Musings in the Dark: When Reality Hits...


When Reality Hits...

When I was researching information about my current destination, I found a lot of blogs that described this place as relatively okay for women, as long as they're aware of the rules and restrictions.  The emphasis was placed mainly on hobbies and activities, as this part of the world is severely lacking in entertainment and a lot of women are here as trailing spouses for hubbies who work for the oil companies (and thus, don't have to work).  A lot of this info loosely translated to single women, but at the time, I could not find any definitive information on what life is like for singletons.

Here is the pure, unadulterated truth...and if I'd come across this information in my research, my decision to come here would have been quite different.

1.  Western women are assumed to be whores and will accept any man's advances, be they wanted or not.  A man actually said to me, "You're American and you're a woman...why not?"

2.  You're "safe" if you're married...and you'd better lie about it if you're not.  The men here have not been exposed to women in the way we normally think, and they don't respect women at all, so if they know that you're single (and thus, not under the cover of a man), you become a target for all kinds of unwanted advances from almost every direction.  Saying you have a husband kills that nonsense quick, fast and in a hurry, because these men respect another man's "property."

Needless to say, I got married a few weeks ago.  I use the following script when asked: "My husband's name is (Rick (Yune), Morris (Chestnut), Tom (Hardy), Ian (Anthony Dale), Leonard (Roberts), Idris (Elba) or Laz (Alonso)--depends on the day), and he works for Aramco.  He travels a lot, but he's here right now."  

I wear a fake ring, but I will upgrade when I get a chance, because.

3.  Even though they say Western women can walk around with their heads uncovered, I stopped doing that because I draw way too much attention; usually unwanted...and mofos don't know how to back the fuck off.

4.  You have to be rude.  I'm a Southern woman and we're taught to be polite and to smile when greeting someone.  You can't be that way here, because a smile and a kind word sends the wrong message and mofos don't know how to back the fuck off.  At this point, I wear my sunglasses all the time and cover my face with my ever-present scarf.  I can't see shit, but then neither can they.

5.  You have to be strategic.  Women aren't allowed to drive (and considering the fact these men can't, I don't want to), and so we must employ drivers to chauffeur us about.  This can get expensive, and it can also lead to unwanted encounters if you decide to use the taxi service (which is cheaper than a personal driver, but then there's that).  You have to combine trips and you ultimately spend a lot at the grocery store because you have to buy enough to tide you over to the next grocery trip.  Not being able to run out real quick and grab a few items for the night's meal is stressful and annoying. Everything costs, in time and in money, and then you may be subject to a handsy driver.  

6.  There's no real protection.  I'm supposed to be under the protection of the institute we work for, but in actuality, I'm not.  If a man decides he just wants to up and lay hands on me (at minimum), there's really nothing I can do about it.  Because I'm American, I "asked for it."  If I defend myself (which I will, with utmost prejudice), I'll more than likely go to jail, or worse.  (The latter is the only difference between this place and the US).  I have pepper spray and a boxcutter on me, but I take precautions whenever I have to leave my compound so that I don't have to use them.

You may be thinking, "Damn that; I'd get the fuck outta that place," and yeah, the thought has crossed my mind.  But I have invested way too much into my career and future as an expat to ruin it by breaking my contract (and besides, I don't feel that much safer in the US; not lately).  I have altered my patterns significantly, and fortunately, I found a good friend to help me with my errands and it reduces my incidence of encountering assholes.  You have to adapt, and there are single women who have been here 5, 10, 15+ years who absolutely love it.  Of course, that's not in the cards for yours truly; after I serve my time, I am getting the entire hell on.

Until then, I will be smart, stay covered, be vigilant, and travel outside of the country whenever possible.

For single women wanting to live and work in KSA, beware. Know all the facts and please heed the above.  There are good things about this place, but then there are a lot of not-good things too. Just like everywhere else. But here, the restrictions can be stifling.


  1. Thank you for letting us know the real deal. Keep staying strong. By the way nice choice on the list of "husbands".


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