Friends of ours have recently relocated to Saudi Arabia. There was much speculation before the move about what could be expected. I have asked Kelly to give us an update on how things are going there:
We moved from South Africa to one of the most conservative places in the world, the capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh. If you are single male or female this is not the place for you. Being a mom of 3 girls I worried what kind of life I could give my girls living in a place like this
The air trip here with a 6 month old and 3 year old little girl was not as bad as I thought it would be until I headed for the connecting flight from Dubai to Riyadh our new “home”. Whilst looking for a place to sit before boarding our plane I wondered why only men were on the flight and proceeded to sit next to a fairly hairy robed man. As quick as I sat down the men stood up and sat far away from me? Hmm to my surprise everything is segregated here, men one side and woman on another.
I am a western lady but I’m in the prize position here being a mom, married and not Arab. My husband can now do much more that we are here ( myself and girls) and this place is made for families and kids! Restaurants are separated for families and kitted out better than the “singles” section! Everyone loves my blonde haired, fair skinned girls but not in a perverted way they generally mean no harm! I, touch wood, have had only kindness and respect shown to me and being a strong-natured woman thought I would battle living here. The desert heat is the only hectic stress for me and the girls it’s too hot to go outside so the houses are made for entertaining, big spacious and air-conditioned. Having 2 small girls is fine and not so overwhelming for them but my concern lies with my 10 year old skate boarding eldest daughter. Outdoor life just doesn’t happen here especially not living in a compound and also being 51 degrees in summer . With a roller coaster in every mall, American fast food chains , the fact that every child owns a pair of roller blades to skate in the mall, I am hoping this will make her feel better.
Wearing my black abaya is not as bad as I thought it would be. Yes, it’s a pain and yes it’s hot but it’s their rules and I do what I’m told. It is my 3rd week here and things I miss from back home are ….WOOLIES food and a good home cooked meal! The driving here is shocking! In fact I drove past a Saudi family ( woman aren’t allowed to drive) the husband was driving with his 2 year old little girl on his lap going around 120km/h on our local freeway! Oh and a boy about 12 driving his parents big 4×4.
This is a child’s world, everything here is made for the kids and they can do anything! It’s very very different from being back in South Africa and there is nothing here even similar that resembles our beautiful land! The roads are dirty, the sky is dusty and the daunting prayer times that echo across the desert sky makes it very real that this is not our country. Everything revolves around prayer times. Shops close, people stop working and this happens 3 times a day.
It’s not all doom and gloom and there’s a little saying that keeps me going :” Life is book, if you don’t travel you will only be stuck one page!”
Thanks to Kelly for taking the time out to share the first part of her adventure with us. I am hoping she manages to keep us updated of her tales on a monthly basis!