Many people believe that having to wear the abaya, the long, black cloak that women in Saudi Arabia are obligated to wear, is some sort of a punishment.
This is just my 4th day here in Riyadh and maybe I will change my mind at some point, but as of now I have to say that I disagree with the majority of the friends and family members that dislike that type of dresscode.
The abaya is a quite comfortable thing. You put on whatever you like underneath it and go. It is very loose fitting so you can move your legs freely. Also, you do not have to bother what to wear today AND, what seems to be very important for some ladies my age, you do not have to worry about the fact that somebody can see your fat rolls, if you think you have any. Because really, no one can.
Here in Riyadh it is very hot every day and even at night. Thus, whenever you get into a car or a building, there will always be an air conditioner. Sounds awesome, right? Well, here is the thing: People here like their air conditioners cold. Very cold. I have been taking an entrance test to a high school here and I’m telling you, I nearly froze to death in the room, wearing a T-shirt and shorts. So whenever you are near an air condotioner, the abaya will save you from death by freezing and at the same time it will not be too warm.
And last but not least, there are also some very pretty abayas around here that one will sure enjoy wearing.
So ladies, no worries, it is not as bad as you think. Especially if you know that your stay in the kingdom is temporary.