A blog that I followed prior to moving to Saudi has weekly "Show Us Your Life," topics and today is International Day and I figured I would do a post about Saudi!
Anyone who has been reading our blog knows that we live in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We arrived in Kingdom May 20, 2011 from Texas with our then 10 week baby boy, our 2 1/2 year old daughter and our black lab. We came because my husband wanted a different job opportunity, has always wanted to live overseas and as we went through the process of interviewing, waiting and deciding whether to come we really felt like this was the next step for our family and that it was where we were to go and that there would be a purpose greater than a job for us here.
We have been in Saudi for almost 5 months now and it has not been easy. By far it has been the hardest thing we have ever done as a husband and wife and as a family. Adjusting to the culture, restrictions, being away from friends and family, leaving our amazing church home and community and leaving the comforts and conveniences of life in the States has been so difficult and often leaves us questioning why we are here. But...we are getting more and more settled everyday and can see this working. We hold fast to the peace and comfort we felt of why we came and the peace we had in His plan we accepted the offer to move.
Some typical questions we got when we told people we were moving....
Where are you moving? We live in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Eastern Province off the Arabian Gulf. We literally can walk three minutes to the ocean. We live on a Western style compound and our house is a nice three bedroom home that is larger than what we had in Texas. We have pools, a beach, schools, a small grocery store and a clinic all on camp.
What is it like living on a compound? It is more difficult than I thought. You feel very claustrophobic or at least I feel that way. It is weird knowing you can't leave the confines of the walls and security guards around you. We have everything we need and it is nice but it is small and just more of an adjustment.
Do you have to cover up? I wear an abaya (the traditional long black cloak looking thing) and do not have to cover my head unless the muttawa (religious police) come up and ask me. Even then some of the more brave expats don't and walk off. I however haven't been in that situation yet and if I was would just cover and walk off.
Can you drive as a woman? I can drive around the compound that we live on which helps with taking the kids to swimming, play dates etc but I can not drive off camp which is a PAIN! The driving here is scary and they drive way too fast and reckless so I don't know if I would want to drive but I would like the option. It would be nice to drive down the road to the pharmacy or a grocery store however the main shopping area is about 45 minutes away and I would probably never drive down there even if I could.
What are some of the other restrictions you have on your daily life? Well...shops/restaurants/everything close during prayer. They kick you out, close everything down, have prayer and then open 30 minutes later. Also, store are only open from 8-11 AM and then again from 4 PM to midnight. Obviously there is no pork or alcohol. There are men and women's/family sections for everything...from eating to ordering fast food to getting your pineapple cut...there is no mingling of opposite sexes.
What do your kids think of it? Well my baby doesn't notice anything besides the tons of attention he gets from everyone and my daughter...she hates that everyone wants to touch her head. They have a fascination with blonde kids and constantly touches her head. She often will tell them to "stop touching my head."