A Man’s World


There is a woman in this photo – can you spot her? When women are out in public view here in Saudi Arabia, they wear a floor length, long sleeved loose black cloak (called an abaya), cover their hair usually with a black scarf (called hijab) and many Saudi women also wear a black veil (called niqab). It very often seems to make them invisible, which I guess is the idea because this mode of dress is not supposed to attact attention from men – although that oftentimes is not the case. Men can wear pretty much whatever they want (within reason) when out in public. Give up trying to find her? She is right below where the two signs meet which say Hempel and Sigma Paints.

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About SusieOfArabia

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

9 Responses to A Man’s World

  1. Jerry M says:

    One wonders what Arab women wore in the 7th century (and I doubt it was black). No matter how light the fabric, it is still a black shroud. I am a man and if I am wearing a light jacket in the heat I sweat like crazy. Saudi Arabia is a lot warmer.

    • I’ve lived in hot climates ALL my life – and I’m dying to live in a cooler place at this point. Especially one where I don’t have to layer on extra clothing over the normal clothes I am wearing underneath!

  2. trae says:

    hi susie i just bought a new one which of course is black but the sleeves now have pink underneath and the black is see thru. also i have huge Daisey flowers all over the edges of the sleeves in pinks purple blues and yellows, the abaya shops in al shatee souke are selling many now that have colours under see thru black, and a close friend of mine wore a RED abaya the other day which is gorgeous. she doesn’t get approached how ever cos she is African, its more the Saudi women that get targeted me and my friends are now wearin our abayas with colours on πŸ™‚

    schwaya schwaya lol

    hugs tRAE

  3. anthrogeek10 says:

    Good theory Susie. I am sure your right. LOL
    The more I read you and Bedu’s blog, the less I want to live in KSA, even if for an expat job. I dealt with Bahrain just fine but there are certain things……even as an anthropologist I could not deal with LONG TERM. I can live anywhere for up to 2 years or so. After, I think it would be a test of my spirit.

    • No doubt about it, it’s definitely very difficult for a Western woman to adjust to life here, but I think even more so when she is married to a Saudi because the circumstances are entirely different. I originally agreed to give it a try for 2 yrs, but my husband wants to stay here now, so I am feeling stuck. I still cannot see myself living here long term. Life is too short.

  4. Dina says:

    But why does women’s cover-up clothing have to be black? Isn’t it unbearable hot in black?

    • There is really no law that says a woman must wear black, however the religious police have a problem with a woman wearing anything too flashy (for example, an abaya decorated with rhinestones or beads or embroidery, as many are. They have raided abaya shops here and confiscated all but the very plain black abayas. I have seen women wearing dark brown or dark blue abayas, but that is very rare. There is a rumble going on now about women wanting to wear other colors – we’ll see what happens. At any rate, black is the most impractical color to wear in this desert heat because black absorbs heat. I think that the religious police want to keep it black so women will prefer to stay at home rather than to be out in the oppressive heat wearing black – that’s my theory.

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