Have you ever think about move or live in the middle east? Honestly I don’t. As a Muslim I want to go to visit Saudi Arabia to perform hajj or umrah but not for living.
There are some negative stories I have heard from people who had visited Saudi. They said in Saudi is not safe place for foreigners like you cannot go out alone especially woman, some foreigners got kidnapped and raped, the rules are very strict, too much rules basically. It’s sound scary.
Then in 2012 I had an opportunity to work for an airlines there and I had to move to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. I was excited but I kind of worried when I remember those stories.
When I got there I saw dessert every where and temperature was hot. I expected to see camels but I barely see it. Jeddah is kind of quiet I guess, compare to countries I have visited, compare to my country as well. There are many good houses, apartments, compund, like rich neighborhood. There are slum area as well.
I lived in Al Mohammadiyah compound, it’s located near the airport. It was nice place for foreigner. It’s like complex of apartments. It has nice pools, gym, shuttle bus, mini market, even aula for party.
What to do in Jeddah?
As what I experienced live in Jeddah wasn’t bad. Yes you can’t go out by taxi alone (I don’t see much bus, I am eager for you to take bus) especially woman. Woman can’t sit in passenger seat next to driver who is not her mahram (no family relation). Woman also should wear black Abaya, so prepare for Abaya before you go to Saudi. Overall is safe to go out as long as not alone.
Jeddah is metropolitan city in Saudi. In some business areas you can see big office buildings, but not as much as maybe Dubai i think. There are malls everywhere, like Mall of Arabia, Redsea Mall, Roshan Mall, Hera Mall, Al balad market, etc, there are many branded store also. You can go to some beaches for foreigner (you can wear bikini). Or, you can go to Ka’bah museun but you cannot go to Mecca Area if you are non Muslim, it’s strictly prohibited for non Muslim.
You can go to hangout places like Belagio, where you can smoke shisha. But you can’t find cinema (-___-). So pretty much I go out to the mall most of the time. Maybe because I don’t explore the city much so I don’t know more about cool places. I wish I can find a place for young adult just to chill, enjoy live music, or go to watch concert, go to something like Disney land. I also wish find good library where I can chill and read some good books.
My thoughts about Jeddah and the people
Saudi government is strict about syaria rules. Wear Abaya for woman is a must. Men also advised to wear modest and polite outfit. You still can have a good time but is limited by rules.
My perception about Arabian in Jeddah is totally change since I lived in there. I thought all of them are very Islamic, like very religious but from what I saw some of them are religious. Some women cover their face but some not, not even wear headscarf. I see more Arabian women no longer wear headscarf. Some people are conservative, some of them are more western minded. They are also fashion forward.
I felt like some of them are racist to south and south east Asian people. Maybe because most Asian are worker. But hey maybe I’m wrong. ( x_x)
Things you should know about living in Jeddah:
1. Women must wear Abaya
2. Woman cannot drive
3. Men and women cannot go out together or holding hand if not married! (If you do you will send to jail!)
4. Every prayer time stores and offices are close for break
5. Saudi woman not working (I think now they can or do their own thing like business)
6. No cinema people! Buy DVD I guess
7. Jeddah is developing city
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