I remember way back home, the only things I knew about Saudi Arabia were about rape cases, Filipino maids who wants to go home because of maltreatment, terrorisms, wars, bombing, killings, it’s a scary place and all the negative stuffs. Well, maybe because that’s what I heard from the news and from other people…I can still imagine telling myself “I will never go into that kind of place” whenever I heard those news about KSA. I’m not saying that those news aren’t true but God was always amazing to let me/us see the positive side of everything. . .
I’m currently working here in the Kingdom for almost 1year and 7 months now. Let’s leave those negative news for now and let me tell you the positive sides about the Kingdom (based on my experienced):
1. The place is very warm and nice.
Aside from the desert place, the houses are very vintage-y, their colors were mostly cream and light brown and mostly box type, which means you can’t see colored roofs and houses unlike my country, Philippines. Their buildings, bridges and malls are very unique. Their architectures, infrastracture (or whatever you call those) are very beautiful. They also have beaches and ‘esterahas’ with swimming pools which I never thought that it exists in a desert place. I also like their idea of putting all those cable and electric wires under the ground. And aside also from the summer and spring season, they have also “winter” which I love it (very much). It starts from November until February. They have also a 5 lanes in the highway for only one way which maybe the reason why they don’t have a lot of traffic. People are also very nice, they always have time to say “Salamalaikom” and “Keifel halik/how are you” everytime they meet you. The most pleasurable thing in this country was everything is tax-free.
2. You’ll not totally miss home
Believe me, in my 1year and 7months of staying here, I never cried because of home sick. Maybe because I can talk to my family everytime I want, **thanks to modern technologies and fast speed intenet**. Furthermore, Filipinos are everywhere. I also had a chanced to meet Filipinos who lived in different region in the Philippines. We also have Filipino patients and wherever we go out, we can always meet “kababayan(s)”/fellow Filipinos and simply greet them with a smile. Even our foreigner patients knew how to speak some”Tagalog” words and were telling us thet they have nice and humble Filipino friends. You’ll not missed all the Filipino foods too because there are markets, malls, restaurants, and fast foods which are selling Filipino goods. Like in the Fish market: chicken, fishes (bangus, tilapia, galunggong, lapu-lapu, etc.), vegetables are also available too, like malunggay, kangkong, sitaw, squash and so much more. You can always cook whatever Filipino dish you want. Jollibee, Cabalen and Mcdonalds are also available here.
3. Accomodation and Transportation are FREE.
In my case, it was stated in my contract that accomodation and transportation are provided by our company. We have a house that we can call home, and I have homemates that I considered as my “family” now. 23 of us are living together in one huge house, it maybe not a modern house unlike the others but our house was full of good vibes, no away (quarelling), less stress and we share foods
because food is life. Transportation from house to clinic and vise versa is also provided. Our drivers are very nice too, we can always call them whenever we want to go somewhere, but of course we’re giving them money as a tip and for their gasolines. Beside from the transportation and accomodation, gas (for cooking), residence ID, license and uniforms are also provided.
4. You have a chance to work with different nationality.
Some people are saying that there are discrimination if you work in other countries, well, we’re lucky because we don’t have. In our dental clinic, we’re dealing with Egyptian, Palestinian, Syrian, Jordanian, Saudi, Indian, Bangladeshi and different nationalities. They’re all nice. They are even teaching me some arabic words especially my Egyptian Doctor, and they are very amazed if you talk and respond to them in arabic. We’re also teaching them our dialect as well. One thing more, almost all of our Doctors wanted to have Filipino nurse assistant. And sometimes, some of our patients are telling me that, we, Filipinos are all nice and hardworking.
5. Cheaper products
Almost every month, almost all malls and stores have a big SALE. You can buy branded clothes which only costs 5-10SAR in the mall. You can also have ukay-ukay in Harage, where you buy classy bags for only 5SAR. And there’s also these malls where you can buy some ‘abubots’ that are very cheap. But sometimes we didn’t noticed that we already spent a lot because (sometimes) we consider 5SAR as 5pesos. Nevertheless, clothings, golds, cars, gasolines [Fun fact: gasoline is more cheaper than water] and some foods are more cheaper than the Philippines because everything here is TAX FREE. Unfortunately, the Saudi King already agreed that there will tax soon here. I hope it will not have a big affect to the costs of goods and products.
6. They are very devoted in praying.
I was really amazed for the Muslims people for their devotion in praying. They have almost 5-6times of prayer time a day. And take note, every prayer time, all stores, not only those stores in the malls but also in bacala, pharmacy and other stores are closing and leaving their stores for them to go and pray in their respective prayer rooms, mosques or simply in their carpet. If we’re in the mall, we need also to leave those stores and wait outside until the “sala“/prayer time will end. For our clinics, males will pray in the long carpet and females have their own prayer time. But before praying they need to clean up themselves before facing their so called “Allah”. They also honestly do fasting during Ramadan or whenever they want to wish something. One thing more, some of them always find time to read their “Quran”. Kudos to our dearest Muslims brothers and sisters for following your tradition.
7. They/We follow their rules.
Saudi Arabia have very strict rules. There are a lot of things that it’s “haram” or forbidden to do in this country. The examples for these rules are:
A. Womens are not allowed to drive in public;
B. Drinking liquors, alcohols are prohibited prohibited;
C. Using cigarets in public is also not allowed;
D. Males and females should not be mixed in public. Males and females should not be seen anywhere together if they’re not married or relatives — and this was a very nice rule for us females because a male stranger can’t come closer to you.
E. stealing and gumbling are not allowed. If it happen that they find you stealing they’ll cut your hand;
F. Killing somebody is not allowed because if you do your head will be cut too;
G. Movie cinemas are also not allowed.
H. Viber, video calls, and other websites and applications are banned;
I. They stricly follow the road signs also. Even the simple “No U-turn” sign
J. For every women, we need to wear “abaya”/black dress everytime we go out. And in other places they need to wear “hijab” or “tarja” to cover their hair and their face.
K. (And the worst rule for us non Muslims is that) pork is not allowed.
But I was in awe because rules are really rules for them. I mean, Muslims and us non-Muslim need to abide their strict rules because if not, “you-know-what-will-happen-to-you”. And that was a very good behaviour for a single country.
8. Not all arabic foods taste ‘something’
My favorite Arabic food so far is their shawarma. It was more better than those shawarma I’ve tasted before. Second was the “kabsa“, everytime we have party at home, the simplest meal we can serve is the “kabsa”. Some of their sweets are good too and also their dates especially if it’s still fresh.
9. You’ll not be conscious on what you’re wearing.
Thanks to the “abaya” ’cause you’ll not be worried on what you’ll wear. So it’s still okay if you go to the mall with your ‘pajamas’ or in your ‘pambahay’ because the “abaya” will cover it.
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Dammam, Saudi Arabia isn’t a scary place. Never do I know that this kind of place exists in the world and that it will become close to my heart. I can say that living here is very comfort. And no other words can express how much I am grateful to experience having here.