Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Social Life in Saudi Arabia.

Soon after arriving many expats throw themselves, or are sucked, into the vibrant expat social life in Saudi Arabia.  It's what keeps us going until it's time for that final exit.

One expat told me this - "If you don't leave after 1 year, you'll probably stay for 3, if you don't leave after 3 years, you'll probably stay for 5 and if you're still here after 5 years you'll probably stay forever".

Most expats stay in Saudi from 1 - 3 years - that's the conclusion I've come to after rigorous investigation into expat activity  (I discussed with The Husband how long we might be staying). 

Working in Riyadh is considered, by most expats I've met, as a short term stint.  Making money was the draw card - there is supposed to be more of it here. (Really, if it wasn't for the 'tax free' aspect I don't think there would actually be a lot of difference in take home pay.)

Many expats I've spoken to say after one year, or less, the work environment makes you analyse whether the money is really worth staying for.  A lot come to the conclusion it isn't.  Add to this the family you miss back home and the freedom you most definitely miss, flying home wins hands down over staying in Saudi for the money - in many cases - not all.   (An Aussie nurse put this more graphically.  She said when you arrive you have two buckets.  The one with money is held high.  You know you've been here too long when the bucket of shit is higher than the bucket of money.)

Once the glow of 'a new and exciting venture' has lost its luster and the reality of working in Riyadh sets in expats who don't have their nose constantly to the grindstone tend to find solace and kinship in other expats.  After all, who else but another expat can sympathize with what we're going through?

The Husband didn't make that many friends before my arrival in Riyadh because he was busy working. I discovered he is no different to other expat men on our compound in that regard.  Some of us married gals got together one day soon after my arrival, quite accidentally, over coffee, and found out our husbands were exactly the same when it came to socializing with the neighbors - they didn't!

There we were, eight of us, only just met and bonding over 'living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia' - Why do we have to wear this abaya? Why can't we drive? Why do we have to rely on men so much for everything?  Why are we stuck at home?  What can we do here?  What else aren't we allowed to do here?  When are you leaving Saudi, going home for a visit.  Have you seen any other countries?  On and on....and then we started on our husbands - as you do.

What does yours do?  Where is his office?  How long has he been here?  What does he think of it?  How long is his work contract?  Will he stay longer?  What does he look like? - Is he the tall one - the American. (No.  And that guy is not American, he's Australian.) Is he the one with the no hair?  (yes, that's him). 

Long story short, we decided it was time our husbands met a.k.a had a social life.

What to do Pounamu? A bar-b-q! 

For the first time in his 19 months of living here, The Husband actually met other men from the compound, and their wives and children, in a social setting. ( By met I mean he had a half way decent conversation with.  He classes met as sayng hello in passing.  No, that is just saying hello.  To meet someoe you actually converse, swap info, get to know each other a little.) 

They, the husbands, actually enjoyed themselves - and so did we.  And now they, the husbands, tend to say more than 'hello in passing' when they pass.  We, the wives, had swapped phone numbers at that first coffee.  Now we have our own e-mail network.  I don't believe our men are that far advanced yet.

That's OK we don't mind if the men leave planning their Saudi Arabian social lives to us - we've got a lot of great ideas on the agenda.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Have a few thoughts on this post. I would love to hear them.

If You Liked This Post Share It With Friends

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...