Jeddah Blog

Discover the best of Jeddah!

Book Vending Machines – a Novel Invention

All kinds of products are sold in vending machines, from umbrellas to vegetables, and ties to flowers.  At a recent visit to the Mall of Arabia, we stumbled upon a completely novel idea  – a book vending machine. It’s the first one we’ve seen in Jeddah, so we promptly set about taking pictures to share with you all.

The book vending machine standing to the left of Centrepoint.

The Logo.

Instructions on how to buy the books.

If you look very closely at the next photo, you might be able to spot our reflections in the glass.

Most of the books were in Arabic, but some were in English.

We think it’s a great idea. It makes books much more accessible, especially in a city where libraries are scarce. Which books would you like to see displayed in these literary stands?

CREAM – Meet the Style Specialists

As irresistible and luscious as its name, CREAM is a pleasure that is hard to resist. This exclusive outlet has well-established itself among fashionistas as a concept store – a  very selective, high-end lifestyle boutique that focuses on modernity and femininity.

CREAM specializes in style and is constantly in touch with the very latest catwalk designs. They are trendsetters, rather than followers of fashion. Jeddah Blog was lucky enough to score an exclusive interview with Dana Malhas, the driving force behind CREAM and we were able to delve a little into the idea behind setting up her own boutique, and what it is that inspires her.

What was the inspiration behind CREAM? Can you describe your journey towards setting up your own boutique?

When I graduated from the American University in Beirut and moved back to Jeddah, I noticed that there was a huge gap in the market for “up and coming designers”, the market was saturated with either high end brands like Gucci, Burberry, Armani..etc or low-end Brands like Zara, Bershka, Top Shop & so on. There was nothing in-between. I was 22 years old at that time, and like most girls, I was obsessed with fashion and everything related to it, especially styling & buying! So I decided to turn my passion into a business. I wanted to open a boutique where I can buy everything I like as I travel the world, style it the way I want, and fill in this gap in the market. I wanted to bring to Jeddah a lifestyle store where up and coming designers from all around the world meet, a boutique that has everything a girl needs, a place that has talented designers regardless of their age or nationality.. and CREAM Boutique in Beirut was the best candidate for that as it was my personal favourite boutique to shop in when I travel. So I brought it to Jeddah, expanded it majorly, started discovering new designers, and turned it into my fashion heaven. The best part is that I buy for my store, like I buy for my closet!

Vibrant Green mini-Clutch

Read more…

Expat Blog Awards 2012 – Please vote for us!

Expats Blog have announced their 2012 Expat Blog Awards and we at Jeddah Blog are very excited to be shortlisted as one of the contenders for the best Expats in Saudi Arabia Blog Award! The judging is based on public opinion, so YOU, dear reader, can leave a comment and give us a rating on our nomination page.

There are some other great blogs in the Saudi Arabia category like Under the Abaya, American Bedu, Blue Abaya, Imaged Event, Susie of Arabia and others – all worth checking out. Obviously, we would dearly love to win, and it is all down to you, so please do click on the badge above which will take you straight to our listing page. Write a line or two about us and give us a rating and we’ll be well on our way in this competition.

Thank you very much !!

Trochet: Turning Trash into Crafty Crochet

Jeddah is teeming with an incredible amount of creative talent, and it is always interesting to see that creativity turn into a larger community building effort. Earlier this month Anousha Vakani met with two very inspiring ladies, Diana Rayyan and Ishrat Khawja, who make up part of Jeddah’s creative brigade that has used art as a path to a better Jeddah.

Trash + Crochet = Trochet

Two years ago Diana Rayyan, the brains behind this initiative in Jeddah, was inspired by an awareness lecture that focused on the ill-effects of plastic on the environment. Initially, she did her bit by spreading the word on what she knew about plastics and the environment but was convinced that more could and should be done.

A Trochet work in progress.

After researching all possibilities she decided to launch a project that recycled plastic bags through crochet. She took it one step further and turned it into a charity initiative. The idea is to teach needy women how to crochet, to introduce them to the idea of recycling plastic and other materials through this art and to encourage them to earn an income in this way.

Diana explains that in the beginning people were (and some still are) sceptical that a product that is spun from what is essentially trash could be successful, many of them insisting that “trash is trash.” If anything, such an attitude only heightens the need for awareness and environmental projects in this society.

Ladies hard at work, but having a blast at the two-day pilot workshop.

The Trochet (trash + crochet) project was launched through the organization Ateeq which operates under the slogan of ‘mind to hand’. I found this slogan more than appropriate as Diana explained how Ishrat, “the creative guru”, eagerly agreed to translate Diana’s vision to substance through her crochet skills.

Ishrat Khawja is a blogger and crochet designer under her own brand Fruitful Fusion. She has been blogging about the challenges that come with crocheting with strips of plastic, and describes the pilot workshop that took place at the Rawaj Center, a part of Majid Society.The pilot workshop was a success in many ways, but as Ishrat explains, the community building aspect stood out most as “women from different backgrounds are brought together by a common language – the language being crochet terms”.

Diana agrees that the social aspect of this project is the most “spiritual”. She adds that “people have to remember that it’s not always about the end result, it is about the process.” It amazed her that pilot workshop was more of a “dialogue than a monologue” with the women enthusiastically throwing in their own thoughts and ideas.

Awareness ribbons made entirely out of recycled material; plastic bags and metal clothes hangers.

What amazed me most, however, was the amount of productivity that can be rolled into one project. Not only is this an incredible integration of art and the environment but its impact on society is far-reaching, with an increase in earning opportunities for needy women and an increased awareness of very pressing environmental issues.

The Trochet project is currently in need of volunteers to help and support the needy women, to teach crochet and to come up with suitable Trochet designs. Volunteers are also invited to come in and help with whatever they can, including the preparation of Trochet materials and packaging, because as they put it,“there is always something to do!”

An order for awareness ribbons, packed and ready to be delivered.

If you’re interested in volunteering or would like more details, email Diana or Ishrat at or, follow them on twitter at Ateeq and Fruitful Fusion and on Facebook at Ateeq and Fruitful Fusion.

Lectures on Persian kilims at Athr Gallery

Upcoming couple of lectures at Athr. If this one doesn’t call out to you, hang in there for the next round. One of those might just be your thing.






Mohamed Maktabi, general manager of Iwan Maktabi, carpet expert and collector, will focus on the aesthetics of the Mazandaran kilims and the journey of modern designs in Persian tribal kilims. From the appearance of one of these kilims in a European collection to the journey to the Mazandaran villages to their discovery in the dowry chests of the villagers. Finally, Maktabi ends his lecture with comparisons between some major contemporary western artists and the woven works of women in remote poverty stricken villages. A colorful and well researched slideshow will accompany the talk.
Wednesday, 14th November, 2012 7.30 pm to 8.30 pm




The talk will evoke the history and tradition of using silk in Persian carpets, and the famous silk carpets found in museums across the worlds (Polonaise carpets from 16th Century Isfahan, Heriz silk carpets from 19th century Qajar Persia)

A show and tell will give the participants the chance to get their hands on (literally) some of the finest silk carpets woven in 20th century Iran by famous artists and artisans such as : Rajabian, Khai Zadeh, Ashkeyoun, & Rahmani.

Knot density, composition, natural dyes are also topics to be covered in the talk.
Thursday, 15th November, 2012 11.00 am to 12.00 pm
Pre registration is required, as seats are limited. To inquire or book a seat, email us at

Above text reproduced from Athr’s invite and copyrighted to them.

Opening of Mazandaran Kilim at Athr

An upcoming exhibition at Athr Gallery draws an intriguing connection between ethnic textiles from Iran and minimalistic art.

Mazandaran Kilim
In collaboration with Iwan Maktabi
Opening: Tuesday, 13th Nov, 2012
7.30 pm – 10.00 pm
Athr Gallery


Undiscovered Minimalism: Mazandaran Kilims

In collaboration with Iwan Maktabi

Werner Weber first visited Mazandaran in northern Iran in the mid-1990s. In remote villages in the Hezar-jerib area, he and his colleagues saw powerfully expressive heirloom kilims with ‘minimalist’ abstract designs unlike any others known in the trade, but which, in their colours and patterns evoke the modern painting and architecture of the West.
The patterns and colours of these flatweaves have an uncanny resemblance to Minimalism… It is interesting that Persian women in their remote villages could produce textile art reminiscent of works by major Western artists of the 20th century.” Parviz Tanavoli
Heinz Meyer compares them to contemporary artworks of Mark Rothko, Ad Reinhardt, and Barnett Newman. This exhibition encourages the viewer to think outside the domain of ethnography, in an attempt to capture the underlying elements that connect “textile art” to simply “Art”.
Undiscovered Minimalism will run from the 13th to the 22nd of November.

Above text and image reproduced from Athr’s invite and copyrighted to them.

New classes at The Quilting Arts Studio

Threads of every shade and colour.

Classes will be starting soon at The Quilting Arts Studio. There will be an Open House for registration and information this Wednesday, 7 November from 10:00 A.M.-4:00 P.M., and Thursday, 8 November from 10:00 A.M.-1:00 P.M. at their studio. Click here for the location map.

We were able to ask Debra Dennis at The Quilting Arts Studio a couple of questions about the classes:

For those who are completely new to quilting, which classes would you recommend?

Debra: I would recommend learning the basic skills of patchwork and quilting. Once you have the basics, you can take go as far as you like.

What can participants hope to create in your classes?

Debra: You can stick to traditional interpretations and make bed or lap quilts, or you can go in the direction of art quilts using fabric and thread as a medium. Whatever your choice, you will certainly find quilting to be hobby in which you can express your endless creativity.

The following classes will be offered.

Beginning Patchwork

This class is for the absolute beginner. Sewing machines and tools are available for use during class. The course is 7 lessons, 3 hours per lessons. The cost is 850 SR + supplies. There will be 3 different sessions to choose from:

  • Mondays 5:00 P.M.-8:00 P.M
  • Wednesdays 9:00 A.M.-12:00 P.M.
  • Thursdays 10:00 A.M.- 1:00 P.M.

Spiralling Diamonds

Girls Sewing Club

This class is being offered for the first time. It is for girls ages 10-12 years. There will be various craft and sewing projects. Girls who wish to attend must be attentive and cooperative, and also abide by the safety guidelines during class. This will be offered on a monthly basis and will be 4 classes per month, 2 hours per class. The
cost of the course is 800 SR per month which will include most supplies used during class. Space is limited to 6 girls per session. If you are interested in this for your daughter, be sure to attend the Open House with your daughter, if possible. Tuesdays 5:00 P.M.-7:00 P.M.

Beautiful fabric for quilting.

Scrapbooking/Card Making Club

This is also a new activity. It will not be a class led by an instructor, but rather a work session with participants exchanging ideas and working on their own projects. There will be some tools available for use during the session. Supplies such as paper, ink, ribbon, and embellishments will be available for purchase. There will also be a catalog of supplies for those who wish to order. This is a drop-in activity so you may go as often as you wish. Light refreshments will be available. The cost to attend is 25 SR (+ supplies purchased, if any). The studio time will be Mondays 9:00 A.M.-12:00 P.M.

Shabby chic workshop with Dorothy Boyer at Darat Safeya Binzager

Every once in a while, our furniture (just like us) could use a face lift. Some pieces dear to you might be worn out beyond usefulness or appeal, and you might want to revamp them so they can still look good in your surroundings. Darat Safeya Binzagr offers a creative workshop on how you can give new life to old pieces of furniture using simple, handy and creative tips. It promises to be a hands-on, productive two days with artist Dorothy Boyer, whose name has often surfaced on our blog for one reason or another. Those interested, book now, seats are limited.



Shabby Chic Furniture

2 day workshop

20th-21st Nov. 10am-3.30pm

Tired of the same old furniture?


Would you like to learn how to give your old fashioned frames or furniture a quick aged look?

Shabby Chic is the term given to the kind of antiquing that will fit in with any type of interior.

It can look Mediterranean, Italian, French, Swedish or English Country House.

You can make it look as old as you like, and have it in the colour you like.

Call Kawther on 6571030 at the Darat Binzagr for details and to register.

Bring a SMALL item to work on, either a chair small table, frames etc.

We provide all the materials and sample boards.


I shall demonstrate on carved pieces of picture frame—-you might like to try that!



This Victorian desk of mine was destroyed in a devastating flood two years ago.

I repainted and distressed it, fitting a new leather top.

It is now a very useful dressing table!



Dorothy Boyer has 30 years experience of carrying out specialist faux finishes including, gilding, distressing, old plaster, stencil and trompe l´oeil effects.

She has taught in London and Jeddah.

Calling all Photographers!

A great opportunity presents itself to all those budding photographers in Jeddah. A mobile app startup company called StringFly is launching a National Heritage project in major cities around the world. Although starting as an app company, they are now in the early stages of building a user website, part of which will be a world map people can discover real time content on.

They are seeking qualified images of architectural landmarks from cities all over the world, and this is where you come in. They are looking for local photographers who care about the architecture and heritage of their cities to work with them.


You need to have an iPhone or Android and must be willing to use their StringFly app on your smartphone to upload images from the site of places of worship, hospitals and schools in Jeddah.

How it works

If this is something you may be interested in, then go ahead and register and download the app here. Once the app is downloaded, you will then be able to use your username and password to login to your web account at StringFly and upload a few sample images depicting the types of buildings listed above. You can also use images taken previously from a conventional camera.

Phase 2

They will be choosing, based on quality criteria, from among the photographers who participate in the first phase and will offer many among them the opportunity to participate in the second phase where you will be asked to take and upload images using the StringFly app, for which they will pay cash rewards in exchange for all requested qualifying images.


Happy clicking!



Hajj Mabroor and Eid Mubarak!


Hajj Mabroor
We wish those readers who have performed Hajj this year Hajj Mabroor (meaning, may your Hajj be accepted),

and to the rest we wish a very blessed Eid.

Jeddah Blog Team

A review of ‘Head Over Heels in Saudi Arabia’

Many of us heard via social media about the play Head Over Heels in Saudi Arabia being performed at the Effat University. Our very own Anousha Vakani was lucky to win tickets and attend the performance. She pens down her thoughts and reviews Head Over Heels in Saudi Arabia exclusively for Jeddah Blog.

Head Over Heels in Saudi Arabia – a satirical look at the lives of Saudi women.

When I first heard about Maisah Sobaihi’s solo performance Head Over Heels in Saudi Arabia over a year ago, I was just as surprised as everyone else to hear that such live entertainment exists here for, and most importantly BY women. I was looking forward to attending the October 2012 performance and luckily enough none of my expectations were disappointed as the play was every bit as witty and poignant as previous reviews and promos promised.

Also worth mentioning is that I happened to win one out of three giveaway tickets from Alaa Balkhy’s blog, so a shout-out of appreciation is due to Alaa Balkhy, her blog and her designs at Fyunka for being the cherry on top of a wonderful evening.

October 2012 introduced the first ever Arabic performance of Head Over Heels in Saudi Arabia. However, as I don’t speak Arabic, I attended the English performance at Effat University on the 9th of October. The English performance was peppered with just the right amount of Arabic words and phrases to add to the hilarity and Arab flavour of the play.

Head Over Heels in Saudi Arabia is a satirical performance based on the private lives of Saudi women. As if pulling off a show that dances with almost dangerous grace around such a theme isn’t an extraordinary feat on its own, Maisah Sobaihi also plays the role of writer, director and sole actor of her performance. This one-woman show is the perfect blend between a play and stand-up comedy, and Ms. Sobaihi switches with fluid ease from playing the different characters and narrating the scenes unfolding before her audience.

Maisah Sobaihi captivating on stage.

The curtain rises to the sound of music and a striking first impression as the stage is divided into three sets, each designed as per the classic Arabian tastes of colour and lavishness. Dressed in red and black, Maisah Sobaihi begins her performance with an introduction on how she “fell in love in Saudi Arabia” against all odds. Right from the very beginning Ms. Sobaihi is engaged in a conversation with her audience; an audience that relates to her story and to the stories of Maryam and Laylah.

She introduces the character of Maryam as a wife and mother of two who finds out through the grapevine that her husband has taken a second wife. Ms. Sobaihi then takes over the plush seats of the central set and as Maryam, has a rather comic conversation with her husband who hints at an interest in taking a second wife. She initially laughs off his ridiculous reasoning of being overcome with a sense of social responsibility towards the single and divorced women of Saudi society. She retorts that if he has indeed been “struck by the cupid of social responsibility” there are a number of projects he can undertake instead, cleaning up the litter on the Corniche being only one of her many spirited suggestions.

A superb performance by Ms. Sobaihi.

Maryam’s husband then has an official wedding and Ms. Sobaihi attends it as Maryam’s spy but due to the characteristically loud music of Saudi weddings can’t understand whether wife number two is “a teacher or a preacher.”

In keeping with the light-hearted mood of the play, Maryam’s outbursts of rage combined with her incredible wit are comical for the most part, but a hush resonates in the audience as her husband’s betrayal becomes more apparent and they watch her heart break on stage.

Laylah, who is introduced in-between Maryam’s story and Ms. Sobaihi’s riveting commentary on the social issues unfolding before us, is also a mother but a divorcee of seven years. Laylah is a loud and lovable personality, and while she has a job and comes off as generally independent, she admits to being lonely. When Laylah takes the stage she is casually lounging on a chair smoking hookah and trying to convince Ms. Sobaihi to dive into a Misyar marriage. The audience is drawn into a hilarious one-sided banter as Laylah counters every one of Ms. Sobaihi’s arguments against Misyar marriages.

Ms. Sobaihi then moves to the center of the stage to comment on the conversation that has just taken place. She explains that after her divorce, her friends and family tried to convince her to remarry, but she remained convinced that ‘you can’t hurry love’.  At this point she breaks out into a song and invites the audience to join in.

Apart from love, marriage and conventionality, Ms. Sobaihi touches lightly on other issues including transportation. She portrays the dependency of Saudi women on their drivers as she calls Mohammad at three in the morning overcome by a sweet-tooth craving for chocolates from Danube.

She also talks about the Saudi obsession with gossip, retorting through Maryam that in this society people go out of their way to “make sure you know exactly what you don’t want to know.”

The stories of Maryam and Laylah take pretty predictable turns but the combination of Ms. Sobaihi’s flawless acting and commentary make for an overall touching and perceptive performance. Right before curtain fall, Ms. Sobaihi returns to the topic of the love of her own life and brings in a surprise which makes for a perfectly appropriate ending.

Head Over Heels in Saudi Arabia is a comical insight and a very artistic representation of social issues pertaining to Saudi society and a definite must-watch. If you happened to miss it this October stay tuned to Maisah Sobaihi’s official website, Facebook and Twitter pages for updates on upcoming performances.

Red Sea Diving in December

If the thought of it doesn’t make you go ‘Brrrr’, do you want to dive in the Red Sea in December? Our friend Meteb the tourist guide has cooked up a diving package complete with open time at the beach and ball games. See if it floats your boat?





Is this your idea of a December well-spent?




Following is an itinerary for those joining from Riyadh. Groups from Jeddah can always hop aboard. The fees of this trip for those coming from Jeddah = 1420 SAR per person (includes all services motioned on the program, except the air fare). Contact email address below for details.

On Wednesday (first day) 05.12.2012

17:00 meet at the airport.
18:00 departure to Jeddah.
19:45 arrival in Jeddah and bus ride (200km) south .
10:30 arrival to Allieth resort for rest and overnight stay

On Thursday (Second day) 06.12.2012

06:00 breakfast at the resort.
07:00 move to boats to private island for diving, snorkeling, fishing in addition to volleyball games on the island and many other activities.
15:00  lunch at camping site on the island, then open time.
19:00 two night diving sessions for “advanced certified divers”.
The rest of the night will be enjoying the beautiful calm atmosphere in the island and overnight stay there.

On Friday (Third day) 07.12.2012

07:00 breakfast.
08:00 fishing for lunch and snorkeling trip.
13:00 lunch at Alleith resort.
16:00 ride the bus back to Jeddah airport
20:00 departure from Jeddah back to Riyadh
22:00 arrival in Riyadh and end of trip.

Price = 1980 SR per person
Includes: tour guide + air tickets + transport from Jeddah to Alleith and vice versa + accommodation + meals + boats + camp in the island + diving instructor and master + tanks + weights.

The price excludes: snorkeling tools + diving tools (BCD and regulators ).

For registration, please send your information (name, nationality, gender, age, ID number and contact number) to
Reservation deadline is 20 October 2012

We’ve reached a milestone!

10,000 hits in just 3 months! Thank you to all our wonderful readers for the support and feedback. We really do appreciate you taking the time to visit us.


Fun Quiz on Saudi Arabia!

On the occasion of Saudi National Day celebrated on 23 September every year, our Quizmaster has prepared a little gem of a quiz for Jeddah Blog. It was first tested on students at the Jeddah Prep and Grammar School on their National Day and was a great hit with everyone there.

We have special permission to reproduce the quiz here, and the first person to leave a comment with all correct answers will be the recipient of a FREE copy of The Entertainer KSA 2012, worth SR 250, containing tons of buy-one-get-one-free coupons!

Please leave answers in the form 1a, 2b, 3c, etc. Please note that the winner must arrange collection of the book.

The winner of the competition is Farha ! Congratulations! Please get in touch with us on to arrange to collect your prize.

Photo courtesy of

1. What percentage of Saudi Arabia’s budget is spent on education?

a. 25%                                                                   b)17%

c. 5%                                                                     d)1%

2. Saudi Arabia’s main export is _________and main import is_________.

a. oil, clothing                                                    b. natural gas, gold

c. natural gas, consumer electronics        d. oil, machinery/vehicles

3. The world’s largest desalination plant is located in Saudi Arabia. In which city is it?

a. Abha                                                                 b. Jubail

c. Tabuk                                                               d. Ta’if

4. How many miles long is the King Fahd Causeway?

a. 18                                                                       b. 50

c. 16                                                                      d. 25

5. Which of these Saudi-owned companies is ranked the most valuable company in the world?

a. Saudi Aramco                                                b. Saudi Telecom Company

c. Saudi Bin Laden Group                             d. SABIC

6. Which Saudi artist’s painting ‘X-ray 2003’ is one of only two Saudi paintings exhibited in the British Museum?

a. Saddek Wasil                                                  b. Abdulnasser Gharem

c. Ahmad Mater                                               d. Sara Abdu

7. In how many Summer Olympic Games has Saudi Arabia participated?

a. 1                                                                         b. 2

c. 5                                                                         d. 8

8. The Saudi Arabia national football team is known by what name to its fans?

a. Al-Nasoor                                                       b. Al-Saqoor

c. Al-Gherban                                                    d. Al-Dajaaj

9. The King Fahd fountain in Jeddah is the tallest in the world. How far does the fountain propel its water up into the air?

a. 759                                                                    b. 989

c. 1024                                                                  d. 1243

10. The world’s longest stretch of desert is in Saudi Arabia, what is it called?

a. Abandoned Half                                          b. Bare Eighth

c. Blank Third                                                     d. Empty Quarter

Islamic Classes at the IEF

For those wishing to learn about Islam, or increase their knowledge base, regular classes are being conducted by the Islamic Educational Foundation of Jeddah.

  • Misconceptions is held every Tuesday from 6-7:30pm.
  • Living the Qur’an takes place every Wednesday from 10-11:30am.


Both classes are held at the IEF Centre. For directions, see the map below.

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