Saudi Arabia: Ramadan Kareem

On the eve of Ramadan, American Bedu wishes all Muslim readers Ramadan Kareem.  May you have a joyous month of Ramadan filled with love and compassion.

Saudi Arabia: Saudi Students Managing a Budget While Abroad for Education


For many Saudi students who are coming to the United States or elsewhere for the first time to live it can be initially intimidating and confusing on figuring out how to live and set a budget.  Of course where a student is living in the United States for example makes a big difference too.  Let’s say the budget (scholarship allowance) remains the same whether a student is living near Los Angeles, Boston, Charlotte, Des Moines or Washington, DC.  Although the scholarship allowance is the same the cost of living will be very different.

What does a student need to take into account when coming to study in the United States?  First is likely finding a place to live and whether it will be furnished or unfurnished.  Unfurnished is generally much cheaper and inexpensive used furniture can easily be found at a local Goodwill or Salvation Army.  Ikea is also a good place to buy new relatively inexpensive furniture.  Additionally when renting a place landlords/apartment complexes will require one month’s rent as a security deposit.  There are also landlords who will require two month’s rent as a security deposit but that is something which can be negotiated.

In addition to acquiring and setting up an apartment other expensive to take into account are acquisition of a mobile phone.  It will be more cost effective for a student to get a mobile phone through a local provider.  Unlike Saudi Arabia, a local provider will probably require that a contract be signed.  Be sure and read carefully of what is or is not available or an option.  Some providers may give free unlimited texting and internet.  This can be a separate expense with other providers.  Most providers allow a certain number of free minutes for voice calls before charges go into effect.  Most providers allow free unlimited voice calls after 7pm or 9pm.  FYI:  It is usually most reasonable to make calls to Saudi Arabia either using a prepaid international phone call (for the Middle East area) or through Skype.

Depending where a student is living he or she may wish to have a car.  There are always many good used vehicles available for sale.  However keep in mind that if purchasing a vehicle, there will also be registration costs, perhaps some taxes and auto insurance is mandatory.  If a student purchases a car, then fuel costs need to be incorporated into a monthly budget.

Few apartments include the costs of utilities in the monthly rent.  Therefore monthly utilities can include electricity, natural gas (in some areas), water, sewage and trash.  Additionally a student would probably want internet and cable tv too.

The typical stipend a student receives while on scholarship abroad is generally US$1800.  In order to get started with an apartment a student should arrive with at least US$7000 in order to cover rent, security deposits, mobile phone, acquisition of some furniture and other settling in expenditures.

Tuition is covered through the scholarship program but books are not.  Medical and dental insurance is covered.  A scholarship student will receive an airline ticket one per year.  There are no allowances for clothing.  However a scholarship student can receive bonuses for good grades which can be equal to an extra salary.

The following is a general budget factoring in the typical monthly stipend of US$1800 to help prepare the student on what it will take to live month to month:


Rent – 1 bedroom apartment:  US$1150

Car insurance:                                     130

Mobile phone bill:                                150

Electricity:                                              90

Gas:                                                       30

Fuel for Car:                                        100

Internet/Cable TV:                              100


The above does not factor in food and groceries or a monthly car payment.


Some students may choose to live in a dormitory and others may choose to have roommates towards cutting down expenses.  It would be wise for every student to investigate through online resources what area the University is in prior to arrival.  With good research a student should have a good idea in advance of arrival on the expected cost of living and what a typical budget should be.


It would be very helpful to hear from Saudi students about their experiences on arriving at their destination and what it was like setting up house.


Saudi Arabia: Just Pack A Bag


American Bedu is pleased to endorse and follow the example of Noon and encourages American Bedu readers wherever you are to simply ‘pack a bag.’

I think Noon’s grassroots initiative is a wonderful way of making a big difference in someone’s life.  This is the perfect time to take the steps of packing your bag, especially as Ramadan begins on/about 01 August.  One does not need to be Muslim to follow and participate.


Noon’s initiative to pack a bag with items that you no longer need or use and are willing to donate to someone in need is fabulous.  In Saudi Arabia this can be a nice gesture to a housemaid or a driver or perhaps one of the many individuals who work hard to keep the streets clean.  If you are not sure who to give your bag to, I’m confident any mosque or charitable organization or orphanage would be happy to accept such bags.  Remember that items in a bag should be in good condition and clean.


For enterprising individuals, I’m sure some businesses might be willing to donate items for the bags such as toiletry products or perhaps toys.

Bags can be given to individuals at any time or some may want to present groups with bags during Eid Al Fitr.  There are many families in Jeddah continuing to rebuild from the devastating flood that could use bags with clothes, toys, household items, food.

Noon’s initiative has started in Kuwait.  Let’s see if “Just Pack a Bag” can become a worldwide initiative.  Share with American Bedu readers where you are and about the bag you have packed.


Saudi Arabia/Germany: Quotas Research on Ability to Reliably Receive Mail in the Kingdom From Abroad

American Bedu has been apprached by the German company, Quotas, for assistance in seeking individuals located in the Saudi cities of Riyadh, Jeddah and Makkah to assist in a pro-active survey on receipt of correspondence.  If you are interested and like to participate, the full details are provided in the paragraphs below.


International postal measurement Saudi Arabia



Dear Sir or Madam,


Quotas is a quality research company from Hamburg, Germany. For many years, our team has been carrying out domestic and international measurements of postal services on behalf of various postal operators e.g. Royal Mail, Post Danmark, Deutsche Post, La Poste France and Posta Slovenije.


Supported by worldwide 2,500 survey participants the results of our measurements are used to improve the quality of service for the benefit of all postal customers.


For a new project on behalf of the Universal Postal Union – the UPU – we are looking for panellists living in the following cities:


–      RIYADH

–      JEDDAH

–      MAKKAH


Your survey task:


  • You receive on average 3-4 test letters (with real stamps) per week, sent to your P.O. Box address
  • You enter all dates of receipt of your test mail on our website
  • You empty the P.O. Box on every possible delivery day


For your activity, you will receive a monthly reward of 20 USD. You can choose between:


  • an Amazon gift voucher (
  • or payment on a registered account with Moneybookers (
  • or we donate your award to the international humanitarian medical aid agency “Doctors without borders” (


If you want to take part in this measurement, please kindly register on our website (survey code “GMS- a.bedu”) or contact us by email at [email protected].


We are looking forward to your assistance!


If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Kind regards from Hamburg,

Your Quotas Team



*) More information about Quotas you will find on our website


Saudi Arabia: Interview with an American Expatriate in Tabuk

American Bedu is pleased to have the opportunity to interview Linda, an American expatriate who has lived in Tabuk for the past nine years.

First of all, Thanks, Linda, for allowing me this opportunity to ask you a lot of questions!!


Let’s start with a little bit of background.  Where are you originally from in the United States?  What was it that motivated or interested you in accepting a job in Saudi Arabia?

Where I am from is a hard question? I grew up as a military kid so I’m sort from all over.  The last place I lived before Tabuk was Steubenville, Ohio.  It is along the Ohio River about 30 miles from Pittsburgh, PA.

Getting married was my motivation.  I married an American gentleman who happens to be a contractor with the Royal Saudi Land Forces.  When I was doing the paperwork for my initial visa, I had to complete what was basically a job application.  The position I applied for was “Wife”.  I have the luxury of being a stay home wife.



Prior to your arrival in Saudi Arabia, did you have any contacts with Saudis?  How much did you know about Saudi Arabia and its customs? 

I didn’t have contact with Saudis but I had access to several colleges. I visited the Eastern Studies departments of the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Melon and Carlow College. I did educate myself as much as I could so there were not a lot of surprises.  I knew I would have to wear the abiya and cover my hair.  I knew that I would not be driving.


What kind of work do you do in Tabuk?

AS I mentioned, my job in Tabuk is caring for my husband and our dog and 3 cats. In the US, I worked with at-risk kids as a behavior specialist.


How do you feel living in one of the Kingdom’s smaller cities rather than a metropolis like Riyadh or Jeddah?

Living in Tabuk suits me.  I’m not a big city kind of girl.  We drive to Riyadh once a year for a big shopping spree at Tamimis and I’m good.  For th emost part though, I find the big cities too fast, too noisy and too dirty.  I feel the same about US cities.  They are nice to visit but I don’t want to live there.


What is typical life like in Tabuk?

For me  and the other stay home wives, life is quiet.


Do you interact socially with many Saudis?

We really don’t have much opportunity to socially interact with Saudis.  Tabuk is an agricultural area and has a large Saudi military presence with both the Saudi Air Force and the Saudi Army.


Since Tabuk is a smaller city, how are expatriate women viewed by locals?  How much do you feel it is necessary to cover up?

In the time I have lived here, I have been treated with kindness and respect.


What kind of housing are you, as an expatriate, provided?  Do you live on a compound?

We live on a Western compound.  It is really four compounds within what we call the Great Wall. Seven companies are represented and we have American, Australians, British and French expats living together.  But the numbers are small.  There are maybe 150 people on all the compounds.  The contracts are smaller now so not as many people are needed and many of the positions are unaccompanied.


 Can you share some of your highlights of living nine years in Tabuk?

The highlights..hmmm.  I would have to say the travel opportunities.  Being only a couple of hours from the Red Sea, we go to snorkel and camp a few times a year.  It is an amazing experience.  The first time I went, I felt like I was living a National Geographic special.  I got to see sea life I had only seen pictures of in books.  A bit closer to home, we have what we call the Saudi Grand Canyon.  It is beautiful and more astounding because no water was involved in creating it.  The canyon has been the work of earthquakes.  There are also some pretty interesting rock formations in that area the result of wind erosion.  It is just beautiful.  We have also traveled to Petra and the area surrounding and to Medin Saleh.


What have been some of the lowlights?

Only one lowlight and I have learned to accept it for now.  When I first got here, I was into some redecorating projects and it was hard when I would run out of something to not jump in the car and go to Walmart to get what I needed to finish.


What can you do for entertainment?

Even though we don’t have many of the amenities the larger compounds have like bowling alleys and movie theaters, we make do.  We do have a rec center and once a week we have a movie night. We set up a dvd and make popcorn and watch a movie.  We also have parties for birthdays and holidays.

We wives had a monthly morning tea where we gather and eat chat. We are two Americans, one Turk, one Morrocan, one Malay and four Filipinas.  We each make a dish from our culture.


Is it easy to obtain what you need from the local markets?

This is a loaded question.  Supplies seems to come in fits and starts, so when something I like is available, I buy as many as I can and store them. I have stored ricotta cheese in the freezer for a year. When I first got here, there was one market with two locations.  Now there are three market chains, Astra, Panda and Zaad so there is now some completion.  When there was none, shopping could become a mission if you were looking for a certain item like canned green beans.


What have you missed most from the United States?

Walmart and Lowe’s


Since you have been in Tabuk for 9 years, do you speak Arabic?

Since Tabuk is rather small, there are not the programs for expats the bigger cities have so it was difficult to find someone to teach me.  I picked up a few phrases while out and about but not much.  Last year, an Egyptian, who works as part of my husband’s company, and his Turkish wife moved to one of the compounds within the Great Wall. She and I became friendly and she agreed to teach me some basic Arabic.  I know enough to not embarrass myself shopping and I can get around the airports and hotels fairly decently.


What kind of adjustment/adapting challenges did you face when you had first arrived?

The not having some place to be everyday and what to do with all the ‘down’ time now available to me.  Prior to coming to Tabuk I worked 12 to 14 hour shifts at least 5 days a week.  So I went from running full speed to STOP.  It took me a while to adjust to the slower pace of my life.  The upside it I rediscovered things I loved to do but didn’t have time for.  I love reading, crafting, gardening, sewing, and  cooking and baking.


  What advice would you give for other expatriates thinking of coming to a smaller city to work?

Since I don’t have a job outside the home, I really can’t speak to this.  What I have seen from others though is most will find a hobby.  Being as close as we are to the Red Sea, most everyone who does come here takes diving/snorkeling lessons.  I would also suggest making the decision to bloom where you are planted.  When I begin to get a bit sticky and fed up, I remember it is my CHOICE to be here.


What are the disadvantages?

Other than not being able to drive, I think the disadvantages are those of any small town anywhere.  There just isn’t the availability of some things here that are available in Riyadh or Jeddah


Does a woman require a driver to get out and about in Tabuk?

If you are living in the city limits so to speak, not necessarily, but that is changing.  When I arrived there were lots of open spaces and empty places.  Those are rapidly being built up.  It seems every time I come back from a holiday, some new road or building is going in. I am blessed in my husband’s company provided us with a van twice a week for shopping and the driver will take us anywhere we ask.  We do not have an on-call driver, but Hussein is available if we need him with prior notice, such as a doctor appointment or we need to go to the airport and our husband isn’t available.



Is good health care available? 

Not so much.  The health care facilities here are about 20 years behind the US.  I needed blood work done a few years ago and about walked out when the lab tech got a reusable need from the autoclave. This was after spending 20 minutes explaining to the doctor I needed an order for a liver function test because I was starting a new medication.  The doctor kept telling me the medication I was taking wasn’t available in Kingdom and I was telling him I was aware of that, which is why I brought year’s supply of it back with me.  I get all my female medical done in the US.



How long do you anticipate staying in Tabuk?

Maybe another 2 to 3 years. I will start spending  2 months in the US and 3 months in Kingdom.  I am ready for a change.


Many thanks for sharing your answers with American Bedu readers.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to give a different perspective.


Saudi Arabia: Saffron Road Collaborating with Whole Foods for Provision of Ramadan Products


In addition to the halal stores which abound throughout America it is also great to know that Saffron Road has entered into a collaboration with Whole Foods Markets to provide halal products during Ramadan.

Saffron Road to Serve Muslim Consumers During Ramadan

Brand Partnering with Whole Foods Market® to Make an Impact Throughout Islam’s Holiest Month


Stamford, CT – July 20, 2011 – It is not often that brands and retailers in the U.S. acknowledge American Muslim consumers and their majorholidays, but occasionally when they do, they see first hand an outpouring of support from that community. With its high-quality products and dedicated team, American Halal Company, Inc and its brand Saffron Road have established an emotional connection with discerning American Muslims consumers.  Given Saffron Road’s mission to better serve the ongoing Halal needs of its American Muslim consumer base, it has big plans to more deeply connect with and better serve its core constituency during the month-long Ramadan festivities in August.


Each night of Ramadan includes festive iftars or breaking of the fasts with family, friends and communities. To help its Muslim consumers celebrate, Saffron Road is partnering with Whole Foods Market to host several blog posts and offer shoppers chances to win free Saffron Road products and a $100 Whole Foods Market gift card on the grocer’s Whole Story Blog.

“Support for Halal foods, and in particular our brand Saffron Road, during Ramadan from Whole Foods Market on a national, regional and corporate level is going to be a huge deal among many otherwise disenfranchised Muslim communities. We anticipate an outpouring of support and purchases by the thousands of American Muslims who will flock into Whole Foods Market stores,” says Adnan Durrani, CEO of Saffron Road. “This will be the first time a major grocery chain in the U.S. acknowledges Ramadan in this way on a national level. Considering Saffron Road’s products are available in over 90% of Whole Foods Market stores nationwide, this is a major positive move forward for addressing the needs of the American Halal consumer all over the U.S.”


Saffron Road will also collaborate with Halal food expert, Yvonne Maffei of the popular blog, My Halal Kitchen, to bring consumers Ramadan-related tips and recipes to prepare for suhoor and iftar meals throughout the season.


In addition, the brand is also offering downloadable coupons with media outlets such as and elan throughout Ramadan. In keeping with its commitment to being a truly social brand, Saffron Road is also engaging with consumers through Facebook Social Ads. The brand’s Facebook campaign will be geared toward gaining more “likes” and engagement for its page, as well as giving consumers the ability to help the company give back to the community. Saffron Road pledges to give 50 cents for each new “like” its Facebook page receives during its Ramadan campaign to its charity partners, Whole Planet Foundation and The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

All 12 of Saffron Road’s frozen products are Halal Certified by the Islamic Food andNutrition Council of America (IFANCA).


“Never before has it been so easy for the Halal consumer to reach for convenient, healthy andcompletely Halal meals to make at-home dining alone or in small groups something special and easy,” says Yvonne Maffei of My Halal Kitchen. “Many of Saffron Road’s products are easy to incorporate into the iftar experience or add to them. New frozen chicken items like the Chicken Tenders are wonderful for the kids or to add some heartiness to an otherwise boring salad. The broth varieties coming out soon will make Halal cooking even easier as the first on the market that Muslim shoppers can trust in quality and authenticity.”


From promotions atretail, leveraging influencers, and online engagement to charitable donations and contests on popular Muslim blogs; look for Saffron Road to help Muslim consumers make this Ramadan one to remember.


About Saffron Road                                                                                                                                                                                           

American Halal Co. markets All Natural Halal Certified food under the Saffron Road brand. Adnan Durrani, the CEO, and Jack Acree, the EVP, are serial entrepreneurs having been involved in companies like Vermont Pure Spring Water, Stonyfield Farms, Inc., Alexia Foods, and Terra Chips. The Company’s management and Board represent a team of proven entrepreneurs at building premium food brands. Saffron Road’s mission is to offer All Natural Halal Certified and Gluten Free foods which are also holistic, sustainably farmed, and anti-biotic free.  Saffron Road’s products are sourced from livestock which is fed only 100% vegetarian feed and are humanely treated. The Company seeks to bring its mission to a higher awakening with the local and global community, embodying a socially conscious company ethic as well as setting the standard for premium qualityHalal Cuisine.


Media Contacts: Lisa Mabe, Hewar Social Communications, 202.834.4498, [email protected]                                   

Kate Tayloe, American Halal Company, Inc., 203.961.1954 x100, [email protected]

For more information about Saffron Road, please visit You can also join us on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter at

Saudi Arabia: What if a Muslim is not Saved?




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