I am sick of Saudi Arabia!

I am an American who lives in Panama but who works in Saudi Arabia. You’ve heard the story a thousand times. I teach English. Today was a good day at work. I administered a couple of tests and made some tapes. No muss no fuss.

Why then am I siezed by a sudden revultion with this place? I have worked here for six years, I am just hitting my stride really, getting the place figured out. I have my kitchen going, I am mastering desserts this month. I am hitting to pool every afternoon. Life is good.

Until I read the thread about “Learn Spanish.” Although I live in Panama, I have never taken a Spanish lesson in my life and it is an embarrasment to both my (Panamaniac) wife and I.

I feel a need to go somewhere and learn Spanish.

Maybe I am just homesick.

Or maybe it is this.

A kid in my office (recent Saudi uiversity grad, degree in English) told me he prayed for the destruction of the USA. I asked him why he wanted my mother dead and he assured it it was nothing personal. This guy is bright and hard-working. Wonderful English, nice guy. He wants (one of my) my nation(s) destroyed.

Bleeping wonderful.

Nobody in this country has ever invited me into his home. Nobody has offered an Arabic class (OK, so I wouldn;t have taken it, but let me vent.) Nobody has done a gosh-darn thing to make us expats feel welcome. Seperate housing, shopping, schools the whole thingee.

Anyway, just wanted to vent my spleen. A buddy has offered me a gig in Ecuador. Maybe I’l take it.


You should get an LJ - it’s wonderful for venting your spleen about the frustrations of expat life.

Particularly in countries where expressing those views in public would not go down veeerrrry well at all…

(For that reason, keep most entries private or friends only, like I do).

PS While you’re in Saudi and nearby, why not look for an opportunity here? Teaching jobs are like hen’s teeth, I know, but you might be in a good position - CV-wise and geography-wise - to find one.

OK, you got me, what is an “LJ?”

(italics mine)


Dontcha hate that when that happens?

“LJ” is livejournal.com, which many people use to vent their frustrations. Then again, some people just stick to the Pit.

I gave up long ago being too concerned about my own minor spelling errors. Although I am feeling blue right now, I am not so far in the dumps that I will take any heed of that.


I hope my post was viewed as lightheartedly as I intended.

Sorry if I added to your blueness.

I can’t remember who said it, but make of it what you will: “Yes, they want to destroy America. The only thing they want to do more than destroy America is to emigrate to it.”

Just curious; why haven’t you at least tried to learn Arabic? (This is not a criticism, it’s a sincere question.) Even the process of taking classes might give you some insights into the place, as long as you’re in the neighborhood anyway. Plus, you might make some friends. And not learning Spanish? How does one even live in Panama without learning at least some Spanish?

Well, I will be back in Panama in four weeks.


Maybe if I keep my mouth shut…


At which point, your username is going to be really confusing!

My Dad work in Saudi Arabia for 5 years, toward the end of his time there, his Saudi counterpart pulled him aside and said, “Never trust an Arab, not even me.”

May I strongly urge you to drop a note with this kid’s name to the State Department or the local embassy? Whatever lists there are about people who should not be allowed into the United States, he needs to be on them.

Generally speaking, there’s no real concept of “the neighbourhood” for most expats working in Saudi. If you’re lucky, you’ll be on a nice compound with a pool (where your wife can sunbathe in a bikini sans fear of stoning) surrounded by other likeminded expats, busily brewing their own alcohol, and generally - if SEVERAL accounts former Saudi expats have told me are even 1% true - having a good ol’ partner-swapping orgy of a time. :eek:

Most people find Saudi hellishly boring. You have no idea how much people - Arab and westerners - and even Saudis - moan about it here. Some months back a job that looked interesting came up there. An arabic friend of mine advised me that she wouldn’t move there for less than US$150k a year.

I did meet one couple - an American couple in their 50s - who absolutely adored Saudi expat life. They were massively social people in terms of American Ladies’ Groups and dinnerparties and get-togethers and work-socialising and all that stuff. If you’re not into that, or you don’t end up billeted with a like-minded set of people, you’re in for hell.

If you’re female and you end up living outside a compound, you may as well go and stone yourself. Literally or figuratively. (The eventual results will be the same).

Saudi is undoubtedly undergoing quite significant - albeit cautious - social and cultural change. But ask any international businessman about the lights and sights of Riyadh, and, well…

A question for Paul in Saudi and istara:

Some time ago, there was I job that I considered (but didn’t) apply for, working for the Saudi Geological Survey. The job was based out of Jiddah, rather than Riyadh, and I was told by several that Jiddah “wasn’t so bad” and was, in any event, “a helluva lot better than Riyadh.”

True? Untrue? Not that simple?

Jiddah (or “Jeddah”) is a lot different to Riyadh, far easier and more pleasant to live in, from everything I have been told. [Note I have never personally been to Saudi, but know a lot of people who have lived there, or are even Saudi nationals].

Just asked the girl at the next desk: she has been to Riyadh and says it’s “very strict” - it’s the capital, so the religious police are higher profile etc.

Her brother is in Jeddah and says it’s much nicer - it’s by the sea, apparently you can even wear a swimming costume on the beach. There is less religious strictness there.

I’ll take a wild guess about the person who said it: someone who’s never even been outside of America.

Believe it or not, the entire world does not want to emigrate there.

And I thought my commute sucked.

See, I don’t get this.

And I don’t get why THEY don’t get this.

If you are in country A and you go up to an expat of country B, and say to that person “I pray for the destruction of country B, but it’s nothing personal” I’m sorry it IS personal. You talking about destroying the home of someone’s family. Maybe even destroying their family, as in killing them. THAT’s not PERSONAL?

You can’t say “I like Americans as people but I want to destroy the United States” and make sense. Either you want to destroy the country because you hate the people, or else you want to destroy the power and wealth represented by the country - which you can’t do without destroying the people, too. In the latter case it’s far more honest to say “I’m so fucking jealous of your country’s wealth and power I want to kill you for it and take your wealth away from you and destroy every thing you’ve built, whether it’s good or bad.”

I don’t labor under the illusion the rest of the world wants to move to the United States. Frankly, I don’t give a damn whether or not other folks like us or dislike us. I do draw the line at killing other people or destroying major chunks of our cities. And so would those other people, who weep and wail and scream injustice when THEY are victims of violence.

No - it’s not jealousy. That’s what I think needs to be better understood when fighting terrorism. These people (misguidedly, whatever) aren’t jealous of you. The nearest I can describe it as is they despise you - they have been brainwashed, etc.

I personally can’t understand what it must be like to have such a deep hatred for a place you have never been to, and people that you have never met, the vast majority of whom are just innocent citizens going about their daily lives.

But please don’t think these fanatics(?) are jealous of you. If anything, they are closer to pitying you, though it is not a compassionate emotion, it is one of despising. It’s a perverted idealism, maybe like killing abortion doctors or something. The killers have nothing personal to gain.

Eg: if it was jealousy, it would be “let’s kill them and get their stuff.”
However, it’s just “let’s kill them.” Which makes even less sense - in fact no sense at all - admittedly. But then the whole kill/hatred/destroy mindset isn’t a rational one anyway, obviously.

I also think this is what makes this sort of terrorism so dangerous and so difficult to fight. Because these people can’t just be bought off. Many of them aren’t even poor, or hard up, many are extremely wealthy.

Anyway, that’s a bit of a hijack, regardless of Paul’s bad experience, the vast, vast majority of Arabs that I associate with and work with on a regular basis do hugely resent what they perceive as being the US’s pro-Israel stance, but wish no personal harm upon the American people.