Behind the Walls

I got a note last week from a Saudi gentleman who appreciated a post and especially other expats' positive comments about life in Saudi Arabia (his comment will be the last or nearly), and then said, "What I read is all about personal experiences. How about getting in touch with Saudis themselves? How did you … Continue reading Behind the Walls

Saudi Cheat Sheet

When people learn I live in Saudi Arabia, the first question tends to be, "So what's it like there?" A big question. But given enough time (say, a meal, rather than a cash-register transaction), the conversations generally┬ácover the same ground. Here, then, are the basic answers to the basic questions about what it's like in … Continue reading Saudi Cheat Sheet

We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

Saudi Arabia is a country full of expatriates. I come from the United States, a country full of immigrants. How great is that? I should feel right at home. But there's a big difference between an immigrant and an expatriate. In Saudi Arabia, there is no path to citizenship for foreigners. The only way to … Continue reading We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

I Feel Pretty II: Return to the Princess Souk

Entertainment, in Saudi Arabia, can be tough to come by. Your free time options are a) stay home, b) eat, and c) go shopping. Staying home is great, and we have a lot of fun with friends here on the compound. But no matter where you live, you don't want to spend your entire life … Continue reading I Feel Pretty II: Return to the Princess Souk

Saudi Newspaper Notes: Fatwa Edition

Rules can be problematic. No sooner have you made one than some loophole appears that you never thought of. A technicality. A weird application. A four-year-old. Consider, for example, something as simple as "No cookies before dinner." Aha! You didn't say WHICH dinner. I ate dinner yesterday. Gimme a cookie. This is a persistent problem … Continue reading Saudi Newspaper Notes: Fatwa Edition

Dear Mom (and P.S. Abdullah): Life in a Saudi Arabian Compound

Being back in the U.S. in December and January, among American friends and family, highlighted how far beyond a Westerner's comprehension the idea of living in Saudi Arabia really is. A monarchy? Islamic law? Separate treatment for men and women? Living in a walled compound? To someone who hasn't been here, there's no frame of … Continue reading Dear Mom (and P.S. Abdullah): Life in a Saudi Arabian Compound

A Very Metric Christmas

I've already decided what I want for Christmas next year. I realize MY wish comes at the expense of everybody else, but isn't that the way Christmas works? Dear Santa, please exert yourself and all your elves, and expend significant resources so I can have what I want? So I'm going for it: I want … Continue reading A Very Metric Christmas

Arabian Holidays: Shopping the Souks

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style... Okay, so shopping is a little different here than what most Americans are used to. And the quantifying ALL the differences is way beyond what one blog post can hold. I should be able to milk this topic for a solid dozen. But this is a good … Continue reading Arabian Holidays: Shopping the Souks

Real Gone: Bali, Indonesia

I been gone. Real gone. (Sing it! You know you want to. I'll let you get it out of your system here without cartoon cars.) My gone-ness for the last two weeks was part of a national exodus of Saudi-dwelling expats for the Eid al Adha holiday (Hajj pilgrimage season). Most of us get about … Continue reading Real Gone: Bali, Indonesia

A Journey about/along/amid Immigration

You remember prepositions, right? Those location and direction words you are supposed to, at all costs, never let dangle? (e.g., "Yes, Mother, that is the mad ballah whose crib I was at" would be more correctly expressed as "Yes, Mother, that is the mad ballah at whose crib I was.") In school I had to … Continue reading A Journey about/along/amid Immigration