Oct 24, 2013

Al Khobar - First Impressions

After a couple of weeks roaming around other countries in the Middle East, we finally crossed the bridge between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia Tuesday evening. Immigration wasn't bad at all despite being first entry for me -- usually it takes a while. From here on out, any back and forth trip to Bahrain should be a breeze for us (traffic permitting).

We got into Al Khobar in the dark so, I couldn't see a whole lot. What I saw was a typical city with huge highways like Houston. I heard the drivers are crazy here but, having lived and drove in Indonesia, this is nothing! By the way, I (as a woman) can't drive here so, I'll have to rely on my husband or one of his company drivers to shuttle me around. 

Our company provided house is not ready, yet so we're having to stay in a hotel for the time being. The bad news: still living out of a suitcase after leaving Houston over 2 weeks ago. The good news: at least I don't have to iron my clothes since I have to cover up everywhere I go (except in the compounds and at women only events). 

Here are my initial observations of my new home town:
1. Welcome to Saudi - or is it America? I can't tell when McD's is the first thing I see on the Saudi side, after we cleared customs. 
2. The bellman at the hotel was honest! My husband accidentally overtipped him with Bahraini Dinar instead of Saudi Riyal, and he came back to return his tip!
3. I haven't seen any women working anywhere! Not in hotels, restaurants or malls. My husband said they work in the lingerie stores now but, I haven't checked it out for myself. 
4. Most restaurant have separate entrances for "families" and "singles".
5. I have to be aware of prayer times now. They actually close all the shops during prayer times. This wasn't so in Bahrain or Oman.
6. I have to wear a clothing cover called an abaya. Yes, it's nice that I don't have to dress up inside but, let me tell you what a pain it is otherwise. It's a pain to get in an SUV -- there's just no graceful way to get in with this thing on. It's a pain to walk in -- I keep tripping on it.  And then at meal time, the sleeves just gets in the way. I'm sure in time I'll get used to it. 
7. Everyone calls Al Khobar a sandbox. Really?! Not from this hotel balcony view...

1 comment:

  1. That's pretty awesome view! At least you get to stay at nice hotel while waiting for the house to be ready. :)