When in public in Saudi Arabia (e.g., when in taxis,
malls, souqs) Saudi women wear a long black cloak, known
as an abaya and they cover their hair.
Non-Muslim Western women often are taken aback at having to
wear the abaya, and while they don't usually have to cover
their hair, they complain about having to carry a scarf in
case they are asked to cover. But really, it's not so bad.
Here are the top seven reasons that wearing an abaya isn't so
First about the scarf — bad hair day? Bad dye job? Bad cut? Roots showing? Just drape that scarf over your hair, and no one's the wiser!
Feeling bloated and your jeans are tight? Throw on the abaya!
You threw on your grubby clothes, thinking you're only running to the supermarket, then you meet a friend who says, "Let's go to the restaurant in the golden ball at the Faisalyah for lunch"! No problem — you don't have to go home and change — no one will know that you are dressed like a bum, because you're in an abaya!
Having brunch in a restaurant in the women's and family's section and spilled hummus down the front of your shirt? No problem! Your abaya will cover it up!
Bathrobe in the wash? No problem! Wear the abaya around the house!
Clothes covered? Great opportunity to concentrate on those fancy shoes.
And finally: Black is slimming …
Or, as one of our recruits said, "One thing I was not expecting - I’ve come to love my abaya! Going to the grocery store in my pajamas is heaven!”
Take a look at our video about shopping for an abaya in Riyadh.
And if you want to buy an abaya in advance of relocating, there are plenty of online shops out there, of which here are just a few: