Vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency is a huge problem in GCC countries where women are traditionally covered up when they go out during the daytime. What exacerbates the issue is the heat during the day which makes going out an unpleasant experience to start off with, and a cultural desire to be lighter skinned (considered more beautiful).

In a nutshell, few women get the recommended amounts either through diet or sun exposure. This post highlights some of the dangers of Vit D deficiency. Weak bones, osteoporosis, muscle aches, joint pain, increased risk of cancer are all possible results.

Have yourself checked out by your doctor! Take cod liver oil (or other supplements) and don’t forget to let your skin enjoy the sun several days a week (it does not work through glass or with a very strong sunscreen).


the role of gossip

When wearing a scarf in the US it is not uncommon for well-meaning people to tell you that “you don’t have to wear that here, you know.” It is usually the start of a longer conversation that goes something along the lines of  ” I do it because I want to, no one is making/forcing me to wear it, the reason I wear it is… etc etc”. And of course defining what is normal, the role of peer pressure and confirming to pop culture (sometimes akin to having no choice, especially when women are younger) is part of the discussion.

KSA is interesting in that many choices are taken away by gossip. A common theme that I have found amongst people living the Saudi lifestyle (either Saudis or expats married to Saudis) is the role of gossip in defining their choices.

People talk and talk and talk about others. It almost sounds like high school in a small town where “did you see what she was wearing? did you see how fitted her abaya was? did you see her hair showing at the mall? did you see who she was with? did you see the men looking at her?” followed by the eternal “no nice/decent girl/woman would do that!” Eventually the whispers reach the mamas/papas/husbands/wives and “corrective action” is often applied.

Interestingly, for the majority of the women I have talked to thus far (young and old), this has been given as the number 1 reason to cover their faces! Not religion, not culture but anonymity- if no one knows who they are, they can do what they like without people gossiping about them. A sad reason to do something if you do not actually believe in the act.


Our regularly scheduled transmissions of “life thru dusty lenses” are back after a brief hiatus for Hajj. I have been going through some of my earlier blogs and web-sites and archiving/removing/cleaning up. I might end up posting some stuff from my old recipe and art web-site.

Images of Riyadh: Public Transport

There is no public transport within Riyadh however there are private bus lines. A popular route is 9 that runs between Olaya and Dallah. These buses drive more dangerously than micro-buses in Cairo and Alexandria (yes, it is possible!) and are always packed with foreign workers.


Images of Riyadh: Mermaid Abaya

Whoever thinks that Riyadh is conservative has clearly not seen this unique abaya with a mermaid painted on it. The lady was generous enough to allow me to take a picture of it (sorry for the blurriness).

How often does one see a half-naked mermaid with birds flying around? This is the same country where Starbucks has changed its logo and does not feature the mermaid on the outside of their stores (they only show waves). I applaud her courage.


Images of Riyadh: Cultural Diversity in Dolls

The toy aisles contain regular Barbies however they also carry these two fascinating dolls with culturally appropriate clothing: Kareema and Sunayana


Images of Riyadh: Riyadh malls

Shopping is one of the few pastimes where families can be together. Malls are very lively on the weekends and tend to have interesting features. This particular mall features a small lake in the middle, complete with fountains, fake birds and even a deer. See if you can find him in the second picture.

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