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unsure about this move to Riyadh

unsure about this move to Riyadh

Old Oct 23rd 2008, 2:19 pm
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Default unsure about this move to Riyadh

Okay...my H has been offered a job based in Riyadh...as I already spent 3 years in Kuwait as an expat and had friends who also lived in KSA some preferred life in the compounds because they felt it was more social than Kuwait.

I wish I'd asked more general details on the rules..LOL...re things like bringing books in and the day to day shopping etc.

As Kuwait was fairly liberal in their dress code ie no abbaya or hair covering necessary although some of my bad hair days I felt it could have been a plus for me.

The company he will be working for doesn't have a space on a compound yet..and from what I've read so far that isn't easy to find...so may take a while to move anyway but this time I'd like to be a bit more informed.

I basically just upped and lived in Kuwait without a clue as to the does and don'ts. I have to be honest and say I found the expat life a bit boring after a year 18mnth....and I returned regularly to UK.

I'm not sure if there are mosques close to the compounds...cos that early morning wake up call drove me nuts sometimes..depending who was singing...one in particular had a grating voice and was thrilled when he moved away.

What if any is the best type of compound...and do they all have swimming pools?? I wondered too about shopping malls...if women are allowed to shop there with a friend..or do they have to be accompanied by their husband...only mine detests shopping so I can see me going slowly insane.

Also what about..television...LOL...I mean do you get satellite tv...I know we had very limited channels but some of the programs were ok...I guess I should read newcomers threads but figured I'd post first.

Books are my big query cos I love to read and if I'm on my own most of the time would go nuts without books.

Its very different for me this time as my son won't be with me...he was only 12 when in Kuwait now he's at University...so won't have his schoolfriends and their parents to chat with...nor have company so much as it'll just be the two of us my H and myself. That alone will be tougher as I'm sure my H will be working long hours.

I will obviously spend time between Riyadh and UK...summer here winter there and come back December..so will probably stay 10 weeks on 5 weeks home...all being well that is.

I wondered if there was something similar to the British Ladies Society in Kuwait..which organised events...coffee mornings clubs like pottery etc...just to occupy me part of the time.Plus we were able to help out locally at the orphanage for example and the childrens hospital.

Is Saudi really totally segregated as in locals and expats never mix?

What about Exhibitions...are women allowed to visit them.

I'm not that bothered about alcohol...although LOL I remember well going out to dinner and thinking how come it only takes an hour to eat out...course there was no lingering over a nice bottle of wine..or after dinner drinks.

Any educational things available to do...like do the schools run courses?

Just random thoughts springing to mind.

Safety...hmmm it never worried me in Kuwait even just as the war was about to start...and very little trouble there...is it very different in Saudi?

Sorry if all these questions have been answered elsewhere I don't have time to read all the threads right now..and only just found the site.

One of my most hated things was having to go to the local hospital for blood tests and the xray for TB...not that I minded having them done it was the WAY it was done like cattle...and the fingerprinting was an experience I don't look forward to repeating. Just wondered if Saudi was different and you could have the tests done privately...or before going.

Is there a handbook that tells you all of this online or can be obtained BEFORE moving...I got one made up by the British Ladies Society full of useful info after I had been there a few weeks could have done with reading it before going.

shmagic

Last edited by shmagic; Oct 23rd 2008 at 2:21 pm. Reason: added a question
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Old Oct 23rd 2008, 2:29 pm
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Default Re: unsure about this move to Riyadh

The Dean is your man...have you read his Ultimate Guide to Saudi Life? We actually enjoyed much of our eight years in the Kingdom but that was Jeddah not Riyadh, which I never really liked. Good luck to you and yours.
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Old Oct 24th 2008, 2:53 am
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Default Re: unsure about this move to Riyadh

search the forum and you will find answers to all ur questions..............
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Old Oct 24th 2008, 6:07 am
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Default Re: unsure about this move to Riyadh

Hi, here's a few answers to your questions - if I can remember them all!!

Compound living really is the way to go for Western ex-pats particularly if you don't speak Arabic. All the good ones have swimming pools, small shops, maybe a hairdresser/beauty salon (but often pretty basic), gym, sauna, children's playgrounds, restaurant/coffee shop. Compound living isn't for everyone (personally I hate it) but I can't see any benefits of living off compound here in Saudi. They also do 'shopping buses' which take you to different malls each day.

Shopping malls are everywhere in Riyadh and you can go with a friend or with your husband or on our own. You have to wear an abbaya while off the compound but don't have to cover your hair unless told to specifically by the muttawah, however they are fairly quiet just now and in 18 months I've never been told to cover my hair, nor had any sort of run-in with the muttawah. If I spot them I wander off in the other direction. It's a bit like being on the tube n London - don't catch the loonies eye . . .

Re medicals, this has to be done in your country of origin before you are issued with a visa to enter the country. If you contact your local Saudi Embassy they should be able to give you details of approved doctors. Where are you coming from ? We used a doctor in London - was an excuse for a 5 day holiday . . . Can give you the details if it's any help.

Books are fine to bring in - there is a chain of bookshps here called Jarir that sell English books, not the greatest choice but usually has the latest books in store and of course you can always order from Amazon. DVD's are only for sale on the black market, at coffee mornings etc. No cimenas.
I read all the time, often have a couple of books on the go, and manage with Jarir and big book shops when I'm out of the country. Magazines are hugely expensive out here and often have lots of pages missing because of the censorship.

TV - on our copund we have 52 channels of rubbish supplied with the villa - but some people do have thier own satellite dishes and packages. We can't be bothered with the thoguht of having to get it installed - it took us 9 weeks to get a wireless connection . . . . .

There is an organisation called Conoco (? Dean is this the right name do you know?) Wives or something and I think they do fund raising and stuff. Not really sure about that - just heard it mentioned. But I'm sure the British EMbassy will know . . . Well, perhaps . . .

Many women out here work - at the schools, in nurseries, banks, hospitals (with the right qualifications). Others take up hobbies, trawl the malls every day and go to the coffee mornings that are held on the larger compounds every month.

I think it can be hard to meet Saudis - depends what your husband does and what you choose to do. I work so have met many - the majority of whom are lovely. The compunds tend to be multi-national so you meet peole from all over including people from other Arab countries.

Safety - I don't feel any less afe that I did in Dubai - yes everywhere has security at the entrances, but you soon get used to it. Security alert levels go up and down depending on what is happening in the rest of the world, it's pretty high just now because some terrorists are being charged soemwhere in the region - but we feel pretty safe generally.

If you found Kuwait boring you are quite likely to find Riyadh boring too - there really isn't much to do. However, having said that some people absolutely love it and never want to leave . . . . . Others count the days to that next flight out!!

There are golf courses and horse riding available if that's your thing and there's a hash (or maybe two?) that meet up each week. There are 'do's at the embassies that for some people are a 'must' as they serve real alcohol. There are clubs for bikers (Harley owners and the like) and I'm sure other stuff going on that I'm unaware of.

Hope this helps, let me know if you need more info.
Cheers
Nicola
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Old Oct 25th 2008, 8:12 am
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Default Re: unsure about this move to Riyadh

I think Nic1 has covered it all very well, can't think of anything else to add - but if you have any more questions, ask away.

I was in Riyadh for around four months, but am now in Jeddah.
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Old Oct 25th 2008, 10:52 am
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Default Re: unsure about this move to Riyadh

Thanks for the replies...I guess I should have read more posts but didn't have much time online yesterday. I wanted an idea quickly of whether life was similar to Kuwait...and in many ways it sounds a little more strict but nonetheless not that different.

I did actually have some VERY good times in Kuwait...what I found hard was that I would make friends and get to know someone and next thing their contract would be terminated and it was a little depressing starting over again and when you click with someone and start having fun with them then they just disappear it kind of made me less inclined to make friends...if you see what I mean.

I hadn't worked for many years so just did more classes like pottery etc...and enjoyed the British Ladies society get to gethers...plus we attended a fair amount of British Embassy receptions and French too...as my husband worked for a French company. It just got a bit same old same old after a while. Like the first Embassy dinner was fun by the 10th it was can I be bothered..apart from the guarantee of a gin&tonic..LOL.

I think I would like to work even voluntary would be great as I'd like more things to occupy my time...no work visa so even helping out in a playgroup or school or with assisting reading...or doing a class like me learning another language would be good. I'll look into online learning too before I come out.

LOL I know what you mean about 52 channels of rubbish...we got hooked on Eastenders while in Kuwait...even my husband ..now thats something I never thought I'd see...him watching a soap.

I'm thinking the positives rather than the negatives and glad I can have the medical done here...as it was possible my worst experience queing like cattle with nurses at trestle tables taking blood...and the guy that did my fingerprinting was a nightmare.

It looks like we won't be moving there anytime soon...if the wait is as bad as it appears to be for a place on a compound so IF my H accepts the job...he will most likely travel back and forth initially and then its wait and see time.

I doubt anything much will happen before May at the very earliest...and maybe much later..knowing my luck we'll be lucky

I had a few Kuwaiti friends that I knew for many years before moving there...so spent some time at their homes which was great..I enjoyed seeing a different culture and adapted reasonably well.

I only just learned how to use the computer in the last year or so..which is a big plus for me as it will mean me being able to keep in touch more with my adult kids.

I'm sure if it all pans out I'll enjoy some of the experience if not all.

It took me a year to blank out the attention from the males in Kuwait...even though I dressed relatively conservatively and being blonde I'll probably cover my hair when I'm there. Although I'm a bit old at 56 to attract the younger guys attention it seems a magnet just being fair skinned...drove me nuts at first then I figured in a woman in a Burka was in my local supermarket she'd attract a few stares here...so didn't take it too personally.

I think being more aware of things this time will be a good thing...and thank you for the book info I was worried they confiscated them...I used to take suitcases full every trip home..and we'd exchange them at coffeee mornings with donations for them going to charity.

I feel a lot easier in my mind now...so thanks....and I'll post when I know for sure of the move dates.

shmagic
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