Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Saudi Arabia: A Peek at an Expatriate Woman's Life

You might be surprised by how different a woman's life can be in Saudi Arabia. If you do not live in a Muslim country, you might to some extent think that women do not live happy lives here. On the contrary, women are happy even though they do not enjoy their full rights.

The very first time that I arrived here, the thing that jumped to my eyes almost immediately was the segregation of sexes. Yes, it was just so obvious. In a restaurant, for example, there was a section for single men and another section for families where women were allowed to sit. I was stunned. Yes, I had never imagined things to be like this.

Women are advised to veil. This, I knew before leaving my country, and I was not particularly worried about it. It only became a problem when places were really getting hot and I had a scarf wrapped around my head and neck region. 

Women do not drive. Saudi Arabia is the only country that does not let women drive. This, I also knew, and was somehow unhappy about it. Nevertheless, I got used to it until the day my husband started working out of town. I had to take a taxi to go to work despite the fact that I had a car packed just outside our apartment building, with the key lying on my bedside table. A few days from June 17, a day that women plan to drive, I find myself wondering whether we would ever be given the opportunity to drive in this country.

Becoming a mother in this country is not an easy task for an expatriate, especially for one that is working. Finding a good obstetrician is a big deal unless you are so lucky to get a good one on your first pick. Most often it is by word of mouth that you can get a good one. The next thing is the cost of services. If you have health insurance, then all is well for you, as health services are pretty expensive here. Every time I visited my obstetrician, I paid at least 500 SAR (133$). For normal deliveries, I found that the cost varied a lot from one hospital or clinic to the other; from 1000 to as high as 5000 SAR (266 -1333$).

A maid will always be helpful if you are a working mum. Getting a good one is a headache. Here, you also have to rely on friends and acquaintances, but this does not guarantee that you will get a good one. The first maid that I hired was a woman in her early forties. She knew how to take care of a child; something that I was looking for in a maid because I had just had my first son. After a year and a few months, I had a second maid. She was in her early twenties, but she proved to be a good nanny for my son. Initially, when I first moved here, I found that most people were paying their maids 800 SAR per month. Thereafter, this increased to 1000, then 1100, then 1200. Some people pay up to 2000 SAR per month.

One of the things that I love to do best is shopping. Oh yes! There isn't much to distract you in the kingdom, but just the shops can make you spend your entire day outside admiring the best you can find on the market. You can practically get everything in the malls in Jeddah. Of course everything; except alcohol, drugs and pornography. If you love fashion, then you would certainly love the shops in Jeddah. They have the latest things on the market, ranging from clothes to accessories and technology.

We may cover ourselves, not drive, and so many other things, but there is always a good side to every law. I am not frequently harassed by immoral men, no one touches me without a valid reason, and many more…I wish I had time to continue.


  1. Hi Daprize,

    Its always nice to come across an expat blogging about the positives of the country, looking forward to more posts from you. Happy posting

  2. Hello Misha,

    Thanks for visiting. Even though many people criticise Saudi Arabia, it does have its positive sides, and I believe may experts who have lived in Saudi Arabia would admit this. Or wouldn't they?

    1. I love it in Saudi Arabia. It has many positive sides I know. I plan on taking my nine year old daughter and moving there soon.

  3. Yes, you are very right wife finds life easy for a matter of fact i find life is far more easy for men here than women.......

  4. effectivement la vie est facile en Arabie. dans moins d'un an nous allons devoir partir car les enfants doivent terminer leurs études et j'appréhende la vie trop trépidante qui m'attend, ma vie d'avant que je regrettais au début de mon installation ici mais que je redoute de retrouver maintenant.

  5. Je souhaiterais savoir s'il y a des opportunité d'emploi pour les femmes expatriées dans le pays? Merci.

  6. Si, surtout dans le domain de l'enseignement.

  7. I read your blog with great interest. I am doing a dissertation in Domestic Tourism in Saudi Arabia and need to get an insight into how expats based in Saudi as tourists around the Kingdom. Would you be willing to complete such a questionnaire for me? It will take less than 10 minutes and I would be very grateful. Look forward to hearing from you in due course.

  8. Hello,

    I do not know whether I meet the inclusion criteria for your study, but I would be glad to help. Please mail a copy of the questionnaire to


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