Traveling/working in Saudi Arabia

Old Nov 15, 16, 8:39 am
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Traveling/working in Saudi Arabia

I signed a contract to work for at a hospital in Saudi Arabia for 6 months, but I just learned that instead of housing on the company compound they are putting me in town at a commercial hotel with a driver bringing me to and from work every day.

This makes me very nervous. First off, a single woman staying alone at a hotel in KSA for 6 months seems both dangerous and difficult.

Anybody have any experience with this?

Thanks for any help and advice.
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Old Nov 15, 16, 9:02 am
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I don't think it would be at all dangerous, but I do think it would be extremely boring, if you're essentially trapped in the hotel between the time you get dropped off after work and when you get picked up the next morning. On the compound you'd be free to roam around at least within the compound. Also, it would drive me bonkers to be forced to eat in restaurants three meals a day for 6 months--I have to be able to cook my own food.

Although I have spent plenty of time in the GCC, I have not traveled to KSA, so I'm sorry I can't be more helpful. In any event I would push your employer very hard to get you into a better living situation, or turn down the offer. Maybe you signed a contract, but if you signed something that said you'd be put in company compound housing, they've already reneged on it. I doubt you'd suffer significant consequences from walking away.

One thing I can say is that the GCC tends to be very, very safe, to the point of severe boredom.
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Old Nov 20, 16, 2:53 pm
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Hello,

I live in Saudi Arabia for 2 years.

Your best bet is to ask as many questions as you can about the living arrangements and hold them accountable if they fail to deliver. And then be flexible, because you're earning a sh!t-ton of tax-free money anyway.

6 months will go by so quickly. I wouldn't worry about living in a hotel. They have suites where you can cook. You will be working, so you wouldn't be eating in restaurants 3 times a day. Just dinner, and lunch maybe, but again, you should be making bank and the cost of living is super low, and you'll be with coworkers.

Just ask your coworkers to hang out with them at the compound after work and then go home in the evening. If your driver is at your service, it shouldn't be a problem. Just tell him when and where to pick you up.

It could be boring, but you might also be exhausted after work and don't mind being at home. Plenty of great movie channels if you have satellite TV.
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Old Nov 21, 16, 7:36 am
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I'd start by learning about the hotel. Insist on the name, address, and details of your room type and perks such as lounge access, pool/health club, etc. If they haven't already provided this information. The hotel could be good news or bad news for your stay.

BTW, if you were to stay at the compound, would you have your own fully furnished apartment? Size? kitchen facilities? I'm asking because it seems common for mid eastern airlines to expect foreign FAs to share apartments, which I think could be much worse than staying in a hotel.
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Old Nov 21, 16, 9:06 am
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Thank you for all the great advice.

I did contact the hotel and found out that the pools are not available to women, and the fitness room is only available to women two hours during the day at a time I most likely to be at work.

I am pushing for housing on the compound, and they say they are working on it. Parent Lee they have studio apartments with full kitchens that are very comfortable. Lucky for me, doctors are never asked to share living quarters.

Am I going to be able to leave the hotel by myself downtown to run to shop and walk on the streets?
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Old Nov 21, 16, 9:53 am
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We have a good friend who is working in Saudi. He's male so it is not an analagous situation. I only post to comment that he is so bored there he goes somewhere every weekend. We had a great weekend together in Beirut last year. If you are working 5 day weeks, that's something to consider.
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Old Nov 21, 16, 11:37 am
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Originally Posted by GilpinGal View Post
Am I going to be able to leave the hotel by myself downtown to run to shop and walk on the streets?
It would help tremendously if you could share the city where you'll be living, but yes, you should be able to walk on the streets and shop alone. I'm not clear if there's a missing comma and you're asking whether you can go jogging on the streets. That's probably a question for someone who's lived there more recently or -- optimally -- you should ask the hospital to connect you with some other single female employees who would be willing to chat with you and answer your questions.

Also, ask if you'll have access to all of the compound's amenities even if you're not residing in the compound. IMHO you should have access, which means you'd be able to use their workout facilities, etc. You may find that it's easiest to jog in the compound before or after work, then shower at the compound gym before heading to work or home.

It's been 30 years since I've lived in KSA, but we have other posters who have lived there more recently. At the time I lived there, certain parts of the country were more conservative than others, so there might have been varying attitudes toward how expat women should dress, etc., when outside the compound.
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Old Nov 21, 16, 11:53 am
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GilpinGal, are you on Facebook? I just searched and found both open and closed groups for Saudi expats. These should be a great resource for up to date information.
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Old Nov 22, 16, 4:02 am
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Originally Posted by jejuhime04 View Post
Hello,

I live in Saudi Arabia for 2 years.

Your best bet is to ask as many questions as you can about the living arrangements and hold them accountable if they fail to deliver. And then be flexible, because you're earning a sh!t-ton of tax-free money anyway......
Working onkly six months won't make the money tax free for US tax purposes. The IRS will expect the taxes to be paid on that money (of course you are obliated to report it as income but there is no reciprocity between USA and KSA< just don;t get caught).
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Old Nov 22, 16, 9:59 am
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This article about living and working in the kingdom just popped up in my feed: http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-bl...-saudi-arabia/
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Old Dec 5, 16, 8:08 pm
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Originally Posted by MoreMilesPlease View Post
Working onkly six months won't make the money tax free for US tax purposes. The IRS will expect the taxes to be paid on that money (of course you are obliated to report it as income but there is no reciprocity between USA and KSA< just don;t get caught).
Ah, true... Well, who knows. The OP might just fall in love with KSA and stay!

BTW, I just returned in July from living there.

I think the OP was asking about being able to simply go out shopping. No one would think much of a woman going shopping alone, much less a foreign woman. You might get stared at a bit or cat-called, but nothing terribly unusual or dangerous. You'll be wearing an abaya when you're outside of a compound (except for when you're at work), so you will not want to jog in that. You could walk, and that would be normal.
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