So, I am finally BACK and I am just so glad to be! Since Ramadan 2018, I had taken quite a long break, one of the major reasons being our moving to Dammam, Saudi Arabia. Yes, we are in THE Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. And since this is my third visit to the country, I just thought to jot down some of the things that I have personally experienced and feel you too must know if you’re planning to visit Saudi Arabia. Irrespective if you have been in this country earlier or are completely new to the land, trust me these points can be seriously informative.
I so much wish I knew about it, but alas I didn’t!
Dehydration is probably one of the most common health issues that you would face in summers, especially in KSA. Replete with a dry weather and with temperatures reaching up to 53 degrees, (Yes, it does happen) gulping down fluids should probably be one of your most important priorities.
Lack of water, especially in such an extremely hot dry weather can easily lead to dry tongues, headaches, red urine and dizziness. Make sure to stay as much hydrated as possible by gulping down not just plain water but also various other fluids like fruit juices and Laban/Leben or fermented milk drink (I so much love this). They not only help your body to stay replenished but also helps in cooling down the entire system.
Respect The Culture
Imagine a random tourist comes over India and starts ranting about women clad in sarees. Quite offendable right! Same is the case with abayas and burkas in Saudi Arabia.
I still remember when I first time landed up to Dammam in 2016, seeing even the Non-Muslims in the city wearing burkas totally shocked me. For every first timer in Saudi, especially the Non-Muslims, it might get a bit offendable to encounter such a social arena. But what you actually need to know is that the entire dress code for women in this country is actually their culture.
You must understand that Saudi Arabia is not like any of our South Asian countries. It traces its roots deep into a typical culture where it’s mandatory for women AND men to dress modestly come what may. And that makes it compulsory to wear Abayas. Instead of jumping to any conclusion, try and understand that every country has a culture that it maintains. So does Saudi Arabia. Respect that because every country has its own culture which we should learn to respect as matured humans.
Aah, where do I even start this from! I never, ever, just ever, gave a thought about this! Get ready to almost being “grayscale” all because of the extreme dry hot weather and almost burning water. Yes, you read that right!
And no, I am not talking about drinking water!
Tap water used for daily purposes like doing the dishes, laundry is actually hot or at least lukewarm. The temperature reaches its worst level from 12 pm to around 4 pm or so, where it becomes almost impossible to touch tap water. The superheat thus results to dry skin and dry hair. If you’re planning to visit Saudi Arabia, don’t forget to add on several moisturizers, body lotions apart from just sunscreens.
Directly based on the aforementioned point on Saudi culture, clicking photographs is yet another feature of the kingdom which you must know about before planning to visit Saudi Arabia.
Photography is highly restricted in the kingdom with several prohibitions. Clicking pictures of women, of government buildings and inside the mosques along with several other objects are actually banned to be on the lens. Doing so without consent or permission can even land you up in jail or at least for fines. So, make sure to click what “can” be clicked.
Okay, I know Saudi Arabia is replete with uncountable supermarkets, hypermarkets and malls. They are scattered just so everywhere that you might actually forget that local markets exist as well.
DO NOT MAKE THAT MISTAKE!
Of course, you can find everything under one roof, but trying your hand, especially for veggies and fruits, in the local markets can actually help you save quite a good deal of bucks. The quality of the fruits and vegetables is more or less the same or sometimes even better than those available at hypermarkets. Trust me, it is, because I have been buying stuff from the local markets for quite a long time.
Saudi Women Are More Fashionable Than You Think
Okay, before I landed up in Dammam, I was quite obsessed with the stereotype, with respect to fashion, that Saudi women just have their black abayas to flaunt about. But NO, I was so wrong!
Before you’re planning to visit Saudi Arabia, make sure you don’t hold any such concept. Women in Saudi are actually fashionistas with big brands round up in their wardrobes. From Gucci to Michael Kors, almost everything they own, with respect to their overall look is just top-notch.
Then why do they cover up? I know you would ask this!
They cover up because women in Saudi prefer to conceal their beauty from everyone except some real close male relations like husbands, of course, brothers, fathers and nephews.
Okay, I don’t know if you gave a thought about this, but I have done it!
Even before I had started planning to visit Saudi Arabia, I just thought most Saudi women are just homemakers.
And I was wrong…
Unlike my stupid stereotype concept, women in Saudi actually work and are better being financially independent. From medical to teaching, women are present everywhere. And they are doing pretty well!
It’s NOT Just About Sand Dunes And Camels
And finally, this one! All thanks to several 90s movies and media presentation, that I literally thought that Saudi Arabia is actually just about camels and sand dunes.
Trust me, IT IS NOT!
The overall infrastructure of the country is actually far better than several other popular countries. From latest technologies to better communication, the country is bound to leave you amazed, to say the least.
So, people, these were some of the things that I sincerely wished I knew about before planning to visit Saudi Arabia. If this post had been helpful to you, do share it with your friends as well. And if you’re planning to visit the kingdom anytime, or have already visited it, feel free to share your experiences in the comments.