Last week I embarked on a journey to the great Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a place which, for many, purely exists in their imaginations. I was not aware of who would be collecting me from the airport so I was delighted, but also relieved, to see a sign bearing my name as I walked though immigration at the unsocial hour of 3am. But as soon as my feet touched the ground, I was thrown into a new and exciting culture, and an environment which offered me a whole new cultural experience. However, I was also very conscious of the fact that I was not wearing a traditional Saudi Arabian abaya, which is a long black cloak that fastens at the front, so I wore a loose fitting black top and dark jeans hoping this would be sufficient.


But I needn’t have worried. The Saudi Arabian women were extremely welcoming and as I was very conscious of etiquette, I regularly asked my female hosts for guidance which they gave willingly. One of my hosts gave me an abaya for my stay and as the weather was warm, this was reflected in the type of abaya, as it was thin and flowing. At the end of the long sleeves, glass beads intricately added a feminine touch to the garment and when they caught the hot Saudi Arabian sun they glistened. In similarity with our dress code for the various seasons in the UK, the abaya also changes, and to get to experience how the abaya feels to wear at different times of the year, is certainly one reason why I desire to return.

The Saudi Arabian women were also incredibly inspiring to engage in conversation with on subjects from education to culture, lifestyle and fashion and I always enjoy listening to new perspectives and meeting women who all have a story to tell. It delighted me how ambitious these women were and I look forward to staying in touch with them and coming back to experience more of this intriguing land.


Apart from the people, Saudi Arabia is also very unique and special due to its reformation from its origins as a desert kingdom, to becoming one of the world’s wealthiest nations. Because of this, I wanted to immerse myself in the true culture of this state, and visited a traditional market before my return to London. Apart from memories made and a desire to return here to see how this land continues to transform, I took home a small bottle of authentic Saudi Arabian perfume and my glass bead abaya, which will forever remind me of my first trip to the Kingdom.

By Maggie

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