Friday, August 15, 2014

My Saudi Arabia Experience

By Alon Calinao Dy: Saudi Arabia is a huge country and is considered as one of the richest countries in the world as Saudis rely mostly on their oil wealth and gas exports to avoid economic crisis. 

As of 2013, over 9 million expats of the world's estimated 29 million lived in Saudi Arabia. The cost of living in this country is relatively low and people enjoy a tax-free lifestyle.

I lived, worked, and learned so many interesting things about the real life in Saudi Arabia for a year and a half. At the beginning, I thought it would be extremely difficult for me to adjust and settle in this new country. I thought I would not last for a month since I heard from many expats that there was no social life in this Arab state. 

Although I was so damn bored when I first arrived in Saudi because I always thought of my loved ones I left back home, I've had friends who brought me mouthwatering food like best chicken kabsa.

Medical Ward Unit

Nurses on duty at International Medical Center, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Mark Almonte and me

I remember my friend named Mark Almonte who was the first person in Saudi Arabia who bought me a dinner. He was a good man, a friend by everyone in the hostel.

Melchor Flores

Jeremy Decamora

Then I met Jeremy and Mel. They were very friendly people who taught me a lot of things like going out, shopping, and other things I still didn't know. Jeremy was my roommate and I found him very funny person who loved to share his personal experiences. 

I really admired him for he loved his family so much, especially his two adorable children. I saw him once crying in the living room as he yearned for his family after his one month vacation in the Philippines.

International Medical Center (IMC), Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

I fell in love with this new state-of-the-art hospital. I had so many fond memories in medical ward unit and out-patient department. 

At the moment, I still remember my friends ma'am Marivic, Aireille, Lydia, Melrose, Elizabeth, Anne, Melrose, Noraina, Bevic, Maria Cristina, sir Joseph, Alvin, Francis, and many others. I would never ever forget those happy moments I was laughing so hard with them.

with Joseph Rosario

After we played basketball near IMC hospital, we went to Starbucks coffee house because we loved drinking our favorite coffee with great music, Wi-Fi, and everything. Indeed, Starbucks stores are everywhere. It is the largest company in the world, with thousand stores in many different countries.

So now, it is fictitious that there is no social life in Saudi Arabia as what other expatriates told me. Whether in Jeddah or Petro Rabigh, there are a lot of dinner parties, social gatherings, picnics, and other in-home events. There is no problem to get together with a group in this Arab state. 

Although there are some restrictions, there are known private beaches in Jeddah and Petro Rabigh to socialize with your friends and other people. Let's always remember to respect their culture and obey their laws.

When I was in Jeddah, fish market in Al-Balad was my favorite hangout every friday of the week since I loved eating different species of fish. I always purchased shark meat from a trusted vendor in Al-Balad as he had a lot of fresh goods and loyal buyers. 

Aside from that, there was also a fascinating place called Corniche where families and friends could gather for picnics and other recreational activities. I often visited this place to unwind from my stressful work. 

A Friendly Reminder:

Be careful if you are an unmarried man who plans to bring a female friend, as it is strictly prohibited by Saudi law unless she is your wife and you have a marriage certificate.