Small town Saudi
Trip Start Sep 08, 2010
68Trip End May 09, 2011
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Where I stayed
Crystal Blue Hotel
King Abdullazziz University English Language Institute is where I spent 6 months teaching 32 university age girls, the majority who had no interest at all in learning English. They were more interested in the monthly allotment by the government to come! Those Saudis who work at the university are generally there "representing" Saudi and cannot be fired and have a lifetime job. Interesting part of Saudi is that 48% of the workers are foreign. And many, many of the Saudis who do work are just "representing".
Saudi is a deeply religious country. A mosque is conveniently located every 800 yards and prayers are played 5 times a day for the faithful through megaphones atop the minarets
Rabigh is a small town north of Jeddah and it was designed for the employees of Petro Rabigh - one of the 3 largest Aramco developments in Saudi - There is a camel milking place by the road - great creamy milk. The Saudi homes have the windows blacked so the women can't be seen by the men - the society is very segregated this way. The men and women have separate entrances to many businesses and women are not seen by unrelated The koran says they can have up to 4 at a time, but only if they keep them at the same level. Hence.... first wife shops ALOT!!
The people are very friendly and deeply worried that all Americans consider them terrorists - I met only very hospitable, kind and helpful people
My friends basically consisted of the 9 foreign teachers residing at the Crystal Blue - 4 South Africans, 1 Canadian and 2 Americans, 2 Pakistanis. 3 of us shared an apartment with blacked out windows - yuk!! We were not supposed to go out without our "MAN" Hossam!! but... sometimes we evaded and fled. Just down the road was a new shopping center - City Max, that became a good place for a walk. There were a couple parks, a great juice shop, lots of kababs and roast chicken. Many of the Philipino, Indian, Bangladeshi workers were the most pleasant. Life was slow in Rabigh - we also had an apartment in Jeddah where we could go for the weekend. We had to make our own fun in the hotel - birthday parties, etc. We saw no libraries,.
We were fortunate to meet a beautiful Saudi woman, Nasreen, who invited us to her father's farm - there we were treated royally to a wonderful meal (men first - then women), a visit with the pigeons, goats, peacocks, chickens. We had the typical Saudi evening - it was great and much appreciated by the teachers. Nasreen also invited Zurina and I to spend the night. It was an experience to see how Saudi homes are run. This family was to kind and and generous with us they invited us to a going away party of giant platters of fish (from the Red Sea - the best!!) and rice
One weekend we went to Old Jeddah and shopped at the market - meandering alleys filled with everything imaginable - Oud is a wood based inscence that is sold all over - abayas, everythings. We also went to A Bawadi which is the huge old open market! Fun, Fun, hard to explain.
There are many American restaurants in Jeddah and high quality malls too - there are some amazing homes of the princes and there are quite a few saudis with lots and lots of money.Jeddah is a seaport city with much to offer. There is an amazing juice store that flaunts fruit by the thousands - if you go - make sure you buy lots of small glasses and share - unbelievable.
Chocoline is a great store for breaking the diet.
If you get off the main street you will see how the foreign workers live - it is truly 3rd world.
Looking back, it is quite an experience!