An article appeared last month in Arab News in which an American teacher claims she has been held against her will in Saudi Arabia for more than 400 days. That’s a pretty strong statement to make.
Trina Flowers infers that she was brought to Saudi Arabia under false pretences. She stated her papers indicated she was to work at King Saud University but was sent to Najran University. She arrived to the Kingdom on a visit visa and describes how the other teachers she knew all had visit visas rather than work visas. The visit visa would be renewed every 90 days according to the article.
According to Ms. Flowers she was unhappy with the situation and wished to leave Saudi Arabia. However she claims that the company for whom she worked did not comply with her wishes and that soon she became an expat in the Kingdom without a valid visa due to the expiration of the visitor visa.
At the time the article was published in Arab News, Ms. Flowers claims to be homeless and penniless. She was staying at a hotel while awaiting to receive a valid visa and compensation which she says is due to her. She alleges to other wrongdoings on the part of the company.
Until her situation is resolved she has placed advertisements to teach English in exchange for food.
I may sound harsh but I find this account suspect and a little too theatrical. Or is Ms. Flowers really that naïve? If so, she should never be working abroad. Nowhere In the article is there any mention that she attempted to contact the American Embassy which has a U.S. Citizen Services Officer whose job is to provide assistance in such circumstances. The US Embassy could certainly assist Ms. Flowers to leave the Kingdom as she claims to desire.
In fact, any expat in Saudi Arabia, should register their presence in Saudi Arabia with their local embassy. This way, in the event of any conflict or emergency, the embassy knows how to contact its citizens. In turn, expats can contact their embassies for advice and guidance in situations where they do not have control or do not know what to do. Most embassies will allow a citizen to register their presence through the embassy’s web site.
Back back to Ms. Flowers, does her story sound like truth or exaggeration?