Moving overseas is a transition which can take its toll. You become extremely homesick; have trouble adjusting to the norms and culture of the society in the new country you reside in and get generally depressed sometimes which takes its toll on the health of most expats who do not fit in, in their new country. However, there is good news for people, who hail from European region or America, planning on moving to Saudi Arabia for work, and are accustomed to more liberal lifestyles than what is allowed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. There are now compounds which are meant to imitate the lifestyle and housing of the western culture and allow its residents, who are predominantly Westerners to live their life according to their own culture.[irp]
Are you a prospective expat from the West, who has recently come across the concept of western compounds? You must be wondering what the dress code is in these western compounds. Well, I have the answer for you. These western compounds allow people from western or more relaxed cultures to enjoy their way of clothing and living, while still living in Saudi Arabia, a country which has an extremely strict enforcement of women wearing the Abaya, while the men dress in their native thobes. I am not sure if it is allowed by the country law.
Yes, you read it correctly, wearing the Abaya is not mandatory inside these compounds, as it is outside of them. This has been done to ease the transition of moving to a new country as it allows you to create an environment like the one you had back home, only in another country. This has proven to become highly motivational for people. Some people who were reportedly not fitting in with Saudi culture, while living in the city, showed great improvement in motivation and general mood after shifting into one of the western compounds.
Now the question arises, how liberal are the compounds? Well in comparison to the country that exists outside its boundary walls it is a different country altogether as it allows a great deal of freedom in lifestyle and clothing per se for women, more than is allowed outside the walls. There is, however, limitation to the amount of skin one can show. Women are generally allowed to wear short shirts (not half cuts) and allowed to wear capris or three quarter pants, which are lifesavers during the 6 months of summer that is experienced in the Kingdom.[irp]
Complete freedom of walking around while clothed in skimpy clothes is not allowed as many workers and generally, the manager is all Saudis who do not condone such a lifestyle or clothing. Inside the compound women are also allowed to use the swimming pool, but not in bathing suits, but rather modest clothing. Generally, most Saudis avoid going to such compounds altogether as they do not want to see what is going on inside. Coincidentally most people living inside the compound also prefer that the Saudis stay outside and enjoy their culture, while they stay inside and enjoy theirs.