It’s been almost three years in Saudi and I get asked on my survival here. In my previous post (Three Reasons Why I love Saudi) I have, at length, elucidated the perks of this Gulf Nation. Guess that wasn’t enough. This is an honest take on my life here in Saudi – the real Saudi that people aren’t aware of. There is certainly a lot of animosity and conjectures that this country is subjected to. If I can love Saudi, I reckon, anyone can. We are humans and we adapt. Period.
The most redundant question I get asked is about the dress code. Until a year back, it was mandatory to wear the Abhaya (a long black cloak) for the natives and expats alike. Non-Muslims are not required to cover their heads though. But with the new statement made by the Crown Prince, regarding the dress code for women, a wave of change has swept over Saudi. With the prince focussing on “modest” dressing, many have switched to Abhayas in varied hue and designs. I normally wear a maxi dress and keep my neck up uncovered. I am afraid that I despise Abhaya. That being said, I don’t violate the modesty either.
Likewise, there are plenty who think otherwise. There are many who feel the new changes are nothing but an abomination to their holy land. They have problems with coloured abhayas, women driving and top it all the tax system. After all, choices vary. Here’s a little trivia on Saudi – Saudi women wore modest clothes (other than Abhaya) walked freely, drove proudly before 1979. What happened later is for you to ask Google. Thank you very much, for I don’t intend to politicise this article.
“No Pubs, no booze, no theatres. How can you survive in a land bleak of entertainment?”
Welcome to Saudi Arabia, a country that teaches you that you can be happy without alcohol and get high on food and good friends. I am a living example of it. From last year, theatres began functioning and all movies do get released. Until then, we simply visited our neighbour country just for movies. Now no more hassle on the Bahrain-Saudi Causeway. Bahrain was previously our quick weekend getaway.
In 2019, there was a spurt in Saudi entertainment. People were high on music with plenty of concerts, DJ’s and whatnot. In fact, there was a Bollywood night in Khobar and Film Festival in Saudi’s coveted Cultural Centre ITHARA.
So folks, with Bahrain just hop-scotch away and plenty such entertainments, me cribbing is grossly unfair, isn’t it?
Career for Women
Career for women in Saudi especially expats is quite tricky. Teaching and nursing are the most common ones. Sadly, many engineering graduates don’t find careers that suit their skill and settle with teaching. I have been lucky to teach the O levels in an International School. I thoroughly enjoy what I do. For those who don’t know Saudi women do work. Of late, you can see plenty of them striving to be on par with their male counterparts. In that regard, the Kingdom is heading rightly towards progress for women.
With the current situation of levy and Saudization, there is ambiguity in the lives of many. On the brighter side, if you think that life is ephemeral and you don’t own anything in this world, you can make peace with your inner self. One day you will have to leave this place or any place for that matter. Make memories and enjoy the time being here. This is the mantra to my survival here. So things like levy, tax or even the imminent war threats don’t provoke me.
Besides, I am surrounded by happy folks. Here we lead a life in our own terms. Across the seven seas, drifted away from judgmental folks. That way, life is splendid in this desert city.
I moved to Saudi with copious amounts of pity and a luggage full of misfortune. Many predicted I wouldn’t survive and will return soon. I hope this article axes out any misconception that people have about Saudi. Saudi is not what you hear. At the end of the day, I am able to thank god a million times for giving me such a blessed life here. And, I m sure there are many kindred spirits who would echo the same on Saudi. This article is dedicated to such souls. Cheers!