Saudi Arabia: Expatriate Housing Decisions Made by Employer

saudi apt bldg


There seems to be a greater trend now among Saudi Employers in the Education Sector for the desire to have the expatriate employees consolidated.  In the past, expatriate employees were either assigned housing in an apartment or small villa or perhaps received a housing allowance and found their own housing. If expatriates had to share an apartment or villa, they were generally matched on being from the same region.

However, newer schools and universities are now having their own apartment building built next to the facility.  This is certainly convenient for the employer knowing that all employees are close by to the facility but it does not take into consideration cultural aspects or practicalities.

Like most employees, teachers do not want to live near the same place as they are working.  They need that break and separation.  It is important to have neighbors who are not colleagues.

One new school plans for all of its employees to live in the same apartment building – married, single, male, female, Saudi, expatriates, muslim and non-muslim.  In a place like Saudi Arabia where the culture is more restrictive and modest, a hodge podge of nationalities, cultures and religions can easily lead to conflicts.

A single Saudi woman may eagerly want the job as a teacher but could face strong family and tribal reaction if she were to live in the same building as unrelated non-Muslim men.

While in other places Muslims and non-Muslims can live easily side-by-side, the culture and traditions of Saudi Arabia make this more challenging.  At the end of a workday, a non-Muslim western expatriate would likely want to put on shorts and t-shirt, turn on some familiar music and relax without worrying what his/her Muslim colleagues next door might think.

Saudi Arabia is not the place where you intermix colleagues who are single, married, with or without children, or practicing different faiths in the same facility.

Ideally, there should be separate buildings for single men, single women and families or provide these employees with their own housing allowance.  Don’t consolidate them all into one large apartment building as presently proposed.

Nb:  American Bedu is aware of a specific educational facility whose housing plans are as described.  However, the name of the facility can’t be disclosed.


Saudi Arabia: The Other Side of Travel

returning home



Whether an expatriate or a Saudi, travel outside of the Kingdom is a fun and exciting affair.  It’s pretty common for most expatriates and Saudis to travel out of the Kingdom for one to three months during the height of the heat when school is out.  It’s a welcome break away for everyone!

However, at some point it is time to return and that is when one must be prepared for some surprises or what I like to refer to as ‘the other side of travel.’

Don’t be surprised if you return after an absence of sixty days or more to find that your internet account  has been disconnected or even to discover that your bank account or credit cards have been frozen.  For some reason, this is a fairly common happening in the Kingdom after an absence.

Utilities and internet can get easily turned back on after a few phone calls and perhaps having to pay a personal visit to the place of business.  If ones bank accounts were frozen then that will certainly require a visit to the bank.  Don’t forget to take all your important documentation (iqama, passport, ID card, etc.) with you when going.   Talking to the bank prior to departure is no guarantee that your accounts would remain untouched.

In addition, it is ideal to have someone come in and clean your house thoroughly prior to your return due to the accumulation of dust.  If that is not possible, you’ll want someone available as soon as possible after your return.

Most expatriates or Saudis do not take their housemaid with them when traveling for an extended period.  In many cases, the housemaid will stay with another family until the sponsoring family returns.

Saudi Arabia: Three Years Already Without my Love

abdullah othman alajroush

At times these three years have passed by excruciatingly slow and at other times they have gone by so fast.  I still remember so clearly taking care of Abdullah as he battled against his insidious leukemia which took his life on 08 February 2010.  He put up such a strong and brave fight against the aggressive disease.

With today being the three year anniversary of the day he moved on from this world into the heavenly world, I’m sharing my tribute to him with American Bedu readers in a simple letter postmarked to:

Abdullah Othman Al-Ajroush

09 June 1956 – 08 February 2010

Location:  Heaven

My Dearest Desert Boy,

Although the years without your physical presence continue to pass by I continue to  miss you and the great love we shared in our short time together.  However, rather than grieve and be engulfed by sadness, I want to keep this letter upbeat as I reminiscence on some of my favorite memories about the short and precious life we had together.

Our courtship was so slow and cautious on my part even though you knew by our second meeting you wanted me as your wife.  Your words scared me to death and actually slowed down the courtship on my part.  Of course I had heard too many negative experiences between Western women and Saudi men.  However, from day one you demonstrated you were such an honorable man and with only sincere intentions.

Among some of my special memories during our courtship was giving you your very first birthday celebration.  I’ll never forget the pools of emotion in your eyes filled with tears of joy, love and surprise!  It was the first of many celebrations until you were taken from me all too soon.

naran pakistan         Pakistan was a magical place for us to get to know one another and form the foundation of our relationship.  I loved traveling with you to Naran and Shogran where we went trout fishing together, had a picnic by the shore of a mountain lake, went horseback riding in the mountains and you demonstrated to me your skills and prowess in handling a 1953 Willie’s Jeep!  We learned so much about each other and our shared values and goals in life then.

I was convinced when I was transferred out of Pakistan that our relationship would change.  We’d either remain good friends or maybe you’d ultimately forget about me.  I remember as I drove away from Pakistan realizing that I did love you but had been afraid to say those words to your face.  However, I never forgot what you told me when I gave you my “canned” goodbye speech about how special you were to me and remaining friends.  You said, “Desert Girl…a mere border is not going to keep me apart from you. Neither will any oceans or our individual nationalities.  I love you, Desert Girl, and I intend for you to be the wife in my life.”

You always were a man of your word.  You visited me multiple times in India.  In addition we got to meet up a few times in Dubai.  Each time our love and devotion to one another increased.  When you asked for the phone numbers to call and introduce yourself to my family members so that you could tell them your intentions were honorable and serious and for them to ask any questions of you, my heart was overflowing with love and joy.  I had no doubts that you were the right man for me.

It still astounds me that you were prepared to resign from your well-established career if you had to, in order to marry me.  Thankfully it did not come to that and I remember our very joyous celebration when we received the official approval from King Abdullah for our marriage to be recognized and I had my legal place beside you as your wife in the Kingdom.  mofa emblem

You treated me like a Princess in Saudi and were my champion in every way.  You made sure I was comfortable and welcomed so warmly.  When the first crisis, my cancer, touched our lives in June 2008 you took a month off from work to take care of me.  You made me feel so cherished and helped me overcome so many fears I had about cancer.

Just when our lives were getting back on track, we received our second blow with the diagnosis of your own cancer.  Yet, Love, you were so brave and stoic.  You did not complain and conserved all your energy and channeled your fears into your battle.

It’s funny that as close as I know we were before cancer entered our lives, I felt we elevated to a new level of closeness with your battle.  How many nights did we sit up together, me sharing your hospital bed, and revealing our hidden dreams and desires?  I knew you well before but I learned even more during those times.

Since your passing, my life has changed in so many different ways.  I’m the same person you knew yet in some ways I’m not.  I know you’d be happy to know how widely and deeply my faith has encompassed me.  I don’t take any day for granted.

greyhound        I do believe you are looking down at me from heaven.  I’m sure you know each time I’ve held conversations in my head with you.  Also, I can easily imagine you in heaven with the faithful greyhound or saluki you always wanted sitting loyally beside you.

I miss you, Baby.  I always will.  You filled a void in my life and gave me a love that I know I’d never experienced.  In every way, you will always be my Prince.

God Bless you, Abdullah.  May you continue to know you are deeply loved and rest in Peace.

Your Desert Girl,

Carol (your American Bedu

Saudi Arabia: Where are the Aquariums?

saudi aquarium

Saudi Arabia’s borders extend to both the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea.  Both of these seas have some of the finest coral reefs, exotic fish and brilliant waters.  It would seem like a given that Saudi Arabia would have multiple aquariums throughout the key cities in the Kingdom where Saudis and expatriates alike can learn about and enjoy the sea life in the Kingdom’s waters.  Unfortunately though, this is not the case.  While one may go diving at various places in the Kingdom, there are a shortage of aquariums.

There is a plan underway for a National Aquarium to be built in the King Abdullah Financial District but it is still in the beginning phases of development.

An undated paper advises that Saudi Arabia is to open its first public aquarium in Jeddah.  This paper was presented at the International Aquarium Congress in Cape Town Africa in 2012.  According to the short paper, it claims that the people of Saudi Arabia are unfamiliar with aquatic environments and the establishment of the Jeddah aquarium is to sensitize Saudis to the fragility of coral reefs.

Yet, in my findings, the best place for one to go and see an aquarium in Saudi Arabia would be at the Sultan bin Abdulaziz Science and Technology Center Saltwater Aquarium located in Al Khobar which claims to host Saudi Arabia’s first public aquarium.

UPDATE:  Great and very timely news!

fakieh aquarium


I write many of my blog posts in advance so it gives me great pleasure to advise that since writing the initial post, according to Arab News, the Fakieh aquarium in Jeddah is opening its doors on 21 January to the public!

The aquarium was executed by Fakieh Group and contains more than 7,000 marine animals of 200 species in 155 tanks. It has a sharks section, a dolphin pool, large enough to accommodate 400 visitors, sea lion and reef tanks, mangroves and interactive halls, in addition to laboratories and quarantines.

The aquarium seeks to promotes the conservation of the environment by spreading awareness through education and entertainment.
Most of the species within the Fakieh Aquarium can also be found in the Red Sea, which gives the visitors a glimpse of the beauty that the Red Sea beholds.

Saudi Arabia: American Bedu Interviews



American Bedu interviews with various individuals have always been popular posts on the blog.  All interviews have a connection to Saudi Arabia and each individual interviewed is provided a unique set of questions based on who they are and where they are.

American Bedu interviews includes interviews with Saudi nationals both in and outside the Kingdom, with expatriates who have married a Saudi, with expatriates who are living in the Kingdom and also with many individuals who have a vested interest in the Kingdom whether they live there or have traveled there.

I always welcome the opportunity to interview someone and have their story shared.  I’m sensitive to who is interviewed and whether it is most appropriate for them to not be identified by their name due to their circumstances, identity or situation.  I spend time and foresight in preparing the interview questions.

I want to continue have this blog supplemented with interviews but I also have an appeal to make to anyone who has offered to be interviewed.  Follow through.  If you agree to an interview and I take the time to draft specific questions, then answer them.  If any questions are uncomfortable or too personal, let me know.  We can work it out.  However, please do not simply disappear in to the cyber-sphere after receiving interview questions.  If you have changed your mine, give me the courtesy of letting me know.

I’ll be candid.  As my battle with cancer continues I daily battle different side effects which make it more challenging for me to maintain the blog, to include writing and providing informative posts.  I have neuropathy which is a typical side effect and causes numbing and tingling of the hands and feet.  It impacts on my ability and time to type a post…or interview questions.  I am also challenged by “chemo brain” where at times my mind goes to mush impacting on my ability to write timely or eloquently.  I’m asking readers to work with me, especially those who have agreed to an interview.  If you are not sincere when agreeing to an interview, then tell me and let me save my time and effort for someone else.

Now above being said, if any reader wishes to share their story such as marriage to a Saudi; a relationship with a Saudi; experiences living or working in Saudi Arabia; or are a Saudi man and woman and willing to share your perspectives and experiences, let me know.  It is these kind of interviews which allow us to understand and build bridges between East and West.

The way I conduct the interviews is through email correspondence.  I compile unique questions for the candidate to answer and then return to me again via email. All questions asked are flexible and can be modified or deleted.

If you are new to American Bedu and would like to review earlier interviews, they can easily be found by scrolling down to the category box on the blog and select ‘interview.’

For anyone (sincerely) interested in being interviewed, you may email me directly at

American Bedu: Please cast your vote and comments

American Bedu is both humbled and honored to be among the Expat Blogs nominated for a best blog.  Here is where you can see American Bedu’s nomination and add your own comments and star rating.  American Bedu also provided an interview to Expat Blogs and you can read it here. 

American Bedu received the email below as a reminder that the ability to vote for your favorite blog will soon close.  If you are new to American Bedu or have not taken the opportunity to vote and comment, I’d like to encourage you to do so.  It would mean a lot to me.        


bedu cartoon1 is pleased to announce that the Expat Blog Awards 2012 are nearly upon us! Gold, silver, bronze and honourable mention awards are being given to the top expat blogs from 04/12/12 – 19/12/12.

We are publishing the names of the winning blogs in your country group in just a few days (7th December). The deadline for “fan counts” is 10:00 GMT that day, with the awards announced within the following 12 hours (barring technical problems).

While the fan commenting system was initially set up to allow peer-voting to help determine the top expat blogs, it has in fact become so much more; a place where readers can express their appreciation for their favourite expat blogger. To date over 4,000 fans have done so! Feedback from some bloggers has been overwhelming, with many of you touched by the warm comments you have received. The number of fan comments left on your listing is important in deciding the final placings, and so if you haven’t mentioned your nomination to your readers, now is the time to act!

Thanks to those that have participated in our expat interviews! There will be an exclusive ExpatsBlog interview badge soon, so check the bottom of your interview for the code! If you haven’t had an interview yet and would like one, please get in touch.

The next expat contest will be in January, so check the contest page/Twitter for the latest update if you’re interested. This one will have several prizes totalling $1000!

Saudi Arabia: Holiday Time Getaways

holiday travel


Cora ALWAYS organizes the best and most economical trips both within and outside the Kingdom.  It gives American Bedu great pleasure to share her latest list of upcoming trips outside the Kingdom with American Bedu readers:

All New holiday Trips!!!!

8/9/10/15Days for Individuals. Couples. Groups of Friends


Safe. Well Organized. Attractive Prices. Most Available All Year Round

Tour Code Destinations Cost Each….from
HAC  2013 Hungary, Austria and Czech Republic SAR 3,290
PTG 2013 Portugal SAR 3,340
BRA 2013 Brussels and Amsterdam SAR 3,380
GCZ 2013 Germany and Czech Republic SAR 3,450
GRT 2013 Greece and Turkey SAR 3,660
PAA 2013 Paris and Amsterdam SAR 3,680
FVR 2013 Italy: Florence. Venice and Rome SAR 3,720
DOC 2013 Dubai and Oman Cruise SAR 3,940
MRO 2013 Morocco SAR 3,970
CBS 2013 China: Beijing and Shanghai SAR 4,560
BAL 2013 Bali SAR 4,680
PAR 2013 Paris SAR 5,360
SWZ 2013 Switzerland SAR 5,860
KMM 2013 Kenya – Masai Mara SAR 6,380
IDA 2013 India: New Delhi. Jaipur. Agra SAR 6,570
SAA 2013 South Africa SAR 7,760
IDK 2013 India: New Delhi. Jaipur. Agra. Kathmandu SAR 8,450
SAP 2013 Spain and Portugal SAR 8,460
RSP 2013 Russia: Moscow & St. Petersburg SAR 8,480
NOR 2013 Norway SAR 8,670
BVC 2013 Bangkok. Vietnam and Cambodia SAR 9,510
SVF 2013 South Africa and Victoria Falls SAR 11,350
Prices Include: Hotel. Daily Breakfast. Activities. Train Travel where Applicable. Taxes
  Request an Itinerary and a Fare Quote by e-mailing:
You will receive a firm quote within 3 days. We then give you one week before it expires
If you don’t see the city you want, request information
Go as you Please! Let’s Travel



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