Saudi Arabia: World’s Highest Divorce State

According to a recent article published in the Emirates News, Saudi Arabia has the world’s highest divorce rate with a divorce occurring every thirty minutes.  The timing is based on the 18,765 recorded divorces during 2010.  The word “recorded” brings into question on whether more divorces took place but which remain “unrecorded.”

It is not as simple as saying “Talaq, talaq, talaq” three times consecutively and a couple is instantaneously divorced and free from one another. Doing such is actually viewed as un-islamic and out of context of the Quran. A divorce under Islam has three stages which are initiation, reconciliation and completion. These stages should take up to three months (minimum) before a judge officially rules a couple as divorced.

News reports where one might hear of a woman being divorced by SMS text message or overnight are gross exaggerations of how a divorce under Islam takes place.  All efforts are to be made to reconcile a couple before the request for divorce would even reach the stage of going before a judge.

Divorces in Saudi Arabia have wider consequences than irreconcilable differences between a couple.  When a couple marries in Saudi it is generally a joining of families.  Honor and face of a family (or tribe) may be at stake when a couple divorce.  There is always a cost to the Saudi woman who becomes a divorcee.  She may lose regular access to any children.  She must have a male mahrem who is responsible for her and her actions.  If she is perceived as responsible for a divorce from an honorable and respectful man she may become ostracized from her own family and society.  Yet who really knows for sure what may have happened within the privacy of the walls of a divorced couples home which led to the choice to face possible shame and alienation?

There are Saudi couples who realize they cannot live together as a husband and wife.  Rather than divorce and face external repercussions from family and society they quietly choose to live separate lives.  The wife and children may remain in the home provided during the marriage but the man will live apart.  Or the wife and children may shift to the area where the wife is from and the man remains in a separate city near his employment.  Face and honor are saved.  “After all, he works so hard or travels so much it is kind and honorable of him to allow his wife live near to her family.”  The innate private nature of Saudi’s and their society allow this illusion of marriage to continue with very few, even within a family, to know the true circumstances of dissent between the couple.

Saudi Arabia: What Makes a Good Expatriate?

Expatriates generally come to Saudi Arabia for an employment opportunity.  A smaller percentage of expatriates find themselves in Saudi Arabia either as dependents of another expatriate or as the foreign spouse of a Saudi man.  I am not factoring in those expatriates who come to the Kingdom each year to perform umrah or Hajj.  This post focuses on those who have come to the Kingdom to take up residency for a period of time.

Each expatriate in the Kingdom by virtue of being a foreigner becomes an automatic “goodwill ambassador” of their own respective country.  To the Saudis who have not had the experience of traveling outside of the Kingdom, the expatriate will be the representative of his or her respective country to them.  Therefore what makes a good expatriate?

The question should be a “no-brainer” yet in actuality as I am sure this post will illustrate, the answer may differ depending on who responds and whether a respondent is a Saudi or an expatriate within Saudi Arabia.

Making my own short list of criteria, a good expatriate will:

  • Arrive with their best foot forward.
  • Be cognizant of customs, culture and tradition.
  • Will not expect their own customs, cultures and traditions to supersede those of Saudi Arabia.
  • Want to know and learn more about Saudi Arabia and its people.
  • Keep an open mind.
  • Disagree with dignity.
  • Comply with the laws.
  • Explore Saudi Arabia as opportunities allow.
  • Do not remain within an “expatriate bubble” such as contained to a compound.
  • Not purposely associate only with other expatriates.
  • Remember that he or she can leave a lasting impression on Saudis about expatriates.


What do YOU believe makes an individual a good expatriate in Saudi Arabia?  Better yet, share your experiences of someone you believe is or has been an excellent exemplar of an expatriate in Saudi Arabia.  A generic description rather than identifying an individual by name is acceptable.

Saudi Arabia: Take a Road Trip

Chris Zwierzynski, from shares some expert advice on road trips.

One thing you must know about Saudi is that there’s a lot to see, but to experience any worthwhile chunk of it in one go, the best thing you can do is hit the road with friends and/or family and just head out and explore until your heart’s content. That’s right; you need to head out on a road trip, explore the local sights and sounds, then drive all over the place to experience and take part in all that this magical place has to offer!

The first road trip was allegedly undertaken by Ramses II after he rode in his chariot for the duration of an entire night, after coming back from Memphis, which must have been a heck of a journey back in those days.

Road trips have since become an integral part of the human experience, with road trips being planned and embarked upon in their multitudes, sometimes even unplanned and impromptu, further adding to the overall experience. Some might even go so far as to say that the road trip is a “persistent element of human culture”; likening it to what famous thinker Carl Jung had to say on the subject.

Regardless of your opinions on the subject, it as an undeniable fact that road trips play an important part in human life and is fast becoming one of the more popular hobbies of modern times and not simply just as part of a vacation, but sometimes IS the vacation, consisting of nothing much more than a coterie of close friends traveling on the open roads. The hobby has progressed so much so that groups calling themselves “road enthusiasts” have propagated and are becoming increasingly prevalent, especially online where a budding road enthusiast will thoroughly document their road trips and experiences along life’s proverbial and literal highway. In the eyes of these people, it has become an art, something to be pursued with one’s body and soul, perhaps in order to discover some part of themselves, either new or previously unseen.

If you happen to be of the road-tripper persuasion, then there is no better time (and no better excuse) to embark on a fantastic journey than now, for now is the time to seize life by the reins and travel, either for a reason or purely for the sake of it, to enjoy something that precious few others might experience: living just the way you want to.

For more travel tips and vacation inspiration, check out the Tripbase
Travel Blog /Tripbase site

About Tripbase:

Tripbase eliminates the time-consuming and frustrating online search
process by providing travelers with personalized travel
recommendations for their next trip.

Tripbase was named Top Travel Website for Destination Ideas by Travel
and Leisure magazine in November 2008.

Visiting an American Legend in Saudi Arabia

There are times when you can feel you are too tired to open just one more email but sometimes it’s really worthwhile.

I saw the notice in my Inbox, something about Barakat Trust having a book signing event, Wednesday, January 27th. That was the day I had already a very full schedule including holding my own book club meeting at 6:30 PM. It’s about as easy to gather a bunch of women who have jobs or take care of children at the end of a long week as it is to corral cats with one hand and a jump rope. I still felt I had to see what the signing was all about so I clicked open the email with a small sigh. I just couldn’t afford to risk missing an opportunity for my club members. I was so glad I did.

The Barakat Trust was founded in 1988 to support students and scholars with an interest in preserving Islamic cultural heritage.  One of those activities has been the reprint of Marianne Alireza’s “At the Drop of a Veil” and she was the featured author for the night of the book signing.

The book was not published or financed by Barakat Foundation but the book signing was an event to launch the “Friends of Barakat Trust.”

Marianne Alireza was one of the very first Americans to come to Jeddah in the early 1940s. Her book has been for many of the expatriate women who married Saudis and came to live here, the very first introduction to how it feels like to make such a huge departure from all that we are used to in our lives. “At the Drop of a Veil” is a profoundly human, loving and honest account of Marianne’s experiences in Saudi Arabia and was very influential in my own decision to come to live in Jeddah in the mid-1980s.

The event was hosted at her house and open to families. I carpooled with a girlfriend who is too timid to go to these events on her own. I thought I had memorized the map of the villa because everything was based on a landmark on Tahliya Street. As we drove up the street east towards Madinah Road I noticed that the familiar landmark has become a thing of history. I blame myself for not going shopping at all while I live here, I would have noticed that if I took to my housewife role a little more heartily. After trying some seat of the pants reckoning I had to admit that we were running out of time before our book club meeting and I’d have to call for instructions.

Once we arrived at the villa we were treated graciously. Marianne was wearing a beautiful blue, gold and red caftan, her hair in her pixie style clipped to the side. She was sitting at a table near the entrance of the house with a stack of books to sign in front of her. People were printing the names they wanted inscribed on slips of post-its and she gamely signed book after book.

I just took in the view not really sure what to tell her when it was my turn. How could I tell Marianne that all those years ago I found her book in my college library and was transported back to Jeddah with all its romance and mystery. She was having many of the same difficulties I was trying to blend in with a culture and different language that was a far cry from what we were used to. I recalled her stories about missing her husband when he was called off to events for men only. I would think of my own upcoming separation from my husband once he finished his studies and would return to Saudi. Her gulf might have been in the same town, but mine would be thousands of miles. In some ways I thought I might never actually live in Jeddah but that thought all changed more than twenty years ago and I’ve been here since.

I watched her sweet smile as she heard the little anecdotes the different people where telling her as she signed the books. I had seen her years ago at an American Ladies of Jeddah meeting when the membership was mostly made up of American women married to Americans. Marianne was one of us, one of the women who was in a mixed marriage. She had come to share her experiences and her memories from her time in Saudi and was at that point living between Southern California and the Kingdom. She brought a smile to my eyes when she mentioned that her extended family always looked forward to her end of the year turkey dinner. I thought myself what a challenge it was nearly 20 years ago to find cranberries and celery, never mind cornbread stuffing. I could also appreciate the star power of being able to produce a turky dinner with all the frills as my in-laws also had come to enjoy those dinners.

Here I was standing in her villa eighteen years later. There were her friends and family sitting on the living room couches, a small seating area had been set up with a film on the Barakat foundation and some of their projects and recipients and in the dining room a sumptuous array of finger foods both sweet and savory. Waiters came about with a rainbow assortment of juices and water and half the fun was seeing all my friends who had also come for the evening Jeddah can be small and cozy and nothing quite makes it feel that way like bumping into familiar faces at these events.

I should pause a bit to fawn on the beautiful trays of appetizers including mini bastilla! One of my favorite Moroccan dishes, I had never seen it miniaturized in this way before. It was the traditional chicken filling wrapped in a tender triangular shaped pie crust and sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. There were tiny fresh lumpia, little triangular sambusak, tiny kibbeh, rolled tuna sandwiches, cheese filled goodies, succulent olives, tabouleh and sweets too numerous to sample. Little ginger snaps, traditional baklava, fruit en brochette, just an unexpected and very welcome gesture of hospitality from the organizers.

By time I had gone back for a few more books, her family had arranged for her to have a small break. She had been signing books non-stop for over an hour. Despite her years she still has that spark to her and that loveable “can do” spirit. One of her granddaughters confessed to me that they had to insist she take a break. She is not one to admit being tired or unwilling to come forward. I felt myself have a small blush of shame at grumbling about being tired after work.

After only the briefest of breaks she walked back to the signing table, a small smile on her face. I was once again in front of her to have just a few more books signed for gifts. As in the past at that ALJ meeting long ago I had mentioned that her book, “At the Drop of a Veil” was the first I had read on Saudi Arabia. What I didn’t tell her was that it was also the best.

I will always treasure that evening and wish I could have expressed to her friends and family how kind they were to open their home and treat us all like family. God bless you Marianne, you have touched more lives than you will ever know.

For more information on the Barakat Trust, please visit their website at

And many thanks to my dear friend “Y” in Jeddah for sharing this memorable evening with American Bedu!

Saudi Arabia and USA: Distinctions in Roadways

While riding in the car with my son today on Interstate 77 in North Carolina I noticed something which struck me as unusual and that was how clean the interstate and outside of the medians were.  Then I thought to myself “Why do I consider this unusual?  Aren’t clean and litter free roadways what anyone wants?”  So why did I likely have these questions?  Had I become too accustomed to the littered roadways and streets in Saudi Arabia?  There are street cleaners in Saudi Arabia yet there is little to no enforcement on littering.  From children to adults, there is a not a conscious thought that instead of having a travel trash bag in the car, simply roll down the window and toss out whatever trash there is, be it a tissue, empty soda can or empty bag of chips.  It saddens me when we go to the desert either to walk and play in the soft sand or to have a picnic atop the sand to see instead of pristine sandy desert and dunes most areas not far from easy access are littered with all kinds of trash.

Saudi Arabia and Transition of an Australian Family

Tony and his family are looking forward to relocating from Australia to Riyadh where he has accepted a position. He and his family have kindly allowed me interview them in what will be a two-part interview.  Part one – this interview – they will share their thoughts, views and expectations as Tony prepares to leave Australia.  Part two will take place circa three to four months after his arrival in Saudi Arabia to learn how well he has settled in and how his views have or have not changed.


tony and family

To begin with Tony and family, thanks for following American Bedu!  Can you tell me exactly how you found the American Bedu blog and what drew you to it?

Well, firstly, we saw a position advertised that ticked many of the boxes we had when it came to seeking out and securing overseas employment.  One of the boxes it didn’t tick was the “”Preferred Countries” box. Truly, Saudi Arabia was not on the radar.  So, not prepared to let go of a dream so easily, we decided some research was in order.  Neither of us knew anything about Saudi Arabia, all our friends had fairly subjective views and advice, contemporary books are difficult to source and the two I found focus largely on Islam but not much on the country, its history, people, culture, customs and politics etc.

So, to source up to date objective information, we decided to track down expatriate web sites that we could “censor” a little, ignore the clearly despondent and disappointed, temper the overly enthusiastic and exuberant and focus on the factual, contemporary and unbiased.  That pretty much left American Bedu and very few others.  We’ve been impressed with American Bedu from the start of our journey and are avid daily readers.  The fact that we can ask questions, make comments and access a wealth of past entries, as well as have direct access to the author – who by incredible chance lives in the city we will be living and working in – makes American Bedu essential reading for the prospective expatriate worker relocating to Saudi Arabia.

Do you believe the American Bedu blog is a good resource for someone seeking information on Saudi Arabia?

This is a 5 star blog and an excellent resource for researchers and travelers alike.  Should anybody ever ask me where to source current, accurate and reliable information on Saudi Arabia, your blog will be at the top of my (rather short) list of must see sites.

What prompted your desire to apply and accept a job in Saudi Arabia?

Like I said, initially, Saudi Arabia was not the lure, securing an overseas job was, and we had several other countries in mind.  The truth is that we have passed up opportunities in the Pacific to pursue and secure a job in Saudi Arabia.  Why? A myriad of reasons exist.  Top of the charts is mystique, there is something alluring, intriguing and mystical about Saudi Arabia, we’ve been drawn in by that.  Mystique is closely followed by our little family’s sense of adventure and love of travel.  Professional development is a consideration and certain elements of Saudi Arabian daily life will provide me with relevant work experience in a volume, the like of which is limited in Australia.

Another big consideration was where our children are going to learn the most about another culture, another religion, another language, another people.  Where can we as parents give our children the greatest opportunity to learn tolerance and understanding of the things that cause the greatest divisions between people?  Saudi Arabia ticked all these boxes.

Have you lived in the Arab world before?  And if so, what were your experiences?

This one’s easy, no and none.  Watch this space.

If applicable, what was most positive from your time living and working in the Middle East? What was least positive?

Again, stay tuned.

What do you expect your life in Saudi Arabia to be like?

Amazing.  We’re not starry eyed tourists.  We’re a mum and a dad, both well travelled, with two little kids embarking on the family adventure of a life time.  We expect to be challenged.  We expect to be confronted. We expect to prevail.  We also expect to meet and make lifelong friends and to share as a family an experience most people can’t imagine.  We want to immerse ourselves in the culture, absorb the smells, take in the sights and delight in the food. We want to make the most of everyday and come away from the experience, when ever that may be, as better people, and an even tighter family, because of the shared experience.

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the best, how prepared do you think you are about life and living in the Kingdom?  And why?

On a scale of 1 to 10 you have to give us 10/10 for trying to be prepared.  As for actually being prepared, barely a passing grade I think.  5/10 would be kind, and even then we only squeaked in on the bell curve.  We’re probably better prepared than some.  Lots of research has gone into this, we’re not blinded by the “attractive expatriate package”, we’ve researched this beyond what most people would consider reasonable.  We’ve even managed to meet some Saudi nationals who live and work here in Canberra, a married couple, who have been gracious enough to meet us and answer our questions.  So we’re not walking in completely blind – but we’re certainly prepared for the culture shock that will undoubtedly meet us on our arrival


red crescent


What do you hope to achieve while living in the Kingdom?

The family goals have probably been outlined previously in this interview I think, maybe at this point I can talk about what I hope to achieve professionally. I’m an intensive care paramedic and the position I’ve secured is with the Saudi Red Crescent Authority.  I’m under no illusions here; this is a difficult role in a difficult environment. The cold, hard and sometimes brutal truth is that road related trauma will be the predominant clinical presentation during my duty hours. Clearly, I want to provide the best possible pre hospital outcomes that I can, the benefit to me is that I will gain incredible case exposure and experience in Saudi Arabia that simply does not exist in Australia.

Do you speak any Arabic?  Do you think it is important for an expat working in the medical sector to know any Arabic?


No I don’t speak Arabic, and yes I do think it is important in my field, but not entirely essential.  In a whole other life time I worked for the United Nations and spent some time working in non English speaking countries.  Clearly this is difficult, but doable. Of course relevant language skills make it a whole lot easier however a lot of my work can be applied through medical signs and symptoms with some help from a language assistant.  I’m assured that language assistants will be available to me in my duty hours (again, no starry eyes here) and over time I’m confident that I’ll pick up and be able to apply key words and phrases.

What kind of adjustments are you prepared to make for life in the Kingdom?


Is it blasé to say “whatever it takes”?  We wouldn’t enjoy this experience if we arrived and wanted to live like Australians, we can’t see the point in that.  We don’t propose to give up our nationality or identity, but we are prepared to accept and respect Saudi culture and adjust our lives accordingly.

You have a beautiful family who loves you dearly.  What are their reactions to your accepting a job in Saudi?


Bizarrely, I’m the one who had reservations.  I thought I was being selfish and that I should accept the Pacific option so my family could have a more “conventional” adventure.  Amazingly, but then again, knowing her, probably not, it is my wife, Sky, who has been the one driving our decision.  She’s been sourcing her own information, balancing that against what I’ve found, and importantly, she’s made the effort to meet local Saudi women here in Australia, join them for coffee and listen to their stories, anecdotes and advice.


The kids, at the moment, it’s still all about the camels!!

How much do you think your children understand about moving to Saudi Arabia?

Well, Hannah has her head around it a little, she’s six.  She knows it’s a long way away, the cat has to stay with poppy, her friends can’t come but she will make new ones in a new school and yes, we’re moving house again!

Liam, he’s three (NEARLY FOUR) and hasn’t assimilated too much of the available information yet.  It’s Sowbi Abdabia and it has camels!!  That’s about it for him at the moment.

How have you prepared them for the move?

No secrets.  It’s an open discussion around the house and our family and friends know about it.  We’re talking about our new home, the plane flight, taking just a few favourite toys and books in our bags and so on.  We’re talking about our annual leave and how their grandparents will meet us where ever we go on holiday, and of course, yes – one day we will be coming home.

We’ve looked at a few pictures, discussed how school will be different and that we’ll be living in a villa in a compound.

Importantly, they know we’re together, and our personal routines and family dynamics will remain unchanged

What advice can you give to other families considering relocation to Saudi Arabia?

This is a qualified answer of course seeing as how we’ve not yet arrived, but certainly, pre arrival.  Be honest with yourselves; identify your strengths as a family, and importantly, your weaknesses.  Validate your motivation and importantly – research, research research!

How does the family feel that they can not join you until three months after your arrival?

This is probably the toughest aspect of this move – we are very close, we share a great interdependence between all four of us so we know there will be sadness and tough times – but we can look past that to the joy of reunion and the benefit of our upcoming adventure.

What benefits do you hope for the family to receive from the time in Saudi Arabia?

There are many, some of which I’ve already outlined previously in this interview.  The important and most genuine one of course, is the life experience that will come from living and working in a different country.  From this we hope we will all develop greater tolerance, understanding and respect for other cultures and religions.

However, I’ve discussed the “nobler” of our motivations at length already, so now for the benefits we envisage that have slightly less depth to them.

We’d love to make friends with people from not just Saudi Arabia, but from as many nations as possible, and working with the SRCA and living amongst a large expatriate community will facilitate that.  We’d like to think that our kids, as young as they are, will have grasped a second language during our time abroad.  We love to travel, and what a great base to work from – Europe, Africa and Asia just a short flight away, as well as the rest of the Middle East!  The cost of living in Saudi Arabia is considerably less than here in Australia (remember – research) and then there are the benefits that come from a tax free income and free housing, schooling and medical – not to mention the free flights etc, so we can anticipate some financial savings – which will more than likely fund the aforementioned travel.

Do you feel ready and prepared for this new chapter in your life?

We’ve moved beyond second thoughts now – we are most certainly committed to our decision, as well prepared as we believe we can be and we don’t believe we have missed or not considered anything in our preparations.  Interview us again in a few months – you may get an entirely different answer!!


How easy was it for you to identify and obtain a job in Saudi Arabia?


Surprisingly easy really.  Off and on over the last few years I’ve looked around for suitable positions and it was on one of these occasions, whilst searching the web, I came across an advertisement for Intensive Care Paramedics with the SRCA.  As luck would have it, a mate from Australia had recently completed a contract with them and was able to put me in contact with other Australians (with family) still working there.

After some positive feed back, I made an online enquiry, followed by an online application.  Things moved fairly quickly – initially – and my referees were calling me to say they had been contacted and clearly, my application was progressing.

No personal interview was conducted, however the amount of detailed, corroborated evidence (university qualifications, registration, authority to practice etc)  I had to scan and forward to SRCA was considerable, and fairly so!  Within 14 days, I had received an initial offer via e mail, and shortly after that an official offer via FedEx in the mail.

This is where things slowed down a bit – the offer came up short of expectations, and so sadly, I had to decline.  Thinking that an opportunity had been lost, we were a little despondent, until, about a week later, in the middle of the night our phone rang and it was an official from SRCA seeking to renegotiate their offer (within limits) and make it more attractive for us.  We were able to achieve an amicable solution that I think has worked out well for all parties.

I must say, at this point things have bogged down a little, the renegotiated official offer is yet to arrive, but I’ve been assured it’s “in the mail”.

What comments and advice can you share on the paperwork process for getting ready to go to the Kingdom?


I’m obviously still working through this – but it is a bit of a process.  So far I’ve sent, and then resent seemingly endless copies of documents that are required to substantiate my claims of qualifications and skills.  This is all perfectly understandable, however sometimes I get the feeling that “the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing”.  I’ve dealt with 3 different entities within SRCA HR, all extremely helpful and prepared to answer questions and provide guidance – and on one occasion go well outside of what their role requires – but then I end up dealing with someone I’ve never spoken to before and have to resend something I already sent a week ago!!

I sense that employment through an agency may have fewer hurdles to jump, but in my case the employer is case managing every individual applicant in what appears to be an international recruitment drive.  Understandably there will be delays in such an involved process.

I’m not sure if it’s the right advice, but I’ve been, and remain, quite patient but gently persistent. I’ve sent everything I’ve been asked for, no matter if I’ve sent it before, and I see nothing to be gained by jumping up and down about the process.  It is what it is and I have faith that it works.  With millions of expatriate workers already in Saudi, it must work!!

How much of the process must you do and how much in turn is handled by your employer?

It’s been pretty much a case of just providing what’s asked for and leaving the rest up to them.  That’s current at the time of writing – who knows what’s going to happen from here.  I’ve no complaints about the process though – I’m the applicant, now the recruit, so therefore I need to be proactive at my end.

Do you feel like your prospective employer has given you timely and accurate information on your position and expectations of where you will be working?


I think so, and I’ve been able to enhance this, again by being proactive and conducting my own research with compatriots already working and living in Saudi Arabia.

And in closing, what do you believe are the most important attributes to have to making a smooth and positive adjustment from life in Australia to life in Riyadh?


In our case, our internal family bonds will make this transition easier and our adventure a more positive experience for all of us.

I also think that a big broad open mind is essential.

Being equipped with the knowledge that we will be confronted and challenged by what we see and experience, but having the strength of character and commitment to face those challenges and prevail is important.

The attitude that we’re not moving to Saudi Arabia to live like Australians in Australia. We’re moving to Saudi Arabia, as Australians, who want to live within the Saudi culture and experience Saudi life and reap the benefits that will come from that!

Thanks again Tony and family and wishing you all the very best!  It will certainly be a pleasure to meet up with you next in Riyadh.

We’re looking forward to it – thanks for your interest in our story, and the help you’ve been able to provide to us, both personally, and through Bedu.

Saudi Arabia and Where The Single Expat Woman Can Live

saudi villa

I have been asked multiple times on whether a single expat woman can live outside of a compound in Riyadh.  More specifically the question has focused on whether a single expat woman can live by herself in a villa in a residential area.  To begin with I suggest for anyone trying to determine what kind of accommodation would be best to have in the Kingdom, please read this earlier post which identifies and provides distinctions between housing options such as a compound, private villa or an apartment.

First, it may not be easy to find a landlord who would agree to rent a villa to a single woman.  Chances are likely that her sponsor or some other authorized male would need to facilitate such an arrangement.  I know of Saudi women who are either divorced or widowed who live by themselves in a villa but in my personal experience, I know of only one western expat woman who chose to live in a villa.  A single expat woman needs to calculate carefully whether the risks and challenges of renting a private villa in a local residential area are worth it.

A single expat woman living by herself in a regular residential neighborhood rather than a compound or protected area such as within the diplomatic quarter will be at higher risk for personal security and safety.  She would likely fall under greater scrutiny and particularly of her comings and goings as well as who comes to visit her.  If any maintenance, repairs or services are required to the villa, does she have the language capabilities to communicate?  She must further take into account that any maintenance, repairs or services at the villa will most likely be performed by an unknown male(s).  She would neither want to be alone at the villa with an unknown male inside her home, nor should she allow an unknown male unaccompanied access into her home.

What will the woman do for transport?  Would she have her own private driver and if so, could she trust him enough to let him live on the premises?

It may be more difficult for a single woman to make friends outside of her workplace.  Unlike compound living which generally has open housing and naturally lends itself to socializing, there may not be as much fraternizing among neighbors in a residential area.

The perception, from Saudis and others, of a single expat woman living alone in a residential area should be taken into account as that could impact on the woman’s reputation.


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