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I live in Saudi Arabia. AMA!

(385 Posts)
Shmithecat Sat 21-Jul-18 00:02:57

I still hear so many daft claims about certain aspects of living in KSA. Happy to confirm or deny what you've been told!

RainSim Sat 21-Jul-18 00:07:20

This is interesting. Do you like or dislike living in KSA?

Shmithecat Sat 21-Jul-18 00:42:34

RainSim
This is interesting. Do you like or dislike living in KSA?

Both!
Dislikes;
The dirt. The racism. The sexism/misogyny (although this is starting to get better, tiny bit by tiny bit) The animal cruelty. The bloody prayer times shutting everything down 5 times a day. The sandstorms. The lack of courtesy/disregard for safety on the roads. The journalism (truly shocking). The heat - especially when I have to wear an abaya! The procrastination - it seems to be the national sport. Bureaucracy, red tape and and buck passing, getting some stuff done is ridiculously complicated for no apparent reason.

Likes;
The feeling of safety in general - there's no need to lock doors/windows/cars.
The love of children and the way they're accommodated in most places (even the girls!).
The range of cuisine. The genuine friendships forged from being in this weird, wonderful but sometimes hostile environment.

It took me a year or more to start to even reconcile with living there. I'm ok with it now and I am grateful for the experience but I'm looking forward to the day we final exit!

IsTheRainEverComingBack Sat 21-Jul-18 00:44:44

What lead you to be living there?
Is it different to how you imagined, and if so, how?

I’ve been fascinated with Saudi since I read ‘Princess’ aged 11. I’d love to be able to visit.

Shmithecat Sat 21-Jul-18 01:02:40

IsTheRainEverComingBack
What lead you to be living there?
DHs job. Fantastic progression with a great salary.

Is it different to how you imagined, and if so, how?

I'm not sure what I imagined tbh! We read lots, researched, joined expat forums etc. But honestly, nothing could've prepared me properly. I wish I hadn't believed half of what I read - I was terrified of putting a foot wrong for so many months. I look back now and feel a bit foolish. As long as you don't go out drunk, eating a bacon sandwich and wearing a bikini, there's not much that can go wrong. Respecting (if not exactly agreeing with) the local rules and customs when out and about is key. You can always piss and moan about it to your fellow expats over a glass of homebrew red wine within the comfort and safety of your compound walls wine

I’ve been fascinated with Saudi since I read ‘Princess’ aged 11. I’d love to be able to visit.

You should be able to soon! The Crown Prince has stated that regular tourist visas will be issued soon. For all the horror stories you hear, Saudis are very proud of their country and want other people to see how special it can be. I'd just advise before you come, get advice on where, what, when, how are from someone like me 😊

Justanotheruser01 Sat 21-Jul-18 08:35:06

As an expact are you able to drive? If not, are you looking forward to being able to?

IsTheRainEverComingBack Sat 21-Jul-18 08:38:32

Thank you!
This Crown Prince seems very progressive. Do you get a sense as an expat that his changes are generally we received?

Do you have children? If so are they living there with you? How do they find it?

WhatWillBWillB Sat 21-Jul-18 08:40:26

Aren't you scared that if you put a foot wrong you could end up erm... severely punished? Like the things we read about in the media? It seems to be a terrifying place, with medieval consequences?

BirthdayKake Sat 21-Jul-18 08:42:14

Have you been to Chop Chop Square?

pilates Sat 21-Jul-18 08:55:07

Are you working ? If not, how do you fill your days?

MelanieSmooter Sat 21-Jul-18 09:00:04

Wow you’re selling it. The home brew certainly makes up for sexism, racism and dirt. 🤮

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Sat 21-Jul-18 09:02:56

Where abouts are you? I grew up in Jeddah in the 70s and 80s.

IfyouseeRitaMoreno Sat 21-Jul-18 09:05:50

Were you affected by the Saudi women to drive movement? How is it being received?

Do you have Saudi friends? Or are they all expats?

Are there any male trailing spouses? What is your friendship circle like?

OneThreadOnly0101 Sat 21-Jul-18 09:08:39

Hello! I'm in KSA too.

Went for my first drive on Thurs and it was surprisingly unscary, although it wasn't super busy which helps. Had some cheerful waves from the men who spotted me. I haven't seen any other women on the road yet.

It's a strange place. I've been here for over 5 years and while it's where I live I still wouldn't really consider it home. I think it's due to compound living. It keeps you suspended in a bubble where real life is on hold.

Shmithecat Sat 21-Jul-18 10:27:33

Justanotheruser01
As an expact are you able to drive? If not, are you looking forward to being able to?

I wasn't allowed until the 24th June. Still can't as they haven't sorted out the IT requirements for dependants of sponsors to apply for their licenses yet... But I will do once it's sorted!

Shmithecat Sat 21-Jul-18 10:36:11

IsTheRainEverComingBack

Thank you!
This Crown Prince seems very progressive. Do you get a sense as an expat that his changes are generally we received?

They seem to be well received by Saudis in general. On the whole, they're incredibly lovely people who love the modern world as much as we do! But the real resistance to all these changes, particularly those that give women more freedom or rights, seems to be from other Muslim expats, or Muslims from other countries. The comments from some men on the articles via the Saudi Gazette Facebook page make depressing and alarmist reading sometimes!

Do you have children? If so are they living there with you? How do they find it?

I do, a toddler. He's great with it all! He goes to the preschool on our compound that he's happy with, swims every day, it's a large compound with lots of space. There's quite a lot of freedom for him here.

colditz Sat 21-Jul-18 10:42:00

I'd love to know what the local male reaction is to the recent changes imposed by your Crown Prince. You say you were waved at while driving - this seems really positive and reassuring.

colditz Sat 21-Jul-18 10:42:51

Sorry, someone else said they went for a drive.

Tinlegs Sat 21-Jul-18 10:44:32

I lived there in the late 70s / early 80s as a child (Father's job) and it does not sound like much has changed.

ObObO Sat 21-Jul-18 10:52:25

Do they have many (or any) animal rescues/charities?

I visited once on a layover and found it strange to be in a place with no visible history. Not something I’d thought about until I arrived.

Shmithecat Sat 21-Jul-18 11:01:54

WhatWillBWillB
Aren't you scared that if you put a foot wrong you could end up erm... severely punished? Like the things we read about in the media? It seems to be a terrifying place, with medieval consequences?

The laws and customs are pretty well known. Its not difficult to follow them. I wear an abaya when I go outside the compound. I don't steal or drink or flash myself. Some of what you read is total rubbish. There are extreme punishments, but they do serve as a good deterrent and as a consequence I feel quite safe!

Shmithecat Sat 21-Jul-18 11:02:59

BirthdayKake
Have you been to Chop Chop Square?
No. Not my sort of thing... sad

Shmithecat Sat 21-Jul-18 11:10:55

pilates
Are you working ? If not, how do you fill your days?

I did for a year, before my son was born. I'm not supposed to legally though.
Preschool is only from 8-1 in the day here so doesn't lend itself to both parents working fulltime anyway! It was a decision both dh and I made when we started our that I'd be a SAHM. When ds starts preschool full time in September, I'll be doing distance/online study to retrain ready for our eventual return to the UK. But I also get stuff done without ds under my feet - housework, shopping, the odd Ikea trip, vet appointments etc. The odd brunch or exhibition with some girlfriends etc. The expat wife life is a living and breathing cliché. But it's not all bad.

Malmsey Sat 21-Jul-18 11:11:28

Do you think your ‘I’m all right Jack and gosh, it’s nice I don’t have to lock my door’ attitude lends legitimacy to the beheadings and amputations of the regime?

Shmithecat Sat 21-Jul-18 11:13:57

MelanieSmooter
Wow you’re selling it. The home brew certainly makes up for sexism, racism and dirt. 🤮

I'm not trying to sell it. Just answer some questions. At least here, apart from the sexism, racism and dirt, there's no stabbings, gang culture, acid attacks etc 🤷‍♀️ I make the most of my situation.

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