"Living in a small town has its ups and downs and you just have to get used to the fact that things happen slowly and sometimes don't happen at all. If you can go with the flow, life is simple. If this is your first time in KSA take your time and be patient. Be respectful at all times and get to know the do's and don'ts of the culture. Talk with people who have experience in KSA and they will help you overcome any obstacles. Saudis are on the whole friendly and hospitable and are always willing to help you overcome a problem. Life is safer in Saudi than in many other countries but as always when in a foreign country you have to be aware of your own safety. Don't put yourself in a situation or place that is likely to be problematic. It will be a steep learning curve for any newcomer but if you can go with the flow and ride out the rough patches your experience in KSA will be quite rewarding. Always try to be a team player as you will need support from your peers as life in KSA is not the same as elsewhere. Team players survive better in KSA than the mavericks or the loners. Don't delay in seeking advice from your peers or your managers, don't let things build up and become intolerable. A problem shared is a problem halved".
"Living in a small town in KSA can sometimes be frustrating; therefore it is a must to be an adaptable person. Driving can also be challenging. But if you are willing to see and learn from other cultures and traditions, in KSA you will have that chance - you will learn how their values and traditions are present in their daily life. And you can also learn Arabic. Saudis are really friendly and if you know a few Arabic words, you will soon get an invitation for dinner. Be open minded and respect their culture and you will be respected!"
"It's been very easy meeting people here - I socialize with locals and expats alike, and Saudis are very hospitable, especially Bedouins. I also love the food here, it's so cheap to eat out and the variety of cuisines".
"Teaching in Saudi Arabia is a big challenge but the experience of living in a Middle Eastern country, the team I work with and all I get to learn from its people make the effort worthy".
"To work in Saudi Arabia is challenging but very rewarding. I have made good friends! Sometimes the weather can be too much but it is better than back home!"
"If you come from a country similar to mine, you will probably experience a culture shock. For example, in Saudi Arabia, women should always wear an abaya (a long black garment) along with a head scarf when they go to public places. It is safe to live in KSA, as long as you follow the laws and respect the culture. You just need to take precautions as in any other country. Women cannot drive - they should always use a driver they are acquainted with or that has been recommended by friends or co-workers who can be trusted. Professionally speaking, you will find that the working environment is strongly marked by cultural differences (saudis, jordanians, leabanese, filipinos, indians...), what is very rich and at the same time can be difficult - language is sometimes a barrier. Saudis have close family ties, especially with their parents. They respect and value their relatives and when the time comes they invest a lot of time and effort to take care of them. I´ve learnt many things: to be very diligent, very patient, a bit of Arabic, and especially to be respectful of traditions and beliefs different from my own"
"Women that come to Saudi Arabia usually worry about many things, especially as for most of us it is difficult to understand the different way men and women live here. Most of things, such as the need to wear the abaya, that it is forbidden for women to drive, or that you cannot be in public places with men that are not from your family can be shocking at first, but easily managed. Safety is also important, and Saudi Arabia is a safe country, you just need to be discreet, respectful, and take the precautions you would take when moving to any other country. I highly recommend to women to talk to other women who live in KSA - that will help to dissipate most of your worries. If somebody asks me what´s the most difficult thing of working in Saudi Arabia, I would say that sometimes it can be a "too calm" place to live. That is one of the reasons why expatriates bond so easily, you make good friends from many different countries. In Saudi Arabia you dedicate the time to sit calmly and to converse with friends, a habit we have somehow lost in my country due to stress and fast life style. You just need to find new ways of employing your time that will be different from the ones that are used to - just be creative! Learning Arabic, hiking and camping in the dessert, visiting the neighboring countries, cooking with friends or fishing and diving in the red sea are popular things to do by expatriates in KSA. Have an open mind and a positive approach when coming to Saudi Arabia - if you focus on the positive things you will learn a lot about this part of the world, about people from different places and with different cultures, traditions, ways of thinking. But mostly you will learn about yourself and your ability to deal with a challenging environment and life and work experience".
“Working in Saudi Arabia is interesting and fun. My students are good hearted though sometimes challenging. It's a great place to learn about a new culture and you always feel welcomed here.”
Having just come back from a flying two week visit of Saudi my impressions are that it can be challenging but there are also rewards with local culture and food. The people are very friendly and welcoming. The landscape is so different from home it’s stunning and barren at the same time. I have seen some amazing sunsets. Take your sunglasses and be prepared to try new things.
In 2014 I was seconded to MWSA’s new Female College in Al Wajh, for 2 months. It was an amazing experience that I strongly recommend. I had taught Saudi students in NZ, but only had a basic understanding of their culture. I went with an open mind, and was out of my comfort zone but ready to meet new challenges. Being unable to drive was hard at first but there is a private bus to and from work and into town several nights a week so it was fine. Wearing an abaya was not an issue for me, it was like a uniform and only worn in public, not at home, at work or in Saudi friend’s homes (if only women there). Not being able to swim in the beautiful Red Sea was hard but my other experiences made up for that. I loved meeting the friendly and hospitable Saudi people. The women at the college were amazing and I felt privileged working with them. They were incredibly professional, friendly with a sense of humour and they welcomed us with open arms. They included us in their social activities and helped us settle into our new way of life. The students at the college were also amazing young women, open and friendly and a joy to teach. They wanted to learn and appreciated everything we did to give them positive learning experiences. I enjoyed the communal living with individual bedrooms, ensuites or shared bathrooms and a shared kitchen and lounge. I was there in start-up phase so it was busy and great to be living with the staff as it made for a great sense of collegiality and shared vision. It also made for great shared dinners and social events. The college is an amazing piece of architecture, brand new buildings that are gracious, airy and spacious like a palace or a famous museum. If you are looking for a teaching experience where you know that your students appreciate being in your class then consider this. If you want to experience Saudi culture, you are flexible and open minded and ready to embrace another culture then you will really enjoy it there.