1. The niqab is the local and the preferred dress of the majority although it is not absolute. You will be surprised to find some women in no niqab, full makeup, perfumed, heels and shockingly no hijab (hijab however is always worn in Makkah). The abaya, however, is obligatory.
2. Women not allowed to drive in Saudi is known all over the world but I bet you no one knows what the actual roads are like, there terrifying compared to the roads in the Uk. The drivers can be as young as 10 and some drive like it’s their first time behind a wheel and the road manners are appalling causing a lot of stress for most drivers. Yes women can’t drive and no I don’t agree with it but unless they change the road conditions drastically trust me women should just embrace being chauffeured around because every male driver wishes they were in our position.
3. Try and find an accommodation that is in walking distant to shops, parks and clinics if you are a housewife or a stay at home mum you don’t want to be restricted to waiting for your husband to come home to go out.
4. Apart from the driving situation, everything is catered for the Muslim women and her family despite what the media like to propagate. Female swimming pools and gyms, segregated restaurants, female only universities, female only lingerie shops ( let’s face it we all hate those awkward moments). Women are also likely to be served first in most restaurants and shops, you just shove yourself to the front of the Que and no man will say anything (From what I have seen). Really I tell you if anyone is getting it bad it’s the men.
5.In Makkah, there is a Quran memorisation class in every area for women which is almost always free Masha’Allah.
6.You do not need to be chaperoned everywhere, I have seen a lot of women jump taxis and go about their daily shopping without the assistance of a chaperone although they are more likely accompanied with another female friend.
7.You need to take it upon yourself to make new friends else it could get very lonely. This is especially important for your children if you are planning on having them homeschooled which brings me to my 8th point.
8. The Education system is generally terrible so you may want to consider an alternative way to teach your children which could turn out for the better and although hard work, I think if done properly your children will benefit better then taking them to schools that are money orientated.
9. The night is the day and the day is the night. Because of the climate here, the people tend to avoid the afternoon sun instead they will do there shopping and outings once the sun has set. Some shops do not open till after Asr prayer which can be anytime around four. So you would need to adjust your timetable a little. This also can be a little stressful if you or your husband are working as after your say 9-5 shift you may have to spend the next four hours out doing shopping ( it’s that long because of the traffic ) So what we do is have a big shop on the weekends in the day to last you through at least next weekend.
10. If you’re pregnant or planning to have a baby in Saudi you may have to consider the different standards of care and procedures. I would advise that you thoroughly acquaint yourself with the postnatal and birthing proceeders and decide what you want to do because like I said there may be a big difference compared to what you get in the west.