Saudi Arabia: The Black Garbage Bag

American Sabra is in Saudi Arabia … and has to do what the Saudi women do when it comes to covering up from head to toe when outside her house.

On the Abaya, or cloak worn by women in Saudi, Sabra writes:

I wear my abeya when I leave our compound to do occasional grocery shopping – which is about the ONLY shopping I do here [I had to wear it a week or two ago when I went downtown to try to get paint samples]. I don't consider it a “prison,” but I certainly do not have a high regard for it, either, and refer to it as “the black garbage bag.” It is a ridiculous article of clothing which women here are forced to wear due to constraints imposed upon them by a society of control seeking men whose lustful ogling demonstrably attests to their complete and utter lack of any self-restraint whatsoever.

And speaking of lustful men, Sabra relates this hilarious incident to her readers:

Yesterday afternoon DH's friend Lee came over. He, along with three other buddies, had been to the “family” pool on our compound [we have a men only pool, a women only pool and a family pool where both men and women can go]. Lee said that there was a young Western girl there, sunbathing in her little Billabong bikini – which, by the way, is supposedly NOT allowed at the family pool – only at the women's pool, when a “local” middle-aged man came out of the men's changing room and couldn't keep his “lustful ogling” eyes to himself as he was walking and he wound up heels over head when his shins collided with a stationary bench. Lee said it was all he and his companions could do to keep from laughing hysterically at the spectacle the man created for himself – and the guy wasn't injured – just some minor scrapes from his bodily contact with the cement. Bet his pride was lowered a notch or two, and if it wasn't, it should have been. The moral, of course, is that he should have been keeping his eyes to himself and didn't; the sight of a young girl NOT draped in a hideous black garbage bag was just too much for him…


  • maz3n

    First, if you want to live in Saudi Arabia you have to respect its rules other you are free to go somewhere else.
    Secondly, isn’t all men all over the world are lustful?
    why can’t accept the freedom of respected Saudi women who want to wear this Abeya? maybe it’s your stereotypical mind that thinks that wearing bikinis represent freedom.
    Just leave Saudi Arabia and Saudi Women alone, and by the way your article is weak.

  • jay arthur


    It is alway interesting to hear a Saudi or Muslim (?) use the word “respect”.

    Perhaps they should reflect on themselves, their country and their religion. Respect is a two-way street. Saudis and Muslims are not known for respecting others. Look how they treat millions of expatriat workers from southern and eastern asia. Look how they treat women. Look how they treat other religions.

    Anybody that follows Arab womens’ blogs knows about the harassment women face on the streets of most Muslim countries, covered or not. They are not the “respected Saudi women” you pretend. In fact, I have seen it mentioned many many times that women face less harassment in the West than in Muslim countries. Care to think about that?

    Also, in SA, wearing the Abeya in not a matter of “wanting” or “choice”. If women don’t wear it in public, they get beaten by the thugs/perverts from the so-called “Commission for the prevention of vice,” aka religious police.

    You will notice that saudi men conveniently exempt themselves from all the vile, burdonsome rules they require women to follow. How cute! When I see saudi men wearing a thick black wool blanket from head to toe on a summer day and only leaving home when accompanied by this 85 year old grandmother, then and only then will I consider changing my so-called stereotypical mind.

    Maz3n, in the future, please consider these things before you use the word “respect.”

    Old man Kactuz

  • I stay west and i see all the time in clubs, pubs on the beach how the man are lustful its natural for them

    not only this in plymouth about 2hrs from london

    drunk couple were having sex suddenly it became a sex party for another passing by guys and ultimately she was raped

    there should be some sort of upper limit tell me how many rapes are take place in so called western countries like UK or USA

    if anyone dont know its every 30seconds in USA and in UK is its every 2 mins

  • kelly

    Western women here living and working in Saudi and LOVE IT… love the country, love the pple and most of all love the abaya……………..and well i have sometimes not worned it and like to say I as a women was never beaten!!!!!!!!!!!!,nor have i seen any women beaten in the streets as mentioned!!!!!!!!!!!! Im american and well hope never to return to america where pple have such small closed minds!!!!!!!
    so i agree if you cant handle nor dont like saudis traditions then its simple DONT GO THERE!!!!

  • ron norris

    Black? in the sunny desert? How odd, Black would not be my first choice. What do the men wear, white?Will the former defender of this covering tell me why the color black is worn? I’ve never seen a black shirted construction worker when its hot and sunny.Does anyone know the temperature that is reached inside the black clothing? Are the heat related deaths a concern to the males there?

  • salem

    i keep on wondering why some people insist on creticizing others for what they have or do when they should be creticising their own societies for the countless vices they have? the decent saudi women wear abaya because it is a divine order,islam imposed hijab “face and body covering” for all grown-up women for their own good and for many logical reasons,and it’s easy to find an authentic resource to learn more about that only if you are interested to know the truth and not just fooling around.

  • Thank you Ron Norris for your concern! Black abayas – though not appreciated by some – are embraced as a fashion accessory by many, and I assure you that all the times I had to wear one – I was never anywhere near a death experience!

  • I just don’t understand why do some people just stress their selves to insult another religion. if you don’t like the country just simply don’t live there.

    below lines goes to Jay …

    I would assume Maz3n talked about the idea from his perspective which is “respect” which he believes in … however, even if Saudis don’t respect “expatriate workers from southern and eastern Asia” as mentioned and always bring up the respect which doesn’t exist as you claimed.

    I would compare that to what most Western countries and specially AMERICA when they bullshit about what so called “DEMOCRACY”

    Western democracy was well proven in IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN, and SUDAN etc.. you count!

    if you are a western … say hello to your lovely democ!

  • Saudi Girl Lovin' Her Abaya :-)

    my advice to poor, old imprisoned-by-the-black-bag Sabra is to LEAVE Saudi Arabia and go to USA!! but why is she here anyway? no one is forcing her to stay here, so i guess she needs to phone the airlines and book her ticket out of that co-called horrible place now!
    bon voyage

  • Jenna

    Wow!! I would just love to be able to throw on something huge and black (if I wanted to) and run out to the shop, especially if it covered my hair too!!! No more having to think too much about what to wear, except when u want to. Well thought out, whoever thought of the Abaya, which must of been another woman, cos only she would know how little time we have to dress ourselves up when we have children xxxx

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