Reflections after 2 Years in Saudi Arabia


I started this blog as my husband and I were making our preparations for the big move to the Kingdom.  He had been outside of the Kingdom for 9 years and I had never lived in the Kingdom before.  If you read my very first posts I shared my excitement as well as some melancholy moments on feelings of packing up our house, having to say good bye to the family members and moving off to the land of oil, shifting sands, beudoins and magic carpet rides.


  When I read back on my early posts I can see the novelty of a new and sometimes exotic way of life.  I also see the transition which I went through from newness to frustration to adaptation.  However each and every day in the Kingdom remains an experience and a growth experience at that.



As I have said in a number of my previous posts, the Kingdom is not for everyone.  It will be especially hard if one is not adaptable or does not have an open mind.



I have found these past two years in the Kingdom to be a growing experience.  There are aspects of the Kingdom I greatly appreciate and enjoy and there are other aspects which I doubt I’ll ever agree to.


I find the Saudi hospitality to be among the best I have encountered.  The closeness of the Saudi families is a joy and treasure to experience.  On the negative side, while a Westerner will be greeted warmly and kindly, it is not unusual during a large gathering and if the only westerner, inevitably the conversations will turn to solely Arabic.  If there is not a fair grasp of the language, it can be easy to become bored and feel isolated.


 If one has a good position in the Kingdom, one can have a quality life and live very well.  The homes are generally much larger than an average western home and quite spacious.  Help is available allowing one to have more leisure time and enjoy spending time with family instead of immersed in cleaning or doing other sundry chores.


I look back and see how my Arabic has improved and especially in both speaking and reading.  Where I used to be hesitant to readily go out to the shops and markets on my own, now it is no sweat off my back and I have no fear of going around by myself.  I have no problem interacting or haggling with vendors, negotiating for the best price (typical when at a traditional souk).


I seldom feel bored or that I do not have anything to do.  It may take a few weeks or a few months to become somewhat settled but now there are always multiple choices of activities in which to engage.  One does not need to feel isolated to a house or a compound or limited to shopping excursions.  There are a multitude of clubs, associations, cultural and historical activities in which to enjoy and participate.



And opportunities abound for the Western woman.  If she wishes to work there are always a multitude of options to pursue.  A Western woman may find more opportunities in the Kingdom than elsewhere in most other places in the world.  Naturally there would be adaptations for the culture and traditions.  A woman would more than likely work in an environment with other women but she can work in all the key professional fields.  If she has various skills and crafts, these can be turned into viable and profitable business ventures.


Sometimes the lack of freedoms or sense of oppressiveness can get to me; I will admit that.  I’ve never been a strong advocate of having to wear an abaya or requested to cover my head.  I miss the sense of choices that are not as prevalent here.  Many of the Eastern women are very happy and satisfied by their decisions to securely cloak themselves.  However sometimes when I see that sea of black, it depresses me, particularly if it is a balmy (or hot) sunny day.


I am here in the Kingdom as I am a staunch believer that families should stay together and a wife’s place is beside her husband.  However I notice that when with other expats (and even with Saudis) a common topic of conversation are getaways to have a “normal weekend” and the desire for a “Normal life,” meaning one without the fear of the muttawa or conservatists breathing down your back. 

  I do not mean for this somewhat rambling post to be negative but in closing it I would say that I am here in support of my husband.  I will make the best of my time and life here.  If I had the choice, the Kingdom is not where I would have chosen to come and remain.  It is indeed unique in so many ways – its customs, cultures, traditions and way of daily life.  It is very easy to just keep going on and on about the contrasts and contradictions of life in the Kingdom.

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