Monday, 4 March 2013

Abaya Collection Saudi Arabia


If you're a women and you live in Saudi Arabia long enough, you end up with an abaya collection.  There are currently eight abaya's in my collection.

Number 1 - Nice design, light material, lovely abaya to wear but not Saudi compliant
Number one is the abaya Hubster bought for me from Dubai and was worn on my very first visit to Riyadh.  Not being au fait with Saudi abaya compliance rules he didn't realize his purchase didn't quite meet the standard expected.   Number One abaya only has three buttons so does not do up to the floor.  Hence this abaya is saved for places when sporting a nice, not quite all covering garment, and flashing my trousers, won't get me in trouble - like dinner at the Four Seasons.  As we rarely dine at Four Seasons it doesn't get much of an outing.

Number 2 - Note the bling and the scallop shape on the sleeve.
Abaya number two was purchased in Akaria Mall soon after moving to Riyadh.  As I arrived mid-winter this  is slightly thicker than the rest which is handy for the surprisingly cool Saudi winter evenings.  The sleeves on this number have a lovely scalloped shape and a few sequins to bling it up.  Snap fasteners attempt to keep this abaya closed but as I tend to walk with a fast stride they regularly unsnap themselves and ankle flashing happens a lot.  Abaya's are not generally designed for strident walking.


Abaya number three I don't wear at all.  We were one our way back to Riyadh one holiday when, while transiting through Dubai, it dawned on me that I would be attempting to pass through Riyadh customs not only abaya-less, but bare legged because my abaya was packed in my suitcase and I was wearing shorts.  The idea sent me into a bit of spin.

Unfortunately, the only style of abaya I could lay my hands on at the Dubai airport that didn't cost an exorbitant price was an 'over-the-head' kind.  'Over-the-head' abaya's and I do not mix largely due to change of life heat flushes.  The fact that I can't rip that sucker off my overheated body in a fraction of a second to cool myself down is scary!  The only time this abaya has made it out of the closet was when my daughter came for a visit and she wore it.

Daughter in abaya number 3.
Abaya number four is my summer abaya.  Of all my abaya's it gets the most use.  It hangs on the hook in my bedroom all year for easy access.  Summer Abaya was also bought in Dubai though I can't for the life of me remember exactly why.   It's a very plain abaya - there is no bling or zing to be found- from that point of view I'm sure the Hai'a are happy.  However, that's about where their happiness would end.

As with abaya number one, my Summer Abaya is made of a thinner, lighter and more breathable, cool material than those usually sold in KSA.  It also only has three clasps gracing the bodice, however because this abaya has a 'cross-over' design  I don't usually have to hold it closed if I walk at the generally accepted normal pace of Saudi women - a pace I call 'very slow' though a Saudi friend calls 'lady like'.

Number 4 - there must have been a breeze this day, or I had the pace on!
Abaya number five is my 'going out' abaya.  It's made of a satin like material, totally un-breathable, with lovely gold trim.  There comes a time in an expat woman's life when going abaya shopping seems normal.  This was the phase I was in when this particular abaya was purchased from my favourite abaya mall, Al Akaria.  It's also my most expensive abaya.

Gold Trim abaya usually only gets worn when I know our destination will allow me to take my abaya off which is why it's my Going Out abaya - I go out to somewhere nice, then take it off!  The un-breathable aspect of the garment translates, for my body, into 'sweats like a hog'.  Not a good look!

Going Out Abaya
Abaya number six is a hooded abaya.  It was bought at the Kingdom Compound Coffee morning because I thought the idea of a hooded abaya was kind of cool.  (I must have been going through some sort of medieval phase).  The bright blue flower embroidered on the back adds a touch of colour to an otherwise drab environment.    It was cheap too.  Only 90 SAR.  It's also a little short but I don't let that worry me too much.  This abaya alternates with my summer abaya so also gets a fair amount of use.

Hooded Abaya, number 6.
Abaya number seven was given to me by a friend.  She bought it when she was here and when she left, gave it away.  I've never worn it.  A lot of expat women give away abaya's when they leave because, as the common joke goes, other than Halloween they can see no other time when they might need to wear one outside of Saudi Arabia.

Abaya number eight is my maroon colored abaya.  My mum made this abaya for me and I wear it when I'm visiting friends or going to places where conservative types are not likely to be.   It's my rebellious phase abaya.  I felt if I was going to be forced to wear something all covering it should be a colour I like, and the only person who would make me a maroon coloured abaya was my mother (thanks mum).

So ends my abaya collection gathered after three years in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and I do believe it has reached saturation point as I have no intention, whatsoever, of getting another abaya.  Unless they change the colour scheme.  Then, oh my gosh, I might go coloured abaya crazy!





Ka Kite,
Kiwi





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