 

7.   Secret Son by Laila Lalami

Youssef Al Makki lives in a one-room house with his Mom. His father is dead and he daydreams about leaving struggles behind by entering the world of acting and films. That’s until the day he comes face to face with the father he thought was dead. Now he is pulled into the world of the rich where his father is a powerful businessman. Youssef suddenly has everything he ever wanted but he is forced to choose between the comfort of luxury and the life that was once completely his. Another must read that exposes the search for identity in a tumultuous world.

“His anger took many shapes: sometimes soft and familiar, like a round stone he had caressed for so long that is was perfectly smooth and polished; sometimes it was thin and sharp like a blade that could slice through anything; sometimes it had the form of a star, radiating his hatred in all directions, leaving him numb and empty inside.”

Secret Son by Laila Lalami-The Top 15 Books by Middle Eastern Authors

 

8.  Love in a Headscarf by Shelna Zahra Janmohamed

This a wonderful book that follows the story of Shelina who has decided to go for an arranged marriage the Muslim way. She has given up her hopes of marrying John Travolta and is now searching for the One and in her journey she ends up discovering herself and her faith. This book will answer your questions, speak for the troubles you might face and guide you towards your own faith.

“Poetry is designed to inspire love, and islam is about falling in love with the creator of the universe.”

 

9.  One Thousand and One Nights: A Retelling by Hanan Al Shaykh
This is a bold retelling of the famous Arabian Nights tales of the One Thousand and One Nights. It’s dream-like, magical and yet aimed for adults. It’s quitean interesting read and definitely a must read considering it’s one of the first takes on the literary heritage by a woman.

“A truth once seen by a single mind ends up by imposing itself on the totality of human consciousness.”

1001 One Thousand and One Nights by Hanan Al Shaykh- Best Books From The Middle East

 

10. Lyrics Alley: A Novel by Leila Aboulela

Based on the story of the writer’s uncle, Hassan Awad Aboulela a famous poet of the 1950s, this story follows the events that lead to a family in turmoil. It’s a great book that will introduce you to Sudanese history and culture, told through the love story of Nur and Soraya.

The sweetest things in life were not necessarily what one strove for and grabbed. Instead, many many times the All-Merciful, the All-Generous would give His servants without being petitioned, without waiting to be asked.”

 

11. Coloured Lights by Leila Aboulela

The eleven stories in this short story collection will help you understand the struggles that Muslim immigrants face in Britain. It’s a wonderful book in which the writer puts difficult feelings into simple words and showcases the reality of life.

“And why is it that so many years later it is so easy to distinguish the bullies from their prey? Adult bodies surrounding the children of long ago. The years have changed nothing.”

 

12. The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami

This historical fiction is a Pulitzer Prize Finalist and definitely deserves to be on the list. It’s an imagined memoir of the first black explorer of American, a Moroccan slave Mustafa al-Zamori. Mustafa’s narrative gives a different perspective of the famous expedition across America.

“A name is precious; it carries inside it a language, a history, a set of traditions, a particular way of looking at the world. Losing it meant losing my ties to all those things too.”

The Moors account Laila Lalami- 15 Must Read Books by Middle Eastern Authors

 

13.  A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Even people who don’t read books often know about this gem by Khaled Hosseini. Female solidarity, surviving under abusive patriarchy and an unstable political scene give this novel its voice. The book is an example of brilliant storytelling, memorable characters and amazing evolution of solidarity from the seed of hatred. Mariam and Laila will forever be the best female characters created by Hosseini.

“A man’s heart is a wretched, wretched thing. It isn’t like a mother’s womb. It won’t bleed. It won’t stretch to make room for you.”

 

14. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

This is another beautiful story by the famed Afghani author and it was also turned into a movie. It depicts the change in Afghanistan as a result of political conflict through the stories of two best friends who are pulled apart after a life changing incident during a kite flying competition.

“It’s wrong what they say about the past, I’ve learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out.”

 

15. The Map of Love: A Novel by Ahdaf Soueif

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, it’s the story about a divorced American journalist who falls in love with an Egyptian-American conductor. She goes to Egypt and into her past to understand and discover the story of her ancestors – Sharif and Anna – who had fallen in love nearly a century ago. This is a wonderful read about love across cultures.

“But things move on and by the time you’ve plotted your position the world around you has changed and you are running -panting- to catch up.”

 

See any of your favourites?! Here are a few more titles for your interest!

 

Other must reads by Arab authors:

1.  The Blue Between Sky and Water by Susan Abulhawa

2.   The Architect’s Apprentice: A Novel by Elif Shafak

3.   Honor: A Novel by Elif Shafak

4.    My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk

5.   The Hakawati by Rabih Alameddine

6.   The Dove’s Necklace: A Novel by Raja Alem

7.    Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi

8.  And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

9.   Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

10. Only in London by Hanan Al Shaykh

11. The New Belly Dancer of the Galaxy: A Novel by Francis Khirallah Noble

 

Sumaiyya Naseem is an English Literature senior at Effat University. She’s a reading enthusiast, writer, blogger and an independent literary consultant. Sumaiyya is also a member of The Literary Girls book club in Jeddah and is the Editor in Chief of two student magazines at Effat University: Ethos and Effateez.
Follow her on Instagram: Sumaiyya.books 
Check out her blog: Sumayyah Reads
You can email her atsumaiyyanaseem@gmail.com
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  • Nathalie Dietz MathetFebruary 3, 2016 - 8:05 am

    Wonderful list of books ! I’ve read most and, as you say, they are must reads however, Orhan Pamuk and Elif Shafak are Turkish and Marjan Satrapi is Persian, not Arab. Another great book by Elif Shafak is The Architect’s Apprentice.ReplyCancel

  • Alixianna NormandeauFebruary 8, 2016 - 5:18 am

    Great post!ReplyCancel

  • begümJune 9, 2016 - 6:56 pm

    “Other must reads by Arab authors” Orham Pamuk and Elif Şafak are Turkish authors, and Marjane Satrapi is Iranian. They aren’t Arabs…ReplyCancel

  • Kathleen HerndonJune 21, 2016 - 8:17 pm

    See my comment immediately after the list of titles and following the most recent respnse.ReplyCancel

  • Sally ProsserJune 24, 2016 - 12:03 pm

    Interesting list although amazed that Amin Malouf does not feature. The Rock of Tanios is a great insight into the region and its history and well as a compelling read. I would also add The House of the Mosque by Kader Abdolah set in the time of the Iranian revolution – a must read.ReplyCancel

  • SurayaSeptember 13, 2016 - 7:21 pm

    Can’t wait to read some of the books on the list! Thanks. I’ve recently discovered an American author of middle eastern descent, Nadia Hashimi. I thoroughly enjoyed her two books namely ‘The pearl that broke its shell’ and ‘When the moon is low’. A third book is to be released imminently.ReplyCancel

  • Kausar ShMarch 26, 2019 - 5:06 pm

    Thank you very much for the suggestion! I am a someone who is captivated by the Arab Novels. An i highly reccomend to visit my country,Mongolia.ReplyCancel

Believe it or not, it gets cold enough in Saudi Arabia for wearing winter coats! Although admittedly, for a Finn such as myself, the +24C temperatures feel more like the perfect summers day weather, whereas in Saudi Arabia you will start seeing people in wool coats around then. Did you know that in Saudi-Arabia’s Northern areas it sometimes snows during the winter?Riyadh winter coat weather

The traditional Saudi winter coats, the farwa and the bisht, come especially handy when out in the desert where temperatures can quickly drop close to freezing after the sun has set.

A Bisht is a traditional Saudi cloak which is normally seen worn over the thobe at important occasions and celebrations such as weddings. These bishts are a very thin, sheer fabric. There’s also a type of winter Bisht made of thicker fabric perfect for the Saudi winter.

A Farwa is an even warmer and thicker winter coat, especially great to wear out to desert camping trips. Whereas the Bisht fabric is normally more rough to touch, the Farwas are soft and snuggly. Some farwas are incredibly heavy and thick, I swear you could wear these out to an expedition of Antarctica and survive!

BISHT SOUK riyadh

The two best places to find these coats in Riyadh are the Al Owais souk and the Bisht souk (which I just coined btw) in Deerah.

I actually bought some Bisht and farwa for myself and family as gifts, which I’m going to take with me to our winter holiday in Finland! This also means the Saudi farwa will be going through vigorous testing in extreme Finnish winter weather conditions, ya’ll. I promise to report back how they perform. You can check out some pics from our previous winter holiday in Lapland here.

The Farwa coats range in price depending on where they are made (KSA vs abroad) and what materials have been used. Farwa Handmade in Saudi Arabia will cost more but is also harder to find. The most expensive ones will have the real lamb skin as lining and can go up to 2500 riyal in price such as the below examples of an exceptionally high quality Bisht found at the Bisht Souq in Deerah.

Handmade farwa with lamb

Farwa Handmade in Saudi Arabia

Blue and pink Bisht

The Bisht souk in Deerah has better selection of winter Bisht in different colorful designs, all handmade from natural materials.

Bisht souk Riyadh

baby farwa in Al Owais souk

baby farwa in Al Owais souk

pink girl farwa

This is what they tried to sell as ‘farwa for girls’ at Owais souk. Doesn’t look very traditional to me..

pink bisht

This pink bisht is now mine :)

Deerah souk

Tips for buying a farwa or bisht:

1. Always bargain from the price given and then bargain again. If the price doesn’t move then move your business to the next shop and you will see how the prices suddenly drop.

2. Find out where the coat is made and what materials were used, always support local produce if possible.

3. Try it on! Don’t be shy even if you’re a woman to try the coat on top of your abaya. I have bought several traditional farwa for myself in the “men’s” style. They are way more attractive and better quality than the ones aimed at female customers and quite frankly I don’t care if people think I’m wearing a “man’s coat”.  You will find with the gold trims and embroidery some men’s designs are actually quite feminine.

4. The farwa and Bisht are both supposed to be very lose when worn so you can wrap it around, so don’t buy one that’s too small, the sleeves will be too short.

5. Check prices from several shops before buying to see the price range.

6. They have sizes for babies and toddlers too, don’t pay more than 100sr for those.

7. Yes a woman can wear a Bisht and farwa too. You will love it.

8. If you like the Bisht size but it’s too long they can normally fix this for you on the spot at the Bisht souk, they have many tailors there, expect to pay around 20 sr for adjustments.

9. For the cheapest, thin version of farwa which are usually made in India you will expect to pay from 100-300 riyal. The thicker and the more decoration it has the more it will cost.

10. The farwas don’t have buttons, you’re supposed to wrap it around and hold it closed with one hand. The bishts will have strings to close it lightly.

Location of Bisht Souk in Deerah 

GPS coordinates: 24.629248,46.712315

Google maps:


Location of Al Owais Souk: 

GPS coordinates: 24.737758,46.661482

Google maps:

 Happy shopping!

Have you bought a farwa or bisht? Did you ever wear it outside Saudi Arabia?

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  • haifaDecember 23, 2015 - 2:18 pm

    as a saudi girl am very very glad that you liked our tradition clothes. I remember I took my south African friend to Deerah and she was amazed by different collection of farwas, and she bought many as gifts to her family.

    thanks a lot for sharing your experience.
    HaifaReplyCancel

    • Laura of ArabiaDecember 25, 2015 - 6:59 pm

      Thank you Haifa!
      Yes I really love the traditional clothing a lot! And I’m sure others would feel the same if they only knew about them, what they are and where to buy the, SO that’s why I wrote the guide :)ReplyCancel

  • SumayyahDecember 26, 2015 - 6:36 pm

    Asalamualaikum,

    I love your website, it’s addictive, every time i find a new interest in Riyadh and type it in the web search bar, I end up back here!

    I’ve been wanting to buy a bisht or farwa for a few years now, but never find the time. How long have you been in Riyadh?

    I’d love to make the mens majlis room traditional, from carpet to jambiyyahs! We find ourselves in Dir’iyah on the weekends too! Really admired your doors! I actually took so many pictures yeaes ago, before finding you, a shop opened up in Dir’iyah lovely gift shop!

    Thank you for all your efforts blue abaya..

    Umm AbdurRahman SumayyahReplyCancel

    • Laura of ArabiaDecember 27, 2015 - 11:13 pm

      Hi Sumayyah!

      Thank you for the message, that’s great to hear that my site has been so continuously beneficial to you.
      To answer your question, I’ve been in Riyadh almost 8 years now.

      Is the gift shop you mentioned i Diriyah the one inside the AMA Art venue? Or perhaps some other one I haven’t discovered yet.ReplyCancel

  • SumayyahDecember 30, 2015 - 12:01 am

    The gift shop is located at the entrance, where the resturants are. Beautiful traditional gifts, i was like a kid in a candy shop!

    Please do reply here once you’ve found it and tell me what you think..

    sumayyahReplyCancel

    • Laura of ArabiaDecember 31, 2015 - 1:32 pm

      Ok, I think I know which shop you mean, the one with the little trinkets like dallah coffee pots, baskets, oud burners etc?ReplyCancel

      • sumayyahDecember 31, 2015 - 2:19 pm

        Yes! That’s the one!ReplyCancel

  • JohanJanuary 4, 2016 - 5:57 am

    Hi there… Thank You for the information…ReplyCancel

    • Arabian LauraJanuary 9, 2016 - 2:53 pm

      You’re welcome Johan! Are you thinking of buying one for yourself :)ReplyCancel

      • eric mannyJanuary 9, 2016 - 8:27 pm

        Hello blue abaya. Please help me. I just want to know what date will start the janadriyadh festival 2016. I am a bachelor and i want to know the schedule for bachelor. I really want to go to janadriyadh festival. Thank you very much for your help blue abaya. More power to your very good website.ReplyCancel

        • Arabian LauraJanuary 12, 2016 - 12:56 pm

          hi Eric! Janadriyah begins 3 rd February. the first week until sunday are always reserved for singles (men only days).ReplyCancel

  • Estelle VokraJanuary 13, 2016 - 4:03 am

    Asalamu alaikum wa ramatullahi wa barakatuh, we have one Bisht (a masculine version) and I love it (often wearing it when eating outside during the autumn). Jazakallahu khair for sharing this beautiful detailed article ! Wa salamReplyCancel

  • Mobeen SikandarMarch 1, 2016 - 9:50 am

    I am having a hard time finding a website online to buy a farwa. I live in the United States now and really really want one. Any idea where I can buy one online and have it shipped?ReplyCancel

  • NinaMarch 1, 2016 - 9:52 am

    Does anyone know any websites from which I can buy a farwa and have it shipped to the United States?ReplyCancel

    • sumayyahMarch 1, 2016 - 7:59 pm

      I found some on ebay and amazon. What part of America are you? I could ask my American friends in Riyadh if they know specific places to order from more nearer to you inshaAllaah.ReplyCancel

  • lostMay 17, 2016 - 10:48 am

    Hi,
    I just wanted too say I love your site. Seriously, your awesome.
    I have a few questions I’ll be going to saudi soon but I dont want too be taking a lot of money with me for no reason ( I have a tendency of attracting pickpockets and mosquitos lol) . I’m going in ramadan I just wanted to know what the prices of abayas are like there .
    Any addition info would really help. Especially with the hot heat .I’m used too cold rainy British weather.
    Thanks in advance.ReplyCancel

    • Arabian LauraMay 17, 2016 - 12:21 pm

      hey there! thank you for the awesome feedback! Made my day!
      For abaya prices, it really depends on what you’re looking for and which city you’re in. In Riyadh for example, a “souk abaya” can be as cheap as 100sar. This abaya will be of poor quality and it will not look or feel great, but it serve do it’s “purpose, cover you in black, albeit in polyester lol. So for the heat, a no go for me personally. You can find polycotton which is slightly better for around 200-400 in the Riyahd souks.

      I rather invest in pure cotton linen or silk which are of course much more expensive. the first two material is easy to find in Jeddah souks for around 300-600. Linen and silk is more, around 600-1000 sar. if you get from a well known abaya designer they will be 1000+, sometimes around 2000-3000 even. Those abayas would most likely be best for special occasions not everyday wear. Hope this helps!ReplyCancel

  • […] surrounded by Saudi history. Highlights of this festival, situated next to the Al Musmak fort and Deerah souvenir and antique souk, include traditional folklore tents, handicrafts markets, Saudi food stalls and lots of activities […]ReplyCancel

  • […] come in so many different styles, show your personality with a pretty or individual abaya. Go to Dirah or Tayba souq and find tons of different abaya designs and colors. Design and personalize it! It’s what you […]ReplyCancel

  • Visit Riyadh’s Date Souk » Blue AbayaSeptember 1, 2016 - 6:38 pm

    […] Interested in finding more Riyadh souks? Check out this post: Bisht Souk  […]ReplyCancel

  • Riyadh To Do Guide » Blue AbayaNovember 25, 2017 - 10:21 pm

    […] Another popular family activity is rent your private “villa” or chalet or private pool for a day, in Arabic called isteraha. They can have inside anything from big grass fields, football fields, basketball, gardens, kids playground, indoor/outdoor swimming pools and large rooms with AC, TV and all luxuries you want. Because Saudi culture is very private, they like to rent out an isteraha for weekends so that the whole family can join. Some people rent them for special occasions like birthdays and Eid holidays. Renting a private villa/isteraha is the best way to enjoy a day of family swimming, as mixed swimming pools in Riyadh do not exist. It’s actually quite affordable and some even have staff if you want to take care of catering and looking after the kids.  There are literally thousands of isteraha to choose from around Riyadh. Just search with the term #chalet or #isteraha on instagram and you’ll find them. For more Riyadh swimming pools check out this post: Top Ten Swimming Pools in Riyadh  The summer heats are a good time to visit The King Abdul Aziz Historical Center and the National Museum. It consists of a remodeled mosque, the old original Murabba’ Palace with main Diwan renovated as “living museum”, the “Memorial Hall” on the outlines of an old courtyard house, a modern exhibition hall for the car collection,  the new Al-Dara main lobby and multipurpose hall, a documentation center with a separated men’s and women’s library each, an art gallery and a large internal garden. Nearby and definitely worth a visit, Riyadh National Museum will take you a good three hours to walk through. The whole area is surrounded by parks, waterfalls, fountains and picnic areas. It’s especially nice to stroll around in the beautiful evening lighting. It’s possible to walk to the now restored old water tower, there is a restaurant on top with nice views of the city. The whole Historical Centre area covers some 360,000 square meters!  The nearby area called Dirah (Deerah, Derah),where Musmak castle is located there’s a clock tower next to the huge souq area. You can easily spend hours wandering around the antique, gold and carpet, Bisht, abaya, souvenir and furniture souqs of Dirah haggling and having endless cups of tea with the shopkeepers. Check out the directions to the Bisht Souk here. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] A Farwa is an even warmer and thicker winter coat, especially great to wear out to desert camping trips. Whereas the Bisht fabric is normally more rough to touch, the Farwas are soft and snuggly. Some farwas are incredibly heavy and thick, I swear you could wear these out to an expedition of Antarctica and survive! Visit Bisht souk: Riyadh Bisht & Farwa Souk […]ReplyCancel

  • Dorothy TaylorJuly 17, 2018 - 9:20 am

    Hi Laura, awesome information. I am lucky to be heading to Riyadh today. My first time. I would love to know what is on or great to visit at this time of year. We did want to travel to see the black and white volcanoes but I’m thinking it might be too hot. Perhaps you can suggest tour operators that might be helpful. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • DocJuly 24, 2018 - 11:16 pm

    Hello I am new to this wonderful site . Seems very engrossing ! Loving it so far . I am an expat from USA and got married here . Though a Muslim . I had my baby back in USA but back now . I was wondering if there are any lady gyms in riyaDh that allow you to take your baby along ? Mine is 10 months old . And are they any good baby day care centers around here ?ReplyCancel

  • SimonaSeptember 29, 2018 - 10:08 am

    Dear Laura, thank You for such an inspiring website! I wonder if the Bisht Souq is open now, or does it open only during winter?ReplyCancel

  • Shaykh (TorntoDreamz)November 9, 2018 - 8:49 am

    Having lived here for 35 yrz….i luv the way u depict and highlight the beauties & traditions of the country…..!!!ReplyCancel

  • Johi S.May 15, 2019 - 7:11 am

    Lovely post Laura! I read your Blog for the first time back in 2012 when my husband got a job in Saudi and it played a huge role in my life at the time as I got most (if not all) the information I needed through you. Your perspective on things gave me the confidence to make the move with a positive attitude and have a lovely time during the two years we called the Kingdom our home. Now, seven years later we are coming back to Saudi and I find myself once again going through your blog :) I remember being given one of this massive coats at il terrazzo while dining on their terrace on a chilly December evening, it definitely kept me warm! Might have to get one for my first winter back in Saudi ;)ReplyCancel

    • LauraMay 27, 2019 - 10:50 pm

      Hi Johi thank you for the message, that is great to hear! Welcome back :)ReplyCancel

  • BradJuly 24, 2019 - 10:39 am

    Awesome post! I recently met someone who had bought a few while living in Saudi Arabia and I instantly wanted one, to the point I’m prepared to buy a plane ticket to Saudi Arabia! Do you know of any good online stores that sell Farwas? Thank you!ReplyCancel