Whoah, that’s one crazy title. What in the world were we thinking?! Even some travel guides advise you not to visit Saudi Arabia on the basis of extreme cultural shock and here we are listing the reasons why you should live in Riyadh. Genius right?! This isn’t even the perfect timing to publish an entry like this because Saudi Arabia is currently in turmoil over the labor raids
, the riots in Manfouha
, the flooding during the rainy days
, and the recommendation to close stores and shops by 9:00pm
(this is a serious threat to our shopping skills, hehe).
But then again, we realize that hey, even if there’s chaos here and there, we’re still here in Saudi Arabia so might as well remember the good things about living in this country to lift our spirits up. This optimism and looking at the bright side of life might just be the result of the pleasant weather. (It’s winter, yeyyy!) But then again, this might just be because we’re The Pink Tarha, your crazy, unconventional guide to Riyadh who tells you to learn something new every day and take smart risks and choices. And be positive all the darn time. It’s about time we discuss the matter of living in Saudi Arabia. Or rather, the act of choosing to live and work in Saudi Arabia.
We have read and listened to many misconceptions and myths about Saudi Arabia. A lot of people who haven’t set foot here are scared of this place. It’s just not conforming to the way of living they’re used to. The culture here is inexplicable to expats. A friend of mine said he won’t ever go to Saudi Arabia because rape is rampant here and even guys get raped. (Isn’t rape a crime that happens any where?) Another friend said that it’s boring here because all we have is desert and sand dunes and camels. Uhmnnn for real?! Yes, it’s still 1434 in this country but it doesn’t mean everyone is still living in tents and herding camels for a living. Riyadh is a cosmopolitan city for goodness’ sake!
Well, they’re called “misconceptions” and “myths” for a reason so don’t believe every thing you read in the Internet about Saudi Arabia being one of those bad lands. However, you can also opt to not believe us. After all, we’re crazy we’re just living the cards being dealt to us. I think we’re handling it well. We’re handling life in Riyadh well because the same way that there are disadvantages to living in Riyadh, there are also advantages in living here and we’re making the most out of it. So here are the reasons why we think you should live in Riyadh:
1. Airconditioned every where. Of course, except in the great outdoors. You know what’s the temperature on a summer day? 40 friggin’ degrees! And yes, it rises from there. That’s like the minimum. That’s summer for us; we already feel oven-baked when under the sun for three minutes. Did we decide to live in an oven?! But because of this temperature, air conditioning is available every where. If there’s a way to make the whole of Riyadh air-conditioned, they would probably do it. The good thing is, most establishments and places in Riyadh are equipped with air-conditioning. So we can find reprieve from the heat as long as we’re inside. In cars, buildings, offices, coffee shops, malls… it’s generally cold you’ll forget it’s hot outside.
2. Cheap gas, electricity, and water.
In other words, the BILLS you dread in the Philippines? They’re not so dreadful here. These three major components of life are so expensive in the home country but really cheap here in Saudi Arabia. Ikaw na ang second largest oil producer in the world, ewan ko na lang!
Haha! Gasoline is just 0.45 halalas or around 5.00 pesos per liter. Our consumption of electricity and water in a month is around SR 200 each or less, considering we have 5 A/Cs in the house and we don’t skimp on water (although I swear we’re not wasting it). So, what bills?! Also, if you’re in your company’s accommodations, sometimes you don’t even have to worry about this because they have it covered.
3. Large portions of food. We’re pretty sure that when you see our food photos in the blog, you think, “ang takaw naman ng Pink Tarha!” While we can’t deny that, we also can’t help it if their dishes are as huge as platters. An order of mains in Chili’s is almost good for 2 persons, except when you’re very, very hungry and has a very, very huge appetite (or when you’re just too selfish to share). After a few months of living in Riyadh, I went home to the Philippines and became critical of the portions of food. I paid this and this is the only thing I get?! Ridiculous! Haha! Just go to Jollibee KSA and order their Chicken Joy. Compare it to the chicken part we get in the Philippines and you’ll know how much more skin and meat you’re missing. Like the chickens in the Philippines are on a diet.
4. Amazing shopping experience. So you think just because we’re in abayas we do not need more clothes? Wrong! Because it’s tax-free in the Kingdom, prices of goods are a bit lower. Sales are also ongoing all-year-round. There are the year-end sales, the seasonal sales, the mid-year sale… Sale, Sale, Sale! We love these sales, especially when we need stuff for pasalubong. Prices of gold are also more affordable here than anywhere so might as well begin collecting now. Prices of basic commodities are also cheaper. It’s like you can buy whatever your heart desires. Or okay, for your families. 😉
5. Fast travel.
Almost every one in Riyadh owns a car. Why do you think we complain of traffic snarls every afternoon in our Facebook page? There is no concrete mode of transportation here apart from the regular taxis and the 2-riyal bus (if you want to die)
but even so, traveling from one place to another is fast because they have huge and wide roads.
|Riding the 2-riyal mini bus
Yes, traffic is becoming horrendous over the past few months but it’s still better than say, Manila. They have highways everywhere and their major thoroughfares are clean and smooth. It’s easy to go from one place to another. It’s only traffic because of the volume of cars and the lack of driving discipline but let’s talk about that some other time. Also, an advantage to women would be being driven. I know that sounds so princess in distress but with the Women Driving Ban still up for discussion (or is it?), we’re still at the mercy of our fathers and husbands and that’s not even necessarily a bad thing because a. no stinking cars/drivers, b. safety ensured, c. no need to pay for fare (gas is cheaper), d. conducive multiple stops and e. no strains of commuting.
These are just some of the advantages of living and working in Saudi Arabia. Oh yeah, is it BORING here in Saudi Arabia? I’m sorry, but do The Pink Tarha ladies look bored to you? Hahaha! Granted that this blog started because we were bored (but really, it’s because I like to write too), we found the solutions to that for ourselves (and don’t worry we’ll be sharing more tips on how you can be productive and how you can have fun on your spare time soon). With a world that keeps on entertaining itself, we’re sure you’ll find something to do.
So while you listen and read news that it’s no good here in Riyadh, or Saudi Arabia for that matter, we disagree. The social practices in Saudi Arabia are different from us expats and that’s understandable. They have their own country, culture, tradition, and religion. So we can’t expect the same things. While it’s true that there’s more freedom elsewhere, maybe it’s time to rethink your concept of freedom.
If freedom is drinking beer, eating pork, and wearing whatever you want in public… then yes, your freedom will be curtailed here. Saudi Arabia is not for you. But if freedom for you is being bold, living beyond your comfort zone, abiding by rules and laws (that don’t hurt you), and choosing the pasture that would feed your family no matter how differently-colored that pasture is (it tends to be brown here being a desert and all, hehe) then yes, Saudi Arabia is for you.
For your information, men here can pretty much do their thing as long as they follow the laws (wherever you are, you should follow the laws right?). Women here are not holed up in houses. We are not oppressed. We are independent. We go out, work, eat, shop, express our self, and pretty much do whatever we want…
|Might be in the UAE but you get the picture. Girl Power! 😛
Just in our kick-ass abayas and covered with a tarha. ~ Sundrenched