The Saudi Aramco company prides itself on being a “Little America” so they allow women to work with men and women can drive. When we got to our second destination of the day (three flights on the private jets – it wasn’t much of a hardship), the Aramco men greeting our plane INSISTED the women take off our abayas. Since we typically have understood that we will very much offend the locals and be under possibility of imprisonment if we are caught out in public
without our head coverings and abaya coverings, we were quite hesitant but the Saudi Aramco men wanted us to understand that they are ‘different’ at Saudi Aramco and welcomed us to wear our western-style garb. Even then, several of the women still left theirs on.
I completely want to go back to Saudi and teach women how to make soap. One thing I noticed in the markets in Jeddah was that there was no homemade soap or products for 'tourists' to take home. It seemed like a great industry for a small business – especially as women start to enter the entrepreneurial world in Saudi Arabia.
It was an incredibly beautiful culture and I was thrilled to get a 5 year Visa so I can go back sometime in the next five years.
I would love to meet you if I get back here; you could be my soapmaking assistant if I got to teach a class =)
Hello AM, I am a Saudi Woman living in the city of Riyadh, the capital. I know that there is not enough information people have on Saudi people and especially the Saudi female. I am a soap maker and I have loved your blog and website for 5 years know, and to tell you the truth I am a fan of the USA. I work as a Supervisor in Staff Support in the largest hospital in Riyadh ( KA Medical City) and experince in Health Education for 11 years and for the face cover…. not all females cover their faces!!!!!. I am a big fan of your work, and admire what you have accomplished, lets hope we can be as strong.
Thank you for sharing your pics and experiences AM! Don't you feel lucky to live here in the USA where women have just as many rights as men in most venues?!? Never did that song, "Thank God I am an American" stand out until I was reading about how they treat women! Wow…the photos are beautiful and I wonder what makes the sand that deep red color? Down here in Southern Cal we have dunes like that in Glamis, but the sand is white and grey…very beautiful just like that in Saudi though. Glad you made it home safely and I am sure you will enjoy your own bed even more now !
Jacquelyn, I'm not surprised about the double books comment. That makes total sense.
Jennifer, Saudi was gorgeous in parts of it. Other parts were just desert (and not pretty sand dune desert) for as far as the eye could see.
Rian, Travel safe to Egypt. I've always wanted to dive the Red Sea on the Egypt side (I did one dive in Saudi from a sheltered, private resort and it was okay).
Welcome back Anne-Marie! Your trip sounded so fascinating. I did a semester abroad in egypt when i was in college and loved it! I'm finally going back to egypt this april, yay! Some things over in the middle east seem very restrictive to us westerner's but you can still be an independent entrepreneurial woman over there, just in a different way. 😉
I enjoyed seeing Saudi Arabia through your eyes! It's the closest I'll ever get to that part of the world. And, I might add, you always have some really good insights, and are so diplomatic in the way you phrase things.
Good to have you home, although Amber, Erin, and Debbie (hope I didn't miss anyone else) did a great job of filling in!
Thank you so much for sharing all these wondeful pictures with us! The pictures are beautiful and welcome home to us!!!
[email protected] says
Wow!! Gorgeous sunset!
I has a dream last night that I was going to Saudi Arabia. I must have been gleaning a bit of your world into my dreams….
So glad it was wonderful!
Thanks for the great photos and commentary, A-M, and welcome home. The jet lag will be with you for a few days, I expect!
The 'Rub AlKahli is indeed beautiful and just imagine camping there. The stars at night are amazing as there are no city lights nearby. I loved the quiet early mornings camping in that desert.
When we were at Aramco in the late '70's and early 80's we were told by folks in accounting that there were double books and that eventually the Saudi government would officially own the company.
Egassner, if you asked a Saudi man or woman, they would tell you the covering of the woman is a sign that she is respected, not despised. It is considered shameful by the conservatives to expose a woman to strange males. There are women in Saudi trying to change some of the rules but their progress is very slow.
Sierra Snow Soaps says
Welcome home! What an experience and thank you for sharing it with us.
Michelle in NV
I'm so glad that you're enjoying the Saudi trip posts. It was a remarkable experience and one that I will remember for a long long time.
Pamela, No, I wasn't wearing the abaya but climbing up a steep hill with sand that shifts constantly under your feet takes a surprising amount of strength and also lung power. It was definitely a workout!
Kelly, I'm less than an hour from home (passenger in the car – doing emails) and totally jet lagged. I can't wait to go to sleep in my bed tonight! =))
Kelly Taylor says
Climbing sand dunes is tough!
Just walking on sand is tough!
And between you, Elf and Chris, maybe there is a possibility you could find some part to make!
Thank you for the wonderful post.
We are all glad to have you close to being back at home!
An interesting trip to say the least, wonderful photos! Did you climb the sand dunes if full regalia? Is that what made it so tough? Thanks Anne Marie!
What an amazing experience! I photos of the dunes/sunset are amazing! And I have to hand it to you AM, I doubt I could ever, EVER go to a county where women seem to be so despised (imprisonment for showing their face!).
And I'm sure you of all people could come up with some miracle soap to remove oil from all surfaces! Hehehe
Wow… what an experience! Thanks so much for letting us in on your special adventure. Have a safe flight back. 🙂
Your experiences in Saudi have been so intriguing! Thank you for sharing! I'm sure it will be great to be home!
Pajama Mama says
Your pictures were beautiful…and I'm glad you didn't get arrested for taking off your head covering!!