Jeddah Blog

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Back to School Checklist

Children all over Jeddah have been chilling at home for the past few months, and now it’s time for them to go back to school. With so much to do, we’ve tried to make your job a little easier by compiling a checklist to get you organized for that exciting first day. Our regular contributor Anosha Vakani has covered all bases, from finding a good school for your child to planning lunch menus.

What is your method for getting organized for school? Is there anything you’re particularly careful about? Drop us a line and let us know!

Find a school and get to know it, or re-register

  • If you’re looking for a new school for your child, or a transfer, then take a look at this list of schools or playgroups and preschools compiled by Jeddah Blog.
  • Fill out necessary forms and make sure your child is up-to-date with vaccinations.
  • Find out if you can meet your child’s new teacher to discuss essentials.
  • Confirm when the first day of school will be. It’s quite normal for schools in Jeddah to postpone the first day of school so be prepared for this possibility.
  • Get a copy of the school policies – these are usually handed out within the first week of school or available online.

Arrange Transportation

Decide on the best mode of transportation:

  • School bus: Find out if your school offers this option and the additional costs involved, also have a clearly drawn map of your house to submit to them.
  • On foot: If you live close enough, you can walk the younger kids to and from school, or delegate this to domestic help.
  • Private drivers or compound buses: If you have a private driver or a compound bus that takes children to and from school, discuss school timings with the driver and ensure the school is informed as to who will be picking your child up every day. If you are a working mom, then make arrangements for someone to receive your child on their first day.

Buy school supplies and uniforms, and plan lunch menus

  • Get bags, lunch boxes and water bottles. Find something sturdy yet easy to carry. Try Centrepoint, Citymax, Jarir, Pottery Barn, Go Sport, Kiplings or Fanoos Stationery.
  • School supplies – A specific list is usually handed out within the first week of school but you may consider stocking up on the essentials beforehand. Plan a single trip to Jarir or any other bookstore or stationery shop, and stock up on pencils, pens, folders, paper, crayons, colour pencils, labels, rulers, erasers etc.
  • Find out whether the school has a uniform and whether it is to be purchased from the school or an external outlet.
  • Purchase the uniform as early as possible and make the necessary alterations.
  • Get shoes and socks. Find out if the school has specific requirements for shoes. Try Centrepoint, Hush Puppies, Payless, Clarks, Mothercare, Debenhams or Marks and Spencer.
  • School clothes – If the school does not have a uniform, then purchase suitable clothes. Make a list and don’t buy more than the essentials. Label the clothes to avoid them getting misplaced. For preschoolers, remember to include an extra pair of clothes in their everyday bag in case of emergencies. Also keep an eye out for back to school sales.
  • Plan healthy lunch menus and make a grocery list, make sure to add variety.
  • Limit the amount of money per week that can be spent on the school canteen.

Declutter, organize and smarten up

  • Organize closet – Donate old clothes, shoes and uniforms to charity. Old textbooks can be donated or sold.
  • Clean out old school supplies, papers and artwork and make space for new. Clear space under fridge magnets for school notices that will be coming in.
  • Get a wall calendar to mark important events.
  • Label all your school supplies.
  • Schedule a haircut.
  • Pick out clothes for the first day of school. If this is the first time your child will be wearing a tie, then make sure to practice with him/her so they will be well-prepared. The same goes for tying shoelaces.
  • If your children have fallen into a late sleep routine, then gradually begin to pull back on their sleep timings. If you start a week early and wake them a little earlier every day, they’ll be able to get up at the crack of dawn bright and happy.

First day of school

  • Lay out clothes or uniform for the next day.
  • Pack lunches.
  • Have your child pack his or her own bag.
  • Insist on a proper breakfast.
  • Get your camera and snap a million first day of school pictures!

Light and Shade Photography Competition

Light and Shade Photography is inviting entrants to its ‘Light and Shade Kids on Eid Competition” on Facebook. The theme of the competition is ‘Eid’, and the photograph submitted must be of a child upto 10 years old.

To enter the competition, you need to submit each photo in a separate post on their Facebook page along with a caption, the name and age of the child, and the place taken. The last date for submission is the 30th of August 2012. Light and Shade will then open the competition to the public. The picture with the maximum ‘likes’ on Facebook will win.

Good luck to all participants!

Beautylicious: Makeup Tips for Eid

Eid is just around the corner, which means EID PARTIES. In Jeddah people generally celebrate for 3 days. In this month’s Beautylicious, Nilo Haq gives us some simple tips and tricks to keep you looking beautiful on some of the most important days of the year.

Eid Morning Generally families get together and have a feast after Eid prayers. Morning is all about pretty and natural so light makeup should do the trick. Dramatic and overdone makeup with dark tones ends up looking rather harsh for the occasion.

  • Its Eid…you are going to be eating. To make your lipstick last longer; fill in the entire lip with a neutral pencil before applying colour.
  • During the day skip mascara on the lower lashes entirely – it can end up looking too dramatic
  • For the most natural looking eyeliner use a powder liner, which is highly pigmented and apply with a liner brush or an angle brush.
  • Go for matte neutral toned eye shadows for your day look and save your shimmery ones for the evening.
  • For a glowing sheen, apply a pink blush then blend a drop of liquid highlighter onto the cheeks.
  • For extra natural looking skin, try a tinted moisturizer. Since its lightweight, it won’t cover up dark spots, blemishes or redness BUT it will even out skin tone.

Read more…

Ramadan Promotions

Ramadan is primarily a focus on spirituality, however the overall atmosphere is very festive. Shopping and eating out are popular activities with mall opening times adjusting for the Holy month. Shops remain closed in the mornings but stay open until 2:30 in the morning or even later. Restaurants are particularly busy at Iftar (breaking the fast at sunset) and Suhoor (the last meal before beginning the fast, before dawn). Shop windows focus on Ramadan with promotions targeting customers for Eid also.

My good friend and Jeddah Blog reader Soul Gulistan sends in some photographs of a recent visit to the Mall of Arabia. If you have any photos of interest to share with us, send them to

M&ms carrying the traditional Ramadan lantern.

Ramadan signage at Forever 21.

Read more…

Abdul Raouf Khalil Museum

Over the weekend we stumbled quite by accident upon the most beautiful building, surrounded with miniature sculptures of mosques and landmarks. The building is behind the restaurants on Andalus Street, and I could only hastily take photos from a mobile phone, hence the poor picture quality.


The Prophet’s Mosque

On returning home, I was bent upon finding out what this place was. Could it be someone’s personal ode to art? Or a hidden treasure in Jeddah? How come I had never heard of a place like this before?

After much searching on Google, I found out exactly what it was. Thanks to Asia Rooms, I learned that this is actually a museum called the Abdul Raouf Khalil Museum, and the website gives us the following information:

Known as the Paris of Arabia, Jeddah is one of the wealthiest cities in the world. A destination of the rich and famous, Jeddah is the second largest city in Saudi Arabia. Though a modern cosmopolitan city, Jeddah has a history which can be traced back to more than 2000 years. The rich and vibrant history of the city and the country is well preserved at the Museums in Jeddah. There are a large number of Museums are a must in the itinerary of the travelers who are interested in the 2,500 year of the city. One of the most visited is the Abdul Raouf Khalil Museum in Jeddah.

Beautiful mosques in miniature

The displays at the Abdul Raouf Khalil’s Museum in Jeddah clearly reflect the history of the country. The museum also traces the various civilizations that

inhabited the region and is divided into three segments for better viewing. The three segments at Abdul Raouf Khalil’s Museum of Jeddah are:

-   Saudi Heritage
–   Ottoman Empire
–   European Development

The Ka’aba in miniature

The first section at Abdul Raouf Khalil’s Museum at Jeddah highlights the lives of the early tribes in the region. The second segment displays the years after 1517 when the Ottoman Turks conquered the city of Jeddah and Mecca. The last segment at Abdul Raouf Khalil’s Museum in Jeddah is the European Development section that traces the modern development after the First World War when King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud conquered the region and founded the modern state of Saudi Arabia.

Recently, the museum was renovated and the rooms at the Museum were made spacious.  Located in the downtown district, the Abdul Raouf Khalil’s Museum in Jeddah boasts of large collection of items and artifacts belonging to the Ottoman Turks and the fishermen tribes who were the first inhabitants of the region.”

In my search for the museum online, I came across this interesting piece by Robertson International Travel on their visit to Jeddah via cruise ship, and their visit to this museum. Also a better picture of the outside of the museum here by alimkasim and an entire gallery of photos by Adnan Masood.
Next stop must be a visit inside the museum itself. If any of you have been to see this place, leave us a comment and tell us about it.

- Sabaa Ali

Keep your coins, I want change!

Guest blogger Anosha Vakani introduces us to a unique e-show, 3alahawana, which discusses the values, the passions and the challenges facing Saudi women today, and reveals to us the process whereby this insightful programme came about.

We’ve all put in our two cents halalas on the subject of today’s media and while a passionate rant over its sorry state is undoubtedly called for, there are some who have traded in their two cents worth on this well-worn topic for actual change.

Do we want coins, or do we want change?

Israa Al Qassas and Loujain Basri, students at Effat University and members of its Media Club, are co-hosting a one-of-a-kind show on the e-channel 3alahawana.

It all started with the forming of The Media Club back in October 2011 when a bunch of students from Effat decided that instead of droning on about the problems with today’s media, a much better use of their time would be to become part of the solution.

Read more…

Ramadan Greetings !


Jeddah Blog wishes its readers

Ramadan Kareem :)

 Ramadan Kareem literally means ‘Generous Ramadan’, due to the blessings of this Holy month.

 For Suhoor and Iftar timings in Jeddah, you may refer to the Arab News website.

Ask Bee: 10 Essential Arabic phrases I learnt in my first month in Jeddah…and you should too!

Due to the sheer numbers of expatriates in Jeddah, it is common to see people coming here to settle all the time. It is quite true, that with the aid of rapid hand gestures and basic English, one can manage perfectly well on a day to day basis without any knowledge of the Arabic language. However, those who have been here a while will agree that understanding and usage of a few choice words makes one’s life that much easier.

In this month’s blog post, Bee addresses the concerns of a newly-settled resident who frets that she is unable to communicate in the local language and gives us 10 of the most commonly used Arabic words to get us going :) If you think Bee has left out a word or phrase of vital importance, leave a comment and let us know !

About Bee

Bee is a 30 something mother, wife, corporate consultant and a bona fide prodigy in the art of shelling out unnecessary, unsolicited and often useless advice. The kind people at her office actually pay her for doing this on an hourly daily basis and she returns the kindness by making them lose sleep over random pointless issues. She currently lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with her very sane husband (he takes after his mother) and her two not very sane children (they too take after their mother). Her own personal hell would be to have nothing to do with no-one paying her for pretending to have nothing to do.

“Before I moved to Jeddah, I was a hip-swinging, fist-pumping hippy who liked to party all night and didn’t know a word of Arabic. The above is not really true except maybe the last bit; my knowledge of the language was rudimentary at best. I knew a few words here and there from the Quran but didn’t know the contextual use or even the Saudi pronunciation so even when I used those words, I got completely blank stares from the locals.”

Having dealt with this blank stare marathon at numerous occasions I decided to arm myself with the must-know-can’t-survive-without list of Arabic phrases. These phrases along with a clever mix of expressive sign language will make your life and transition much easier. I promise you that!

Read more…

Treasure Hunting at Hamed Carpets

A feeling of elation, a rush of excitement. Discovering a hidden treasure evokes such feelings as these, and this is exactly what I feel every time I walk into a little hidden gem of a shop called Hamed Carpets.

Hamed 1    Hamedcarpets2

The wondrous store is jam-packed with exotic souvenirs and handicrafts from Saudi Arabia and all over the world, and for those who have already experienced the disappointment in finding keepsakes for loved ones from Jeddah, this treasure trove is the perfect place to hunt.

Hamed 4  hamedcarpets4 hamedcarpets3

From antique locks to intricate trinket boxes, beautifully carved antique furniture and handmade rugs to glittering baubles, Hamed Carpets has all one could wish for, and more. There is even a gorgeous traditional wooden swing begging to be bought and lovingly displayed in one’s home.

So, next time you would like to aesthetically treat yourself, or purchase some pre-vacation souvenirs, or simply browse away while time flies past, head to Hamed Carpets tucked away on the top floor of the City Plaza (also known as the Dome Plaza) on Prince Sultan Street, and indulge to your heart’s content.

- Sabaa Ali

Out of Britain

An exhibition that seems to be of great general interest.

Lecture at Athr Gallery

Coming up at Athr this Saturday.

The British Council and Athr Gallery are pleased to invite you to a  lecture on ‘The Historical and Cultural Fascination of Landscape’
By Professor David Rayson, of the Royal Academy in London.
6:00 – 7:30 PM, June 16th, 2012
at Athr Gallery
5th Floor Office Tower, Serafi Mega Mall

Please RSVP
Out of Britain showcases selected works from the British Council collection by some of the most important landscape artists of the 20th century.

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

A Bonny blithe blue: An Interview with Layla of Blue Abbaya

The blue of ‘Blue Abbaya’ is a shade apart, merging a spirit of deep inner freedom and an infectiously positive attitude. Jeddah Blog chats with Laylah of Blue Abbaya, investigating the meaning of her blue, and generally, a lot of this and that.

The blue abbaya is both a symbol and an attitude for Laylah’s blog. It’s a posture of being respectful to local traditions while setting oneself apart from the crowd through personal taste. It is one of those blogs where the author’s personality comes out very strongly. You will recognize her ‘voice’ at once, and are unlikely to confuse it with another. Your instinct will tell you to stay on the good side of this blithe but aggressively positive person. She is witty and sharp-tongued on a good day, and best to avoid on a bad day, we reckon. And her blog comes with a warning for the humorously challenged.

Reading her blog, one traverses two regions equally mysterious to many – Finland and Saudi Arabia, and her blog pierces the mystery of both lands to offer us a window into both cultures through the eyes of somebody who embodies them both to some extent.

After surviving the tragic-comical challenge of a wedding à la Saoudienne, it’s been a mildly bumpy ride, to say the least, but her Finnish hardiness has helped her keep her feet firmly on the ground. Some unavoidable, amusing and enlightening comparisons between the Finnish and the Saudi way of life, whether they emerged unconsciously as survival tactics, or as a conscious reflection about the cultural polarity she embodies, make for some delightful traipsing for the culture vulture. Scandinavian ice and deserts of Arabia are physical reliefs, but like all environment, they become landscapes of the mind at some point. In ‘Blue Abbaya’, blue is the colour of the Finnish sky, and the abbaya is a cultural norm of Saudi Arabia. In its name and its nature, the blog is defined by the richly opposed but co-existing worlds that the author is part of, and the best and worst of which peppers her real and virtual space.

Read more…

The Business Lunch Challenge

Many restaurants in the city are promoting Business Lunch deals, targeted at working people, presumably as ideal venues for casual business meetings. The lunches are usually a set number of options one can choose from at a fixed price, usually including a salad, a main course and a drink.

Jeddah Blog decided to try out 3 such restaurants, but to put them to their ultimate test, took along three tough customers; children aged 8 years to 12 years, in order to find out if these deals would be equally applicable to families. We then rated the restaurants out of 10. We would like to add here that the reviews were undertaken anonymously in order to gain the most objective results. None of the three restaurants were aware that they were serving Jeddah Blog that day.

Read more…


The Ana Special Mall is holding an exhibition of stunning modern art glass creations by famous Glass Master Jean-Claude Navaro.

Read more…

Expat Blog

Jeddah Blog recently got in touch with Julien, Founder of Expat Blogwho has updated us on important changes happening at their blog.

It was Julien’s passion for discovering new cultures, and himself being an expatriate for several years that prompted him to launch the Expat Blog project seven years ago. “I wanted to gather all the expatriates’ blogs throughout the world on a unique platform,” says Julien.

What is Expat Blog?

Expat Blog is a participative platform dedicated to expatriates and soon-to-be expatriates. It is aimed at helping people living or wishing to live abroad. It is a great resource for free advice and information on living abroad: everyday life, formalities, visas, education, cost of living, etc. It deals with all the important subjects for expatriates and the ones about to live in another country. Julien believed that this energy and experience could be channeled to help those wanting to make a move and explore other countries but needed help and advice on the very basics of making such a big move. He enthuses, “I have always thought that the real life and experience of expatriates could really help those people wishing to start a new life abroad.”

Read more…

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