Expat women in Saudi Arabia face a much different experience than their male counterparts. For some, wearing an abaya and headscarf, not being allowed to drive and abiding by the rules that govern interaction among the sexes are just a formality. For others, they turn out to be a source of great frustration... even deal breakers. Any woman considering a move to Saudi Arabia, should really do her research, talk with other women in the cities where she may be living, and, if married, discuss the positives and negatives at length with your husband (Note: unmarried couples are not allowed to live together in Saudi Arabia).
In recent months, several women considering moves to Saudi Arabia have used ExpatExchange's Saudi Arabia forum to network with expats living there (and a few who have repatriated). Here is some advice and insight that we gleaned from their wonderfully open and honest discussions:
Look at the positive side -- black is very slimming. Okay, all joking aside, most expat women wear a black abaya, and often a headscarf, in public. Here's the scoop, "When you arrive, you can buy an abaya at any shopping mall and even the larger grocery stores. Wear dark colors (black is best) and something loose fitting; if you have a head-scarf, that will be appreciated by the locals as well. Dammam and Jeddah are most tolerant of westerners; Riyadh is the most conservative. And in the current environment here, you are well advised to be conservative as well."
On the topic of security, an expat advised, "Yes, Saudi Arabia is a security conscious country. This country is not at war but as long as you abide to their rules and regulations for foreign females, no worries you will be ok.