Destination: Saudi Arabia

‘Girls of Riyadh’: Saudi Arabia’s ‘Sex and the City’?

In June we blogged about one Western woman’s experience traveling under the abaya in Saudi Arabia. Now, Rajaa Alsanea’s debut novel, Girls of Riyadh, offers a look at the experiences of the women who spend their entire lives negotiating Saudi Arabia’s strict Islamic code. The book, which is being called “Sex and the City, Saudi-style,” was recently released in North America and the UK; it already boasts bestseller status in Germany and the Netherlands as well as a banning in Saudi Arabia itself.

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A Western Woman in Saudi Arabia: ‘The Rules Are Different Here’

As a woman, I relish the freedom of traveling alone but admit there are times and places where gender matters. Just last week, on my first trip to Vietnam, I found myself fending off aggressive touts and motorcycle taxis on every street corner in Hanoi while male tourists walked by unnoticed. An annoyance, but nothing on par with Los Angeles Times reporter Megan Stack’s experiences in Saudi Arabia. In a riveting story, Stack recounts, in very personal terms, the rising anger she felt at being treated as a “lesser being” during four years of covering the kingdom as the paper’s Cairo bureau chief.

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Saudi Arabia Lifts Photo Ban for Tourists


No. 1: “Arabian Sands” by Wilfred Thesiger

To mark our five-year anniversary, we’re counting down the top 30 travel books of all time, adding a new title each day this month.
Published: 1959
Territory covered: Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Arabian Penninsula (now Yemen, Oman, Saudia Arabia, United Arab Emirates)

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