But as some other bloggers have recently reminded me, we all get a little negative sometimes, its natural, were in a strange place, were away from family and friends, our religion is illegal and all it takes is for one poo head to ruin the day. So here are some of the positives I've seen...maybe we can dispel some rumors!
The Food: Food in the KSA, despite what a compound expat might tell you is awesome. I do not go hungry here...in fact I gained 25 pounds and 2 inches to my waist in the first 3 months. Variety includes: Thai, Chinese, Italian, Indian, Filipino, American, and British. I'm sure even more exists, but these are the big ones that I find, and they are cheap, excellent quality and delicious.
The People: OK so Saudi's themselves pretty much fall into one of three categories "Love us", "Hate us", "don't care at all about us". I can't really blame them, its pretty much the same the world over with foreigners, especially Americans. For the "love us" group though, the amount of effort they will put into making us comfortable is awesome, the amount of consideration and work they will do to please us is nothing short of incredible. The other side of this coin though is the other expats. When I first got here, I began looking for Westerners, now though some of my best friends are Saudi, Egyptian, Jordanian, Filipino, Indian etc...I trust them and enjoy their company as much as Westerners. Listening to their stories about their families at home and why they are here makes me realize that the world is a lot smaller than I ever thought it was.
The Cost: Gas is cheaper than water and approximately 60 US cents per gallon. This has a negative as well, but for now...WOW. Depending on what you do for fun, most things here can be done cheaply...a heck of a lot cheaper than the US. Considering we all pretty much came here for the money, I can handle cheap, and I appreciate the fact that I can live very well for about half the cost of the US. One caveat to this does annoy me though. As an American I often have to prove to the guy that I'm not "JJC" or "FOB" to get the good prices, they see me coming from a mile away. (BTW: "JJC" means "Johnny Just Come" and "FOB" means Fresh Off the Boat and neither are considered culturally sensitive)
Safety: Safety? Despite some rumors, Saudi is remarkably safe. It has its moments, and most people don't believe the statistics of 1%, but even if we triple that to make up for unreported crimes and other problems with statistics...its still only 3%. That's not bad. I walked down the street with 40,000 riyals in my pocket once...didn't worry about it all. The only thing that could really happen to me here is a little graft, and murder for political/ideological reasons (terrorism). So while that sounds pretty bad, its really not, both ends of the spectrum are present, but all of the crime in the middle is pretty much non-existent.
Relative Global Positioning: I can be at a pub in London in 7 hours, Dubai and Abu Dhabi in an hour, Egypt and Lebanon in 2 hours. Americans love to wander, but price has kept us N. America bound for about the last 10 years...not anymore. Europe and Africa are wide open to me!
Respect: I've been on the Ambulance a couple of times here, and helped a man on the street after an accident. Never have I felt unsafe and never have I been hurt. More importantly though, I've been sincerely thanked, I mean really thanked. 12 years of Healthcare in the US and I feel more appreciated here...Islam really believes that to save a mans life and to help a Muslim says something about you, and that saving a man is equivalent to saving the world. I could get used to that appreciation. Don't worry though...not converting. I wouldn't mind the US adopting that theory though.