Women Can Drive!?

“So, what are the rules for the roundabouts?” My concerned father asked.

“What rules?” I scoffed. “It’s first come first serve.”

Welcome to driving in Saudi Arabia!

On September 24th, 2017 I moved to Dammam, Saudi Arabia with my husband. I knew that by law, women were  prohibited to drive in this conservative country. Rather, we are escorted by paid male drivers or male relatives.

In the beginning I was honestly OK with it. In general, I don’t like to drive much. Of course when my father first taught me, I was terrified but then I grew to love it, feeling so cool and unstoppable. As I got older, driving just became a drag for me. Maybe it was the fact that I lived in a city and had the convenience to walk almost anywhere or maybe it just lost its appeal to me. But back in Virginia, I would always prefer my sister or friends to drive.

 

On September 26th, 2017 Saudi Arabia announced women will be allowed to drive joining the rest of the modern world. The tentative date would be sometime in June and finally it was confirmed that by June 24th, women would be permitted to drive!  آخيرا What a relief. Let the countdown begin!

I could not believe it! 2 days after my arrival to a country that oppresses women and is highly conservative, a miracle has happened! Allah is watching over me. الحمد لله

In the beginning, I felt like a Queen. My husband drove me to wherever I “commanded” in these crazy streets. He was truly my personal driver. I was thankful because the way men drive here is outrageous. They have neglected the laws and created their own as if they are in an intense game of Grand Theft Auto.*

  • Switching Lanes. Even though there are CLEAR white lines dividing the street into three lanes, they still drive in-between them acting as though the lines are invisible or don’t apply to them. They also love swerving and cutting people off
  • U-Turns. There are usually two lanes that are dedicated to left turns or u-turns only. They are obvious because there is a strip of concrete that separates and designates that this road is specifically for left and u-turns only. Men from the right-most lane (about 2 or 3 lanes away from the concrete) STILL make u-turns or left turns! Are you FREAKIN’ KIDDING me? How did these boys get their driver’s license?
  • Turn Signals. They don’t use them and it drives me CRAZY. How am I supposed to know that you’re about to run into me? On several different occasions, a driver will be SO close to our car while they are switching lanes and even though my husband is honking for a good amount of time, THEY JUST IGNORE IT.
  • Roundabouts. These are the scariest to drive through. Boys just go in, NOT checking if there is enough space for them to enter. While you’re in the roundabout, it is absolute chaos. People swerving, honking, creating their own lanes, just a huge f*cking mess. If there is a traffic light to control traffic, it isn’t bad at all. However, with no traffic light people are entering when they please, switching lanes without warning, honking at you if you’re in there way. Ugh, I’m generally cursing at them the whole time.

 

*Riyadh and Jeddah have it worse since the cities are more populated.

 

Driving did NOT seem appealing to me. But as time moved on, I despised not being able to drive. I felt stuck. I had to depend on two choices: My husband or Uber/Careem. I guess it is important to take advantage of everything that you have in your life. Count your blessings my readers.

Uber/Careem would be useful when my husband was busy at work. However, taking it everyday is not very wallet-friendly. Unfortunately, there isn’t public transportation for me to depend on either.

As much as I am thankful and grateful for my husband for driving me to places , it just became a drag. I literally couldn’t go  ANYWHERE unless my husband was available.

Husbands Availability:

  • Sun: 5PM – Midnight
  • Mon: 5PM – Midnight
  • Tues: 5PM – Midnight
  • Wed: 5PM – Midnight
  • Thurs: 5PM – Midnight
  • Friday: 12 PM – Midnight
  • Sat: Depending on how many hours he decides to sleep in (and he loves his sleep)

During the school year, this didn’t affect me as much the weekends and breaks did. Now that it’s summer vacation, I most DEFINITELY need to drive to get around. It is exhausting to consistently depend on someone else. I want to go and run errands, do my grocery shopping, sit at a cafe, sing my heart out while driving, I want my freedom back. And I’m pretty sure my husband feels the same way. I am an annoying customer.

 

Am I scared to drive?

100% but I’m not going to have it inhibit me from my happiness. I’ve honestly HAD it. Imagine the ease of being able to drive for most of your life and you have that taken away from you.

I recall the first couple of months I was here there were almost 2 accidents a day.  Policemen were also NOT doing their jobs of pulling drivers over who ignore basic driving laws. But as time passed, I have seen less and less accidents as well as  police officers FINALLY pulling over reckless drivers. I believe this is mainly because women will start to drive very soon. Women, making Saudi’s society better one step at a time. 

Plus, I am terrified to drive in those roundabouts. They are a hub of madness and chaos.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to avoid them since they are basically at every other traffic light. Lol. BUT, I know the more I drive here I’ll get used to it. Plus, I can teach these boys a thing or two about the etiquette of driving.

My 30 year old cousin in law recently got her driver’s license, WOOHOO! But she was telling me how unaware her husband was of driving rules. WHAT!?  I’m just hoping that when women start driving that men will follow the rules or be more cautious about driving. NOT that women start to become reckless like them. I’ll keep you posted! Overall, I am stoked to be apart of a major turning point in Saudi’s history. I have already seen some women driving and it is getting me SO excited.

Not being able to drive has been my number one complaint about living in Saudi thus far, just ask my mom. My freedom and independence was taken away from me. I just want to have a daily routine OUTSIDE of my apartment. Is that too much to ask? Kudos to the women of Saudi who have been accustomed to having a driver AND to those who have been fighting for women’s rights for countless years.

Note: Many women have their licenses issued from other countries. While many others, large age range, have recently got their licenses through an intensive & expensive (unfortunately) driving courses given in Saudi.

Let me know in the comments what do you think will happen the first couple of months of women driving, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN SAUDI ARABIA.

Thank you my beloved readers for taking the time to read my post!

Till next time!

All love,

Dans in Dammam

 

*photos are not mine, they belong to an amazing photographer Tasneem Alsultan! Check out her page!

 

Dammam Blues

For my readers that may not know, I am a Yemeni-Czech Muslim women who was born and raised in Virginia, USA and recently moved to Dammam Saudi Arabia.  to be with my college sweetheart. And if moving to Saudi doesn’t show my love for him, I don’t know what will.

Now some might think:

“Oh my god, Saudi Arabia!! Good LUCK.”

“How are you going to survive?”

“You are so strong”

For the past 8 months I have grown fond of Dammam but what is life without some imperfections?

Let’s just say there are a couple of things need growth…

 

Athan

Prayer is one of the five pillars of Islam and as Muslims we are required to pray five times a day:

Fajr: At dawn

Dhuhur: Early afternoon

Asr: Late afternoon

Maghrib: At sunset

Isha’a: Late in the evening

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The Athan is the call to Salat (prayer).  Being in Saudi, I am given the privilege to hear the beautiful voices calling out to salat. Their voices echo throughout the streets into the houses of Dammam calling out to Muslims joining them together in the name of Allah. I prefer this much more than listening to it from my phone.

Do you know what’s not so beautiful? That EVERYTHING closes at Athan time. Super markets, malls, restaurants, cafes, gas stations, E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. I promise I’m not alone, locals also voice their opinion about the inconvenience of the athan.

Salat is important, but we should be able to pray at our own convenience.

The interruptions are frustrating because:

  • Many of the employees are not Muslim, so they’re just taking advantage of another break
  • It wastes SO. MUCH. TIME. Places close for about 45 minutes to an hour (depending on the prayer) Not only is it inefficient, 4 HOURS is WASTED FROM WORK! (Fajr doesn’t apply)
  • Employees become lazy

 

My experience:

  • I had a wedding to get ready for in the evening. Around 3 PM, after finishing my workout, I was walking towards Tamimi SuperMarkets (a 10 minute walk from my place) to get some hair removal cream. As I’m walking, the Imam is articulating the Athan. “Sh*t” I mumbled to myself. I needed to get this ONE item. I arrived to Tamimi, pick up my item and literally walked around the supermarket for about 30 minutes waiting for the employees to come back to the cashiers. WASTE. OF. TIME.

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  • My husband and I were on our way to Khobar, which is about 30 minutes from Dammam to meet a cousin of mine. We needed to fill gas. FYI: workers pump gas for us like they do in New Jersey, in other words: they pump the gas for you. As soon as we entered the gas station, the athan went off. The worker automatically rejected us! I swear it would not have taken him 5 seconds to assist us. I COULD’VE PUMPED THE GAS MYSELF. AGAIN, waste of time and now we’re late to meet a friend.

 

  • While at LuLu Supermarket on a Sunday we hear an announcement “Lulu will be closing in 15 minutes for Maghreb prayer.” NO JOKE, my husband and I raced against the clock filling our cart. We finally stood in a long line and I forced our groceries onto the belt. I could tell the cashier didn’t want to scan our items, but I DID NOT CARE. I was not willing to STAND and wait 30-45 minutes. Thankfully, we were the last customers before he closed his lane.

 

So, so frustrating. BUT, thankfully in the near future stores are required to be open during all hours. This may be the best news to come yet.  With this change, companies will be more efficient, create more business, and produce more revenue. InshAllah.

 

Social Gatherings

Being Yemeni, I have a general understanding of Saudi culture.  Back in the US if I were to attend a Yemeni party, it would generally be women only.  Arab weddings would be separated by gender Why? Because women that do wear the hijab can be ‘free’ to wear what they like and truly enjoy themselves.

But family gatherings (thanksgiving, family dinners, etc.) would be mixed, cousins intermingling, everybody having a great time. Women in hijab enjoying themselves and being with family.

As time passed by, Arab weddings started to be mixed (in the US), and women in hijab have accommodated by finding stunning gowns to wear.

Here in Dammam, it is not the case*. Any party, wedding, family gathering, you name it, is separated. To some this might be fine or preferred, but for me, not so much.

*It depends on the family. Some families have mixed gatherings while others don’t.

  • My husband and I both have some form of social anxiety, and I prefer for him to be by my side at these social events for comfort and support while in Saudi. With the divide between men and women, I can’t be with him. Back in the US, I would always be by my husband’s side whenever we attended events together and I was able to soothe his anxiety.

 

  • Weddings, I can’t even celebrate with my husband or take cute couple photos with him all dressed up. I need an insta pic, you know?

 

  • Even for the simple celebration of children’s birthdays, it’s just a women celebration.*

*Again, these are my personal experiences. Every family/city is different!

On the other hand, some women are simply uncomfortable if there is a man in the room.

Unfortunately, this results in a lack of interaction and communication skills in social and professional situations. This applies to both men and women.

At restaurants, cafes, banks, phone companies, etc., they all have separated entrances. One labeled ‘Singles’ (AKA MEN ONLY),‘Families’,  And a few “Women Only” entrances. *

Again, they are accustomed to this and I am slowly starting to get used to it. Or maybe I’m just trying to convince myself.

Do I see this changing any time soon? Not really, but I’m praying!

Let me know in the comments below, how would you feel about separate gatherings.

*In the future, there will no longer be separate entrances. Some restaurants and stores have started already.

Hijab and Abaya

For those that may not know, the hijab is the scarf that women wear to cover their hair and abaya is a cloak that conceals the female body.

Here in Saudi, it is required by law for women to wear both the hijab and abaya at the beginning stages of puberty. On the other hand, The Niqab, which is used to cover the face exposing the eyes, is optional.

Yes, I am Muslim but I don’t wear the hijab or abaya, in general. Why? That is between me and Allah (SWT).  Transitioning over to Saudi and having to cover my fashion sense with a solid black cover up was a big change for myself.

Clothes to me were always a way to express myself and with the sudden change from mix and matching my clothes to only one option, I feel that this cloth has stripped my identity away from me.

Of course for many Muslim women, wearing the hijab is apart of their identity . They feel empowered to represent their religion and who they are by resembling it through their hijab and it is something that I’ve always admired and respected from muslim women.

But it’s nice to have a choice. Many locals prefer to not wear the abaya.Who says you can’t dress modestly without the hijab or abaya?

I really hate to do the ‘compare’ game but I can’t help it. American muslims back in the United States who wore the hijab, always dressed in the most stylish and modest clothing, concealing their bodies with colors of deep reds, bright blues, crisp whites, and happy yellows.

Generally, foreigners and expats don’t wear the hijab, just the abaya. What does the future hold? I believe the hijab and abaya will no longer be mandatory.  Today, locals are starting to not wear the hijab and having their abayas open, revealing their clothes. Saudi’s neighboring countries (Dubai, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, etc.) have the choice of wearing the hijab and abaya.

Check out this book “Mirror on the Veil: A Collection of Personal Essays on Hijab and Veiling,” that is a collection of essays where Muslim women explain why or why not they don’t wear the hijab.

Pros:

– I can literally wear anything under the abaya. ANYTHING.

Hijab covers up bad hair days. lol. (I know that’s not the point)

– The abaya come in a variety of colors, fabrics, patterns, and styles.

Cons:

-When the weather starts to get hot and humid, I become a waterfall

-I don’t feel like myself (as mentioned above)

-It is difficult to have an open discussion about the hijab as many believe it is a religious duty

But do you know what really ticks me off the MOST? The hijab and abaya is meant to protect women. Make them feel secure. And unfortunately, even if I’m walking solo or with my husband, men still STARE! When I’m alone, cars honk at me with a young man cat-calling at me.

When I’m with my husband, THE DISRESPECT they have to look at me, even when I look back at them they don’t avert their eyes. The audacity they have! It’s just very uncomfortable, rude, and disrespectful to my husband AND their wives.  

Islam is a religion where women are meant to feel comfortable, protected and safe. I am thankful that I do feel safe when walking alone. Yet, I feel extremely uncomfortable when men look at me. It’s as if I feel their eyes undressing my abaya, trying to imagine how I look like, what I’m wearing. Thank Allah for my music and headphones to block out these morons.

Unfortunately, sexual harassment is real. Even during Islamic religious duties.

In conclusion, being a female is hard anywhere. Men will stare no matter what. Here, men stare and I’m legit covered from head to toe. I JUST DON’T GET IT.

Health

On April 1st, 2018 I became a pescatarian. No this was not an April Fool’s joke but unfortunately for me,  Dammam was a challenging city to start this new health change. Challenge accepted!

Overall, I live a healthy lifestyle. I enjoy making salads, pasta with homemade sauces, a TON of veggies, smoothies, etc.

Saudi food consists of bread, fried foods, and sweets. At every corner you either see a McDonalds, Burger King, a KFC or a Pizza hut, basically any fast food place. Not my happy place. When I’m not in the mood to cook, it is IMPOSSIBLE to find a nice healthy grab and go place such as Cava or SweetGreen (That I MISS SO MUCH).*

As a pescetarian, ordering has been more interesting.

  • I once went to a TGIF in Jubail (a city an hour from Dammam) where I attempted to order a chicken quesadilla without the chicken (cheese quesadilla if you will), they weren’t able to accommodate. Second attempt: a pasta dish without chicken. Again, they weren’t able to accommodate. The waiter feeling overwhelmed offered a dish with shrimp. That would have been great BUT I’m allergic to shrimp. I ended up ordering four cheese pasta. #NoRegrets

 

  • I went to an Asian fast food chain (Oshaki) and ordered Spicy Garlic Noodles with vegetables. What were the vegetables? Green onion. That was it!!! I just laughed it off and enjoyed the delicious insubstantial meal.

A major pro is that the vegetables and fruits here are FRESH. I’ve had the freedom to experiment more with healthy courses for my husband and myself. According to him, I’m a pretty decent chef.

Not only do we not have the option for healthy restaurants, healthy snacks don’t exist here. The only snack you will find me munching on are nuts.  If I decide to go to a specific supermarket such as  Danube they have many healthy American snacks that I could find at a Trader Joes (another place I miss SO MUCH) but they cost an arm and a leg here.

*Riyadh and Jeddah have more healthy options

Pollution

I’m just going to let these pictures explain themselves. 

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The pollution here has opened my eyes to the horrific and disgusting way that people treat their planet. Besides lacking basic knowledge on recycling and how to even dispose of trash, locals aren’t practicing what Islam teaches us on cleanliness. Unfortunately here, I have not seen the efforts of individuals to maintain their neighborhoods or corniche, they simply do not  care. TWICE I saw people throw their bottle on the ground when the trash can was LESS THAN 5 METERS FROM THEM! It really boils my blood.

Having a personal driver is a common aspect of Saudi culture due to the fact that women are still unable to drive. Whenever the drivers drop off families for either shopping, eating at a restaurant, going to appointments, etc, the driver leave their cars on emitting an awful amount of smoke into the air.

Public restrooms: filthy. Your eyes water as they see flooding around the unclean toilet, the garbage overflowing with used tissue papers, and the mirrors smeared with I don’t even know what. I make sure to use the restroom at my place before I head out.

DSC_1332DSC_1325 2The amount of plastic they waste is dreadful. They use it for anything that you can think of from take out boxes to shopping bags. Sometimes they use ONE plastic bag for certain groceries, such as eggs. (Btw, they do this is the US too) I remember buying two items from HyperPanda and they were going to store it away in two separate plastic bags! I told them it was unnecessary and that I would carry the items without the plastic. The cashier looked at me as if I had given him a difficult math problem to solve.

To make things worse, there is NO recycling system here. Sometimes I wonder what century Dammam is living in.

It’s ironic really, because locals care so much about the cleanliness of their house but forget about the suffocating earth surrounding them.

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This has really affected me and made me more aware of my plastic use. Seeing plastic or trash as I’m walking or even driving through a neighborhood, the amount of gas emitted as I’m walking into a store, and having to restrain myself from using the public bathroom. And to top it off, no recycling system!  If anybody knows how I can start a recycling program, please reach out to me!

 

Public Transportation

Do you want to hear a joke? Public transportation in Saudi Arabia.

On top of women not being able to drive (JUNE 24th, I see you) there is NO public transportation. WHY? No metro, no tram, no buses, NOTHING.

Sure there are car services like Uber and Careem, but that just gets expensive when being used excessively.

One would think if there was no public transportation, pedestrian life would be fantastic. NOT *Borat accent*

DSC_1311I am grateful for Dammam’s corniche. It is spacious, open, and beautiful to walk by the water along with couples and families enjoying themselves in the late evenings. But if one wanted to get from point A to point B, good luck. The sidewalks are so narrow to the point that a group of people have to walk in a single file line. In addition, there aren’t many pedestrian crosswalks. Let’s just say, looking both ways before crossing the street can not be taken lightly.

DSC_1313Will this change? I don’t know but I’ve been praying since October.

My fellow readers, I hope you enjoyed this vent session. I honestly have adapted to the separate gatherings (so proud of myself for overcoming my social anxiety for some events) and wearing the hijab and abaya (might change my mind after the summer heat.) but that’s about it, haha. Can you blame me?


However, seeing the minor changes now I am looking forward to the drastic ones in the future. Saudi will finally be catching up with modern society. Always find the silver lining in every situation. 

Any questions or comments, write them down below! Thanks for reading, until next time!

All love,

Dans in Dammam

Not Even Water

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Have your stomachs started to rumble? Does your throat feel just a tad bit dry? Do you watch the Food Network teasing your taste buds? To my readers, it is that time of month, my favorite month of the lunar calendar year: Ramadan.

While our senses may be heightened, so is our gratefulness of our blessings. Ramadan is that special time where we remember and help those who are less fortunate.

There’s always something special about this time of month.

I am blessed to remember the countless blessings I have while others are suffering.

I am blessed to reconnect with Allah who loves me for all my virtues and sins.

I am blessed to experience spirituality at a different level. Self- reflecting every aspect of myself: laziness, workout-junkie, cleanliness (sorry Mom) and giving each one the attention it deserves to grow into a better version of myself.

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the holy month which Muslims fast from the break of dawn to sunset. Nothing enters the mouth, no food and water. YES, not even water. If I could get a dollar every time I get asked this question, I wouldn’t have to work for the rest of my life. Also, no smoking.  

Ramadan lasts for 30 days, once a year. Muslims follow the lunar calendar which follows the moon phases monthly. This year, it landed on Thursday May 17th, 2018* or Ramadan 1, 1439 AH (Arabic Calendar).

*Some countries started on Wed May 16th, 2018

Iftar

Traditionally, Muslims break their fast during Maghrib time – the 4th prayer of the day (out of 5) – with dates, water, and samboosas. Yummmmm. (Mommy, shout out to your cheese samboosas). When the sun is setting, this is known as iftar time.  The family then gathers to pray and eat a good meal, such as soup, salad, and whatever the parent feels like cooking.

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There are traditional dishes and drinks that are served during Ramadan and every country is different. Here in Dammam they serve:

  • Dates & water
  • Samboosa – A fried delicacy stuffed with either cheese or meat with spices
  • Vimto – A fruity sugary drink
  • Lo gaimat – Fried balls poured with date syrup

Suhoor

The meal eaten before Fajr time -1st prayer of the day- which happens at dawn. Depending on where you’re living this is typically around 3-4 AM. The time when we’re still in zombie-mode trying to eat a sustainable meal to help us for the next 13 hrs + of fasting (In Dammam. Iceland fasts 22 hours) Suhoor consists of mainly breakfast food and tons of water.

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My advice: avoid salty foods!! It’ll just make you thirsty.

Check out the following link from Buzzfeed providing great sustainable suhoor meals and tips!! Suhoor Meals

What if you’re sick?

In general, one might become fatigued during the day which is a typical response. The first day is always the hardest, and then it eases throughout the month.

There are people who are exempt from fasting under these conditions:

  • Sick
  • Women during their menstrual cycle
  • Pregnancy
  • Travel
  • Physically incapable  

BUT, if one does not fast a couple of days, or the whole month, one is expected to make up those days or donate food, money, or clothes, to a charity.

Luckily, we have a YEAR to make up our days!

For example, this past year I had 18 DAYS to make up!!! (10 days for travel and 8 for obvious reasons) I made up my days back in December. Why not wait until a month before Ramadan? Because Maghreb is at 4:30. YES, PLEASE!

Ramadan in Virginia, USA VS. Saudi Arabia

Even though Ramadan hasn’t really started, living in Saudi earned some brownie points (yes, I keep score). Granted I’m living in a Muslim country.  

USA: Maghreb time is around 8:30. We wait to hear the Athan (call of prayer) from our mobile phones.

Saudi: Maghreb time is at 6:30. Athan is heard from local Mosques, so beautiful and heart-warming.

 

USA: Work/University schedule does not change or accommodate

Saudi: MOST jobs have their schedules changed. My husband now works from 8PM – 1:30 AM. His DREAM schedule. BUT, this is not the case for all! Some jobs just start later in the day or stick to their regular hours (usually supermarkets and stores)

 

USA: Everything closes after iftar time

Saudi: Everything becomes ALIVE after iftar time. Bookstores, cafes, corniche, malls, you name it! Places close around 3 AM! This works for me because I’m a night owl.

USA: No Ramadan decor, except in Muslim households.

Saudi: Ramadan decor in malls, cafes, even billboards!

 

USA & Saudi: Family gatherings on family gatherings

My Goals for this Ramadan

  • Strengthen my faith and connection with Allah
  • Volunteer
  • Detoxify Wi-Fi
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle (food & working out)
  • Keep in touch with my family and friends more

 

Even though I’ve been having a love/hate relationship with living in Saudi. Ramadan here is a MAJOR pro!

I hope you enjoyed this week’s read! If you have any other questions about Ramadan or anything else, let me know!

Also, SHOUT OUT to my amazing sister for being my editor. I LOVE YOU!

 

All love,

Dans in Dammam

P.S. Subscribe to be updated via email! 

 

Dammam, Oct 2017: An Introduction

“Welcome to the ‘Big Prison!’ ” My father-in-law jokingly said in Arabic passing the border into Saudi Arabia.

Little did he know, he was 62% right.

Born and raised in the United States for 25 years and living independently in Spain for 1 year: moving to Saudi seemed daunting.

  • Not being able to drive (June 24th, may you change our ways)
  • Having to wear the abaya (cloak-like attire) and hijab (headscarf)
  • Experiencing culture shock
  • Relying on a man to get anything done

No matter how much I mentally prepared myself, nothing compares to living it.

Arrival

It was around 3 AM when we arrived. Driving to my in-laws place, looking out the window all you see is desert, building, desert, desert, and more buildings. You don’t realize your love for trees, grass, flowers, and bright nature until you dive into the world of desert and unfinished construction. Man, how I craved greenery.

Arriving at my in-laws, I was overwhelmed and sorta dazed. Jet lag creeped on me and blurred my conscious.  I was exhausted from the 15hr flight.

My husband had the best solution: a tour of his childhood.

He took me to the different schools he attended, where he grew up playing soccer, his favorite food joint, and where he would get together with his friends after class.

I was seeing my husband in a different light, experiencing his origins.

 

I can only imagine the culture shock he went through after his coming to America for 8 years studying finance at VCU.

  • Females dressed in jeans, shorts dresses, hair exposed
  • Mingling between females and males
  • Food (non-halal, different taste) My husband would always say Saudi food is better (he’s right btw)
  • Learning a new language: English
  • And of course so much greenery and nature. *sigh* (def my bias)

Now it was my turn to face the music

After a couple of months of living in Saudi, these are what I noticed:

  • Women wearing the hijab and abaya
  • Most men wearing the thawb (white Arabic man ‘dress’) and shemagh (a white, or red & white checkered cotton scarf) on their heads
  • Depending on my husband or Uber/Careem to go ANYWHERE
  • Social gatherings being separated by gender
  • Blending of religion and culture
  • Treatment of Men vs. Women
  • Pollution

BUT, there is always a silver lining

  • Being with my husband (cheesy, I know)
  • Having two adorable kittens (Simba & Luna)
  • Speaking and understanding Arabic (but the Dammam dialect I had to get used to)
  • Food is AMAZING and FRESH
  • Asia and Europe are SO NEAR
  • Weather during the winter is FLAWLESS (the lowest it gets is around 50s)
  • People are polite, humble, so hospitable
  • Living by the corniche
  • Living in a neighborhood where malls, cafes, grocery stores, are all within walking distance (depending on the weather)

The first couple of months, not going to lie, living in Saudi was difficult.  

But then I realized, I came at the most convenient time. Women are going to start driving, Cinemeas are OPENING after 35 years, people are finally able to attend concerts and events and SO. MUCH. MORE. It is absolutely insane that I am experiencing and witnessing one of the biggest changing points of Saudi.

Thank you, Allah!

June 24th, 2018 is just the beginning. Especially for women!

I hope you, my dear readers, enjoyed this brief summary of my transition to Saudi. Let me know in the comments below what you would be interested in reading about!!

Please, feel free to share 🙂

All love,

Dans in Dammam