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Looking through my e-mails I thought this might interest some forum members.
My sister Elaine moved to Saudi to join her husband Terry who works there.
this was a full page feature in one of the Irish National newspapers....photos and all
Grab o coffee ...she got carried away
For Expats like myself, living in a compound is a tiny bit of free life in a
very strange Islamic country. Westerners tend to live locked away in
compounds, our compound is nice – but I wouldn’t live in one back home. It
would be nice living among the locals in any other country, but as
non-Muslim in an Islamic country, we could be direct target of terrorists. I
also think that Saudi society is suspicious of influences that challenge its
traditional values. So living among the locals wouldn’t be feasible.
Living in a compound in Saudi Arabia is a bit like living in an open prison.
Most of them are little patches of land surrounded by high walls/fence and
barbed wire where the us "inmates" are kept in and the rest of the world
kept out by an army guards and policemen. I’m lucky, in the sense that our
compound is on a huge dairy farm, with 17000 cow, smells sometimes, but it’s very big, there’s even a petting zoo.

The compound area itself is for the “inmates” only. The farm and dairy
workers (except management living here) are not allowed in. Also on the
farm is the bachelor’s compound… some of these poor guys sleep up to 8 in a
room. Shocking! They’re not westerners, and are only allowed on our
compound if they work in it… i.e. the house boys or restaurant staff……….

We are living in a reasonably upmarket compound it’s like a holiday resort
and is protected by the Saudi National Guard as I said, and they are armed.
The cost to live here would normally be about €24k per year, but it’s part
of Terry’s package so includes a 2 bed roomed villa, including electricity,
water, satellite TV, etc. Our compound has about 40 villas 2/3 bed roomed,
40 single suites, and 40 larger suites (suites are generally for unmarried
managers, or managers waiting for their wives to arrive). There’s also a
little shop (but it’s by the factory and we’re not supposed to use it
between 7am and 6pm), and Restaurant in the Recreation centre. There is a
bus service, which runs 3 times a week to Giant supermarket… I don’t use it,
as I’d rather do my shopping with Terry. To be honest, I wouldn’t feel safe.

Looking through books, there are some mega compounds that have medical
clinics, bowling alleys and beauty parlours, but they’re in Khobar, Riyadh
or Jeddah (miles from here). We are on a compound, which is owned by Terry’s employer, and within walking distance to his office (although he does drive).

There are about 17 million Saudis who live in palaces, mansions, villas,
flats and even tents (the tent people are called Bedouins) There are 8.8
million foreign workers, most of which live in compounds of various
standards. The bulk of Saudi's foreign workers are from India, Bangladesh,
Pakistan, Indonesia and the Philippines, it’s these poor guys that get to
bunk-up in rooms of 6-10


There is also an international school, which was run by the Americans, but
now is owned by the Family that own the Dairy/factories and compound, it
follows the American curriculum. The only problem is the teachers are not
native English speakers. Some of them aren’t even qualified teachers (hence
they’ve employed me to teach English to the Arab kids that are struggling in
English).

Terry Bella is due to go into 1st year secondary school in Ireland. Whilst they are introducing grade 7 in her school, itdoesn’t solve the problem of the teachers, and she needs good ones –especially for the coming years. Also, if I were to keep her here, she’d have problems catching up when we do go back to Ireland. There are better schools in the Kingdom for secondary education, but it would mean we’d have to pay a driver to take her to school-an hour and a half drive each way, to start school at 8am. With animosity towards foreigners lurking about, and
the fact they’re not the best drivers in the world (I’m being kind here)

I’m lucky I do a few hours every day at the school, but being left alone at
home with no transport life can be taxing. You can't get out and about
there's no public transport (not that I’d want to go on my own), so if I’m
out of necessities, I’ve to wait until Terry comes back to take me shopping.
He might be tired, want to put his feet up and eat, but me (and every other
wife here) starved of life outside my "prison", have to ask him to get his
car and take us out for our shopping therapy, which might only be bread and
milk. As a woman, not being allowed is one of the biggest problems. Over
here women are completely at the mercy of their male drivers. Terry’s
driving is OK, but it’s the Saudis who are the mad ones. An expat is far
more likely to be killed in a car accident than by terrorist activities in
the Kingdom. Because, as the saying goes here, if you get killed, “it was
Allah's will”. So they drive like lunatics putting all their trust in Allah!

I have a guy who comes 3 times a week to clean our bathrooms and iron – he
also vacuums cleans the windows etc. They call them “house boys” – he’s
really quite sweet – I over pay him @ €30 per month!

Although being "stuck" in a compound without practical means to go anywhere,
to pursue your career and/or to earn your own income, I’ve read it has
driven many a good woman to polish off the homebrew as quickly as her
husband can make it (I’m not that desperate yet).

If you like a simple life, then I’m sure it would be great. It’s nice to
spend the afternoon by the pool sipping lemon juice (or gulping coffee in my
case), I’m not concerned about Terry Bella as I can see her swimming in the
pool – so yep – not a lot of that type of stress here. The weather is
beautiful – so there are a couple of good points. And of course, I’m with
Terry…. But….
I’m sitting typing this up, I have my tobacco on the table beside me, and I
can have a smoke if I want…. I might not have one for a few hours, but it’s
there if I want one. However, I can’t decide to go for a pint, or get in
the car and go for a drive… I’m not allowed. I can’t just pop to the shops
on my own to “window shop” I can’t get a “proper job” I can’t even wear a
mini skirt or shorts on a hot day outside the compound! Yes, I have to clad
myself in my “black gear” lovely on a hot day!! When I got here at first I
wore an Abaya (long black coat covering yourself and your clothes. Then
Linda gave me an Indian style black below the knee dress with matching black
trousers. I choose to wear this rather than an Abaya. At first I tried to
cover my hair with a black scarf, but it kept falling down. One day we were
in a shopping mall in Khobar, I didn’t bother with my scarf, then standing
in a shop, a man ( who might have been a Muttawa :religious police, or shall
we call them the Saudi fashion police) shouted at me 'Cover your head madam!
I was lucky, he wasn’t wagging a stick at me. I grabbed Terry Bella’s pitch
black hijab (head scarf). With hind sight, he shouldn’t have been looking at
me to notice my uncovered hair…. I now always take mine with me, just in
case, but don’t always wear it. I have never been able to tolerate anything
on my head other than my God-given hair. If this was going to be my life for
the rest of it, I’d go mad.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
PART 2 a letter from Saudi

Friendship is what keeps compound life together and lately we’ve been having
BBQ’s by the pool on Thursday evenings (the start of the short Saudi
weekend). I really enjoy that – it’s with the guys that work here, Terry,
Terry Bella and I. Usually someone has some homebrew, and then we play Risk
or Poker… so it’s good for a laugh.

I go for a walk most mornings with Suzanne and Linda (lately just the gym as
it’s too hot to walk even at 8am) then we have a coffee and gossip about
what’s going on in the compound, before I go to the school for my lessons.

So, yes I've made some nice friends in our compound. The one thing you have
to get your head around when settling into a compound and start making
friends (and this goes for the children, too) is that at any time a family
can disappear just as suddenly as they came. So perhaps you could get close
friends with someone, then they’re gone and you’re left on your own again.

Outside the compound is another story, the sea of women in black is rather a
sad scene, and the abundance of men in their white thobes and red and white
checked head dress…. There’s nothing to do, nowhere to go except the vast
shopping centres. They’re impressive I have to say, but it’s not social – as
you’re not about to start a conversation with someone in the “family area”
of the coffee shop hidden from the outside world. The local women will
mostly have their faces still covered, and will lift up the front to drink
their coffee or take a bite of their food… but that’s all you see. Some are
pleasant enough to say “goodbye” when you leave – but still, all you see
would be smiling eyes!

Some of the “family sections” are sectioned off, so you can’t even see the
other people in there! So going out for a meal – isn’t really worth it.

Desert, desert and more desert – but it’s also filthy to our standards. We
took a drive to Hofuf on a different road a few weeks, and counted 11 dead
cows, and 1 dead camel, dumped and left to rot! It wasn’t very nice.

Last note:

I read in the Saudi Arab News, titled "Tribal Custom Means a Husband Never
Sees His Wife's Face." In parts of the Al-Kharj region, not even a woman's
husband and children are permitted to see her face uncovered. This is NOT
where we live - One extract:
"Al-Kharj native Muhammad Abdullah has never seen his wife's face. 'We've
been married for ten years and I've never seen it, not once,' he said. The
Burqa – the garment that covers all of [her] head except the eyes – 'is
stuck to her face 24 hours a day', he said. 'This is not for want of trying.
One day I tried to remove the Burqa while she was asleep. She was furious.
She left and went to her parents' house and returned only after I had signed
an undertaking that I would never attempt to do such a thing again.'
 

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Friendship is what keeps compound life together and lately we’ve been having
BBQ’s by the pool on Thursday evenings (the start of the short Saudi
weekend). I really enjoy that – it’s with the guys that work here, Terry,
Terry Bella and I. Usually someone has some homebrew, and then we play Risk
or Poker… so it’s good for a laugh.

I go for a walk most mornings with Suzanne and Linda (lately just the gym as
it’s too hot to walk even at 8am) then we have a coffee and gossip about
what’s going on in the compound, before I go to the school for my lessons.

So, yes I've made some nice friends in our compound. The one thing you have
to get your head around when settling into a compound and start making
friends (and this goes for the children, too) is that at any time a family
can disappear just as suddenly as they came. So perhaps you could get close
friends with someone, then they’re gone and you’re left on your own again.

Outside the compound is another story, the sea of women in black is rather a
sad scene, and the abundance of men in their white thobes and red and white
checked head dress…. There’s nothing to do, nowhere to go except the vast
shopping centres. They’re impressive I have to say, but it’s not social – as
you’re not about to start a conversation with someone in the “family area”
of the coffee shop hidden from the outside world. The local women will
mostly have their faces still covered, and will lift up the front to drink
their coffee or take a bite of their food… but that’s all you see. Some are
pleasant enough to say “goodbye” when you leave – but still, all you see
would be smiling eyes!

Some of the “family sections” are sectioned off, so you can’t even see the
other people in there! So going out for a meal – isn’t really worth it.

Desert, desert and more desert – but it’s also filthy to our standards. We
took a drive to Hofuf on a different road a few weeks, and counted 11 dead
cows, and 1 dead camel, dumped and left to rot! It wasn’t very nice.

Last note:

I read in the Saudi Arab News, titled "Tribal Custom Means a Husband Never
Sees His Wife's Face." In parts of the Al-Kharj region, not even a woman's
husband and children are permitted to see her face uncovered. This is NOT
where we live - One extract:
"Al-Kharj native Muhammad Abdullah has never seen his wife's face. 'We've
been married for ten years and I've never seen it, not once,' he said. The
Burqa – the garment that covers all of [her] head except the eyes – 'is
stuck to her face 24 hours a day', he said. 'This is not for want of trying.
One day I tried to remove the Burqa while she was asleep. She was furious.
She left and went to her parents' house and returned only after I had signed
an undertaking that I would never attempt to do such a thing again.'
Hi,
I lived in Sauid Arabia in a company house shared it with a couple of other fellows, Indians, Egyptians and Pakistanis. I was lucky that i had lots of Saudi friends and would hang out with them. Some of them i had met in school in the US and met their wives without the veils, but some i had not and it was very weird to see them in veils inside their own house when they came with food. For me the hardest thing was not to stare at women with the veil, becaus you just see a vague face which kind of prompts you to look further and that was a no-no.
The other thing though was that i started admiring women's feet for i then could more less tell their age. My saudi friends would laugh at me when i would get excited that i had seen a young thing.....:)
 

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Can't say I agree at all with the lengthy post above.
I lived in Saudi for 4 years, and I had a fabulous time. Loads of things to do, great friends, great school for my child .Excellent medical service. Nothing to complain about. Wearing an abaya did not bother me at all. Quite handy , really.
Safety, well, that is a bit of an issue. Not so much outside the compound, never had a problem there, day or night.
I was there during 9/11 and the compound bombings in Riyadh. That was pretty bad. Having said that, one either leaves or develops a thick skin. Most people went back to "normal " life after about 2 weeks. We were lucky, our compound was not hit.

This is now more than 5 years ago, and since then nothing has happened. The Saudis are making an effort to keep the "deviants" as they are called there, at bay.
I still live in the ME, and have to say I miss Saudi.
But you have to understand what kind of a life you will have there and make up your mind if this is for you or not. If you are bothered by wearing an abaya, not being able to drive , not to speak to men out of your family in public, Saudi may not be for you.
For me all the other things, like a very nice compound with fabulous ameneties, great friends, fabulous shopping , good schools and medical, low cost of living etc. made up for the other things.
Saudi was a fun place for me, but I adapted and made the best of it.
 

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Those who paid attention to my posts for some reason or another know that I am mad about Middle Eastern culture and that I would love to move back to the ME (I lived in Turkey before and only left with tears in the eyes because the employer made the working permit request a mess and I didn't feel like being an illegal workforce -- I would be on the first plane back if I knew I'd be able to have an income there)

Anyways, while I realise Saudi has a good economy and jobs tend to be more widespread than in other countries (I tried Lebanon, I checked Jordan, I checked a few others but to no avail) and also it seems foreigners are recruited without specifically looking at your religion (unlike Israel where there's enough vacancies as well but being jewish or not plays a large role in the recruitment process). However, I never tried to get into the KSA.

My objections are basically
1) it seems that apart from Mecca and Medina (where I'd not be welcome anyway) most cities are newly built. Modern malls, modern high apartment blocks and business parks, but few old mosques and few souks. So it seems that the main attraction to the Middle East for me wouldn't be so easy to find in Saudi than it would be in more ancient (less newly constructed) cities such as Jerusalem, Beirut, Istanbul, Damascus, etc

2) I am quite sceptic towards all horror stories about people being arrested for no reason and tend to take all of it with a grain of salt. The press can be real vultures jumping on any minor incident, blowing it out of proportions, just to get some extra papers sold. So I don't even question that many of the horror stories are false. I heard from penfriends who visited KSA or lived there for a while that it varies a lot from area to area but that in cities like Jeddah you can even see boys and girls flirt and mingle on the street with religious police turning a blind eye to it. Some say that I'd probably be arrested within the day solely because I wear eyeliner and have long hair ; I find it hard to believe really. No alcohol available? Doesn't bother me because I don't drink anyway.

However, the harsh penalty code is the legal aspect that bothers me. Amputations of the hands, public beheadings, ... Sure, I have no criminal record, so you can say I shouldn't worry. It would somewhat be a moral issue for me though to pay my taxes to a government frequently engaging in such "justice" forms. Most other Arab countries either abolished the death penalty in practice (eg Morocco, Algeria, etc where executions have been on moratorium for a long time) or only use it very rarely (eg Jordan, Lebanon). Saudi is one of the main executing nations and I feel bad about the idea of supporting such governments. For the same issue I would not want to reside and pay taxes in Texas etc neither.

3) Whereas in most Middle Eastern nations it is quite normal to mix with locals, it seems in Saudi most expats only talk to other expats.



Maybe someone who lived in the KSA can confirm a bit of the above or explain how it really goes. But while I would love to relocate back to the Middle East, I can't see the point in going to a closed society where contacts with locals are rare and where I'd be more exposed to western culture than local culture due to only socialising within the compound ; also there seems to be an overdose of shopping malls and business buildings and a bit of a lack of traditional Arab architecture. To me KSA and Dubai always came across as modern enclaves within the Arab world, but that is exactly what I don't really want to see. Hence I'm patiently waiting until relocation is possible to a Middle Eastern city that also really feels Middle Eastern.
 

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Gerrit, sure, if you want to go to a ME country for the experience, Saudi is not your place.
The expats I have know and myself are there for the money and a comfortable life.
Hope you will find a nice place for yourself soon. :)
 

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Gerrit, sure, if you want to go to a ME country for the experience, Saudi is not your place.
The expats I have know and myself are there for the money and a comfortable life.
Hope you will find a nice place for yourself soon. :)
The reason why I miss Turkey so much is because I lost my heart to those bazaars, souks, ancient mosques, .... And I may be wrong, but Saudi or the Emirates seem to be the few Middle Eastern countries where this is exactly what you won't find, whenever I see pictures or whenever talking to penfriends who live there I hear about new construction works, luxury hotels, shopping malls ... So it sounds almost western. That's not what I'm looking for, I wanna see mosques and souks, not skyscrapers and malls.


By the way, if segregation of genders is taken strictly, how do they do that in a shopping mall, in the streets, ... I mean, it sounds like a mission impossible to keep men and women from interacting with each other (talking, making friendships etc) so it's quite odd that they still didn't give up trying to enforce it.
 

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Gerrit, in Saudi this is what the "Muttaween" or Religious police is for. They check if people are married, there are "Family" and "Single" sections in restaurants etc. Even Fast food outlets have segregated counters for women and men. I was once yelled at by a Muttawa because I bought food at the family section at McDonald's...he wanted me to go to the Drive Through instead...that was actually the only time I completely flipped. Not a good thing to do though, as you can find yourself in a cell in a Muttawa prison before you can leg it. I was lucky though.

Men and women, or better said boys and girls do make contact though, mostly by bluetooth and little scraps with phone numbers thrown secretly at each other. It is all very unnatural, at least by a Western perception, but hey, as I said before, I d not know anybody going there for anything else but money. And Western people usually send their teens abroad or back home for schooling.

In places like Saudi especially and maybe to a lesser degree Qatar and Dubai, most people do not have that much contact with locals. I believe this is mostly because of the locals, as many Westerners, especially new to the country ones, are very curious and would like to have contact and a bit more insight. Sadly, after usually 3 to 6 months, this curiosity is replaced by often more unsavory feelings, due to many reasons.

One place you might like is Oman, BEAUTIFUL scenery, old buildings and normal local people.
 

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Hi,

The other thing though was that i started admiring women's feet for i then could more less tell their age. My saudi friends would laugh at me when i would get excited that i had seen a young thing.....:)
YEP that definitely works :)
 

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Gerrit, in Saudi this is what the "Muttaween" or Religious police is for. They check if people are married, there are "Family" and "Single" sections in restaurants etc. Even Fast food outlets have segregated counters for women and men. I was once yelled at by a Muttawa because I bought food at the family section at McDonald's...he wanted me to go to the Drive Through instead...that was actually the only time I completely flipped. Not a good thing to do though, as you can find yourself in a cell in a Muttawa prison before you can leg it. I was lucky though.

Men and women, or better said boys and girls do make contact though, mostly by bluetooth and little scraps with phone numbers thrown secretly at each other. It is all very unnatural, at least by a Western perception, but hey, as I said before, I d not know anybody going there for anything else but money. And Western people usually send their teens abroad or back home for schooling.

In places like Saudi especially and maybe to a lesser degree Qatar and Dubai, most people do not have that much contact with locals. I believe this is mostly because of the locals, as many Westerners, especially new to the country ones, are very curious and would like to have contact and a bit more insight. Sadly, after usually 3 to 6 months, this curiosity is replaced by often more unsavory feelings, due to many reasons.

One place you might like is Oman, BEAUTIFUL scenery, old buildings and normal local people.

You may want to check (if you didn't already) the book "Girls from Riyadh", written by a young Saudi woman and describing teenage life in Saudi and how modern technology such as mobile text messages and forums with nicknames are constantly used to bypass the rules.

Nonetheless, a penfriend of mine who visits Jeddah and Riyadh quite often says that in Jeddah the Muttaween often turn a blind eye to flirting and boys and girls date as anywhere else. He says this is just Jeddah though, while in Riyadh it would be impossible. On the other hand, total segregation sounds like a mission impossible. It may sound easy to segregate restaurants and such, but to segregate in the hallways of a shopping mall, the parking lot of the mall, the bus, ... is a lot harder. According to this penpal of mine only in the religious cities and Riyadh the Muttaween is everywhere, while in Jeddah and Khobar they often don't even bother to stop men and women from mingling.

I wonder if indeed I would get in trouble for wearing make-up and having long hair. Maybe if some cop interpretates it as a gay thing ; but then I'm not gay and it sounds absurd to be arrested for the lenghth of your hair. I know some will say that islam in general is conservative but that is incorrect and depends a lot of where you are. I lived in Turkey, and did not get a single bad comment or hassle (what a relief compared to Ireland where people were just very rude in their comments). The politeness of the Turks is one of the so many things I loved about that country :)

Out of curiosity... Imagine I'd someday end up in Saudi (not likely to happen but anyway)... I mean, I am a single man and I have normal feelings and such... So how would I need to find myself a girlfriend (we're not talking even about decadent behaviour but about a normal steady relationship). Asking a male colleague to be invited at home so that he can introduce me to his sister without the Muttaween staring? :confused:




To answer your question: I considered Oman yes, as well as Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Israel, the West Bank, and returning to Turkey. However in all of those places I found the employment market very hard to penetrate from outside, and Oman being even harder than for example Morocco or Turkey. It is a constant hassle to find vacancies of employers who do take the working permit seriously rather than bending the rules... If it wasn't for that I would not be here in Spain because, believe me, I'd be on the first plane to the Middle East if I'd be offered a job in Istanbul, Beirut, Tel Aviv, Amman, or any place in the mediterranean-bording countries (they tend to be relatively liberal AND have those ancient mosques and souks that I miss so much here in Europe)
 

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Gerrit, maybe this puts your mind a little at ease...I met my husband in Riyadh, no problem. bit risky at times, but certainly fun!
You are 100% wrong if you think there is not fun to be had in Saudi, I lived in Riyadh, btw.
See, due to the unusual circumstances, you ,at least when I was there, have a very strong community, we help each other.
I can also tell you this, in those 4 years in Riyadh I had more fun and entertainment than all those years after.

Coming to the make up thing ...well, if you do wear make up as a man, you might get into trouble. You will certainly be stared and looked at, UNLESS you make your place in the huge gay community over there.

I have gotten to know Arab culture quite well, good and bad, in those 4 years. Not so much through Saudis, more through other Arabs living n my compound.
xoxo
 

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I get stared at in Europe just as well for my make-up ; doesn't bother me at all. People thinking I am gay because of that show a bit of narrow-mindedness/generalising so I don't even bother to correct them (unless it is a really nice girl, then I may bother explaining her ;)). Of course being stared at is one thing, being arrested for it is another thing. I also heard advises that men should have a haircut before going to Saudi (I have hair below shoulder length) ; however from others I heard that it becomes more common to see men with long hair in Saudi public life.

That said, even when people stared indeed (but they do so in Europe as well), I never felt so at ease in the streets as in Turkey. Compared to some European countries I was in, the Turks were so incredibly polite and helpful. Even when they probably thought my appearance was odd, they never made any bad remark and remained polite and helpful at all times. A solidarity I rarely felt in Europe.

So imagine I'd be in Saudi, how would I go about finding a girlfriend? I guess the girl would 99% sure be someone within the compound as well, as opposed to a local Saudi citizen? Or is it very normal that foreigners are getting connected with Saudis of the opposite gender through for example a male co-worker or friend who invites you to meet his family?

Sorry for all the questions ... Most of my friends in the Middle East tend to be from other Middle Eastern nations, and they don't know the KSA that well themselves neither as they say it's quite a closed society and hard to get involved in, even as an Arab from neighbouring nations. I lived in the Middle East myself also, but Turkey and Saudi are totally different worlds so I wouldn't really know what to expect when being in Saudi...
 

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Gerrit, IMHO no Saudi girl would be with a man wearing make up, sorry my friend. Plus, Saudi girls are not encouraged to be with non Saudi men, as a fact, a foreigner has to get permission from the king to marry a Saudi girl...and that is after the family and tribe have agreed to the union. So mate, you have less than zero chance. Furthermore, could you actually afford a Saudi girl?

Foreigner do get invited to Saudi houses. What usually happens is that the man goes and meets the other men. Women are usually not to be seen. It also happens that foreigners as a couple get invited, then the woman goes to the women's area of the house, and the man the the men's. at the end of the evening they then go home together. But they do not/or very rarely in very progressive Saudi houses, meet during the visit.

Meeting a girl . Well, no, not hard to do. There are social affairs galore, easy to meet people.
You might meet some Saudis at those affairs, but that is not very common, as having them there can ,and has, cause SERIOUS trouble. Sadly.

And you are right, you can't compare any other ME countries to Saudi, completely different story.
 

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So basically I'd have more chance to end up with a girlfriend from my own native country who happens to live in a compound, rather than ending up with a Saudi girlfriend?

Do mixed marriages happen often? In Turkey it does, several of my friends there and several of my former ex-colleagues when I lived there married a Turkish citizen. The oddity was that a female foreigner marrying a Turk usually is accepted very smoothly, while a male expat marrying a Turkish girl is sometimes frowned upon and requires some time before they eventually accept it. That said, a lot depends on what area of Turkey the family is from (the further eastward from Istanbul, the more conservative it gets, although even in Istanbul itself the above is frequent) and also, often in the end the couple gets accepted anyway. So if you're patient enough it's not really an issue to have a Turkish citizen dating an expat. In Morocco idem dito, I know several mixed couples there with European expats having married a local (both in cases of male and female expats). In Israel, the amount of interreligious marriages or marriages with an expat involved is big, although an oddity in the law only accepts Jewish couples to marry under Israeli law, but the law does accept non-jewish/interreligious marriages that took place abroad so mixed couples can just marry abroad and then settle in Israel and have their marriage recognised. Same sex couple marriages conducted abroad are also recognised.
 

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There are some mixed marriages, but not that many. It is easier for a Saudi man to marry a non Saudi woman than vice versa. IF a foreigner wants to marry a Muslim woman, he HAS to convert to Islam.
Anyhow, you need to understand that Saudi is, and will be for the forseeable future , a very conservative society. There is not only religion, but also culture, family and the tribe. You are looking at an extremely tribal society here. For example, every Friday family visit each other...it does not matter if they like each other, it must be done. They, the families. watch each other like hawks...nobody can do anything without the others knowing about it. There are family/honour related disputes, that can and have turned bloody/deadly.

There are so many things in this society we do not know...and others we do know about but do not EVER understand.
You will find Saudis that live abroad, to study/work. They live like what we would call :normal". As soon as they go back home, they do and act like they have never left.


Let me tell you a true story about somebody here in Qatar. A man left to study abroad. He met a woman in his adoptive country and married her. The family at home was not happy with this. They wanted him to come home and marry a local girl they had arranged for. Knowing what it was like, the man did not go home for may years. He had kids and worked.
Then a family member back home died. He thought after so many years things will be ok and went home to attend the funeral. He arrived, the family took his passport, a few weeks later he was married. He stayed home for a couple of years, then he asked to go on a trip with his "wife". they let him because they thought he now was secure back in their fold.
He took his passport, abandoned his "wife" and went back to his real family abroad, never to be seen in Qatar again.

See, this here is a lt less conservative society than the one in Saudi.

Just so you get a bit of a glimpse of things..;)


Saudi is a place to go to make money and live as comfortable (often more comfortable than at home) as possible for the circumstances. It is, IMHO, not a country/society to get involved in. In any way.
xoxo
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
As I pointed out in the post I made the experiences were those of my sister. Unlike you she wasn't in the cosmopolitan city of Riyhad but in a small place in the south east of the country on a dairy farm.

There were very few families in the compound.

Although I have never actually resided in the Middle East I have a great experience of it having been traveling to various areas since 1969 and not on holidays!!

Teheran, Bahrain, Doha, Oman, Teheran, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi among some of the places i have spent a great deal of time and enjoyed.

I was even happy to see that on returning recently to Dubai the old hotel on the wadi was still there...the oldest one in Dubai...the Carlton Tower Hotel. However I used to stay at an even OLDER Carlton not far away...and just called the Carton hotel....way before the Carlton Tower was built. That was in the days when the only place to drink was in the Wimpey club. Anyone remember that?
 

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I actually know of one Jordanian guy that I used to talk to regularly online. He moved to KSA to marry a local Saudi girl. It was not arranged or anything, they actually met each other with nicknames on a message board and he decided to travel to Saudi to meet her somehow. They ended up being married.

That said, Jordan is a very liberal Arab country, and he does complain a lot that he misses home and wishes to return to Jordan (with his Saudi wife) to settle and raise his children there. Saudi was a necessarity to marry the girl, and meanwhile work there a bit, but the plan is to return to Jordan and take her with him. Hopefully he succeeds (being married now it should normally work) ; he finds Saudi way too conservative. A lot of westerners who show no interest in the Middle East think all ME countries are the same but fail to understand that those coming from liberal countries such as Lebanon or Jordan can find it difficult to adapt in conservative ones like Yemen or Saudi just as much as westerners would find it difficult in the first period of time. Another guy I often talked to is in Dubai and used to live in KSA before, he's Lebanese however and after each visit home to Lebanon he says how much he missed the liberties of Beirut and how fake Dubai feels to him. It's his home because of his job but he'd much rather go back to Lebanon if he could.

When I lived in Turkey, almost all Turks I worked with enjoyed a fairly liberal lifestyle. None of them would be willing to move to Saudi.

A lot of people generalise, thinking all muslim countries are similar. It can't be more wrong. Countries such as Turkey, Morocco, Lebanon etc would be closer to western liberties than to the Wahhabi interpretation used in KSA.

(I was tempted to rank Tunesia and Egypt amongst those liberal ones but I didn't dare as I am not sure about how liberal they really are... Turkey I experienced myself and then I got my contacts in Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco... but when it comes to Egypt, Tunesia, Algeria I only heard stories from resources I'm not sure how reliable they are, so I better abstain from making statements about these societies. They do *appear* liberal, although probably not to the same extent as for example Turkey or Lebanon)
 
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