In response to some very concerning reports of Western women being attacked at malls in Riyadh, women are being cautioned against appearing too conspicuous in these areas. This begs the question, should Western women start wearing a head scarf (or hijab) while out at this time?

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Last Wednesday night (March 17th) I had the rare opportunity to be a guest at a Saudi Arabian wedding celebration.

I had been informed that the women like to dress up to the nines for these occasions so a trip was made the week before to downtown Olaya in search of the perfect ball gown. The Saudi women here like bright and flashy gowns with lots of colour and a generous serving of jewels and all things that sparkle, however, I was looking for something a little more subdued but equally as glamorous. I got lucky again and found a beautiful dress in the second store I looked in that couldn’t match up with anything in the other stores I went to. I did see some other lovely dresses though so I know where to go back to in the future. Prayer time rolled around so the time was spent window shopping in Faisaliah Mall, where I stumbled across a pair of shoes and bag that was the exact match for my dress (with a price tag to match). My shopping partner even managed to bargain them down a few hundred Riyals, in a retail store, champion! Back at the dress shop more bargaining was done and I left with the perfect outfit for the wedding.

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The following weekend (March 11th) I got the opportunity to get out of the city for the afternoon and go for a horse ride in the desert. We went to an area called Dirab, located in a valley about 50km south west of Riyadh. One of the most striking details about this place is the lush greens of the farms in the area. It also makes you realise just how high (in elevation) the city of Riyadh is as the road takes you down into this big valley, surrounded by mountains that we were on top of.

Our destination was the Dirab Golf Club, a lush oasis of green surrounded by barren mountains and orange dirt, which appears to be a common haunt for expats wanting to get out of the city, discard the abaya and play a round of golf. Our purpose, however, was past the greens and out into the dirt where the stables were.

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Rockin’ the Capsa.

I haven’t updated for a while because I have been busy and then got struck down for a week with the flu. I’ll endeavour to catch up with my recent goings on in the next few days.

Thursday March 4th was the annual Capsa (Arabian-themed party) at the US military compound. This was an opportunity for the boys to dress up in the thobe and shemagh/ghutra (male head scarf) like their Arabian counterparts and the women could wear some of the Arabian-styled dresses (sans veiling) that populate the souks here in Riyadh.

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The Friday before my birthday (Feb 19th) D and I decided to do something a little fancy and booked in to have High Tea at the Globe, located on top of Faisaliah Tower.

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Ma’ Salaama!

My good friend D is going home. After a few weeks of frustration trying to organise her iqama, visa and flights she’s heading home to Australia for good on Tuesday. Last night a small group of us gathered at her villa to see her off and wish her well. I’ll miss her but she’s ready to go home and I know I’ll see her again in Australia.

Its a sad reality in this country that inevitably everyone goes home, be it after 12 months or 12 years. Everyone has their own reasons, some leave fulfilled, others not so. However, leaving this country is not as simple as just buying a ticket and getting on a plane. There are two main ways that people leave here, officially and unofficially.

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The big Three-Oh

Its my birthday today and not just any birthday. Today I turn 30. It seems even if I try to not make it a big deal it still is. There’s something symbolic about moving past my 20s and into what is definitely a new era of my life, made all the more significant because of where I currently am. Its sad that I don’t get to celebrate my birthday back at home with my friends and family but there’s no need to feel sorry for me because I’m not spending the day alone.

In the absence of presents from my family I went out to the market 2 weeks ago and bought myself something nice. I came home with a beautiful white gold necklace with rubies and diamonds and a Rado watch that I really love. I also paid off my credit card debt a few days ago so I’m feeling pretty happy with my situation right now.

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