a VirtualTourist member
Hi, my husband recently accepted a job offer there for ksa. He's been there 2 weeks now and loves it. Myself and our two girls are not allowed to come til after early may. My oldest is 5 and not his biological daughter. Her real father, who has had little contact with her does not want her to go. Can you please tell me how safety for children and Americans are over there? People over here in America see it as dangerous, or in the south anyways, and I'm not sure why when no one has actually been there? HELP?! Thank you!!
Actually it will not be the security that may bother you but the difference in culture which you may need to adjust. It will take sometime.
SA is one the most peaceful countries in the world with one of the lowest crime rates. You may find the place safer than anywhere else you have been to.
Difference of culture arises due to Arab values which also include Islamic rules. Many Westerners find them too harsh but those who spent significant time in SA not only adjust to it but they later come to know the rationale behind that.
One apparent change you will face is the dress code for women. Outdoors, women are expected to cover themselves with gowns. There is a dress code for men also but that is much relaxed.
Physical contact between men and women is not considered good even to the extent of hand shake, except for close relatives.
In some multinational companies there are big residential compounds for foreigners with much relaxed rules. Some Westerners, and others, move to the neighborhood Bahrain on weekends mostly to satiate their hard thirst!
However, in my opinion, it is always positive to give value to local traditions even if they don't make sense to you. I try to learn about the cultural differences which actually help me in becoming a better human being.
Not to mention that thousand of Westerners have been living in SA for decent earnings and the trend will rise imo after the economic crunch around.
Btw, you can join various internet expat forums as VT is not the best place to get first hand advice. quick googling found me one such place, however I have not tried that: alloexpat.com/saudi_arabia_e...
Hope this would be helpful for you in making a decision.
Good advice above. To add to Barbara's post, here is the State Department's cautions for U.S. citizens:
@ ranger49 and goodfish:
what was the last time you have been to SA?
I haven't. Nor did I say not to go. It's just good to at least take a look at any advice issued by your specific country's state department. The OP lives in the U.S. - therefore it was appropriate to forward our State Department's advice.
As you are a resident of Pakistan - and are male - you may also have a very different perspective than our American OP. And regardless of what anyone tells her - even from firsthand experience - the father of the child in question could use "official" cautions given by the government in a legal effort to deny removal of that child from the country should he have any custodial rights.
It's a complicated question; it never hurts to have multiple sources to draw from.
@ "People over here in America see it as dangerous, or in the south anyways, and I'm not sure why when no one has actually been there?"
More surprisingly, most of the people who have been to SA find that quite opposite to the popular perception!
Here is another idea? There are some forums out there specifically for expats living in and/or are interested in living in foreign countries. In a quick look-about, I found two for Saudi Arabia:
I'm sure you can find more. Connecting with other moms currently living in that country - and who maybe even faced the same challenge of relocating a minor child with shared custody - may be be helpful?
Yes the idea of expat forum is good and I have already mentioned that in the above response.
Yes you did and I agree it's good advice! I should more correctly have said that there were some expat forums out there specifically for Americans. :) Sorry.....
I have not lived or been to Saudi Arabia, but I knew expats there and friends of mine live in Kuwait, so I have no first hand experience of SA. I have travelled in a number of Arab/Islamic countries, and when it comes to "dangers" I´m fairly sure that as far as crime is concerned you are very safe in a country like Saudi Arabia. As for being singled out as a "politcal target", being an American - well, being a woman your range of motion is limited anyway. Most women who lived in Saudi Arabia found these restrictions most difficult to live with, it often leads to living a live in an artificial bubble on some expat compound, with limited contact to local people.
How difficult it would be for you, probably also depends on whether you have had an opportunity so far to experience different cultural values and how much you can cope with a surrounding very different from Western society. It is one thing to wear loose fitting clothes of "proper" length, cover the hair with a scarf etc. It is different if you have to go the full black veils and robes way as soon as you move outside the compound, are not allowed to drive a car or travel (or even enter the country) without the permission of your husband etc. So I think it is not so much safety you have to be concerned about but whether you can deal with the limitations living in a country like Saudi Arabia means for a woman. As you have two daughters, you might also wish to consider the effects such a change has on them and the way you want to bring them up.
Thank you everyone for your help on this. I'm fine with adjusting, we just left the military so I'm use to that, my oldest who is in question is use to it as well, but my youngest isn't. I would rather be able to bring them up around their family in the states, but I would almost rather more so bring them up to see all these different cultures first. So they can appreciate what they have, and learn about people from all over the world. Where we are from, most children grow up racist, and its sad, luckily my parents didn't raise me like that, and I don't want my children to grow up with a closed mind. I'm very eager to get to my husband and to continue our lives, I just don't want to leave my child behind. I can understand her biological father being concerned because SA borders Iran, and they aren't exactly making the best press right now. But he has been mainly absent, she doesn't call him daddy, she loves him, but doesn't want to be with him. So I cant leave her behind, nor break up my family I have. Any advice or information on SA is greatly appreciated!!
>I would almost rather more so bring them up to see all these different cultures first
A great aspiration - good for you!! Being in the military, you also have more experience than most dealing with change.
I hope you'll get some in put from any expats we have here but do look around bit for a good expat site as well? Sometimes living in place versus just visiting for a short time can be two different animals. :) As far as other firsthand advice, I would think your husband - who is experiencing life in SA as a new expat - would be one of your best resources there? Or do you think that his gender gives him a different perspective than you might have as a female and so are wishing to hear from other women?
I don't know as the safety of you or your children is as much an issue here as the extreme change of lifestyle (evidently not a concern for you) and any legal rights your ex may have concerning the removal of your child from the U.S. That one, unfortunately, is not a question any of us can answer. The child's relationship with him is immaterial: it's if he has, by law, custodial rights that can be exercised.
Hello, If you are going to be living on camp in Dhahran, it's a very good place to raise a family. My husband lives/works in Dhahran and lives on camp. I made my first trip last year and they expats were just wonderful in welcoming me as a first time guest and they showed me around. Many, many of these people are from the US. Many have been there for 20+ years. It is true in any earlier posting that it is quite different, but what isn't. It all gets down to making the best of your circumstance. These people on camp, takes you in and makes you and your family theres....they are very helpful and kind.
Wish you and your family the best.
This site might help. http://saudiscenes.blogspot.com/ This place is very safe! You will love it here. There is tons to do and see!