Confessions of a Saudi Diva: Challenges in Life

It’s always refreshing to get positive feedback from my blog readers and to hear that they’re enjoying my posts. Reading comments from followers who can strongly resonate with my views, experiences and stories means the world to me. Especially when these people come from similar backgrounds or have been through similar paths to mine.

Equally uplifting is reading comments from Western readers who find my posts highly insightful and my stories worth documenting in a novel or biography. Within the past few weeks, I’ve received two separate e-mails from blog followers and friends. They’ve suggested that I write a book about my life story or a novel and see how it goes.

Challenges in Life: My Life Story

The idea of writing a biography or novel has been on my mind for as long as I can remember.

I was considering it even when I was still living in Saudi. Even then I was dreaming of escaping my confining and conservative lifestyle. The reason that I still haven’t started on this project is that I feel like my journey hasn’t reached any significant milestone. If I must put a timeline for my accomplishments so far, I would say that I’m only mid-way through my path.

There are three main life goals that I aspire to accomplish and that I’m working hard towards getting. In each one of those projects, I’m somewhat closer than where I was when I first started on this journey. I’ve made a great amount of progress, but sadly I’m not there yet. To give you a hint on those targets; one is related to career, the second to my blogging passion and the third is a purely personal objective.

I believe that once I’ve achieved at least two of these major goals, it would be a good time to consider writing a biography or novel about my life story and see how that goes.

My readers have also asked me to write more regularly. I must admit that since I’ve started my editorial internship, the blog hasn’t been as active as it should be. I’m trying my best to write at least once a week, on my weekend. Since my weekdays are very busy with the office hours. The evenings aren’t that long since I leave work late and whatever time is left is dedicated to getting things done, going to a gym class and having a quick bite. I do promise to be more active once my internship ends. I’ll keep you posted on that.

Support is So Appreciated

I’m not sure if my readers understand how valuable their support to my blog is. That’s why I wanted to dedicate this post to explaining that.

Thankfully, throughout my life, I’ve always had financial support from my parents. In Arab culture – more specifically GCC countries’ culture – the father continues to support the children financially, even when they are adults. This rule applies to most families and it’s stronger when the child is a female.

Basically, the support extends until the daughter gets married. It’s a normal thing in our culture. It’s not unusual at all. That’s how I can manage to keep trying to make it in the creative industry without getting a paid job. Yes, I’ve been working for free since I left my corporate IT support job in the summer of 2008. Back then, I had a stable job with a reasonable monthly salary. Just like everyone else in this world. That job was also very boring, systematic and completely non-creative. I was miserable, I felt trapped, I knew that this was not my calling.

Since leaving that job in the summer of 2008, I’ve never looked back or regretted my move for one single moment. Do I miss getting paid for work? no. Not when I’m feeling dead for most of the time!

Making Progress

Despite not being able to get paid for writing, I’ve made a considerable amount of progress.

Just by de-cluttering my coffee table yesterday, I could see how much effort I’ve put into my goals. From attending a plethora of blogging-related and other creative workshops, to getting a journalism degree from Murdoch University, to attending a foundation course with LCF, to contributing with Calendar page for Conde Nast Traveller Middle East (where I’m currently interning), the amount of skills and knowledge I’ve developed in those past couple of years can’t be compared to anything!

I’ve enjoyed every step of my creative career journey and I still do. Of course there are endless moments of frustration and disappointment along the way. But no matter how challenging things get, the path is so rewarding and exciting that I would never think of giving up or going back to doing a non-creative career. At least not a completely non-creative one. Something relatively close to a creative role could make the cut.

Emotional Support Matters

Why did I mention all of the above? The reason is that I wanted to clarify that despite having financial support all the way, I never had any emotional support or motivation from my family. On the contrary, I’ve had constant opposition. As I mentioned earlier, being a businessman, my dad doesn’t understand the creative industry or how things work. He can’t comprehend the idea of working for free and doesn’t support the blog. My dad thinks it’s just a joke and doesn’t believe in journalism or writing as a career. And throughout these past years, he has been constantly giving me negative feedback and asking me to move back to Saudi and work with Saudi Aramco!

This hasn’t changed lately. He still asks me to consider joining Aramco and moving back home every now and then. The most recent time was about two phone calls ago. So when people envy me for having financial support, think that I’m a lucky girl, or that I’m a spoiled brat who has things easy in life, they don’t see the complete picture. I believe that having to deal with such intense negativity and pressure from family is more challenging than trying to make ends meet and putting bread on the table. Because emotional support makes a huge difference to one’s well-being and sanity.

What I’m trying to say is that no one has things easy. We all have our own struggles and challenges in life. It’s just that the context of those struggles is different from one person to another.

Good Progress Has Been Made

While it might seem that I’ve made a good amount of progress, to my dad’s business mindset, I’m simply wasting time and not making any money.

Another interesting story that I will never forget is when I was taking a fashion media and communication course at LCF in London and my dad was telling me on the phone what he told a friend of his about my current course. My dad actually told his friend that I was taking a masters degree in IT in London. This is basically because my dad was too embarrassed about the idea that I was taking a creative course related to fashion and journalism! In his mind, he didn’t approve of the concept of the creative industry or journalism. And so he was so much in denial of the fact that I was taking a course in fashion media and communication, that he even had to make up a story to match his own beliefs and convictions!

Arab Culture Sometimes Causes Challenges in Life

Now if that story doesn’t give you an insight of how difficult Arab culture is, then I don’t know what will!

My dad is less strong-headed nowadays. He approves of my third editorial internship and even asks if I can have it extended. However, he still asks me to apply to Saudi Aramco and move back to Saudi from time to time.

I wanted to bring this story up to show my readers how valuable their support is to me and how much every positive comment, message or e-mail means to me and to my journey. I need constant motivation and confirmation and I need the support of genuine blog readers and followers. And I greatly value each and every kind gesture.

I promise that the next post will be a more light-hearted one and not about challenges in life. Something along the lines of: “Do Muslim women wear underwear only underneath their Abayahs?” 🙂

Thank you to everyone who takes time to read my posts – whether you comment or not – and to your continuous support and encouragement. I couldn’t have gotten to where I am without you.

Share Some Love


  • hebasharaf10 says:

    I totally can relate to how people can easily envy you for having continuous financial support , i was in your shoe once too ! until i somehow ( not fully ) became let us say 85 % independent now elhamdullah . But the bad part in my case was whenever my father did not approve of my actions he either withdraws some of his financial privileges or makes me do what he wants by order ! I really do have pity on girls in our society . Nobody knows how hard it is to do what you like in this part of the world . We need to meet soon and talk ! This topic is very interesting 🙂

    • Nada says:

      Indeed Heba. I think it’s difficult for people who didn’t go through similar experiences to relate to our issues and challenging life situations. I’m trying my best to highlight the trials of Arab women in our society in this blog. Hopefully the blog will grow bigger and my voice will reach a wider audience soon. As always, your support is highly appreciated and I’m glad to hear from readers who can strongly relate to my story and life situation 🙂

  • Kevin says:

    Dear Saudi Diva
    Yet another insightful and deeply personal blog. What a pleasure it is to get such honest understanding of what it is to be a woman in an Arabic and specifically Saudi culture. You continue to show great fortitude in striving to achieve your personal goals, I am sure that with your determination you will soon be writing that autobiography!
    I agree with your views on the importance of emotional as well as financial support. No amount of money can compensate for the feeling that your family doesn’t support your ambitions. Financial support is borne by a sense of duty, emotional support is borne by love and the desire for you to be happy in whatever you decide to do. No one has the right to live your life for you. It is good that you are strong and determined to achieve your personal goals in your career, blogging and personal aspirations.
    Good luck Saudi Diva! I look forward to reading your next blog!

    • Nada says:

      Thank you for the continuous support and encouraging words Kevin! your words give me the power to keep writing and sharing my story with the rest of the world 🙂

  • For the longest time in my adult life, my parents were supporting me too and my only goal in life at that time was to be able to earn enough money for myself that I won’t need their support anymore. It might be confusing for some, why would I want to do that? It’s because I think that as long as I am under their financial support they believe they have the authority to dictate what I should and should not be doing in all aspects of my life, they are financing me after all so they have a say in each every decision that I will make. They also didn’t take me seriously when I was still under their financial support, in their eyes – I am still a child even if I was in my early 20’s at the time.

    I remember all of our previous conversations and I do hope you’d be able to get at least two of your goals in life.

    Also, I know what the third goal is *wink*wink*.

    See you very soon!

    • Nada says:

      Thank you for the lovely comment Noemi. You can’t imagine how great it feels to know that someone understands your path, your goals and aspirations. I completely agree with every single word you said. I’m so grateful to have met you and was lucky to connect with people who care about me enough to constantly motivate me and push me to achieve my goals and dreams. Looking forward to having more conversations and to updating you with my news. Also, to hearing your news and updates. Thank you for the support and wise words. Love you xxx

  • That’s a lot of struggle there Nada.
    Especially when your own family thinks that what you’re doing isn’t of much importance.
    At the same time, I like the fact that you went ahead and are pursuing what you love.
    Not many people are able to do what they like because they are affected by what others say to a great extent.

    Kudos !

    • Nada says:

      Thank you Udit for taking the time to read the post and comment. I really appreciate that you understand how challenging it is to walk your own path in our culture. Thank you for the supportive and encouraging words. It’s always great to hear from readers who can understand and relate to your struggles and stories.

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