Friday, April 25, 2014

Souvenirs from Saudi Arabia

Every time I travel back to the states from Saudi Arabia, I try to take souvenirs with me to give to family and friends.  I have taken dozens of "niqabs" (face veils) for my girlfriends, the red and white checked scarves that Saudi men wear here called "shemagh," prayer beads, and a variety of colorful prayer rugs.

I've also purchased oud (strongly scented oils used as perfumes) and these little scented cubes that are nice to put in bathrooms or in drawers. Surprisingly I was able to find Christmas ornaments last year that were painted carved wooden camels.

It's not that easy to find souvenirs here in Saudi Arabia like it is in other places around the world that cater to tourists.  And that could be because Saudi Arabia only really allows religious tourism.

I like to try to find items that have Arabic writing on them or images that are typically Arab, but like I said, it's not that easy.  Even finding T-shirts related to Saudi Arabia is difficult.  I also like to try to find things that are useful and not just dust collectors, and since I am always on a budget, I try to find reasonably priced items as well.

Here are some of the souvenirs that I have found here in Saudi Arabia ...

More expensive than most gifts that I usually purchase, this beautiful decoupaged wooden keepsake box with a map of Saudi Arabia on it was filled with a variety of high end dates.

Miniature Yemeni homes made of clay.

Playing cards with the Kings and Jacks wearing Middle Eastern headgear, and the Queens wearing face veils. 

Henna design templates.


Gold coin face veils generally worn by brides or for special occasions.

Starbucks coffee mugs

Purses with Arabic calligraphy - I asked my husband if it said anything in particular, to which he jokingly replied, "It says that whoever buys this purse is an idiot."

Cheenko - popular old time serving pieces

Polo shirts by Kalimah Brand.  They also have an interesting variety of Arab themed T-shirts

Kalimah Brand ladies long sleeved T-shirt with the shemagh (red and white checked) design incorporated into it

Scarves with Arabic designs and letters by Kalimah Brand

Teapots and housegoods

Decorative inlaid teapot


Fabrics with metal embellishments

Arab salt and pepper shakers - also comes as piggy banks

Refrigerator magnet

Refrigerator magnet

Refrigerator Magnet

Notepad / Shopping list

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Get My Wife a Shisha!

Gender segregation and the male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia are issues that I have complained about many times in the past.  Just when one might think things are improving for women here, this male domination and control mentality rears its ugly head again. 

Earlier this week, it was reported in the news here that women are no longer permitted to go out with girlfriends to enjoy smoking shisha, unless she is accompanied by her legal male guardian who must order it for her.    

The ramifications of this are really confusing, as many hasty decisions here in KSA are.  If every woman who wishes to smoke shisha has to drag her husband, brother or son with her, the result will be scores of men and women mingling together in public!   Didn't they think of that?

The message here is that women are not capable of making their own decisions and that men are more intelligent and superior in every way and must decide what is best for their wives, daughters, and sisters, regardless of the women’s wishes.  I don’t buy into the BS that a man needs to decide what is best for me.
By now we all know the harm that smoking can cause to humans.  But as long as there is no law against smoking, adults should have the right to decide for themselves whether to smoke or not.  I am an adult and I am perfectly capable of making my own decisions regarding my life, my image, and my health. 
Ahmed Al-Shammari tweeted, “I am totally supporting this idea because it is sad when I see young women smoking shisha in public.  It makes them look cheap and easy.”   It’s okay for men to smoke shisha because it makes them look cool, or what?  Sadly this is the mentality of so many ignorant and backward men in Saudi Arabia.

I’m so tired of these double standards for men and women. 

Gender segregation is carried to such an unhealthy extreme in this country, it has resulted in an alarmingly high divorce rate, daily harassment of women, and immature men who misbehave. This gender segregation policy actually enables men to continue behaving badly instead of allowing them to behave normally. 

The real issue here is control.  Men here want to control the lives of women in every way they possibly can.  It’s insulting, tiresome, and more ridiculous as times goes on. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Calling All Students! Education Fair (IECHE) in Riyadh April 15-18

In mid-April, representatives from nearly 500 institutions of higher learning from around the world will converge in Riyadh for the annual International Exhibition & Conference on Higher Education  (IECHE).  

Almost 40 countries will promote their schools and disseminate useful information in the hopes of attracting Saudi students to their campuses.  

The exhibition is extremely well organized and quite impressive to behold.   More than 50 schools from Saudi Arabia are represented at the event as well.   

The four day conference will feature a large variety of workshops and speakers, covering all areas related to attaining advanced degrees, scholarship information, fields of study, requirements, etc., as well as having staff on hand to answer questions and solve issues.  

There is news coverage of the event and everyone is welcome to attend.  In addition to all kinds of available information, there are also goody bags and freebies for attendees.

High school students and college students pursuing advanced degrees can benefit greatly from attending this event.

For gathering information about higher education schooling, you won’t want to miss this spectacular event to be held April 15-18, 2014, in Riyadh.  For further information about the 2014 IECHE conference, CLICK HERE.


Al-Hijaz Mall Re-launches With a Whole New Look

 From the Omar Abubakr Balubaid Group

Jeddah:  Al-Hijaz Mall recently re-launched its new updated appearance, including major structural renovations.  The opening ceremony was attended by families, businesswomen, and visitors, and guests, including representatives from Al-Fasailya Womens Welfare Society. 

 Mr. Abdulla Jabran Al-Ghamdi, Mall Development Manager of the Omar Abubakr Balubaid Group, said, "Al-Hijaz Mall is one of the oldest shopping malls in Jeddah, as well as one of the busiest places for shoppers looking for designers and name brands in jewelry, fashion, and textiles.   The second phase of the renovations will include the development of a food court, a play land, and a bazaar area. We extend our appreciation to Al-Fasailya Womens Welfare Society for participating and assisting with our ceremony and their efforts to make this event successful."  

Al-Hijaz Mall, formerly known as Souk Alhijaz, is located in Jeddah's Al-Bawadi District.  The mall consists of two buildings connected by a bridge and it houses about 150 stores.  The mall sponsors campaigns, festivals and annual events, such as Spring Holiday, Back to School, Ramadan, Summer Festival, and more.  Al-Hijaz Mall would like to welcome all shoppers to come and enjoy its new clean and modern look.