I’m often asked what is one thing an expatriate should bring to Saudi Arabia that is not available there. After careful thought and consideration, my answer is the crock pot!
In spite of having domestic help at my home in Riyadh I always enjoyed the convenience of the one dish meal in the crock pot. Both my husband and I worked so it was nice to know that we would come home and a tasty meal would be waiting for us.
I took my large crock pot from the US with me to Saudi Arabia but shortly after arrival it stopped working. My kitchen had both 110 and 220 voltage and someone had accidentally plugged it into the wrong voltage. Hence, my search for a new replacement crock pot began.
Seeing that Saudi Arabia had so much from all over the world to choose from in the local markets and vast shopping malls, I thought it would be straight forward and simple to find a replacement crock pot. Hah!
I went to appliance stores, I went to electronic stores, I went to the malls and even the local souks. There were no crock pots. I checked out the (very few) specialized kitchen and cooking stores. No crock pots. Finally, as I was about to give up on finding a crock pot in Riyadh, my husband and I ventured into Saaco, which is similar to an Ace Hardware store. It was my husband who found it first and brought it to my attention on whether it would work for us. He had found a rice cooker which had a crockery insert. It was not as large as my old crockpot but I was not about to quibble. It was the first thing we had found which had some semblance and the same utility of a crock pot. We bought it.
It worked but I found I had to prepare smaller crock pot meals. I also discovered that I liked having the dual use as a rice cooker too.
During my search I learned that most Saudi families either did not know what a crock pot was or had no use for one. Most Saudi families have domestic help in the kitchen and many Saudi women choose to be full time homemakers. As a result there is not the same market demand or interest to have a crock pot. I guess that is why they are difficult to find in the local Saudi markets.