Arabic Navigation – Try Yamli

yamli2When I learn of a site that may help me with Arabic and therefore making it easy to navigate not only in Arabic but in Saudi Arabia, I like to share these finds. Now many of you may already be aware of the site but I only recently became acquainted with yamli.

Yamli is the tool that finally allows you to easily access and expand the Arabic Web.

Yamli is inspired by the Arabic verb “يُملي” which comes from the noun “إملاء” referring to dictation or transcription of spoken text.

Using Yamli is very easy. Simply spell out each Arabic word the way you would pronounce it, and Yamli will convert it to the corresponding Arabic word using its patent pending technology. Yamli is the web’s best solution for Arabic transliteration.

You can also use common shortcut characters. For example “3” for “ع”, “2” for “ء”, “7” for “ح”, etc …

For example, type “3arabi” or “arabi” to enter “عربي”

In addition to its search tools the yamli editor will allow one to write in Arabic too.

It is a nifty tool and worth checking out.

A Hidden Find in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Jeddah has many hidden secrets and I’ve recently become aware of yet another one of its secrets: Madame la Reine’s. Madame la Reine’s is a specialty store providing authentic, pre-owned clothes, jewelry, vintage-clothinghandbags and other accessories. Madame la Reine’s only accepts items in excellent condition and by known designers and then resells these items at discounted costs. The original owner, whose identity remains private, will also receive a percentage of the sale. One can easily find items by Gucci, Prada, Chanel, Dior and many other known designers at Madame la Reine. Shopping at Madame la Reines is done by appointment which allows customers the time and space to browse as well as try things on.

Madame la Reine’s is the brainchild of a Saudi businesswoman. Queries can be sent to [email protected]

Men and Taxis in Saudi Arabia

saudi-taxi-02When one has a lengthy commute to and from work it gives a lot of time to sit back and observe, especially if one is a woman, like myself, in Saudi Arabia and cannot drive. I have noticed a distinct pattern in Saudi Arabia that I’ve not seen in as many other countries in which I’ve lived or traveled and this pattern has to do with Saudi men and taxis. Now in most places of the world it is typical and expected if not required that passengers would sit in the back seat. In fact in some places one may enter a cab and find that there is a safety glass between the front and back seat and don’t even think about trying to sit in the front seat. But in Saudi Arabia, more often than not, a Saudi man will choose to sit in the front seat of a taxi beside the driver. The few times my husband and I have used a taxi in Riyadh I noticed that he also has chosen to sit in the front seat. It seems that the men who will sit in the back seat of taxis in Saudi Arabia are generally western expat males. I’ve not quite figured out exactly why the Saudi man prefers to sit in the front seat of the taxi and can only guess that it is a cultural trait.

Giving Directions in Riyadh

directions001Fortunately all of the main thoroughfares of Riyadh are generally well marked. And by well marked I mean that street names have been designated as well as having well-known landmarks. But if one happens to live in a typical residential neighborhood or going to visit someone in a typical Riyadh neighborhood, then navigation can begin to get challenging. Why’s that you may ask? Well, I have learned that there are many residential neighborhoods where there are no street signs or any visible indication of what the street is called. In addition, the houses may not even have house numbers. As a result it becomes imperative to learn how to give directions with precise land marks.

For example, I have a good friend who lives off of the King Khalid Highway. In order to get to her house I know I have to take Exit “X”, make an immediate u-turn and then take the first road to the right (and of course there is no road sign). Then I proceed to the 3rd road to the right and turn. I follow this road and after passing the first mosque, I then take the next road to the left. Her villa is the 5th villa on the right. These are typical of driving instructions in Riyadh!

*actual directions have been modified to protect privacy

Reputable Hair Salons in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


Any woman can tell you it is essential to find a good and reputable hair salon when one is living and working abroad. Sometimes, depending on ones location this can be somewhat challenging. I’m pleased to say that in Riyadh there are several good and reputable places one can go. The most popular salons which are frequented by westerners are as follows:


Mariyah Center

Al Manihal Center

Yibreen’s is a full service spa and salon and more. It offers all salon services which include hair, makeup, manicure, pedicure and waxing. It also has a wonderful spa with a variety of treatment packages and massages. In addition, Yibreen’s has a gym which in addition to providing all the usual exercise equipment also offers classes in yoga, aerobics and other activities. And of course Yibreen has a pool where one can take a refreshing dip. Last but not least, it also has a restaurant on the premises. Speaking of the premises, Yibreen’s is like a small compound with the salon, gym, spa and restaurant all housed in different buildings. It is a wonderful relaxing place to come and spend a day of pampering!

Most of the stylists at Yibreen’s are from Lebanon although there is also an American woman who works there and is a specialist with color.

Yibreens is located off of Takhusseessee and easy walking distance from King Faisal Specialist Hospital. Most limo drivers (taxis) know the location.

Yibreen’s: 441 1115 [email protected]

The Mariyah Center is also a spa and salon but not quite as grand a scale as Yibreen’s. The Mariyah Center was established by an American married to a Saudi. Her daughter now runs the business. Like Yibreens, the Mariyah Center offers the full compliments for hair, makeup, manicures, pedicures and waxing. Its spa services are more limited than Yibreens although massages and body wraps are available.

The Mariyah Center also offers a small tea room where tea sandwiches and drinks are served. Adjacent to the tea room is a gift shop where imported (mainly US) items are carried and which are difficult to acquire in Saudi Arabia.

The Mariyah Center is staffed predominantly with Filipinas. It is a cheerful atmosphere.

The Mariyah Center is located in the heart of Riyadh on Olaya Street right across from Saks 5th Avenue (Kingdom Mall).

Al Manihal Center is a full service salon and spa located in the Diplomatic Quarter. I have not been there myself so I cannot provide as many details. It is my understand that it offers all hair, makeup and salon services as well as full service spa. I have also heard that this center routinely offers various classes such as painting, languages and much more. Al Manihal used to have a very good and informative web site but I could not locate it at the time of this writing.

An additional honorable mention is the Luthan Hotel and Spa. While salon or hair services are not mentioned on its web site, it does post information on a wide variety of spa packages.

Naturally there are many many more salons in and around Riyadh. It should also be noted that most compounds will also have its own salon.

Monthly Saudi Arabic Posting Time


I’m very pleased that the posts which I have written previously on Arabic have been popular. Therefore I decided to add a regular monthly Arabic post as a standard feature of my blog.

Some important basics everyone should know:

I ana

You enta (male) entee (female)

He huwa

She hiya

They humma

We nahnu

Mine liya or lee

Yours laka

His lahu

Her’s laha

Their’s lahum

Ours lana

Why? Laish

When? Meta

No la

Yes na’am

Rights of an American Saudi Wife in Saudi Arabia

The following recently appeared on a newsgroup forum and provides valuable information where a lawyer within Saudi Arabia answered some questions which were posed by American women married to Saudis:

A while back ago, a friend and I decided to ask a lawyer these kinds
of questions, just to know where we would stand if something like
thiis ever happened to us. Just so you know…we hated the answers.

You, as an american, can leave any time. Of course kids are another
story. in the event of a husbands death,If you have a son who is 21
(or 18 not sure) he may leave with you. Any son under that age stays
with current muhram. Any daughter no matter what age stays with muhrram.

What if we build a house but put it in my sons name?
If the event of your husbands death happens before the boy is an adult
then the in laws have the right to claim it and
do with it as they please.

What if we build a house in MY name? (i’m half saudi)
The house would belong to you. No one would have any say in it.
However, the in laws could go to court and fight the fact that they do
not want their grandchildren to be raised in a home without a man in
it for reasons such as safety,
men, emergencies, etc. The judge will side with them. They will either
force you to move out, or sell your house and move in with your in
laws (or wherever the inlaws want you to be near them) or keep your
house and your in laws take the kids.

What if my husband wrote a document stating in his death i am allowed
to leave with my kids at any time?
The muhram still has to allow it.

What if my husband dies and I choose to remarry in saudi?
The in laws will keep the kids and you go over and visit.

What if my husband makes a will and signs everything over to me?
The judges here do not look at wills as they go by sharia and still
divide everything equally.

what if I co own some kind of property with my husband who dies?
his share will be distributed as the judge sees fit to his family.

What if my ex saudi husband dies? will I then have custody?
No, his father or brother will.


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