Abaya shopping for romantic Saudi Arabia weekend

“By the way, it will be best if you can wear an abaya,” I said.

My wife has been a great sport this week, acquiescing to a getaway to Dubai that just happens to have overnight stops in Riyadh (coming) and Jeddah (going). Her protests were muted as I spent most of last Sunday putting the trip together, convincing Delta agents that Saudi Arabian Airlines is indeed a partner, cajoling them into figuring out how to book, then repeatedly correcting errors on the dates and flights due to the odd schedule and added complication that I put wife in business but myself in economy. That’s the only business upgrade I am willing to pay for! Two nights at the Park Hyatt Dubai on my soon-expiring Hyatt certs from their credit card helped. Marriott certs take care of the Saudi Arabia nights, I never would have never thought that the Marriotts there are only Category 3.

She shook her head for four days as I made daily trips to the consulate, finally securing the visas on Thursday. That deserves a post of its own. In the meantime sample my inspiration in this, Matthew’s How to Obtain a Saudi Arabia Transit Visa. Bringing wife and transiting twice raised a few eyebrows; I got to know everyone up to the Vice Consul quite well. The building no longer required me to show ID or sign in.

Today we considered the fashion question. It seems black abaya are still the standard, though many Saudis and foreigners have adopted more color and decoration, or forsake the abaya for alternate garments. We are going there to experience and learn, not to attract attention, so are going with an abaya for her. We found this one on Amazon with a bit of Chinese styling on a modest brown color.

“This is your treat,” she said.

A fashion abaya, image from Wikicommons

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  • GENE N

    do they make it in crotchless?

  • P T

    Too bad for her. Don’t know if I could do it. But I do admire you for riding in coach and giving her business. But Delta, OMG. I am having a hard time myself with a booking. Gee Whiz.

  • Joey

    Great job on the transit visa! You had to go to the consulate every single day for four days? Also, I don’t believe the expats in KSA (ie. those from India, Philippines, Pakistan, Ethiopia, etc.) wear abayas when walking around the cities.

  • @Joey – Day 1 hours on website wrong, closed by the time I got there, Day 2 they said I needed to talk to Vice Consul, he was out, Day 3 talked to the Vice Consul, Day 4 pickup though there was some delay for the Vice Consul to be around to stamp, almost had a Day 5, interestingly they do open on Fridays. The phrase that captured it was “Because this is a special case.”

    From what I see there are plenty that do not wear abaya, instead some other modest clothes, we figured we probably had to get something more conservative that what’s in the closet and we want to have maximum sightseeing flexibility, so we are going abaya. I would feel terrible if she were accosted or harassed so we are being cautious. Without being accustomed to the local mores we could easily do the wrong thing. An Egyptian friend of mine went last year with his wife and though a Muslim and Arabic speaker, he got into issues at times without even thinking, like at a shopping mall getting into an elevator with other women while his wife was in a store.

  • Glenn (The Military Frequent Flyer)

    Having lived over in the ME for years, I can tell you that in Saudi Arabia(only) most white women are expected to wear an abaya, but not the veil. TCNs bundle up but very rarely wear an abaya as that conotes a status that they generally do not have.
    Beware the Muttawa (religious police), they are the ones who carry canes to “correct” people who make religious infractions to include showing too much ankle for a woman.

  • Stefan

    Romantic weekend in Saudi Arabia?

  • @Stefan – well it will be all together time!

  • John

    @RTC good one! ha ha!

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