Thursday, July 8, 2010

Social Activities

You might be wondering socially what does one do to pass the time in Saudi Arabia?? Before coming here I had heard people say that their social life is more active here than back home. I can now say that I too find this to be true. I could be busy every night of the week if I didn't turn things down for having to work or sleep. There are embassy parties, compound parties/ BBQ's, and dinners for someones birthday or Ma salama (goodbye) party.

Networking is key in this country. No network = no invitations. It's quite a process in terms of getting tickets to anything. Whoever knows the contact person must round up every one's dates of birth, nationality, and passport numbers, and pick-up tickets prior to the event. Some events restrict who can go ie. no Muslims, or no Saudi citizens, while other events are open to anyone. I have only been to the US embassy so far. Apparently being a Canadian does not mean that the Canadian embassy will inform you of any of their events- am still working on a contact for that. Embassy events usually do not allow you to take a phone or camera in for security reasons, and getting in is often similar to North American airport security.

Compounds are a little easier. All that is required is that someone who lives there signs you in. Often this means that your name is given to security, and your ID checked. Often times they take your Igama or passport, and give it back to you when you leave. Other compounds have minimal security- as long as you say the correct name you're in, no ID checked. Still other compounds require you to have a sponsor who must be physically present to sign you on and off. Compound parties are a great time, and a great way to network into other events. Typically they end up being the most random group of people you will ever see in one place; all ages, all nationalities, all different motives!

Saudi Arabia has very diverse food options. I am not a picky eater, and am pretty open to trying anything. I have not really had a bad meal here. I recently tried Lebanese, and Turkish food which are pretty similar. Found an amazingly cheap Indian restaurant the other day called the Al Malaz. Walking in you're pretty sure you're going to get food poisoning, but the food is fabulous, and sooooo cheap!! The decor kinda feels like you're in an Indian truck stop/ cafeteria, but don't let it fool you- its my new favourite place!!! Eating out here for the most part is pretty reasonable- since alcohol isn't on the menu its way cheaper than eating out back home!!

On a weather note: I received an email at work warning that the temperature this week is expected to reach 59C. Is this even possible?? Will I melt?? Soon to find out.......

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