Advantages Cheap, nice weather
|Value for Money|
|Ease of getting around|
My Husband is Pakistani and his family now live in Saudi, we have been married for almost 10 years and this was my first visit to this country in May 2012. The first thing to note is how difficult it is to get into this country, the reason that I have not been there before is because we have tried to get visas for 2 years in a row and failed, even though my Husband had family there. But we finally got a visit visa and off we went.I live in the UK, so the flight was about 6 hours.
Firstly the weather – very hot, although it is the kind of bearable heat that you get in countries such as this, a dry heat not sticky and humid. The heat is not a problem though, as you only notice it when you go outside, everywhere is well air conditioned, and I was actually cold inside the buildings! Saudi in places is beautiful, I went to Jeddah which is quite built up, but went we went to the sea front it was lovely.The homes there are mostly flats, but big flats. My inlaws live in a 6 bedroom flat, which is quite common as they have big families out there. The rich however live in luxury villas.
The first thing you notice when you go anywhere is Saudi is the lack of women on the street, this is a very male driven culture. The women all have to cover up from the neck down and many cover their heads and faces – although this is optional, but the Muslim women always cover their heads. Having spent time with a Muslim family there, it is quite clear that it is the women that want to cover up and not that the men force them to do so. I myself felt that being covered meant that I was able to fit in, I am white and a non Muslim, and before I went to this country I thought that I would feel very nervous and out of place, but actually by being covered no one could tell that I was British.However there are restrictions imposed on women, we went to the sea front one night and tried to go quad biking, but as we were a group of men and women they would only allow the men to take part. Women also tend not to work, although more and more women are working. They have also not been allowed to drive, although there was a law passed very recently that not allows then to.
The roads are a nightmare though! It seems that there is no right of way and everyone just drives where they want to, and in order to get on to a busy road you just have to push your way out. They do not really have roundabouts, instead they have bridges that go up and over the road.It felt quite strange going to restaurants in Saudi, as because of the culture all the tables are in small booths so that you cant see anyone on the other tables, for me being from the UK this was very unusual.
Something I did notice that I could not get used to was that in Saudi they do things at very different times to the UK. My Husband family would go to work early in the morning and come home at about 2pm and go to sleep, they would then get up at about 7pm and potter around, and then get ready and go out for dinner at about 10pm! They then would not come home until about 2am – it was very tiring!
As this is a Muslim country they have prayer times 5 times a day and you can head the prayer coming from the mosques at these times, which are sometimes very early in the morning, which is a bit off putting if you are trying to sleep.
In fact most things in Saudi are cheaper than in the UK, particularly petrol, is was the equivalent of 10p per litre! This is mainly due to tax. Saudi’s do not pay income tax either.I did enjoy my time in Saudi, but that was mainly due to getting to know my inlaws. If I had no family there I would certainly not return. As a women I found it restrictive and is not a place I would ever want to live.
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