Al-Khobar, Saudi - Life & Schools?

(19 Posts)
aroomofonesown Mon 16-Jan-12 22:05:20

Moving there soon! All top tips and any comments on schools there v.welcome.....

OP’s posts: |
MOSagain Tue 17-Jan-12 17:46:00

Hi, good luck with that. I've recently returned from KSA, lived in Riyadh for over 5 years.

Al-Khobar/Dharan much nicer than Riyadh and close enough to Bahrain to escape for long weekends. Its also much more relaxed up there. I remember being quite shocked seeing a few women wandering around the malls without abayas on which you would never see in Riyadh. To be honest, I wouldn't do it though, I'd keep the abaya on so as not to draw attention to myself.

Obviously no alcohol or pork (although some do smuggle bacon back from weekends in Bahrain). DON'T even think about it with alcohol. Straight to jail them deportation. You will find someone on the compound (assume you will be on a compound) who makes homebrew and sid (a bizzare drink that changes taste depending on what you mix it with).

I'm pretty sure that there is a British School there, they are all over the ME and there were a few in Riyadh. They tend to be pretty good, somewhere between a state and private school in the UK. How old are your DC?

I have a few friends that used to live in Dhahran and I can ask them for information if you like. Feel free to PM me any questions you may have about life in KSA.

laptopwieldingharpy Wed 18-Jan-12 04:38:07

I was going to say you need to look for mumoverseas!

There you go!

Mos, how is it adjusting back? Hope all well

MOSagain Wed 18-Jan-12 10:43:38

grin Had to name change, being mumoverseas when no longer overseas felt like misprepresentation wink For some reason MN won't let me have just MOS sad

I have to say, its bloody cold. Minus 4 when I went out to do the school run yesterday but then 6 months ago I was moaning about it being too hot. Some people are never happy!

Its all going very well thanks. We were lucky enough to have kept our family home whilst abroad so it was good to return somewhere familiar. DD aged 5 and DS 2 had a few problems settling in but they'd both been born in KSA and apart from a few trips back 'home' everything they knew was there.

DD now in reception at local school and loving it, has made lots of friends and although she still misses her best friend from KSA she is very happy. DS settled into a private nursery and in September will go to the nursery attached to DD's school which will be great.

DH took the gamble to come home then look for a job as not many people interested in job applicant's who have to give 3 months notice. He had 2 months off work/under my feet and has been working the past few months on a temporary contract literally 5 mins from home which is lovely.

More importantly, I'm LOVING MY FREEDOM! I can get in my car, drive where I want, when I want, go to Starbucks and sit where I want, wearing what I want and stuff myself silly with bacon sandwiches. Oh, and of course the wine grin (OP, not trying to put you off!)

So yes, settled back in and loving it. I do miss my friends and of course my houseboy, particularly just having done an hours ironing but definitely the right decison.

The most important thing I'd say to anyone considering moving there is to think it through properly. If possible, keep your 'home' back in the UK so you have somewhere to go during holidays or if you feel you need a break and most of all, agree how long first. I know people who went for a 2 or 5 years and are still there 10 - 20 years later. Go there, earn the fab money, pay off your mortgage. Thats the best plan grin

laptopwieldingharpy Thu 19-Jan-12 03:33:46

Glad to hear! you sound very happy.
Most expats dread returning home at the moment!

Isn't there a forum of middle-east postings? Am sure there must be some good info on US based expat website as Dharran is a big US military outpost no?

MOSagain Thu 19-Jan-12 08:01:40

Don't get me wrong, I miss the sun! grin
Yes, think you are right, there are a lot of US military there. DH worked for a British company but we had friends who were american and often used to visit the american camps (where they got pork!)

lulalullabye Fri 20-Jan-12 09:56:12

I lived at Aramco in Dharan for 2yrs back in 2000. I was single but I worked with a lot of families who sent their kids to school there. I also visited a lot of compounds and they were all pretty nice. The schools on my compound were excellent although American based. Al khabarovsk itself is a pretty busy town
You didn't need to wear abayas when I was there just loose clothing, all the expats wore that. None wore abayas, it was just normal.
I loved it whilst I was there.

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teddymummy Fri 20-Jan-12 20:42:37

We came back from Riyadh three years ago. it was great fun, but it was strict and I hear Al Khobar is more relaxed. Good luck with it. We are looking to move back to the ME later this year. It is just such a good lifestyle with young children...and yes you can pay off your mortgage which is life changing. Good luck x

MOSagain Sat 21-Jan-12 09:49:59

teddymummy where in Riyadh were you? Wonder if we moved in the same circles? grin
I do miss the price of petrol too

lulalullabye Sat 21-Jan-12 11:12:11

Petrol was amazingly cheap. I think it used to cost me about £1.75 for a full tank! But the petrol station was next to a capped oil well!!

MOSagain Sat 21-Jan-12 12:10:31

DH nearly cries now whenever he fills up our XC90 grin

lulalullabye Sat 21-Jan-12 20:18:57

I know. We are now in Australia and have a Volvo too and even there it is a shocker!

teddymummy Sun 22-Jan-12 13:27:23

We lived in Al Hamra and both worked at the BIS.
My husband STILL tells everyone about the first time we filled up with petrol in Saudi!!

MOSagain Sun 22-Jan-12 14:26:37

LOL, We lived on Faisalia and then Salwa and both eldest went to main site BIS. I bet you taught my little darlings grin DS left after his GCSEs 3 years ago and DD left in year 8 four years ago.

Where are you thinking of going to in the ME?

aroomofonesown Mon 23-Jan-12 19:56:02

Hi. Thanks for feedback. LOVED the comment about weeping husband and cost of XC90 petrol. We play a Maths game at petrol station visits: "Now x litres at y pence a litre has just cost Mummy £60. How much would that have cost Daddy at 8 pence a litre?". Answer invariably always less than £3. Having been here for 1.5 years whilst husband "over there" (apart from when he is on leave) and me driving 60 miles a day for school run alone - much more at weekends - , I can't wait NOT to drive! What I don't understand, and perhaps some of you could enlighten me, is, if women should keep apart from men who are not their husbands then why is it OK to have a houseboy or to talk to the male retail staff in shops? Do rather like the thought of sweeping along in an abaya, but perhaps not in 49 degrees heat? Realise I put "Saudi" in topic title, but don't you think calling it "Arabia" sounds so much more romantic? (Or is that just that after 1.5 years gap I am soooooooooo looking forward to being together again?!)

OP’s posts: |
MOSagain Tue 24-Jan-12 12:35:42

LOL, nothing remotely romantic about Saudi. The thing I always thought quite odd was that husbands and wives couldn't hold hands or show affection in public but you regularly see men kissing and hugging and walking along holding hands. Odd hmm

I also didn't really 'get' the segreation between men and women. Am loving sit where I want in starbucks, not in a separate section behind a curtain.

The abaya can be very handy in that you don't have the 'what shall I wear today?' issues. Not very nice to wear in 49 degrees though.

I hope you enjoy your time there. We have some very happy memories and it gave the DC a very interesting experience.

When you get there, you must visit a fabulous restaurant in Dhahran called the Blue strawberry, it is amazing, particularly the deserts.

MOSagain Tue 24-Jan-12 12:36:03

Lol, desserts even grin

teddymummy Thu 26-Jan-12 18:41:29

MOS think I would not have taught your DOs as ages do not match up with when I was there. Am thinking Abu Dhabi, Doha, Muscat, or Ras Al Khaimah- this is where the jobs are that I have interviews for. I also have an interview for job in KL. Am very torn and feeling horrible because whilst I know its good for my family for many reasons, I have become settled in UK in last 3 years and its a wrench to move.

MOSagain Fri 27-Jan-12 09:14:51

Difficult one teddymummy we are now settled back in UK and DC3 and 4 settled in at primary school and nursery and DH suddenly talked about going to Qatar. Quite a few of his old colleagues in KSA are there and he liked the sound of it, particularly as not many jobs in his field here and he is just temping at the moment. If he goes, he goes on his own, not uprooting the kids again.

One of our friends was a teacher at BIS and she left, probably about 3 years ago to teach in (I think?) Doha and think maybe now Dubai, not spoken for a little while. The problem is, just one year is never just one year. Good luck with your decison

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