Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Momma Can't Drive

Most Americans are used to having a car. Usually, it is common to have at least two cars per family-one for dad and one for mom. In Saudi Arabia, it is a bit different. Why? Women are not allowed to drive. So, in Saudi Arabia, most families have one car-one for daddy. If that family is ever so fortunate, they will have another car that is driven exclusively by the family driver. Momma and the kids usually ride with the family driver, while daddy drives his car to work.

Sometimes this becomes a problem. Like today-my daughter's school called me while I was at work and told me that she was sick and that I had to pick her up. I hung up the phone and just sat there-thinking-"How am I going to manage picking her up from school?" I took out my phone and got to work. I called my husband-no answer. He must have been in an important meeting. I called my driver and he is unavailable, because he is also a driver for 3 other clients and is busy driving them for the next two hours. I tell my boss that I have to pick up my daughter. I tell her of my dilemna. She graciously offers me her driver to pick up my daughter. Whew! I was so happy that she did this, because I would have just taken a taxi, however, taxi's are not allowed through the security gate at school.

As me and my boss's driver enter the security gate, to retrieve my sick daughter, the security officer will not let us through. Why? Because we do not have a car pass to enter. I explain that my own driver has a car pass and that this guy is not my driver. He tells me to call the front office to get them to vouch for me coming into the school without a pass. I call. No one picks up the phone. Luckily, I have an old school tuition bill in my purse that I show to "prove" that my daughter goes to school there. What security, right?!! They finally let me through after I pitch a fit.

I pick her up from the nurse and as I'm leaving, security asks for an exit paper! What! I tell them that this is my daughter and that the nurse has the paper....and then I go. All this-just to pick up my sick daughter. I can't imagine what would have happened if a friend or someone else went to try to pick her up. Luckily, my work allowed me to get her!

As we are sitting in the car, my daughter tells me that she's hungry. Right. She did not have lunch. I ask the driver to swing by McDonald's. He says "no," that he has to get back and finish his work. I understand, however, for some reason, I just break down sobbing in the car. My daughter comforts me by rubbing my arm and giving me a hug. When she asks why I'm crying, I decide to be honest with her. I tell her that I am just frustrated because I wanted to be able to pick her up sooner and get her lunch, but I couldn't. Because, in Saudi Arabia-Momma Can't Drive.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Not Allowed

As most people know, Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country ruled by Sharia law. This means that the Muslim holy book, the Qu'ran dictates laws and lifestyles in the kingdom. This applies to Saudi citizens and guests of the country, or expatriate visitors and workers. All are expected to respect Islam, whether one is a Muslim or not. Unlike the United States, other religions are not welcomed or allowed to be practiced publicly. Are there churches or temples here-not at all. Are there makeshift alternate religious meetings held in private homes? Possibly.

Even discussing another religion, can be dangerous. I just came across a newspaper article from the Saudi Gazette about such an event. In the article, an expat discussed Christianity with a Saudi citizen, who then converted to Christianity. This is a big deal here, because converting to another religion is not acceptable or allowed in Islam. The article states that the citizen was "brainwashed" by a fellow Saudi and a Lebanese. They were both sentenced to 2-6 years in jail, as well as "lashes." Could you imagine being in a place where different thoughts are views are not welcomed? Well, that place is here.

Read the exclusive article for yourself here:


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Places I would like to visit in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

After watching the video posted by Saudi Cultural and Tourism Agency [STCA] I wanted to compile a list of places I want to to visit in the Kingdom.

The video really made me think where to go on my weekends and what to do. After a few hours I started creating a list of places I want to see in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Top of my list Mada'in Saleh. 
Madain Saleh (Al-Hijr) dates back to the Nabataeans Civilization considered as on of the very important archaeological site in Saudi Arabia that is called "The Capital of the Monuments" as it contains huge amount of diverse and multifaceted monuments.

Mada'in Saleh by Ronel Quizon (ronelquizon)) on 500px.com
Mada'in Saleh by Ronel Quizon

Second on my list is Edge of the World
Edge of the world, located in Riyadh is a popular destination for trekkers, mountaineers, mountain bikers, and campers. One would easily be amazed with the great shapes and texture of mountains rocks surrounded by desert sand dunes. While positioned on the cliff's edge, you'll get the feeling of standing at the edge of the world.

Edge of the World by Rafael Uy (RafaelUy)) on 500px.com
Edge of the World by Rafael Uy

Third on my list is Jable Qara (Qara Mountians)
Even though I've been there once I would like to take the whole family to the beautiful place. It is a network of crevices in the mountain where the natural light provides amazing mood lighting for small but cozy places in the mountain. The Jabal Qarah is at a distance of 10 KM from Hufu. Hufu is a city in the well known Al Hasa Oasis of the Eastern Region.

Standing Tall by Sohail Chouhan (sohailchouhan)) on 500px.com
Standing Tall by Sohail Chouhan

Fourth on my list is Wahba Crater 
The Wahba Crater is one of the most spectacualr sights in Saudi Arabia. How was the Wahba Crater formed? There are two theories on how the Wahba Crater was made. Most people believe the crater was made by volcanic activity in the form of underground explosion, caused by the hot lava coming int ocontact with the underground water. This cause a massive explosion leaving the crater. The second theor, which has no scientific foundation due to no evidence, there is no trace of shocked quartz or high levevl of iridium, is that was formed by a meteorte. The crater is a 1.3 KM wide circle and the sides are 200 meter high.

al wahba crater by Danyl Lada (anythingbx)) on 500px.com
al wahba crater by Danyl Lada

There are many more places in the Kingdom I would like to visit but for the starters these are it.