My 7 days in a Abaya…

For those who follow me on Instagram, you have learned that I recently went to Saudi Arabia…

I visited Jeddah and Riyadh for 7 days and I had prepared myself to visit a country which culture could not be more different than mine. Actually, I dont really know what I expected but I now know that what I found was not anywhere close with my pre-conception.

I consider myself a quite open minded person. I respect all cultures, religions and orientations. I make choices every day and one of them is to be tolerant with other peoples choices. My rights end when other people’s rights begin.

So, as I landed in Jeddah, I dressed my Abaya and covered my hair with a long black veil. I have this luxurious long brown hair… which is so much part of my personality, so learning how to cover it properly was a task.

Also, I am a hungry reader and obviously I have read quite a lot about the country and its culture prior to departure. I knew that the country was modernising and that women were getting more and more freedom every day.

However it blew my mind what I actually found…

No-one can really say it knows anything prior to actually have experienced it.

The first signs were already at the aeroplane at landing… some women were not wearing veils or abayas as they left the plane… I noted it but did not give much thought to it…

Then, at the airport I started noticing that yes, Abayas and veils were there but also not there, and there was no sign of enforcement or bad feelings about it.

Again I did not reflect on it but then reality hit me as and when, every meeting I entered, my host would ask me why I would be wearing it?

It was my first trip… we hear loads of things, I respect my hosts house and culture, of course, I will adapt myself…

Then, I started paying close attention to what was happening around me and what I saw really pleased my eyes.

I started noticing that women were wearing abayas but they were trendy, colorful and very stylish. Also, I noticed group of young girls just using the abayas over their t-shirs and jeans, as a long stylish long open max overcoat. I had to stop myself from asking them who their designer were… They looked sooooooo gorgeous!

Actually when I look back at my photos and when I think of myself wearing my abaya, I feel quite good about it. Although I was born in one of the most relaxed and laid back countries in the world, where women show pretty much everything over Carnival, I dress quite conservatively.

I never really liked (not even when much younger), mini skirts and mini tops… they are just not suitable for my body type. So, long skirts, dresses, jumpsuits and trousers make part of my day to day anyway… and long (not abaya size) overcoats are also very present in my life.

Then wearing an Abaya was not sacrifice… on the contrary, it made me feel good with myself, I felt confident…

Does that sound mad?

Also, I noted that a lot of women had their veils removed. Hair was free to see and be seen. Here I must confess that I was struggling… my hair is quite straight and it would not sit right… so as and when I grew more confident of my environment, I myself stopped using the veil and used the scarf around my neck, just in case…

Curious, I could not help myself and I asked some of my hosts about this wind of change and I was surprised to hear that the country has rapidly changed for the last 18 months and it seems that the trend is there to stay and even improve further.

7 days passed quite quickly and sounding crazy or not, when I boarded my plane back I did not really wanted to take off my abaya.

Honestly, I cannot wait to go back and hit the shops of the amazing designers I got to know.

I only know their Instagram pages, but I strongly recommend you visit them to see what I mean.. 🙂

@nasibahafiz

@arwastore

@thebeachbaya (my favorite).

xx Valentina.