About me…

I’m an American woman.  I met my Saudi Arabian husband when we were both students at the University of Arizona back in the 1970s.  After 30 years of living in the USA, my husband yearned to move back home.  So what’s a girl to do? We’ve been in Jeddah now since October of 2007.  I find my new home interesting, fascinating, and colorful.  The people are warm and courteous and as interested in me as I am in them. However they highly regard their privacy, so taking photos here can be tricky.  I try to take my camera with me every time I step out the door – I don’t want to miss a thing!

Please be sure to also visit my other blog, SUSIE’S BIG ADVENTURE, which relates my experiences, observations, and thoughts about living in Saudi Arabia.

You can EMAIL me at: susieofarabia@gmail.com

Or, if you’re into learning more about or having interesting discussions about Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, join me, Layla of Blue Abaya, and Eman of SaudiWoman on our Facebook group by clicking HERE.


152 Responses to About me…

  1. I am surprised to see your blog in detail. It is really a nice effort. Actually I am representing a local business and I will appreciate if you could visit any of our branches and try our products and then write a review on us. 🙂

  2. Marasim says:

    I don’t like jeddah..it sucks..

    • Hi Marasim – I’m sorry that you haven’t had a very good experience in Jeddah. There are good and bad things about anywhere. I try to focus on the positive and look for the good things. Believe me, I know how hard it is to try to make a full life here. Having good friends you can do things with really helps me. I always feel better when I have plans to get out. Best Wishes to you and I hope you can manage to see some of the good things that Jeddah has to offer.

  3. saeed says:

    i m indian male
    can i help u ?

  4. Hala says:

    Oh my god I can’t believe this !
    when I saw the “typical school” picture I was like “THAT IS CLOSE TO MY HOUSE !”
    when I wan’t to see who was writing and taking all the photos I found out that you studied at the UofA !
    I’m studying there currently 😮
    Hope you are enjoying Jeddah ! don’t forget to shoot King Fahad’s fountain and say it’s the largest of it’s kind in the world… Tucson is still as hot as ever… and rainy on top of all that :s

  5. mohi says:

    i just cant blv you got this in just 5 years…i m an indian born and brought up here
    after seeing your blog i came to know how many beautiful things i ignore in this city..
    you made me bookmark dis page

  6. poetreearborist says:

    Assalamu alaikum. Nice blog

  7. Mouafak says:

    Really nice blog. Amazing how little we know about where we live

  8. Mouafak says:

    Really nice blog. Give nice warm feeling

  9. Katherine says:

    This is a really great site! Thanks so much Susie for all your great photos and blogs, and your very fair, respectful and observant comments in response to the comments of others. I appreciate your situation very much. I think you have a lot of very helpful information for others considering a move to KSA.
    I’d just like to add my short contribution to the subject of hijab and how it supposedly prevents rape, compared with the opposite situation in the states. I think the comparison is absolutely impossible, since in shariah law, rape must be witnessed by 4 eye-witnesses in order to prove guilt. This is hardly ever possible, needless to say. No woman is going to risk reporting a rape she can’t get proven, as it could likely end up with her being sentenced to lashings instead for admitting to illicit sexual relations. Hence, whatever rape there is goes unreported, unproven and unpunished. So much for captial punishment!
    On the other side of the fence, I can understand Muslims’ reactions to scant clothing, and I agree it is a negative aspect of many western societies. By scant, I mean revealing thighs, stomachs, shoulders and breasts. (I don’t think head-covering even gets a look-in on relevance here!) I am often embarassed on behalf of other women and they way they dress in public. I think it is a misuse of our freedom to attract attention to our bodies in a sexual way, rather than being seen and respected as the people we are. I also think it is unfair to men who really want to excercise some control over their thoughts, to thrust half-naked images under their noses. My Holy Book, for instance, teaches us that we are free to make our own decisions in so many areas, but that we should not abuse that freedom to cause others temptation or struggles. I realized this afresh when my teenage son brought home a female friend who sat at the dinner table with half-uncovered breasts, and I felt a bit annoyed at the struggle she might be causing him, knowing he has always seen girls as friends and not sexual objects. (This doesn’t mean I look down on her, only that I think she needs better guidance). I think modesty is something we have overlooked, and need to rediscover. However, it still remains that no half-clothed female should EVER be held responsible for being raped! Rape is not about sexual desire alone, but about violence and the need to subjugate a woman. We are talking about two different things here: A woman’s awareness of how others view her and her VOLUNTARY compliance with respectful and modest dress code is one thing. The responsiblity of every person for their own thoughts and actions is another!

  10. Santiago Berger says:

    Thanks for theinfo! I am recording this now.@CRLF

  11. Mohammed Firdhouse says:

    Dear Sister,

    I’ve been following your Ariticles for a while, it’s amazing. keep it up, and Allah bless you.
    And I want to keep in touch with you always to forward and recieve some islamic mails, information etc…………………….. So this is my mail i.d. ayazrumi@yahoo.com

  12. Nasser Bazuhair says:

    Hey Sussie,

    OMG THIS BLOG IS AWESOME .. I’m originally from Jeddah and lived most of my life in there but I’m doing uni over here in Australia .. I was just trying to show my friends what’s Jeddah like and found your blog .. seriously AMAZING EFFORT I haven’t been in Jeddah in couple of years now and just looking at the picture brought tears into my eyes, thank you for making me feel a bit homey I really miss Jeddah, such beautiful place to grow up ..

    I really hope you’re enjoying your time in Jeddah .. and please feel like one of us .. as we say in Jeddah “You become a jeddawi in the first day you move in”

    Thank you again for this wonderful blog

    • Hi Nasser – You have no idea how much I appreciate getting comments like yours. Thank you so much for taking the time to write. It is a lot of work and commitment doing a blog (or two!) and to hear the words of appreciation that you have expressed here really make it worthwhile. My very best wishes to you!

  13. Farhuma says:


    I saw you pictures, and read the comments you had written, however I wanted to know a little more about the life of woman in Jeddah or madina… actually i m getting married and will be settling down in either jeddah or madina. You have written in most of the pictures that you have clicked the picture from the car, so are you allowed to drive alone or with driver or husband… And most importantly what about the current working conditions..I am a media professional. i realyy want to work there aswell..I belong to Inida(New Delhi) please let me know about the life of a woman in Jeddah and Madina.I have no problem in covering my head or any kind of clothing according to the rules.All i want is the freedom to work and feeling of meing independant are these things possible at all there… I will be glad if you reply back to me on my mai.

    • Hi Farhuma – Women cannot drive in KSA. They must be driven everywhere by a man. Most women work only in the medical or education fields. I haven’t really ever felt “independent” in KSA – I am dependent on my husband for EVERYthing. It’s a man’s world there. If you are working, you may feel more independent than women who are stuck at home all the time with no driver and nothing to do.

  14. Mark says:

    Hi Suzie
    Great blog!
    Your pics and pithy blog conversations have brought back memories of some interesting times in the kingdom. There to design a wedding for a grand-daughter of the royal family.
    An amazing thing for a male Aussie , given that men do not attend the event ( with the exception of father and groom).
    All meetings in the wee hour hours of the morning in the “palace” area of Riyadh, and not a head scarf or covering in sight, there or in any of the other overseas palaces.
    I will always remember the scramble as the plane descended into Riyadh , all the women donning the black.

  15. May says:

    Hey, awesome blog. I was just wondering, since all the Saudi woman cover up in black, what do you wear while there? Are foreigners allowed to wear different clothing or do you wear the abaya?

    • Hi May – I also wear the black abaya when I am outside of the house, like all women in Saudi Arabia do. I have heard that in the Dhahran area, some Western women just dress modestly and they haven’t had problems. My husband also wants me to cover my hair as well, so I do, although it would not be my choice because the way the scarf is worn in KSA, it wraps around the neck too – and this makes me uncomfortable and hotter than I already am.

  16. snake says:

    I’m impressed, I must say. Actually hardly ever do I encounter a blog that’s each educative and entertaining, and let me let you know, you will have hit the nail on the head. Your thought is outstanding; the issue is something that not sufficient individuals are speaking intelligently about. I am very pleased that I stumbled across this in my seek for something referring to this.

  17. Adeel says:

    Thank you for developing this wonderful website. I have actually opted to join a bank in jeddah and would be moving with my family by early March 2011. I wanted to know about the City, and google recommended this website at number 03 in list. The website is nice one and I am still browsing through it. Hope that my actual experience after landing remains pleasant like seeing these pics.

    • Hi Adeel – I’m so glad to hear that you have found my site helpful. I’ve tried to present the city of Jeddah through my eyes, although I don’t always understand exactly what it is I’m seeing. I hope you enjoy your new home in Jeddah and I wish you all the best in your adventure.

  18. Mujahida says:

    Why are so many non muslim women want to come to Saudi and then complain about the situation there afterwards????come on you know it will be hell for you, Paradise for us, everything segregated, no naked women everywhere tons of women in niqab….why oh why do you want to come there to complain???Yes it will be hard Yes you have to dress decently, Yes you can’t be doing what ever you please and YES some dirty men will try to get in your panse when they know you are not Muslims…..since they are sick don’t follow Islam watch nasty satellite T.V and see men and women meeting in a bar then making up they think wow that’s what western women do……how irritating!!!! I am a revert and I am sooooo ashamed of the western culture and lifestyle they are portraying to the world!!!my advice DO NOT COME here.

  19. Umm Shaheed says:

    Hi susie! I am joining this conversation a bit late but discovered it looking for pics of Jeddah, city of my dreams after Mekka!!! I am really feeling the sadness and imcomprehention of some of the women here about Islam and why we have to do certain things, now it is really really hard to understand it for someone who do not have ‘EEman’ and to translate it to Faith does not really equate, I totally understand your struggle Susie and how it must be hard after so long of living ‘free’ you suddenly have to cover and in black!! which is, I understand, a very strange choice for westerners in the 50 degrees of Saudi. Some of those stories of divorces and ‘betrayal’ must indeed be very heart broking,now the problem lies with the men in the first place, who are men of little or no faith at all, they might be in the eyes of the non-Muslim women who married them, but what standards are you basing yourselves on? You see in the first place a Muslim man SHOULD NOT marry a NON-Muslim especially not in his homeland, it says in the QU’RAN that a Muslim man can marry pure (virgin) women of the book (jews or christians) but as Umar ibn al khattab ordered to divorce them after some Muslim men married them, they did not divorce them on the spot but later did, as they didn’t want to make the words of UMAR over those of ALLAH, now many scholars have worned and told Muslim men NOT to marry unbieliving women especially when they are plenty of Muslim women who can be married, in the time of the spread of Islam men married non Muslim women because they were no Muslim women avalaible, simple as that. Now those men who nowadays marry disbelieving women are deficient in their EEman and religion, they do not understand it and do not understand of forsee the consequences of their actions, how hard indeed must it be for a Non Muslim women to be forced to cover ‘obey’ her husband understand about polygamy well accept it openly as in our Western societies it exists but in the way of Mistresses hidden or open, a member of my family is actually the mistress of a man who’s wife is really sick with cancer,now this man has clearly stated to his mistress that he has no desire to leave his wife of 40 years, with whom he build a whole life has children with and is a grand-father, he still loves his wife and respect her too much to leave her alone to cope with some horrible illness, now his mistress is a familly friend of more than 50 years, he went to shcool with her, was friend with her brother and basically being there a whole life, so you are telling me and I am not talking to you Susie 🙂 another lady which I forgot the name, you are telling me that he SHOULD leave his wife to rot in her illness divorce her and go to this ‘new’ woman without any consideration, and don’t tell me he should forget his own needs and he is being selfish, he clearly isn’t or he could have left his all sick wife and replace her with a new ‘fresh’ model since he has moneylong long time ago….. now under the law of non-Muslims he is not an ‘adulter’ since that ‘other’ woman is just a mistress….just a mistress? now thousands of women are involved in the West with men secretly or openly some wives know but close their eyes due to the fact that they don’t want to abandon their life sometimes quite comfortable,now the wife is ok enjoys all priviledges but what about the mistresses? I have know of hundreds of women who bore kids out of wedlock in secrecy being left alone with their kids to bear the burdden of being a single mother with little or no financial help from the father at all, while he parades as a good father an husband, how hypocrite!!take Mr MITTERAND for instance amongst million of cases…now I am not advocating every single Muslim Man taking second wife I would go crazy if mine would:) but it is ALLOWED and PART of ISLAM and the jealousy of women is accepted understood and has been reported quite clearly from the hadiths on the wives of the Prophet Saw. Now did those Saudi men suddenly ‘realise’ that something was ‘missing’ in their lives by marriing a Muslim woman? or they understood how you cannot hav 2 religions at home 2 ways of life 2 captains on board. Now do you start to understand why we are required to cover? why we cannot marry without the consent of our male guardian? I am sure that all those women who married Saudis didn’t have fire crakers at home while announcing to their christian fathers, ‘hey I am marring a Muslim an Arab…..I am pretty sure that for a lot of them they were fights, tears and ultimatums involved BUT since in ‘OUR’ I say our because I don’t consider it mine anymore but it’s where I come from so I know, in OUR societies we as women can marry whom we will, when we will and our fathers cannot do anything about it, if we are minors we can just run away with our ‘prince’ and disappear for all we know. Now how did those marriages full of ‘freedom’and free from restrictions ended up? See as Muslim women we can’t do that, and the lack of freedom you think we have is actually our protection, our hijab is our protection, and yes it is compulsory for Muslim women only, why do non Muslim wear it? You are in no circumstances ‘forced’to wear it as the Qu’ran is clear it’s only for pure and chaste believing women, the only thing require of you is that you dress modestely in presence of men, but you shouldn’t cover you hair unless you are a jew or one of the few remaining Christians who believe in women covering their head. Now Susie you are right it is not required of you to wear the clothing of Muslim women especially after child bearing age, now it seems that MashaALLAH your husband is still pretty much in love with you and has a lot of jealousy over you!!! I am sure he should be your best friend by now, have you tried to explain to him how it makes you feel uncomfortable, hot, irritated? it is not compulsory for you to wear it, why not try an alternative that would please him? and different materials such as linen and cotton? you could make long, baggy ‘coats’ in linen that would be less oppressing than abayas, if he really wants you to cover your hair, don’t wear black shayla material but colored cotton scarves, it is allowed and in jeddah I am sure you do get diversity in dressing.

    I am really really sad to read about the tragedy and heart breaking stories of children who are left in situations where their parents divorces in such abrupt ways of non understanding of 2 cultures that come together I am sure whith love and attraction, but in Islam that is indeed only culture and not a way to come together as a couple looking to build their lives together, a wife should be married for her Muslim character first and the problem is indeed deep in Saudi as so many many Saudi men do not follow the teachings of Islam and follow their own whims and desires…..now a warning to non Muslim women DO NOT marry Muslim men ever, stick to your own culture if you don’t want to abandon it, it doesn’t make sense and you know what your letting yourselves in, or if not, another point for ISLAM which teaches us that women are indeed naive and defensless, and who needs protection and care against the hungry wolves out there. peace………

  20. Nurul Shahirah says:

    Hey Susie,

    have you read the Qur’an or learn anything about Islam other than issues pertaining to women?
    I find it hard to believe that despite being married to a muslim for years and live in a country that implements almost 100% Sha’riah, you still haven’t embrace the religion. Well, Allah guides whom He wills. But I have something to share with you. There was a statement made by Ai’sha (RA) something along this line ‘ If the verse prohibiting alcohol was revealed first, everyone will say we’ll never stop drinking’

    My point is perhaps you should forget about everything you’ve heard or read and start from the beginning. Begin with do I believe in god and why?, If God does exist,how does He want me to live my life, how does he want me to worship Him,should I follow his laws strictly because He is God and He knows what’s best for me and what’s bad for me. Look at Islam and ask yourself if the Qur’an is from God. The book is a miracle in itself. It is packed with scientific miracles, historical miracles and linguistic miracles. How can this book be written by a man?On top of that Islam is perfect monotheism.

    You may not like the hijab and see no benefit in it. That’s suprising by the way. Just because you don’t like something does not mean that it is not right. Just because you feel pressured or ‘forced’ to do something does not mean you’re being oppressed. Because there are alot of things in life that we hate that are good for us (school) and there are alot of things in life that we love that are bad for us (alcohol,sexual promiscuity).Allah says in the Qur’an (translated) ‘ It may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know’In response to Patricia, there are 7 conditions of hijab and if either 1 is missing, it is NOT proper hijab.Abu Dawood (565) narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Do not prevent the female slaves of Allaah from attending the mosques of Allaah, but let them go out unadorned.” Unadorned here means no perfume, no make-up and nothing decorative. It should not be tight, it should not be transparent.There’s also hijab in speech and behaviour. Patricia said that the idea of men not being able to control themselves is primitive. That is simply not true. There was a study done in America, a ridiculous precentage of men said there is a high chance they would rape a woman if they knew they were not going to get caught.Plus, it is a bit silly to say I’ll dress however I want, it is not my fault they can’t control themselves.Just like you cover a piece of fish/candy so that the cat/fly won’t pry on it, likewise you should cover yourself so that men would not be tempted to do something to you or have disrespectful thoughts about you. Just like you lock up your doors and windows to protect yourselves from burglars, likewise you should cover yourselves and leave no opportunity for sexual attraction that could lead to evil.

    Finally, do you know how many rape, murder,human trafficking and illegal sexual intercourse could have been avoided if women and men dress the way they should be dressed, women and men lower their gaze,women and men segregrate and women travel with a mahram. It breaks my heart when I read stories of women being taken advantaged of emotionally, physically and psychologically and kept asking myself, where is her father, her brothers, her uncles, her sons? These men are the protectors of women as Allah says in the Qur’an. Why is she out at night? Why was she alone? Muslim men do not oppress (Some do).They care for their women. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There is no person to whom Allaah entrusts the care of others and he does not take care of them sincerely, but he will not even smell the fragrance of Paradise.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (7150) and Muslim (142).Every shepherd will be asked about his flock. May Allah guide you to Islam.

    Anyway, have you been to Madinah? I’ll be going there in February 2011 insha’Allah to live for 6 years.I don’t like the fact that women can’t drive or the women gyms being shut down. Nevertheless, I’m excited.

    • Yussuf says:

      It was great topic to read and even fascinated.continuing spreading the gud wacdi.

      Thanks again

    • FAISAL says:

      SALAM Nurul Shahirah,




  21. Yussuf says:

    Hello My friends,

    My name is Yussf and american living in MN USA and worked level 3 trauma hospital as Respiratory Therapist and additionally MN it’s coldest state in America. My ambition is to move to jeddah and worked as Travel Resp Therapist.Can anyone help tell which is the best and less worked(not extremely busy) hospital in Jeddah….

    Any feedback is highly appreciated through my email nurdin84@hotmail.com


  22. amalia says:

    hi susie..your blog is awesome…i recommended ur blog to some of my friends too..

    have a wonderful life 🙂

  23. Hi, nice to meet you !

  24. Hamdah says:

    I almost read every single thing on your blogs and I am so proud that you are a part of our culture, welcome to our home as a sister and friend !

    I will be more than delightful to meet you when I am back in Jeddah as I am studying abroad for the moment. I lived in the U.S for quite long time and I have many experiences just like the ones you have in my country though very different ! So, it is a pleasure to see you and have a talk on Saudi and American culture 🙂

    Thank you for your efforts !

    • Thank you so much, Hamdah. Your comments made my day, especially this one. Some people here don’t appreciate my efforts or my questions. They think that I am bashing when I am not. I would love to meet you when you return – good luck with your studies. Thanks again!

      • Julia Tilling says:

        G,day Susie! 🙂

        Thankyou so much for your wonderful websites, I just love your stories and photos, so informative and extremely interesting!

        I have applied for a job at the Effat University (PhD in Educational Psychology) and was wondering if you have any information or advice for western women being employed in Jeddah?

        If I did get the job, I would also be interested in finding information on single mothers with 2 teenage daughters living in Jeddah? Is it feasible on one income to send my daughters to a international school in Jeddah or am I better having them board in Australia (my older daughter also is in her final year and wants to do Medicine – Jeddah have International University)? Is it relatively safe for a family of 3 women?

        Thanks again for your great sites!

        Julia 🙂

      • Hi Julia – There are many Western women who work here in Jeddah. Most contracts can be negotiated to include provisions such as tuition for dependents attending international schools, accommodations, transportation to and from work especially for women, and air tickets. In general the cost of living here is cheaper than most Western countries. I don’t believe there is an International University, however there is a new medical college called Batterjee Medical College ( http://www.bmc.edu.sa/ ) but I’m not sure what the particulars are. I feel very safe here, but one thing to keep in mind is that the society is much more restrictive for women than it is for men. Hope this helps! Best Wishes!

  25. Sally says:

    Hi Susie,

    Hope you are doing good. It,s a wonderful blog, nice pictures. Thank you. I am new to Jeddah. Its been 3 weeks here. So getting to know about the place more. The pictures on your blog are helping me to decide on my week end plans. Inshallha I should visit those place. thanks for your effort. Susie do you know any libraries here in jeddah? where english books are issued. any idea.

    Thank You

    • Hi Sally – Welcome to Jeddah! There aren’t really libraries for adults, as far as I know, except in connection with the universities. Once you make friends with other Western expats, you can exchange books with them. I usually buy my books from Jarir Bookstore – they have an adequate section of books in English, and they even have pretty good discounted books.
      If you are interested in a library for children, there is a wonderful one called My Library. Telephone 02-263-1709; Location: 1st floor Elegant Home Showroom, Rawdah Street – Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Opening Hours are Sat-Wed 10.30am – 1.30pm & 4pm – 8pm, Thu 10.30am – 2.30pm, Friday Closed. There are story times in both English and Arabic.

  26. Laila says:

    Aziza Susie,
    Shukran for your blog and sharing your experience.
    I have just few questions for you. How can you cope with the fact that your husband changed so much since you moved to Saudia Arabia? Aren’t u disappointed by him, by the fact that he is violating your freedom since you are in Jeddah, while in States he was ok with your life style? From your writings it comes up clearly that you love him so much, but how do you feel and live his changement? don’t you think he is not respeting you as he should?

    I am sorry for asking you so many private questions, but it so hard to me to understand how you can accept so many limitations in your life for the sake of love. You can contact me on my email if you prefer.

    All the best, ma’a salama

  27. Sadia says:

    can u let me know rent of 3 room villa in a euro compound in jeddah?

  28. Mary Ann says:

    Hi Susie,

    While you were in the states for 30 years, I was here in KSA.

    No one ever bothered me about my faith until I joined an Islamic Center here in KSA. Then, not only did they keep getting after me for not covering completely, they kept pushing me to accept the idea of men having more than one wife, which as you know is not in our culture.

    Sad really.

    Mary Ann

    • Faisal says:

      Hi Mary,
      polygamy is a solution to the society and not a cumpultion in islam,though it is halal but those men who go for polygamy are more answerable to allah on the day of judgement.believe me its not so easy for men to have 2 or 4 wives.

      Please understand islam and then comment on anything,allah says in the holy quran marry only one if you cannot be just,and other verse allah says you can never be just to all your wives (plz note i am writing out of some memorisation it is not the exact traslation of quranic verse)so tell me what do you understand by these verses.

      is allah forcing you to marry 2,3 or 4.

      muslims are alhumdulillah much better than the people who practise livin ralation in your countries,tell me what safety a women has in a livin raltion,they are just exploited in the name of modernisation.allah told you to marry but some prefer livin relation,and later they repent when they are nowhere.


      • Mary Ann says:

        Hi Faisal,

        I think you are jumping ahead here. I understand that it is acceptable in Islam to have more than one wife. That’s fine. As you said, Men that attempt it will be judged on their fairness and treatment on the last day by God.

        I’m speaking about Saudis that go to America and get married to non-muslim women, sign marriage documents in that country (which does NOT allow polygamy), and then, after moving back to Saudi Arabia, he takes another wife.

        In my humble opinion, if a Saudi man wants to have many wives, he should marry women from his own country and/or religion that are agreeable to polygamy. He should put in writing in the contract that he intends to marry again so that she can prepare for her future. Here are a few examples of what I’m trying to explain that have happened over the years:

        (similar stories but all of these are actually fictional)
        Saudi man marries American woman. She works for 20 years, has 5 children and gives her husband all the money that she has made towards the house and furniture in KSA. Saudi flies off to another country one weekend and brings home a new wife. First wife wants to leave because she is angry at her husband and does not accept this new wife in the house with her. Court tells her that the money she gave her husband or which she spent on the house is a ‘gift’ because her husband did not give her a note saying that he owed her that money. Meanwhile, whatever dowry HE gave HER, when they got married, has to be paid back in order for her to get the divorce papers. She leaves the Kingdom penniless and without her children and he and his new wife get the house with all of its contents. What is your advice to the woman who had to leave?

        Saudi marries American. She spends 20 years nurturing their children and living in small apartments through the years and agrees to him working around the clock to make a better future for herselt and their children. Finally he builds her a nice house and marries another woman without telling her and now has an additional three children. One day, a relative tells her about her situation. Again, she can leave, but she does not have the family support to do so…. Her entire life is here in the Kingdom. What would be your advice to her?

        A new law states that an American marrying a Saudi man has the right to travel with her children. However, it does not state what will happen when or if those female children later get married to a Saudi man in the future. Is the law for any American passport holder now…that they will always be allowed to travel freely as well as any/all of their dependents….or does it stop with this marriage only?

        A Saudi man divorces his American wife two times and leaves her fighting in the courts for years to get her third and final divorce decree from him…. Meanwhile, he is going on with his own life and has a new wife and child. If she marries again, he can take the children away from her. What would be your advice to the American woman?

        Saudi man marries American woman. He decides to marry their daughter off at age 14. Is there any law in place now to protect that particular American child? I don’t know the answer for that, do you?

        Our American fathers (and also our own US government) do NOT really understand the laws or the consequences of marriage to a Saudi man….especially if she is from another faith. When an American father, brother, or uncle of the bride signs the marriage contract, he is under the misunderstanding that if the marriage ends in divorce, she will get half of whatever they have earned together. Also, our fathers do not understand that the Saudi man may legally take other wives ‘secretly’ now and not tell her….legally.

        He may have other children without telling her as well. Yes, this can and does happen in the states, but the women have legal recourse against them, and it’s much easier for women to begin their lives again as a single woman and or single mother.

        My husband is a good man from a good family. Please do not take this the wrong way.

        I am not complaining about the religion or the Saudis, as most are very generous and kind individuals. But, more laws need to be implemented to protect Americans who marry Saudis and come here to live… Whether we like it or not the divorce rate stands anywhere from upwards of 50%. We need to resolve this for their children who get caught in the middle….between two very different worlds.

    • Thanks, MaryAnn – That’s interesting. I guess I am reluctant to try to study Islam in a group or classroom setting because of some of the things you pointed out. I know there are things about Islam that I don’t necessarily accept for myself. Thanks for letting me know I am not alone!

      • Revert says:

        Hello I found this a very interesting read and have heard of simular things happening here in Australia and in New Zealand. But I must point out that this is not Islam. If you take more than one wife you have to treat them equally and keep them seperate. If this is not possible then you may only have one. And this business of marrying other wives in secret is wrong, is against the teachings of Islam. How I read in the Quran is that if he is to take a second wife he must inform the first wife of the desire and if she isn’t in agreement she has the right to divorce and there is a just and fair proceeding in that also. This is Haram practice. Any woman who falls into this hole and says she was niave and thought her husband wouldn’t do that has made that mistake. These stories are common knowledge. Men are what they are and they will conform to the society they are in. If they are told they can and are expected to take more than one wife they will do it. Not in all cases but in most. It is peer pressure. Islam says that if you don’t feel as if your being treated as you should you can appeal for a divorce after return of the dowry. And a woman shouldn’t have to work to support her husband unless it is nessesary. Her money should be her own. Well that is what I have learnt from mine and from my readings anyways.

  29. Faisal says:


    Hi susie its very sad to know that after marrying a muslim for more than 30 years you did not accept islam as the way of your life,wearing hijab is not forced but muslim woman wear it with their own will,i bet you ask any muslim woman.you chose to come here and live no body forced you to come here so please accept the muslim culture and dont make any bad comments you can comment about the law and order but not this way

    Take the example of the eauropeans and american woman,compare their life and the life of arab woman here,woman here are in a much better position than in your countries,i have hardly seen any woman in u.s who have never been to a psyciatrist.so i have many things to talk about american and european woman but lets not throw stones on each other.

    Wearing hijab is ordered by our profet mohammed sallalla ho alaihu wa sallam.so please respect.

    • Dear Faisal –

      Seeing how Islam is put into practise here in KSA, especially in the ways women are treated, does not encourage me to embrace it. I am not a fan of any organized religions because of the way men have always used it to control women. Another thing I don’t like is that followers of every religion think their way is the best and it’s the only right way. Most religious people think they need to convert everyone else, even if they have been raised in another religion. It’s not an insult to you or to Islam just because I haven’t embraced Islam. I have my own beliefs just as you have your own. I believe people should be free to worship and believe as they wish.

      Wearing hijab is NOT something I choose to do of my free will – I wear it only because my husband insists on it and it is the cultural thing to do here, although I see many women here not wearing it. I am uncomfortable wearing it – it makes my neck itchy, sweaty and scratchy and makes me very hot, especially in the warmer months. My ears get plugged up with moisture because of it. There is nothing positive that I can think of that I like about it, other than if I’m having a bad hair day. So if you say that “wearing hijab is not forced but muslim woman wear it with their own will,” then this is not true in my case because I would rather not.

      Just because I personally do not like wearing hijab doesn’t mean I have a problem with anyone else who wants to wear it. What is the reason for wearing hijab anyway? Isn’t it so that a woman’s crowning beauty – her hair – should be reserved only for her husband’s eyes? And isn’t a woman who is past child-bearing age NOT obligated to wear hijab anymore if she doesn’t want to? So tell me: why on earth should I LIKE being forced to wear hijab when I moved here at age 56, way past child-bearing age, and when I have never ever worn it before in my whole life and never ever liked wearing scarves anyway? Do you understand my problem with it?

      I am not “throwing stones” at anyone or at Islam, and if you see it that way, that is not my intention. I am reporting on things the way I see them here. I am questioning things that don’t make sense to me and that I don’t understand. Exactly what “bad comments” are you talking about?

      Your statement about women in the US all seeing psychiatrists is an overly exaggerated and insulting generalization and is what I would call a “bad comment.” I cannot name any of my women family members or friends in the US who have ever been to a psychiatrist and I’m sure I know a lot more than you do.

      I have posted many wonderful things about Saudi Arabia, the culture and the religion. You cannot presume to know everything about me or what my situation is because you do not. I agreed to come here because it was my husband’s wish to move back home after 30 years in the states, not because it was really my choice of where I want to live in this world. I agreed to come here for him and that is the ONLY reason I would ever live here and sacrifice my freedoms and the ability to see my family. That doesn’t mean I have to like everything or just blindly accept those things I don’t like. It is not in my nature to be that way, and my husband knew that when he married me. And if he doesn’t have a problem with that, then I don’t see why you should.


  30. Huda says:

    Salam Susie, I love your pictures! Inshallah I will be coming to Jeddah this summer for a nursing job and I am very excited! My only fear is not finding friends to pass the time by with. Perhaps we could meet someday! I know alot about Jeddah already however you have showed me even more of it! Thank you!


  31. CuriousJM says:


    I saw your web site today and am very impressed by it. I have given link to Jeddah Daily Photo Journal in my Blog entitled – ‘Travelogue of An Armchair Traveller (http://armchairtravelogue.blogspot.com/2010/01/worlds-largest-bicycle.html).

    During my visit to Makkah in May 2009 I came across a very interesting bas-relief painting. You can see it in panoramio.com – http://www.panoramio.com/photo/25009213.

    I hope you will find it useful for inclusion in your blog(s)

    All the best.

  32. Sally says:

    I came upon your blogs while doing some research regarding Jeddah. I am interviewing for a job at a college in Jeddah. I have an interest in living abroad but don’t want to be silly about it. Could I email you directly with some questions? I am a single woman, so I am concerned about how that would impact me in such a male dominated society. I will be doing a phone interview this week, so depending on how that goes, I would appreciate some help in knowing what might be good questions I need to ask about living and working conditions.

    Thank you in advance.

  33. Faisal says:

    oh my beautifull memories with my ex wife in jeddah,i got married in 2007 and spent the best moments with my wife as the marraige was like an engagement,we did nikah and i was waiting for dukhla the actual marraige,so that was the golden period.

    unfortunatly my wife took divorce from me before the marraige but still i luv that city,i hate to go there with the fear of her thoughts but i hope allah will give me another reason to be there in this great place where i found my love onece

    • Hi Faisal – Sorry to hear about your marriage ending, but I’m glad I’ve been able to bring you some happy memories of this place through my photos. Best wishes to you and thanks for writing.

      • Chiara says:

        Faisal–go back with a new love and create new memories, to add to the old. Or with a best friend or favourite family member. You seem to genuinely like the city independent of your time there with your ex-wife. It would be a shame to lose that.

      • Faisal says:


        I thank you susie for the empathy,and thanks for the pictures,


  34. Elizabeth says:

    Asalamu Alaikum sis,

    What a nice blog you have, mashallah. I am interested in marrying a Saudi man from Makkah inshallah, and I was wondering if you can give me some information. I can’t find much about the laws in KSA on the internet. Do you mind telling me? Or if you have a website that has laws and such, like requirements to be filled that will be wonderful. I know it is hard to marry a Saudi and I am wondering how we will do this inshallah. Can you give me all the advice you have? Thank you so much.


    • Saudi Arabia is ruled by strict Islamic law and whether you can find this information to read about it or not would be difficult at best. I would suggest that you read some of the blogs by women who are married to Saudis. If you start with my other blog, Susie’s Big Adventure, and read what you can there. My latest post (Dec. 21, 2009) happens to deal with what you might expect. Then, on the left hand column down a ways are lists of many other Saudi related blogs and others – American Bedu especially is packed with important information you can read.

  35. Sovietologist says:

    Susie, this is such a wonderful blog that I’ve been coming back to over the years. I’ve been reading it more carefully recently as I’m considering accepting a job in Jeddah. I spent nine months in Syria, so I have a vague idea of what to expect in the KSA, but funny enough, one of the most troubling things is the heat (and I’m from Arizona, too!). At any rate, keep up with the blog and pictures. I enjoy it immensely.

    • It seems the older I get, the less tolerant of the heat I become, and having to wear the black cloak and cover my hair and neck too just makes the heat so much worse. Thanks so much for the nice comment.

  36. Elle says:

    I’ve recently stumbled upon your blog and I’ve got to say that it has really made me homesick – (I lived in Jeddah for a few years then returned back to Canada)

    but I TRULY can’t thank you enough for the photographs that you’ve posted on here, you really can’t find them anywhere else ❤

    • You’re very welcome, Elle. Photography is my hobby and there is so much to photograph around here. The problem is getting out and being able to get decent photos, since most of my photos are taken from a moving car in traffic. I’ve posted lots of the sculptures in prior posts. If you just type in the keyword SCULPTURES in the search for this blog, a bunch will come up. I’m working on a new page that lists just the sculpture posts since there are so many. Happy Holidays!

  37. osama says:


    i browse too much on internet, bt never ever see tht american women express her feeling abt my city ‘ jeddah ‘ , i wnt also to design sme website like this, in whic i will shw a good attraction to people, abt my city, my desret etc….i salute with honour to dedicated work with full expression of feelings to Sussie….Hope u wl b the best …..

    Osama Riaz

  38. american2saudi says:

    Just stopped by to peak at what you’re doing. I’m back in the country. If you want to go to the beach anytime soon…call me up and I’ll come and get you. We can go for breakfast first! : ) M.

  39. Khadijah Tyler says:

    This is for Maria and anyone else inquiring about living in Jeddah, Riyadh, etc. As Susie has mentioned many times before, everyone’s situation and needs are different. I know of expats married to expats and people like Susie and I married to Saudis. Some are very happy and for some Saudi just isn’t for them. To go by any one persons view or experience will not help you get the big picture. To get a better understanding of how things are for each person in their own situation it is best to talk to someone in the same boat. I disagree with a lot of what Louise said. I respect that she was writing on her experience and giving her opinion. I have a completely different one. As I said I am like Susie, married to a Saudi but my situation is even different from hers. I have 3 children who go to school here, two of which are in university. I have been working here for 17 years, I have a driver, and have a lot of freedom. I have friends from all walks of life. It isn’t perfect here, as with every country it has its faults. It is up to each individual to gather as much information as possible to see if it is right for you. If you are bringing children to live here then you should include them in your decisions. If you google expats in Saudi, living in Saudi and such you will find many sites, groups and blogs to help you. If you are already in the Kingdom then picking up a Jeddah Today or Whats Up Jeddah magazine will help you find things to do. Whats Up Jeddah is online and also has a Riyadh edition. Facebook can also help. Go to networks, Saudi, Jeddah, whatever you need and you will find many companies, schools, restaurants and such advertising. There is so much here to help people fit in or feel more at home if you just look.
    Okay that’s my 2 cents. Sorry it was so long.

  40. Mary says:

    Hello Susie,

    I would just like to thank you for dedicating your time and sharing your experiences. I follow your blogs and you have helped me understand more about the culture and the country in so many ways. My husband is also from Saudi Arabia and we reside in the U.S. We do not plan to live in KSA, but we would like to travel & visit. I have a few questions, I know you probably get tons of emails, but if you have some time, might you be able to email me privately so we can chat? I am concerned about traveling and would appreciate any inputs from an American living there.

  41. Rome says:

    Hi Susie,
    I am an Italian woman and among few weeks I will come to Jiddah as tourist and to see some opportunities for a possible investment. Would I want to know that also in these cases I can go out only in abaya and accompanied by a mascular relative? Must I bring my father with me in Saudi? 🙂 What obligations do the tourists have in this case?

  42. Aima says:

    Hi Susie, I love your blogs…My fiance is in Jeddah and we are planning for me to go visit him and get married in December 2009. Im still attending college and I want to graduate before I go live with him for god Inshallah…But I have any questions and fears, but I also have a lot of love for him and I beleive in the future we want to build together. Can you please help me…

  43. Cintia from Argentine says:

    Hi, Susie. The next moth i´m going to travel to Jeddah in order to visit my husband who is working there. We are both from Argentine and it would be the first time for me in so far away land. So that´s wy i was searching for some contacts there in Jeddah when i found your blog. I would appreciate if you can reply this messege and tell me how was the experience with the culture. I´m very excited to be in so extraordinary land. Thanks a lot.

  44. Islam says:


    I dropped in to this blog accidentally while I was searching for Islamic Arabic movies with optional English/Arabic subtitles. As a learner of Arabic I intend to make a progress with such movies. If you don’t mind it, I would like to ask following questions:

    1. Do you find it helpful in improving the language skills watching Arabic movies (fusha) with Arabic subtitles? Or is it waste of time?

    2. Which way you personally consider to be the best in learning Arabic? Can you tell us your experience in detail?

    3. In one of your comments, you said you are wearing hijab just because your husband wants you to. Have you ever considered wearing the same hijab just to please your Lord?

    • In answer to your questions…

      1. Since I don’t read Arabic, watching movies with Arabic subtitles is of absolutely no value to me. However if you have enough knowledge of Arabic, I would think that it would be a great way for you to learn more.
      2. Unfortunately I haven’t felt the pressure to learn as much Arabic as I had wanted to. I am finding that it is very difficult for me to learn new words in Arabic at my age, but I do remember most of the Arabic I learned when I first met my husband when I was in my 20s. I try to learn one new word or phrase a day – I always must write it out phonetically and repeat it over and over. If you are younger, you should have a much easier time learning Arabic than I do.
      3. I went without wearing hijab for 55 years of my life and my lord never had a problem with it. I don’t feel that now suddenly my god would be any more pleased with me because I am wearing a piece of cloth on my head that makes me hot and uncomfortable. I don’t think that wearing hijab makes me a better person. I believe that God looks at our actions, our goodness, and how we treat others, not at whether I am covering my hair or not. I personally don’t feel that this is an important issue between me and my god. I wear it solely because my husband wants me to, even though he knows how I feel about it.

      • Patricia says:

        Amen to #3. Hopefully we will judged by our actions — not a piece of cloth. I have seen many wear hijab who behave indecently and many without the hijab who are models of morality.

    • Hello – Sorry for the delay in answering your questions. I was traveling. Here are my answers to your questions…

      1- Since I don’t read Arabic, watching movies with Arabic subtitles is of absolutely no value to me. However if you have enough knowledge of Arabic, I would think that it would be a great way for you to learn more.

      2 – Unfortunately I haven’t felt the pressure to learn as much Arabic as I had wanted to. I am finding that it is very difficult for me to learn new words in Arabic at my age, but I do remember most of the Arabic I learned when I first met my husband when I was in my 20s. I try to learn at least one new word or phrase a day – I always must write it out phonetically and repeat it over and over. If you are younger, you should have a much easier time learning Arabic than I do.

      3 – I went without wearing hijab for 55 years of my life and my Lord never had a problem with it. I don’t feel that now suddenly my Lord would be any more pleased with me because I am wearing a piece of cloth on my head that makes me hot and uncomfortable in a sweltering place like Saudi Arabia. I also don’t think that wearing hijab makes me a better person. I believe that God looks at our actions, our goodness, and how we treat others, not at whether I am covering my hair or not. I personally don’t feel that this is an important issue between me and my god. I wear it solely because my husband wants me to, even though he knows how I feel about it.

      I hope I’ve answered your questions to your satisfaction!
      Best Wishes and Warmest Regards –

      • Ali says:

        Ms. Susie,

        First let me congratulate you for having a beautiful life & being able to know people & places and no doubt even I like going through ur blogs.

        In this message I wud just comment of the importance of Hijab in Islam & its benefits. I hope you & you friends will find’em reasonable, Inshallah.

        Why does Islam degrade women by keeping them behind the veil? Whats the use of wearing an abaya?

        The status of women in Islam is often the target of attacks in the secular media.
        The ‘hijab’ or the Islamic dress is cited by many as an example of the
        ‘subjugation’ of women under Islamic law. Before we analyze the reasoning
        behind the religiously mandated ‘hijab’, let us first study the status of women in
        societies before the advent of Islam
        1. In the past women were degraded and used as objects of lust
        The following examples from history amply illustrate the fact that the status of
        women in earlier civilizations was very low to the extent that they were denied
        basic human dignity:
        a. Babylonian Civilization:
        The women were degraded and were denied all rights under the Babylonian
        law. If a man murdered a woman, instead of him being punished, his wife
        was put to death.
        b. Greek Civilization:
        Greek Civilization is considered the most glorious of all ancient civilizations.
        Under this very ‘glorious’ system, women were deprived of all rights and
        were looked down upon. In Greek mythology, an ‘imaginary woman’ called
        ‘Pandora’ is the root cause of misfortune of human beings. The Greeks
        considered women to be subhuman and inferior to men. Though chastity of
        women was precious, and women were held in high esteem, the Greeks
        were later overwhelmed by ego and sexual perversions. Prostitution
        became a regular practice amongst all classes of Greek society.
        c. Roman Civilization:
        When Roman Civilization was at the zenith of its ‘glory’, a man even had the
        right to take the life of his wife. Prostitution and nudity were common
        amongst the Romans.
        d. Egyptian Civilization:
        The Egyptian considered women evil and as a sign of a devil.
        e. Pre-Islamic Arabia:
        Before Islam spread in Arabia, the Arabs looked down upon women and
        very often when a female child was born, she was buried alive.

        2. Islam uplifted women and gave them equality and expects them
        to maintain their status.
        Islam uplifted the status of women and granted them their just rights 1400 years
        ago. Islam expects women to maintain their status.
        Hijab for men
        People usually only discuss ‘hijab’ in the context of women. However, in the
        Glorious Qur’an, Allah (swt) first mentions ‘hijab’ for men before ‘hijab’ for the
        women. The Qur’an mentions in Surah Noor:
        “Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard
        their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: and Allah is
        well acquainted with all that they do.”
        [Al-Qur’an 24:30]
        The moment a man looks at a woman and if any brazen or unashamed thought
        comes to his mind, he should lower his gaze.
        Hijab for women.
        The next verse of Surah Noor, says:
        “ And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and
        guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and
        ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they
        should draw veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty
        except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their
        [Al-Qur’an 24:31]

        3. Six criteria for Hijab.
        According to Qur’an and Sunnah there are basically six criteria for observing
        1. Extent:
        The first criterion is the extent of the body that should be covered. This is
        different for men and women. The extent of covering obligatory on the male
        is to cover the body at least from the navel to the knees. For women, the
        extent of covering obligatory is to cover the complete body except the face
        and the hands upto the wrist. If they wish to, they can cover even these
        parts of the body. Some scholars of Islam insist that the face and the hands
        are part of the obligatory extent of ‘hijab’.
        All the remaining five criteria are the same for men and women.
        2. The clothes worn should be loose and should not reveal the figure.
        3. The clothes worn should not be transparent such that one can see through
        4. The clothes worn should not be so glamorous as to attract the opposite sex.
        5. The clothes worn should not resemble that of the opposite sex.
        6. The clothes worn should not resemble that of the unbelievers i.e. they
        should not wear clothes that are specifically identities or symbols of the
        unbelievers’ religions.

        4. Hijab includes conduct and behaviour among other things
        Complete ‘hijab’, besides the six criteria of clothing, also includes the moral
        conduct, behaviour, attitude and intention of the individual. A person only
        fulfilling the criteria of ‘hijab’ of the clothes is observing ‘hijab’ in a limited sense.
        ‘Hijab’ of the clothes should be accompanied by ‘hijab’ of the eyes, ‘hijab’ of the
        heart, ‘hijab’ of thought and ‘hijab’ of intention. It also includes the way a person
        walks, the way a person talks, the way he behaves, etc.

        5. Hijab prevents molestation
        The reason why Hijab is prescribed for women is mentioned in the Qur’an in the
        following verses of Surah Al-Ahzab:
        “O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women
        that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when
        abroad); that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such)
        and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
        [Al-Qur’an 33:59]
        The Qur’an says that Hijab has been prescribed for the women so that they are
        recognized as modest women and this will also prevent them from being

        6. Example of twin sisters
        Suppose two sisters who are twins, and who are equally beautiful, walk down
        the street. One of them is attired in the Islamic hijab i.e. the complete body is
        covered, except for the face and the hands up to the wrists. The other sister is
        wearing western clothes, a mini skirt or shorts. Just around the corner there is
        a hooligan or ruffian who is waiting for a catch, to tease a girl. Whom will he
        tease? The girl wearing the Islamic Hijab or the girl wearing the skirt or the mini?
        Naturally he will tease the girl wearing the skirt or the mini. Such dresses are an
        indirect invitation to the opposite sex for teasing and molestation. The Qur’an
        rightly says that hijab prevents women from being molested.

        7. Capital punishment for the rapists
        Under the Islamic shariah, a man convicted of having raped a woman, is given
        capital punishment. Many are astonished at this ‘harsh’ sentence. Some even
        say that Islam is a ruthless, barbaric religion! I have asked a simple question to
        hundreds of non-Muslim men. Suppose, God forbid, someone rapes your wife,
        your mother or your sister. You are made the judge and the rapist is brought in
        front of you. What punishment would you give him? All of them said they would
        put him to death. Some went to the extent of saying they would torture him to
        death. To them I ask, if someone rapes your wife or your mother you want to put
        him to death. But if the same crime is committed on somebody else’s wife or
        daughter you say capital punishment is barbaric. Why should there be double

        8. Western society falsely claims to have uplifted women
        Western talk of women’s liberalization is nothing but a disguised form of
        exploitation of her body, degradation of her soul, and deprivation of her honour.
        Western society claims to have ‘uplifted’ women. On the contrary it has actually
        degraded them to the status of concubines, mistresses and society butterflies
        who are mere tools in the hands of pleasure seekers and sex marketeers,
        hidden behind the colourful screen of ‘art’ and ‘culture’.

        9. USA has one of the highest rates of rape
        United States of America is supposed to be one of the most advanced countries
        of the world. It also has one of the highest rates of rape in any country in the
        world. According to a FBI report, in the year 1990, every day on an average
        1756 cases of rape were committed in U.S.A alone. Later another report said
        that on an average everyday 1900 cases of rapes are committed in USA. The
        year was not mentioned. May be it was 1992 or 1993. May be the Americans
        got ‘bolder’ in the following years.
        Consider a scenario where the Islamic hijab is followed in America. Whenever
        a man looks at a woman and any brazen or unashamed thought comes to his
        mind, he lowers his gaze. Every woman wears the Islamic hijab, that is the
        complete body is covered except the face and the hands upto the wrist. After
        this if any man commits rape he is given capital punishment. I ask you, in such
        a scenario, will the rate of rape in America increase, will it remain the same, or
        will it decrease?

        10. Implementation of Islamic Shariah will reduce the rate of rapes
        Naturally as soon as Islamic Shariah is implemented positive results will be
        inevitable. If Islamic Shariah is implemented in any part of the world, whether it
        is America or Europe, society will breathe easier. Hijab does not degrade a
        woman but uplifts a woman and protects her modesty and chastity.

        And specially for the 3rd Point in the message above : “I went without wearing hijab for 55 years of my life and my Lord never had a problem with it. I don’t feel that now suddenly my Lord would be any more pleased with me because I am wearing a piece of cloth on my head” – This means that if a person whose a drunker, never good with his wife & children & parents has never suffered but has a good life…does it mean that his Lord does not have any problem with it? Ofcourse we all would say “NO”. And that is what the Judgement day is for…Our Almighty Lord gives us chances to improve & this is till our last breath..and one day we will find ourselves standing in front of Him…to give answers for our deeds.

        May we all be blessed with guidance of the right path. Ameen.

        And finally please accept my sincere apologize if this message hurts anyone but sometimes its needed..needed to be frank when explaining the facts & a few more sorries to Ms.Susie for taking the liberty & writing in. But it was not meant to hurt or harm anyones feelings. I respect all religions & sentiments – so no one should take it personally.

        Thanks & Br,

      • Thank you, Ali, for taking the time to point out all the reasons for hijab and the thinking behind it.
        I still however would not personally choose to wear the hijab, and it should be my right, my choice, not to do so.
        And I feel that men need to take responsibility for themselves and their actions and control themselves.
        I believe that men who rape women are sick individuals – how else do you explain the rape of children who are not dressed seductively or men who break into old women’s homes in the middle of the night when she is asleep? There is no visual stimulation required for these types of sick crimes. Seeing someone’s hair is just an excuse in my opinion. There are rapes that occur in Islamic countries too – by men who unable to control themselves.
        Why should I have to cover my hair if men are supposed to lower their gaze anyway?
        I still dislike wearing hijab and I will never change my opinion. It makes me hot, itchy and uncomfortable. I believe that people should dress to be comfortable, according to the weather.
        I do appreciate you taking the time to explain – thanks much.

      • Patricia says:

        I have been following this conversation for some time. I would like to express support for Susie’s position on covering. I also am married to a Saudi. The buttom line is that the hijab, regardless of it’s origin, is currently being used by men to subjugate women. It holds the premise that women and men have uncontrollable sexual desires and will have no self control if a man sees the face and hair of a woman. This idea is understandable in the primitive, rural society that has not had the opportunity to see what both women and men can do with their lives is unhampered by such restrictive thinking. The more educated a person becomes (and I mean truly educated — not just reading of books) the more these ideas lose favor and acceptance. For rural men, women are someone’s property (whether a father, husband, brother, etc). If a women is harmed it is their reputation as well as the women’s reputation that is damaged. Eventually with education, people are able to see that each person is responsible for his own behavior and will be judged by God accordingly. What about a girl who covers her face but hands her phone number to someone in the mall, what about a girl who covers her hair but puts on a lot of makeup, what about a girl who is a phd candidate who covers neither her face or hair and behaves in a modest way? Each is responsible for their own behavior and each man will be judged by the way they react to each of the women. As Susie points out, rape is a problem that stems from men who are sick. Rapes occur everywhere in the world and in the mosem world, unfortunately, it occurs more often than in the press because of families covering it up. If you are part of a society that views women mainly as sexual objects it is inevitable that sexual crimes will occur. Most crimes against Moslem women are crimes against covered women. How is that explained? Everyone has their own idea about what is provocation. To some it is uncovered hair or an uncovered face. In my humble opinion, provocation is primarily in behavior whether covered or not. We would be far better off in the world, if we taught proper behavior to both our boys and our girls — not concentrate on superficial things.

      • Thank you, Patricia!!!

  45. Khadijah Tyler says:

    Thanks for reading my comment. There is a typo there though as i was reading it over. Ive been here since 1989, not 1998. Would be pretty odd if I had lived half my life here with 3 kids at that age. I was 21 when I came and my eldest daughter was 2 years old. My other two daughters were born here.
    It must be really different coming to live in saudi later in life as you have. I must admit though, if I had to live anywhere but Jeddah, I probably wouldnt have stayed!

  46. Khadijah Tyler says:

    I’ve read a lot of blogs by non natives regarding SA. Your blog is quite uplifting. I think anyone confused or in disagreement of anything you write about is completely out of lifestyle differences. As it was noted, your experiences are molded by your husband. So true. There are different financial levels, religious levels and so on. No one persons experience will be the same as another. I’ve been living in SA since May of 1998. Half of my life has been here in SA. I am married to a saudi and we have 3 children. I have a lot to comment on and such and will be back to follow your adventures. I’m supposed to be getting ready for an akeekah (baby shower). The net always distracts me! Take care, Khadijah aka Michelle

    • Thank you, Khadijah – I appreciate your comment. I am miffed by those who misinterpret my intentions and think that I am criticizing when I am merely writing about my experiences and expressing that I don’t necessarily understand many things here. Questioning is not criticizing, but unfortunately some people seem to think that it is. My husband is Saudi, so why would I want to put him or his culture down? Thanks for your comment and understanding.

      • Chiara says:

        Excellent comment Susie. It would be indeed self-defeating to hate the culture of both your husband, and, by inheritence and now life experience, your own son! That doesn’t mean you may not always be totally happy with all of it, nor are they, probably.

  47. sb says:

    you photos are amazing and so is your blog. You always speak the truth and the way you see the difference between KSA and the rest of the world. That is what I like and appreciate about you and your judgement. I like looking at pictures of KSA as I know I would probably not visit the country in my life as it is so different to other countries. I respect the custom of KSA, but it is so different to the lifestyle that I live in. Women who go there for holiday or to live from abroad, like yourself are more braver than me. I am an indian who has been born and brought up in Europe. I regularly travel to India, I can see the difference in the culture in the country that I have been brought up and the country that my parents have been brought up. Even though I can see the difference I do not mind it. KSA is a lot different to the traditions and cultures of a lot of countries. It is like a different world to the world that we live in. Some people like living there some people don’t. I may sounding a bit prejudice, which I am not trying to be. It is just my opinion. I respect all cultures, traditions and cultures. All I am saying is that the lifestyle of KSA does not match the lifestyle that I live in.

    • Hi SB – Thank you so very much for taking the time to comment. I totally understand what you are saying and you don’t sound prejudice. All cultures are unique – that’s what makes the world such an interesting place. Assimilating into a culture so different from our own is not easy at all, and I would say that most people feel most comfortable with what they are used to and grew up with. Thanks again!

  48. nura81 says:

    Hi Susie,

    I lived in Saudi as an exchange student several years ago. It was definitely a wonderful experience. There was this fish dish I tried and I can’t for the life of me remember what is was. It was a whole fried fish served with brown rice, i believe it was a specialty in Jeddah. I would love to go back to Saudi and work, right now I undertaking graduate studies in Public Health, what would be the best way of looking for employment their and would you happen to have the recipe for the dish I referred to above?

  49. I’ve been following your blog for a while, it’s amazing. keep up, and God bless you.

  50. Anmar Fathaldin says:

    I have enjoyed surfing through your website.
    I’m a Jiddawi studying at Montreal.
    I thought you did a very decent job taking the pictures, but I thought that you misrepresented the picture as a whole. You only took pictures that would strengthen stereotypes about Saudi. I think that you have noticed that a minimum of 50% of Jiddawi women do not cover their faces almost all women of northern Jiddah don’t. My wife doesn’t, my sister doesn’t, my mom doesn’t almost 99.9% of my relatives do not. You haven’t taken any pictures of a happy couple walking hand in hand shopping, because my wife and I do. You didn’t take pictures of “Al-Salheya” beach (which is an extreme for me) where you can’t find a girl who is not wearing a bikini (Saudi women yes) I’m just saying that use your camera fairly try yo show the real picture of Jiddah. Because anyone who would try to know Jiddah through your website would hate it and hate Saudi.

    Sorry for all the criticism.
    I really enjoyed the pictures.
    I’m just a proud Jiddawi.
    Sorry if I came off as rude or anything of that sort.

    Thank you.

  51. Robert Latuile says:

    You are the most ridiculous woman of a democratic country (origin) who tried to live in a the most anti democratic place of the world.
    Are you happy to live there ? Where non Saudi Arabia workers are treat like dogs ? Where people live under protect of big guard barriers ?

    Sorry to say but i’m sharing your blog for joking with real people (and friends).

    Thx to show how is the mentality of some religious people.

    Proud to live in a free and democratic country.

    • Patricia Abahusayn says:

      This seems particularily harsh. Everyone should show respect for other’s opinions and not everyone’s experiences are the same. There are good and bad people everywhere on the face of the earth. Yes, there are some inequiities in the treatment of people and yes, they must be changed. But every country has things they need to change. Being “democratic” does not mean that all are treated equally — you only have to visit the slums of all the big cities in all the “democratic” countries to see that. In addition, many of our own citizens have to decide between medication and paying their rent. I do the value the freedom of my country of origin but I also value the people of other countries who, for the most part, want the same things we all want. Neither governments or religious fanatics (of all countries) are truly representative of the population.

  52. Patricia Abahusayn says:

    Having lived in Saudi Arabia for 18 years and still returning at least twice a year my experiences being married to a Saudi are different. I used to give talks at the US embassy about what it was like being married to a Saudi and the first thing I would point out that is that you can not stereotype that since each marriage is different depending on the two people involved. I was fortunate to have a driver and was able to go out by myself and had a very active social life with other women friends. I also shopped by myself most of the time since my husband did not like shopping. I found life in Riyadh very enjoyable because of the active social life I had both with my women friends and with couples both my husband and I enjoyed spending time with. Our three children were very happy living there as well. Although my husband has a large family they never interferred and were always very nice to me. I have never covered my hair amd my husband never requested me to do that. I would say 80% of those married to Saudi’s do cover their hair, however. I believe the western coast and eastern coast are more relaxed than Riyadh but I prefer Riyadh because of the lack of humidity and think there is more to offer in the way of shopping in Riyadh. There are lots of spas, restaurants, etc in Riyadh as there are in Jiddah. I saw Riyadh grow from one stop light in the town to a traffic nightmare, however! Unfortunately, how open your life is in Saudi Arabia greatly depends on being comfortable enough financially to have your own home (without in-laws), a driver so you can go out when you need to and are not dependent on anyone and an understanding open minded husband who is confident enough to let you be you. Otherwise, there is no question that it can be difficult to adjust to life there and the lack of independence. I have seen a lot fewer mutawahs in my last visits although they can sometimes suddenly appear. Many restaurants let people remain inside during prayer but many do not as well. Grocery stores usually allow shopping during prayer but other shops usually require everyone to leave. I am fortunate my husband remained the same whether we are in Saudi Arabia or in the States. Unquestionably, we are both more careful to adapt our behavior when in Saudi Arabia but our personal interaction and our life inside our home always remained the same and I was always free to go out as I wished. Even our Saudi woman friends go out alone and many run their own businesses by themselves. If you look at the cars in the streets probably 50% have women on their own with a driver. So that is one more person’s perspective and as pointed out everyone may have different experiences.

  53. Dear Suzie,Whilst I applaud your initiative for this blog, you have some facts totally wrong. I have lived in Saudi Arabia most of my adult life and I now live in Riyadh. We do not have to cover our hair. Abbays are not polyester ( unless they are cheap) many are made from silk and other fine materials and are very attractive. We are allowed to stay inside most shops/restuarants during prayer time.Mutawa are not on “every corner” and are less prominent than ever.Women can go out alone if they want to. There are so many activities in Riyadh other than shopping and eating.Why would you say don’t go to Riyadh? It is a beautiful city and the social life is great! There are also many well equipped and tastefully designed ladies spas and gyms.I hope my comments help to put a more positive spin on this country.I am a British expat living a very good quality of life here. It is all about attitude.

    • Dear Philipa – While I appreciate the fact that your experiences here have been totally different from mine, either you are not married to a Saudi and are living in a compound, or you are married to a very progressive Saudi who doesn’t care if you adhere to Islam while you are here. My experiences have been totally shaped by my husband – I wear the hijab because he wants me to. I have never been out alone. I don’t wear an expensive abaya made of silk. We have been kicked out of shops at prayer time or locked inside restaurants – BTW, we are rarely out at prayer time anyway because my husband wants to be home for prayers. I’ve never said Muttawwa are on every corner. I did not say don’t go to Riyadh – I’ve never been there, but I have been told by many women here that Riyadh is more strict about dress and muttawa are more prominent. I don’t feel that I have presented this country in a negative light. I’ve tried to highlight many of the things I find fascinating and interesting. I am a very upbeat person – questioning things I don’t understand doesn’t mean I am criticizing or negative. I’m happy for you that you love it here. Most of my adult life except for the last two years have been spent in the states. I am now 57 years old. Some might say that I am too set in my ways at this point in my life to put up with some of the severe changes in lifestyle I have had to face, but I have always been flexible and open-minded. Since my husband spent 30 years in the states with me, I thought I knew him and didn’t think he would revert back to being so Saudi when we came here, but he has. Everyone’s experiences are different – I am presenting mine as I see them – I hope you can appreciate that.

  54. Jill says:

    Hi Susie,
    Both the blogs were very interesting, especially Islamic people’s view of the Western lifestyle.

    My overall comment is that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. So men have to not be allowed to drive. Men have to cover up, not be allowed university education or allowed to go out alone. Men have to follow all the rules and restrictions, they set for women otherwise it is a case of do as I say and not as I do. Finally, men should be paid what women are paid. What is the point of unequality, one gender simply thinks that it is unreasonably superior. Men voting for men.
    My cousin and family are presently living and working in Jeddah and appear to love it.

  55. Sumayyah says:

    Hi Susie,

    I tried accessing your other site today but it seems the Saudis have blocked it. I had no problem yesterday though. Have you tried contacting the relevant authorities to have this ‘ban’ lifted within the Kingdom. Often, once informed that a site is ‘harmless’, they will reverse their decision – it’s just a case of putting them right.

  56. Charles says:

    Really great blog! It reminds me of so many memories! I recognize a lot of your photos! I went to Jeddah 2 years ago during 3 months for a training. It was so great and I want to come back there again but it’s almost impossible for me to have a visa 😦

  57. Maru says:

    Hola Susie! soy una fiel seguidora de tu blog Susie’s big adventure pero desde hoy tu paguina esta bloqueada para los que vivimos aqui en Arabia Saudita. Admiro mucho tu punto de vista al tratar temas considerados polemicos. Que esta censura no calle tu voz!

  58. Patricia Abahusayn says:

    Hi Susie, I just came upon your blog today and am fascinated since we share so much in commom. I also met my Saudi husband at the University of Arizona. We were married in 1970. I lived 18 years in Riyadh (1972-1991) and since then Irvine, CA is our homebase although we travel and back and forth. My husband got his Ph.D from Riverside, CA and taught at the University in Riyadh and then became Deputy Minister of Agriculture and eventually moved into the private sector. I also love photography, taught school and then had a jewelry making businss. I am now administrator of my son’s preschool here in Irvine. We have 3 sons and 4 grandchildren. Would love to hear from you by email and share more of our experiences. Patty

  59. M says:

    Assalamu Alaikum,
    I would appreciate if you could forward me your email address to m.diouri@ed.ac.uk.
    I would like to request your copyright permission to use your images for educational/non-commercial purposes to teach the Arabic language online.
    Looking forward to hearing from you
    Thank you

  60. haya says:

    * about our country *

  61. haya says:


    i would like to say that i’m so proud of u
    what a nice way to talk about country =)

    and i want u to support my group please,

    thank you


  62. Hi Mohammed – I’ll have to check out the Endowment Project next time I’m out in that area. Thanks for letting me know.

  63. mohammed says:

    i also recalled that when i was entering makkah coming from jeddah i passed through this monument and then going down a kilometer or so i also noticed the King Abdul Aziz Endowment Project peeking from behind a huge mountain.(a distance of atleast 25 kilometers)
    for the other readers: this project is locates right infront of the holy mosque between the King abdul Aziz and King fahd gates to the mosque.
    a spectacular piece of construction i must say.

  64. Your blogging about halal meat is getting a lot of reader response and you should read it and send a response.

    Check the article posting at-

  65. sultan malki says:

    hi susie .. actioly i lived in saudi arabia for 19 years ago and now i am in the U.S.A florida miami , I am studying english language right now ,and I have a peresentation about my hometown jeddah city i took a look about your profile and i like it. But you know we have amazing things in saudi arabia and we should take a look for it for example did you see those beaches : crystal beach , al-remal beach, al-durrah beach, al-ghous beach ,fall beach
    and there is many malls for shopping too i wonder if i had pictures for it to show my teacher and student how jeddah look like .. and have fun in jeddah ,and be carefull because you are a women lol

  66. mohammed says:

    hey forgot to say one thing the huge cycle that u posted we used to call it as ADAM`s cycle.
    I miss the Al-Baik restaurant.

  67. mohammed says:

    I am an indian by nationality but born and brought up in Riyadh all my life.I had to come back to india as my parents needed me here (they came back after 35 years in Riyadh -worked for saudi aramco).I recently came accorss this blog and (the first blog i ever read)I was moved to see all that, that i left behind.
    I personally like to say that you have done and are doing the best thing a person can do with a camera.
    Great pictures.

  68. I love your site. Keep it up !

  69. Frida says:

    Hi Susie
    so you cant go with a driver either? I used a “pivate driver” who did a lot of driving for the nuses exreamly honest. Also cheaper than our comp. drivers.
    And I didn´t always had to book a time..

  70. Wow, Frida – Sounds like you were able to take advantage of many things Jeddah has to offer in your year here! My problem is transportation…

    Hi Shanthalal – Send me more info and I’ll see what I can do.

  71. Thanks, Amanda!

    For Anyone Interested in Beaches in the Jeddah area – I just picked up a brochure that lists several JEDDAH BEACH RESORTS:
    2-656-8888 Crystal
    2-606-6644 Nakheel
    2-656-1880 Remal
    2-656-1980 Dive Village
    2-618-0000 Durrat Al-Arous
    2-656-0033 Fal
    2-234-1900 Blue Beach
    2-655-5500 Movenpick
    2-656-0702 Coral Beach
    2-656-1444 Andalus Resort
    2-656-3030 Obhur Resort
    2-234-2264 Sheraton
    2-234-2332 Huda Beach

    ALSO – I also have a few more numbers for local MARINAS, DIVE RESORTS AND DIVING COMPANIES. Let me know if you’re interested.

  72. Hi Marc – You must be talking about my other blog’s music because I haven’t figured out how to add my playlist on to WordPress yet! How do you dub in blue sky? There are some great sites out there with info on Riyadh. Try clicking on the link under N. Alrajhi’s comment above – it’s a wonderful site.

    Hi Louise – I am actually about 9 hours ahead of your time so I think it was more like noon? I think the time is shown on your local time.

  73. shanthalal says:

    dear mam
    i am a srilankan work in saudi arabia in a fishing company name of al otheshan which situated in jizan.i saw ur site and it’s great and i would like to send some snaps of fish which i have.if u have any possibility to promote our fish in saudi market (specialy in damam,riyadh & jeddah )please inform me.
    thank you

  74. shanthalal says:

    dear mam
    i am a srilankan work in saudi arabia in a fishing company name of al otheshan which situated in jizan.i saw ur site and it’s great and i would like to send some snaps of fish which i have.if u have any possility to promote our fish in saudi market (specialy in damam,riyadh & jeddah )please inform me.
    thank you

  75. Frida says:

    Hello Susie.
    regrding the beaches, I lived in Saudi 2003-2004 the best year of my life!! I don´t know if any of the places are still there of course but I liked Intercontinentals beach the best, but there were mostly ex pats. Also god for children. I didn´t like Al-bilal cause I´m not such a great swimmer. But I spent most of my time at Trio Ranch were I had a horse. I also road (?) at Jeddah eqestrian club, but I think it´s gone.

    Best regards Frida (Sweden)

  76. Amanda Beals says:


    Congratulations on your astounding work. I would love to speak with you directly about a project I would be honored to have you participate in.

    Warmly (from NY)

  77. Louise says:

    Susie – Thank for your comment about the Photo of the Day.I will check out the Skywatch site.I note that you sent your comment at 4:00am. Do you always go to “work” so early in the morning? Louise

  78. Louise says:

    Susie – Thank for your comment about photo of the day i will checkout the Skywach site.I note that you sent your comment at 4:00am. Do you always go to “work” so early in the morning? Louise

  79. Marc says:

    …I’ve actually left your website on, after viewing, because I like the music mix. A few songs I like, but didn’t know the name of. So much sincerity in your photographs. And they’re good photo’s as well, such blue sky. I usually have to dub in a deep blue sky background. I’m looking around for current info about living in Riyahd, as a Saudi company has expressed some interest in having me join the firm. Enjoyed your blog and so on….

  80. Hi Dr Shakeel – Thank you for your kind comments. I too have passions for photography and culture. I think you would enjoy blogging if that is the case with you too!

  81. Dr shakeel says:

    hi susie ,

    just got to say wow and apreciate the way u have taken every detail into pictures with keeness. great blog there .
    i have been in saudiarabia for past 25 year or say since my child hood .great place is saudi arabia ..

    i hope i start some thing like u r page coz i am passionate about photography and culture.


  82. Hi Reemoo – I am flattered and interested as well. I love Hyper Panda and I love photography! I think it would be a great match for me.

  83. Reemoo says:

    Dear Susie,

    My Name is Rami Rajab, I’m the marketing & PR director of Panda company ” no.1 supermarket & Hyper Market in the kingdom.

    we are interested to recruiter you excellent talent in photography in some of our advertising project.

    Please let me know if you are interested.

  84. N. Alrajhi says:

    Hi there Susie, great blog saw your other one a while back. I’ve started my own http://www.riyadhciti.wordpress.com

    I’m a College student, raised in the states all my life 🙂

  85. maria says:

    Hi Susie,

    thanks for your answer; I’m going to work as a House manager for a prominent saudi family so that means that I’ll be living with the family but I would like to have my own moments of “freedom”… do you understand me?

  86. Hi Maria – I am probably having a totally different experience than what you will have. I don’t live on a compound and I don’t have access to transportation and my husband is Saudi. My ex-pat friends who are here to work or are married to other ex-pats seem to have more freedom and more things available for them to do. You can do things by yourself, but it would probably be advisable to go with a girlfriend. There are plenty of other women who will be in the same boat as yourself.

  87. Hi Thabit – You probably need to check out some of the private beaches in the Obhur area. Take a drive out there and tell the guards you are interested in seeing the places. They should allow you in to check them out. One that is really nice and is strictly for ex-pats is Salhiya, but they may not have any memberships available right now. I highly recommend Al Nakheel – it’s very nice. There’s another one called Al-Bilad. I don’t know that there is a compiled list of available beaches – maybe I should work on one?

  88. Hi Vanessa – You asked about women going out alone here in Saudi Arabia. The answer could be Yes in some cases and No in others. I think you could go out grocery shopping or to the mall alone. I never have though because my husband is paranoid about my safety. I feel very safe here though, but he is Saudi and thinks all men look at women as sex objects so that’s why he’s paranoid. There are some places where women cannot go. There are some cases when you might get harrassed or approached if you are alone.
    For the most part if you are living in a compound, you will make friends with other ex-pat wives and will have access to transportation. I don’t and this is my main problem here. I have to depend on my hubby to take me places and he hates to drive here!
    Hope this has helped!
    Warmest Regards – Susie

  89. Vanessa says:


    I was also wondering if women could go out alone?
    My husband is thinking to move to Saudi Arabia, and it would be nice to know things before planning tomove.



  90. maria says:


    I’m planning to go to Saudi Arabia because I have an interesting job offer. I would like to know how is the life for an european single woman in KSA? Are we allowed to go out alone for shopping, walking, visiting the town or the country?

    • Louise says:


      Before I came here I found almost nothing about how it’s like to live here. I hope my experience here give you an idea of how it’s like.The first thing you need to know is that this country is sex and civil status segregated, think South africa’s apartheid.At restaurants, banks,airline offices there is a family section and a single section, by this understand single male and married men who are without their wives. This also applied to Starbucks, Donkin’ Donuts. etc. There are two 2 lifestyles for expats here: the first one is the one like I have in a compound, western style military guarded gated community with amenities such as restaurants, golf courses,tennis,squash, gym and swimming pool,mini market, laundry service, 24hr maintenance, etc.Keep in mind swimming pools outside a compound is off limits for women even at western chain hotels because they will have to build a wall to separate men and women.The residents at these compounds are mostly americans, canadians, europeans,south africans and aussies. Compounds provide transportation, as women are not allowed to drive, to supermarkets and shopping malls and many of us have our own driver.You won’t see many of us at night since the only public entertainment men and women are allowed to do is shopping and eating.At night,you will see the locals by the thousands at malls and restaurants as well as mutawas( religious police)making sure not related men and women don’t mingle plus traffic is pure hell.We can travel anywhere domestic or international because we keep our passport and don’t need permission from husbands unlike muslim women who do.Having said that,unless you live in Riyadh, we don’t go there because all women have to cover the head with a scarf and mutawas are on every corner as well as. Makka and Medinah which are holy places for only muslims.About the passport, your employer can exercise the right to hold your passport and this is common practice with foreign labour,unless you have high paid position, and you will carry an ID residence/ employment card called Iqama, but if a problem arise between you and your employer, you won’t be able to leave the country. I know that embassy or consulates can do very little to help you. Check your with country’s website in Riyadh for info.You’re coming here as single and I will sugest you find western expats as soon as you can in order to have some kind of normal life as we know it.Saudi’s are very protective of their families and you won’t be invited to their homes.
      The other lifestyle is for the labour from the east:India,Pakistan,Sri Lanka,Malaysia, Indonesia,Nepal,Philipines.To see them working and being up close and personal to human misery was very shocking to me. They do all the hard work, housekeeping,nurses at hospitals, etc.

      I also did not find anywhere about tha said abaya is mandatory. Well is not mandatory excep in Riyadh,Makka, and Medinah,not in the eastern province, instead one can wear loose long sleeve shirt and pants.The con about this is that you draw the attention of locals and sometimes women are followed and that’s why is better to wear the abaya and blend in.During the hot months (April-November)is very uncomfortable to wear since it’s made of 100%polyester and black.It feels like being in a sauna inside of a garbage bag.I wonder how the women with abaya, nekab, head scarf,wool gloves and sock don’t die of heat stroke. You see abayas with embelishments but no matter how many swarovsky crystals you put on, it doesn’t make it pretty.It’s like putting swarovsky cristals on an orange inmate jumpsuit. Valentino or de la Renta did not come up with this model,it was designed to hide any curve you may have and look utterly unattractive.But there are ways to feel pretty and that’s with makeup.The second most profitable market after US is Saudi.As in every store in the country, the sales people at makeup stores are men, most of them from Syria and Jordan, they cannot put in on you but they can sell it to you when the stores are open from 10-12pm and the reopen at 4pm but will close for prayer (salaat) around 5 pm and again around 7pm depending on the month of the year.Every shop closes and you will have to get out of the store or mall and wait between 15-30 mins to resume you shopping.This is the only muslim country that does this.This can be frustrating at the beginning since you have to plan your chores around it.

      You don’t see expat women working out outside the compunds since we our concept of athletic apparel does not include the abaya and we have facilities inside the compound. Local women go for walks at the corniche in the afternoon.We go to the private western expats only beaches, where western attire is the rule and abayas,hijabs, nekabs, thobes, burkinis are not allowed.

      These are the some of the things here from our home countries but you will find the Saudis cordial, polite people, who want the same things we do for our kids and families but look at some aspects of life through a different lens. My advice to you is to be respectful of their customs, this is their country and you’re a guest.

  91. Thabit says:


    Great site. I am currently residing with my family in Jeddah (We are from South Africa).

    One thing i realised from your website, is that no matter where you go, there is beauty to be found(referring to your pics). Saudi is a cool place to stay.

    I do require a few suggestions from you regarding expats beaches in Jeddah. As a family we enjoy water and it would be refreshing to swim in sea water again. It might sound simple, but in life, it is the small things you tend to miss.

    We are muslim and swim within the rules of Islam, so it does not necessarily have to be a completely expat beach.

    Please let me know.

    Regarding one of your previous pics, there is a desalination plant just opposite Saudi City where they process the water. (I think it was a comment on the water trucks).

    Thanks in advance

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