Top 7 Misconceptions About Saudi

Here’s a list of misconceptions about the Kingdom and the people living in it. Based on my observation and experience, here’s the top 7.

The Clover Leaf in King Fahad Road, Riyadh

1. It’s hot in Saudi. Yes, its true that its hot in Saudi during the summer (months of April to October, especially July and August) but don’t you know that Saudi also has winter (minus the snowfall). The lowest I experienced so far is 4C. Sometimes my friend from Dubai is telling me over Twitter that its -1 here, the other day she told me that it was in the news that its -3. I don’t think it goes negative in Riyadh though. I experienced sleeping in 3 sweaters, 2 leggings and pants, socks and leg warmers. Add to that the comforter and fleece blanket. So yes, it’s hot in Saudi but it’s also cold in here.

2. Your skin will get dark in Saudi. If its hot, you’ll probably get dark. Nope. You’ll get whiter in Saudi. Why? Unless you’re a construction worker who works under the 45C heat of the sun during the summer, your skin won’t get dark in Saudi. First, females wear abaya which is like a robe that protects not only from people’s keen eye but also from the heat of the sun, the windy weather or the sandstorm. Second, most probably your accommodation/flat is a walking distance near your workplace so a little heat won’t harm you. Third, you’ll spend more time at work than walking under the sun since your routine in Saudi will just be work-home-work-sometimes mall-sometimes estraha unless otherwise your work is in the construction site.

3. There are no malls in Saudi. Fact of the matter is, I’ve seen one of the best malls in Saudi. I’ve been in and out of designers boutiques without that may-pera-kaya-ito look you get in Greenbelt. Downside is, there are no cinemas in the malls and only a few designer brands provide fitting rooms. The upside? You can wear and return your purchase.:)) And Saudi offers the best sales too.

The Al-Faisaliyah Mall taken from SMCH Tower 3, Infection Prevention and COntrol Conference Room.

4. Arabic food doesn’t taste good. Food was my main problem when I came here. I bought noodles back home because my friend told me that it will take time to get used to the Arabic food and Arabic way of cooking food. I was wrong (or maybe I’m just patay gutom and I’ll eat whatever is in the table). I’ve tasted the best chicken shawarma in Saudi. Their khobos (bread which looks like the bread when Jesus fed 5000 people) is also good. Another is their kabsa (their version of yangchow rice although its not fried) and biryani (I think this is Indian food though). They have best sweets and chocolates (Patchi)! If you’ve been invited by an Arab family in their home, they prepare the best Pasta Arabiata and seafood. Lucky me. And chocolates are all around the house. They have the one of the best selections of tea after the Chinese and dates which I only saw in Farmville before I came here is also a must try.:)

5. Saudis only wear Abayas and Taub. Every female in the Kingdom is obligated to wear the Abaya, traditional Saudi’s still wear taub even at work but at times they also wear something nice like a coat. If you meet in Arab girls in a house or party, you’ll find out how fashionista they are. They love make up too (too much of it.)lol The malls offer seasonal clothes and they can rampa all they want in the hospital.

6. Arabs have a “smell” if you know what I mean. About 90% of people living in Saudi are from other countries. Mostly from other Arab countries like Egypt, Jordan and Syria. The other races with the amount that huge or even a larger amount are Indians and Filipinos. Some of them smell especially during the winter when they can’t or they won’t take a bath because its too cold. But some of them have pretty good smell (not because they are wearing a SR1000 worth of Arab perfume) but because Hugo Boss is addicting.:)) So yeah, not everyone smells bad. They actually have degrees of and you’ll know what nationality based on the smell. I’d love to make a study on this.:P

7. They ride the camels. If you live in Riyadh, you’ll never see a camel lest you go to Red Sand. Common people (and I mean the people who earn minimum wage) are driving Lexus, Chevrolet, GMCs and Dodge. That’s how cheap a car is in Saudi. You’ll get to see Ferraris on the road often. And I’m not kidding. Yes, you still see the common white pick up truck and Corollas but they are probably owned by the other expats.

Just Me. For Now.