I am SaudiExpat, from the United States now living in Saudi Arabia.
1. Why did you move abroad?
I moved to Saudi Arabia for my husband’s job. He took a job with a major oil producing company that moved us to Dhahran.
2. How do you make a living?
I am a stay at home mom with two kids. There are not many opportunities for expat women to work in Saudi Arabia no matter how qualified they are.
3. How often do you communicate with home and how?
We call home multiple times a week from our Vonage phone and we skype as well. Grandparents need to see the grandkids. I also keep a family blog as well as the Saudi Scenes blog.
4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Saudi Arabia?
Family life is my favorite thing. We have so much time to do things as a family and I love it. The kids are involved in activities that are close, we spend the weekends at the beach or exploring the desert, and everyone comes home for lunch. We are enjoying watching our kids grow up and being a huge part of their lives.
5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Saudi Arabia?
As a female in Saudi Arabia I am not able to drive. That means anytime I want to leave camp I need a driver, taxi, bus or my husband. That is frustrating.
6. What do you miss most?
The convenience of being able to run to the store and pick up what I need when I want it. Here you have to find how you are getting into town, check the prayer schedule to make sure you can make it in time (they pray five times a day and all stores close during that time) and hope the place you are going has it. If not the hunt is on to try to find whatever it is before the stores close for prayer while fighting the horrible drivers and remembering to take your abaya. Fun times!
7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
I meet people through my kids. As they became involved in more activites I was able to meet more and more people. I now have a great group of friends that I can rely on and we enjoy doing things together.
8. What custom/habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
I have two here. They somewhat go together but not entirely. The first is the separation of the men and women. Here the two don’t interact. They have separate waiting rooms, eating areas and really just don’t interact. The women here also wear the abaya and the majority wears the burka. The sea of black takes a long time to get used to. It is strange not seeing someone’s facial expressions.
9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
That Saudi Arabia is a giant pile of sand and always hot! I was surprised that it gets very cold here in the winter. Down in the 30’s at night. Also most of Saudi is not the giant sand dunes you imagine but is much more rocky. The area along the coast has amazing beaches which you really don’t think of when someone says Saudi Arabia.
10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?
The cost of living for us is much lower. That is partly due to the fact that the company pays for housing and bills. You don’t realize how much those add up in the States. Food costs are higher if you buy all imported, but if you buy local they are about the same. The amount of saving we have been able to do is amazing, and we are using a lot of that to travel.
11. What advice would you give other expats?
This life isn’t for everyone and I see too many unhappy people stay because of the money. Life is too short to be unhappy. Either embrace the lifestyle, make the most of it, and enjoy it or go home.
12. When and why did you start your blog?
I started my blog in March 2011. It started as a way to show what life was like here in Saudi Arabia and the pictures of stuff for my family. I also run a family blog and the pictures of the camp/town and so forth were clogging it up. I wanted a way to separate the two so that one was dedicated to my family and one showed those back home what life was like. I never imagined it would take off like it has. The amount of traffic/comments and questions I get from people looking at moving to Dhahran is just amazing. The blog has taken on a life of its own.
The blog, Saudi Scenes
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