[VIDEO] Female Expat in Saudi Arabia – It’s Not That Bad

It’s been almost a year since I recorded this video.  I made it for Terri Davis-Merchant for Expat Week on her blog; Try Anything Once.   This video is short piece about what it feels like for me being an expat, and a woman living in Saudi Arabia.

You may be surprised to find that for me being a woman in Saudi Arabia is largely about being inconvenienced versus what you may have heard or read in the media.  Largely what you may have read or heard is about women’s movements being restricted, that they need permission for most things, and a lot of what she’s allowed to do is dependent on the men in her family, etc. etc.  Though those things are true for most Saudi women, I can’t speak to this.  I’m American, and I’m not subject to the customs of their culture on that level.  I come and go as I please, and my husband still can’t tell me to do a thing I don’t want to do.  🙂 LOL.  However, I am subject to the laws of the land.  So, for me I’m mainly affected by not being able to drive and what I wear.  Whenever I leave the compound I must  the abaya, however, even on the compound I have to be cognizant of what I’m wearing.





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About Terri Lundberg

Terri Lundberg is an American expat currently residing with her husband in Saudi Arabia, but she calls Seattle and San Diego home. She’s a travel writer, an avid photographer and is a resource and cross cultural trainer to expats relocating to Saudi Arabia. She's been to 100 destinations, 30 countries, and counting.


  1. It is funny how different cultures continue to think about women.

  2. I understand. I lived in Turkey I chose to cover my head with a scarf. I adopted the customs for women.

    • When I leave the compound I wear the abaya, but I don’t cover my hair. I do keep the scarf on tap, just in case the religious police is out and about. In the 3+ years I’ve been here, I’ve yet to have someone ask me to cover my hair. I have a thing against the hair covering. But, I could see how it could be beneficial on a bad hair day. 🙂

  3. Love this video. I know how you feel. I lived in Dubai and Qatar and people always asked me “what did I wear?” Ha!….peddle pushers and a cap sleeve blouse. Of course as you said…you have to be aware of where you are and what is acceptable. For me, moving to these two middle eastern countries was good training for my upcoming life in Saudi.

    • Thank you for your like the video. 🙂 That means I should be able to work with all other cities in the ME because I started with the toughest? LOL 😀 But, I feel you. And, like I said, it’s not that bad.

    • Peggy,

      When I traveled to Dubai this past April for a meet-up more than a vacation for a couple of days, I was so nervous, and read extensively about was considered acceptable as far as dress code. I even worried whether packing Tylenol was a good idea because of what I read about people getting into problems with medications. When I eventually got there it was what I expected, however it did not limit me from having a great time! I will have to say though that trying to be overly conscious of where I was and what I wore got tiring. So I was happy when I got to go back home to the States lol. I was led to BCOT blog from her BCIS blog prior to my travels 🙂

  4. hi lovely chick on tour.you still look smoking hot in ure abayas.i saw all ure videos from saudi.a question: what is ure job that you survive in that country? I mean.is ure husband working for the living or are you independent? Sorry for asking.do you have childeren? Wow i wish i was so free like you.traveling arround the world.i really do.

    Greetings from belgium.