Saudi Arabia: American Bedu Led the Way!


One weekend during the Spring break period in Riyadh plans were made for Abdullah’s extended family to spend a full day and evening at a family member’s estraha.  (An estraha is a small farm, like an oasis, in the desert)  Abdullah and I had been to this estraha one time before.

On the day of the outing there were about 35 of us so we formed a car caravan and headed out to Thamamah, the desert area just outside of Riyadh.  Abdullah was leading the group and I was a passenger in the car behind him.  Abdullah’s mom, Mama Moudy, was in the vehicle with me.


I have been blessed that if I have been to a place once I can usually remember the way.  I was still able to do this even without being able to drive in Saudi Arabia.  I noticed as we were following Abdullah that he turned onto a road I did not recognize.  I called him on my phone and asked him if he was taking a short cut.

“No.” He replied.  “This is the same way we went last time.”

“I don’t think so.” I told him.  “Our turn is a ways up the road yet.”

“Are you SURE, Desert Girl?  You know in this part of the desert everything looks alike.”

At that point he did have me wondering…after all, he was the true Desert Boy and I was just an implanted Bedu, American Bedu, no less.  Maybe I should just keep my mouth shut.

“Abdullah, you may be right.  It just doesn’t feel like we should be turning this soon.”  I responded.

“Okay, Desert Girl.  Tell you what, I’ll pull over and follow your lead.  To be honest, I’m not that positive of the way to go myself.”

He pulled over and I motioned to the driver of the car I was in to keep going.  By this time Mama Moudy realized something was up and I could tell by her expression that she did not understand why Abdullah had pulled to the side of the road.  I had fun in my limited Arabic explaining that we were now going to lead the way.

With my heart in my throat and fearful of leading everyone astray, the driver followed my directions.  I had a big sigh of relief when the turn came up that I had remembered.  YES!  We were on the right track!  After a few more turns we had arrived at our destination.

Mama Moudy proudly told the others that “her American Bedu” led the way.  Mama Moudy was originally from Najran and considered herself an authentic Saudi Bedu.  I was touched when I became “Her” American Bedu.


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