My Life as an Expatriate Girl in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Life in Saudi Arabia is considered tough for expatriates due to its conservative culture. However, living in Saudi Arabia is neither too difficult nor impossible. Foreigners, who live in Saudi Arabia are often asked how was their experience and how did they manage to live there?

Well, Saudi Arabia is a country like any other in the world; living in Saudi Arabia is not like living on Mars!  People have this perception that life in Saudi Arabia is really tough for expatriate females. Why? Because they are ought to wear an abaya in public places?[irp]

Well wearing a black robe isn’t a big deal though. I shall make it really clear that women here are obliged to wear an abaya only, not cover their hair and face. It is kind of comfortable you know, you can jump out of bed, wear an abaya over your pajamas and go out and enjoy!

The only thing that was a bit depressing was to see men wearing bright and trendy clothes and all women in black cloaks at a mall or any other public place. But now really trendy Abayas are available in different colors. These Abayas look quite decent and fashionable!

Another thing that people are amazed at is the law that prevents women in Saudi Arabia from driving. People are like “how can survive that way?” Well initially it is difficult to move around, you would have to ask father or brother to give you the “pick and drop services”. But once you get into the lifestyle of the country, you will realize that mobility here is not an issue.

Cabs are readily available, then there is a great online cab service that has let us easily substitute them with personal cars. Every restaurant (almost) has a delivery service. So if you can’t go outside because of lack of transportation, you can call the Food home!

The most amazing thing about Saudi Arabia is the malls, the huge and lavish malls are equipped with all sorts of international and national brands. Visiting a mall is the best part. One feels that he has entered a great place where everything is available! The malls are family oriented and guards are often seen throwing out a bunch of boys.

Actually, this is the fun part, one can enjoy shopping without being harassed. I don’t want to be mean here, but you will not find boys catching women in Saudi Arabia as you find in many other countries. Perhaps, this is the safest place for women.

The restaurants here are great; there are separate sections for families and for males. One can enjoy food in a comfortable manner. Expatriates mostly live in gated compounds. These compounds have non-Saudi culture and expatriates can enjoy life as they wish.

These compounds are equipped with mixed-polls, stables, and horse riding tracks, grocery stores, beaches, gym and other places that are opened 24 hours a day and have no dress code! Growing up in Saudi Arabia as an expat is no different.

We are not leading a mysterious life here. We went through same teenage and childhood phases. Things are a bit different here though, but when we learn to adjust here and enjoy our lives.

Source: Dawn News

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