So I've been sent to Saudi Arabia for 3 days for work to visit Dammam, Jeddah and Riyadh and so I thought I'd blog from here...
Its a place I've always wanted to go to and have been lucky enough to now get the chance.
The night before the trip came and I hit the shops in Salmiya Kuwait to find my abaya...I never knew there was so much choice...embellished, beaded, coloured....I ended up choosing a black one with gold embroidery, I wanted a bit of bling. The lady at the desk enquired if it was my first time going to Mecca, to which I had to explain I was travelling for work and not on the pilgramage, and she then taught me how to put my headscarf on....(I later found out the way I was taught is persian)
We got to Damman by crossing the causeway from Bahrain. This is an experience in itself. The causeway is a long bridge across the Arabian Gulf Sea connecting the two countries. At the middle you go through two towers, where you have to be taken away by the police to get your fingerprints taken (why??), the car is then fully searched, passports stamped and off we went.
Out of the three places, I prefer Jeddah, its on the western coast and next to the Red Sea, the temperature was a lot cooler, but still around 39, and the place was more open, full of trees and open spaces. Riyadh on the other hand seems really dark and claustrophobic. I have to wear my headscarf in Riyadh and I have to say I now have appreciation for the sacrifice that the ladies make, it is so hot inside these abayas. If 45 degrees wasnt hot enough you try wearing a black cloak and hood, it makes it 10 x worse...I now understand why they frequent the malls, as its the only place to stay cool enough.
I feel though a certain power also comes with wearing the abaya...I expected to feel very oppressed and hidden away but its strange, I found the men would now do anything to help the ladies, I could get any numbers or bags carried, doors opened, almost as if they were real gentlemen....I expects its a different experience though if you did this all the time....
Still looking forward to getting back to Kuwait and a bit of freedom that comes with it!