Returning Home to Saudi Arabia

The following post is based on a discussion with a Saudi man who had been living outside of the Kingdom for an extended period of time. He kindly agreed to answer a few questions and share his observations on changes in the Kingdom.

How long have you been back in the Kingdom?

17 Months

What were the first changes you noticed on your return to the Kingdom?

The impact of the collapse of the Saudi stock market in 2006

Are these positive or negative changes?

The collapse itself of course is a negative thing, and you understand why this is significant to the society when you know the character of the stock market is some thing new to the Saudi people. It is there for a long time but not as long as it has been in the Western countries and there was not as many people investing in them, and many people thought during that stock market boom 2004- 2006 that it’s another way that the government is sharing with them. The wealth of Oil. It sounded naive but that is what many people thought.

What is the most significant change you now see in the Kingdom as compared to when you had lived in the Kingdom previously?

Of course any one can distinguish the differences in the Saudi media, they write now more openly to degree

As one who has lived outside of the Kingdom for an extended period did you find it easy to return and adjust back to the traditional Saudi culture?

Yes I do adjust easy, to me it’s not a big problem if you ignore the way people drive in this country

What did you find you missed most about Saudi Arabia when you were living outside?

Of course the family and the hospitality of the Saudi people .

And of course, what did you miss the least when you were living outside?

Wishing that the Saudi people are more organized. Unfortunately most of the Saudis once they are out of their home they become very much disorganized and pushing too hard to be the first in anything. Let me give you an example, you visit a Saudi in his home; He and his children and family will be the nicest people, but when you see him in the street without him seeing you his behavior will be totally different from driving to standing in line and the pushy way that everyone wants to be the first to be served and it doesn’t matter when he or she arrived .

What kind of adjustments, if any, have you had to make on returning to the Kingdom?

Just remember it’s my home .

What surprised you most about the Kingdom on your return and why?

The large number of youth and the new generations totally different way of thinking

Did you feel any kind of culture shock on returning to the Kingdom after having lived outside for a number of years?

No. I was born here so it’s my home

Do you feel like you returned to the Kingdom as the same person you were before you left?

Besides the growing number in my age I came back to the kingdom hoping it would be more open to the world

16 Responses

  1. Did he elaborate on the new generation’s way of thinking?

  2. @Karen – a bit… it was more in the attitude where he perceived youth as less responsible and selfish.

  3. I thank the young man who granted this interview. As we’ve all observed, communication between Saudis and non-Saudis can be limited, so this is a nice forum for those who appreciate hearing from people they’d otherwise not meet.

    I’d like to ask him to elaborate on the last answer.

    Home is home. One always feels “at home” at home, yet after living abroad, one’s perspective can change.

  4. This hits home with me especially because I will be returning home at last after over 21 years living abroad…Im excited and apprehensive over the “culture shock” I will experience…and no doubt…even though there is much of the middle east that I do not like…I also know that it affected and changed me….will that reflect clearly on the people that knew me before? hmmmmm?

  5. Marahm – I’ll be sure and tell the “young man” that you referred to him as young! Although I guess age is a matter of perspective after all…. he’s in his 50’s!

    Coolred – I do hope that you will share you own views and impressions on your blog when you return to the States. Will this be a permanent move or visit?

  6. Did he come back from the West?

  7. At the time of his return, yes, but he had been out of the Kingdom on business which took him not only to the West but elsewhere in the East too.

  8. This reminds me of my husband’s trip to Saudi in a week’s time. He hasn’t been there for almost 2 years and yet he keeps telling me he can’t wait to see the changes! Changes in 2 years? lol Well, I suppose there could be changes..:)

  9. tell him to be prepared for more congestion and higher inflation!

  10. I will be going for good this time…my girls are there all ready and just waiting to get my boys prepared…paperwork done etc….I cant wait…but the strange thing is…Ive been over here since I was 18…I “grew up” here in a sense as I was very naive etc…and the few times I went home to visit I was “in control” of my then husband…so I wasnt allowed to be me…who ever that was. This will be the first time I will be home…uncontrolled…as me…cant wait to see who I turn out to be…lol.

  11. Coolred, prepare thyself! It is a VERY hard to repatriate. I’ll be looking forward to that blog…:)

  12. where will you be going back to coolred? I sure wish you all the best and echo Abu Dhabi’s comments that it will be very hard, particularly after such a long time away.

  13. You’ve given me an idea for a post. I’ve been repatriated for ten years now, so I can speak to the issue. Yes, it is hard is some ways, but the spirit of adventure that took you to the Middle East will rise up again on the reverse journey.

    Bedu, I love your new header!

  14. Thanks all…I will be going home to the great state of Texas. Go Longhorns!!!! One thing I do notice…when I first came here I was like….man how can they wear all those clothes…and now Im like…gee how can she wear that tshirt…lol. All a matter of perspetive I guess.

  15. Marahm – always glad to be of assistance…even indirectly (LOL). I’ll look forward to reading your post.

    Coolred – yeah, it is funny the ways in which we find ourselves unconsciously perhaps adapting to the environments.

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