If you don’t know much about Saudi you likely know this one fact; that its a dry country. Dry as in alcohol is illegal, the locals don’t often get my humour, and much of the country is covered by desert. So you’re probably thinking if alcohol is illegal what could you possibly do for fun?? I get asked this question a lot…..especially since Saudi is located next to some of the best (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Beirut) and most dodgy (Bahrain) nightlife in the Middle East. Oddly, your social life in Saudi is mostly what you make of it, and mine is shockingly better than it ever was when I lived in the US and Canada. Yes. I’m dead serious.
First off, the other ex-pats you meet are often like minded people. They are often adventurous, out-going, well traveled, and you’ll easily make friends from all over the world. Networking is a big part of having a social life here, but even a shy introverted person here will likely be flooded with invites to many different things. There are embassy and compound parties. These can be casual, or themed (Halloween, Mardi Gas), or they can even be formal events (when was the last time you went to a ball or gala?) There are book clubs, hiking clubs, photography clubs, cooking clubs. You could learn to golf, or take flying lessons, or take a turn in the saddle and take riding lessons. There are loads of activities that take place in the desert- I went ATVing when I first got here, and it was great fun. There are overnight camping trips and in the eastern province you can go digging for desert roses.
Movie theaters don’t exist in Saudi, but there are movie clubs on some of the compounds and the hospital I work at has a movie night ever Thursday…..but only for ladies. I’ve yet to go but if they get 50 shades of Grey when it comes out I’ll be sure to check it out. Oh wait, the entire movie will be censored. Dang it. If you’re a foodie there are many good restaurants here in Riyadh, but to be honest, its hard for me to get super jazzed about a good meal if I don’t have a nice glass of wine to pair it with. There are many fabulous brunch places.
So if you were worried that I was going crazy from boredom, rest assured I’m not. If you’re considering taking a job here in Riyadh you’ll have endless things to do. In fact some days I need another day off to recover from how busy my days off were. Also, to update you about my previous Saudi paperwork nightmare, I have submitted papers to get my Igama (permanent residence card). I am told that inshallah it will come tomorrow. Unfortunately, I was also told the exact some line yesterday. And the day before yesterday. But fingerscrossed it comes this week!! To Be Continued………