SkyWatch: Let’s Go Outside!

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Many buildings in business sections of Saudi Arabia house businesses on the ground floor and then apartments above. Enjoying the outdoors can be a challenge here where much of the year it is just too hot to spend much time out of doors. Most buildings like this one have a rooftop area where families can be out in the fresh air, or barbecue, or where children can play or ride bikes. The fencing you see on the roof affords privacy so the women will not be seen. The covered balcony on the left on the 2nd floor is the same idea of keeping women hidden from view if they are out on the balcony. From what I’ve seen personally here, most Saudi women do not enjoy being outside anyway – who can blame them all covered up in yards of black fabric in this stifling heat? Many Saudi women suffer the effects of never being exposed to adequate sunlight – depression, Vitamin D deficiency, lethargy. However, there are benefits to not exposing themselves to the sun as well. Their skin stays soft and young looking. My skin feels like an alligator compared to my mother-in-law’s baby-soft skin!
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About SusieOfArabia

American woman now living in hubby's homeland of Saudi Arabia
This entry was posted in Buildings, Life, Photo, Saudi Arabia and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to SkyWatch: Let’s Go Outside!

  1. Ismail H says:

    Susie I know that place in the picture! Isn’t it in the southern suburbs/outskirts of the city? Ha’ Al Adl?
    I grew up in Saudi Arabia…

  2. Interesting to see the actual setup for women’s seclusion. I wouldn’t mind having soft, young skin, but I’d hate wearing black or staying behind walls. I suppose it’s easier to accept if one is raised that way. The segregation at functions must be a trial for a western woman, too.

  3. Geogypsy says:

    I would shrivel up, wilt and die without getting out into the sunshine and open air. I believe my skin to be like a well worn old leather bag.

    You must be coming to AZ soon?

  4. Barb says:

    Hi Susie,
    I cannot imagine being covered in all the heat. Must you stay covered also? I read your posts on the sweet shop and the dates – must have my snack now!

    • When women are out in public here, everything must be covered except the hands and face. But even at that, many women here wear a veil on their faces and also wear black gloves.

  5. Interesting blog.

    I have a request. There are thousands of Indians, Pakistanis and others from South Asia working in your part of the world. If you get a chance to click some pictures and stories of them, please do post.

  6. janice says:

    Very interesting view of your world. I too, would have a hard time adapting to the restrictions.

    Thanks again for sharing.

  7. Grace Olsson says:

    Susie, I feel that I would like to live in Saudi Arabia..The warm climate?no problem..I was born in Brazil…

    I adored to meet u, Susie at SKYWATCH and now I will visit your another blog.
    Have a nice weekend, dear

  8. yogi says:

    I find how differences in culture can affect ones health fascinating and the lack of sun causing vitamin D deficiency is a good example. I had never thought of such a thing.
    The picture of the apartment with the privacty screens is fascinating.
    How different the culture is there.

    • Thanks, Yogi – I do try to show things about this culture that I find strange or different and try to explain the reasons for them, if I can. There are some things that I may be overly critical about, but I feel I have good reason to be. We all have our differences, but that doesn’t always necessarily mean that one is right and the other is wrong. And while I may feel oppressed here, most Saudi women will tell you that they are not and they love their lives.

  9. ayman says:

    i like your posts very much especially it comes from a western women ..i can’t stop laughing on “My skin feels like an alligator compared to my mother-in-law’s baby-soft skin!” …madam Susie, your are in jedda , a very different world compared to Riyadh or least you have the coast while here in Riyadh we have only the desert …but tell me the truth don’t you think that living in KSA has some advantages also ??.

    please have a look at this blog “” , the blogger is a Canadian women lived in Egypt and posts images daily same as you …

    Ayman from Egypt and live in Riyadh

    • Hi Ayman – I have written about many wonderful things about living here in the desert kingdom, here on this blog and on my other blog Susie’s Big Adventure. I try to be a very positive person, but there are certain things that I truly dislike about living here and will likely never get used to, so I may seem to harp on those things repeatedly. In all honesty, this is not my first choice of where I would choose to live in the world because of all the limiting restrictions I feel are placed on me unfairly just because I am a woman.

  10. magiceye says:

    pros and cons of saudi life! out of choice?

  11. SandyCarlson says:

    I totally respect the cultural difference and appreciate just how Western I am. That is really interesting. As a woman who has always preferred the company of men as friends, I find this a bit challenging. How you adapt amazes me.

    • Thanks, Sandy – there are so many sacrifices my son and I have made to be here. At times the restrictions here really feel like a bit much to handle. There are good days and bad days…

  12. Carver says:

    I enjoy learning about Saudi Arabia from your posts. I have to take high dose vitamin D because I ended up with a deficiency. In my case it’s because I’m a survivor of advanced melanoma so I tend to avoid the sun. I am outside for walks but protect my skin after having a skin cancer that spread to lymph nodes. I guess that’s another advantage to customs which keep the skin protected where you live now although I would have trouble with the restrictions. I guess it depends on what people are used to and why.

    • That is so true – I’ll bet that women here have zero skin cancer! I guess there are a certain amount of trade-offs with everything. I’m glad that you are a survivor.

  13. ewok1993 says:

    I’m sure I couldn’t survive the heat out in the desert. If the room is filled with just women, can they show their faces to each other?

    • Good question – Yes, when it is just women present, as almost all social functions are segregated, women wear what they want – plunging necklines and lots of skin if it’s a formal function like a wedding, or jeans and top if it’s a more casual get-together. Just this evening, we went to my husband’s brother’s place for a dinner (dinner was served at 11:30pm) – there were about 40 men who gathered on the rooftop where there were red persian carpets and tables and chairs set up, while the women gathered in the apartment. My husband and son escorted me to the door and then they went up to the roof. I didn’t see them until we left I’m not really thrilled about the segregation like this all the time… (sigh)

  14. Yes, I would have problems being swaddled in black or any other color really — not in the heat. I really admire your ability to adapt to such a very different environment. I have no trouble accepting different cultures, but I’m not sure I could live permanently in one so restrictive to women.

    Always a fascinating and informative post, Susie, and enjoyed, as always!


  15. Jerry M says:

    I doubt that many women in the US would trade soft skin for covering themselves in black.

    • I think you’re right, Jerry! I can certainly understand not wanting to go out in this heat here though swaddled in black cloth from head to toe, but I personally prefer to be able to wear what I want outside – I’ve lived in plenty of hot places and not had such a problem with the heat as I do now.

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