Friday, January 20, 2012

Picture Friday: Mosque

From now on I will attempt to make every Friday a Photo Friday. Wait till next Friday for another amazing picture of Jeddah mosque or architecture.

Star trailing behind the mosque in Al-Naeem area in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Wasta: Connection and a way of doing business in Saudi Arabia.

To be successful in Saudi Arabia you must have WASTA, which is translation for connection in Arabic. It is not what you know, it is who you know.

Top 5 Questions and Answers about our trip to Saudi Arabia

1. Can we take Christmas items to Saudi Arabia?

This thought never crossed my mind until another American I met, who hired a shipping company to ship her items from the US to KSA warned her to not pack Christmas items. If she did they may be removed. However, Sohail said as long as we pack Christmas items that are not in the original packaging, then we can still take them. This applies only to items that we pack in our suitcases which we take with us to the airport (2 suitcases each and 1 carry on). So, if I want to take Christmas items there (which I do and will) then I should not plan on sending them via a shipping company.

2. Can I take my bible there?

The customs information for KSA states that "no religious materials" can be brought into the country. Sohail said that bringing my bible in my carry-on should not be any problem at all. He said that American citizens are not hassled at customs. At least, he has not seen it, nor was he hassled

3. Will I have to wear a head covering when I am out in public?

No. However, most women do. What is required, though, is for women to wear an "abiya" which resembles a black choir robe. This is to be worn at all times out in public. The good thing is, is that it will cover all my curves!

4. Can women drive there?

No. I would never even want to drive in any country on the eastern side of the world. When I lived in Taiwan and visited Cambodia and Kazakhstan, I was scared to even ride in a vehicle. It took me two years of living in Houston, before I braved up and started driving on the freeway!

5. Will me or the children ever get "stuck" in Saudi Arabia and not be able to come back to the US?

Luckily, Sohail is an American citizen, as well as I and all of our three children are. If he were a Saudi citizen and then our children were born there, then they would not be able to travel outside of Saudi Arabia without Sohail's permission. I am so glad that we do not have to anticipate such problems.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Vocabulary: Segregation ends with the translation.

In the country that focuses in segregating the sexes I see lot of words that are associated with females or female products used for men. Most of us know there is no such thing as men's perfume, however many men in the Middle East will frequently ask other men about their selection of perfumes. I've corrected many men but once the habit is formed it is almost impossible to change. 

Unfortunately the battle of sexes does not end at  perfumes, for some reason purses are carried by both men and women of Saudi Arabia. But in American the type of purse men carry are called wallets. To me it was interesting enough to share this bit of information with y'all. Now I used y'all even though it is not a real English word but it sure is part of Texas vocabulary.