Saudi Living: FAQs

Finally we have gotten enough questions from people to write a full blown blog entry for Frequently Asked Questions about living in Saudi Arabia. If your question isn’t answered here, keep asking. Someone somewhere is bound to know the answer—or willing to make up one to satisfy you.

IMG_2359FAQ: If I am driving from Saudi Arabia to the United Arab Emirates, and I stop at the McDonalds just before the border crossing, how long should I expect to wait for my food?

We have been asked this question so many times. You will wait for at least 30 minutes. Those three Filipino guys are working their hardest in that wasteland near the border, and when everyone, hungry from their journey past nothing but the occasional camel market or burned out vehicle, stops in for some burgers, shakes and fries, it can get a little backed up. Just be patient—and make sure that another person does not accidentally take your food—this will add to your wait time even more.

FAQ: Will I have to go to a communications company multiple times to get a phone up and running?

Yes! Those people at the company love so much interacting with their customers and showing that they’re not “just a company” that they will say just about anything to get you to come back. Why, we went to the store several times in a row with them smiling and saying things like, “The computers are down, come back tomorrow when they will be up and running again, inshallah,” and “The whole system’s down. Come back tomorrow, when it will be up and running again, inshallah.” They were waving and smiling, so we got to smiling and waving too. They just loved to see up stopping by. We got to be frequent guests, until the phones were up and running. Now they just send us messages all the time—“New opportunity!” “New offer!” They are just trying to get us to come by again. Nice people.

FAQ: Should I prepare myself for the hot weather by spending some time in a large oven or hang out in a foundry?

We have known some who found this the best preparation for Saudi’s weather in August. We didn’t though—our home area in the States is short on foundries and ovens large enough to walk around in. We opted for the more convenient preparation of breathing deeply the hot air coming off a car engine running at high rpms during a hot Floridian summer. That said, we have acquaintances who came with no preparation at all. Last time I saw them, they were alive, but really sweaty.

FAQ: Is it true that cars in Saudi will not go when the light turns green unless someone honks his horn?


IMG_2330Yes, it’s true! Cars here are apparently fitted with special mechanisms that prevent them from beginning to accelerate unless someone honks their horn. If that light finally turns green and no one honks, we will all just sit there while the intersection remains empty. Fortunately, there are plenty of people who are on the job. No sooner does that light turn green than people lay on the horns. It really gets people going.

Watch for the next installment of FAQs–we have received so many. If you have a question about life here, leave it in the comments below.