My time spent with that boss was pretty tough. I learned that any more than 3 non Saudi's gathering could be broken up as they might be plotting or praying. That speaking without being asked when I was in a group of Saudi's was rude (even if I was the subject matter expert). And that while he stressed academic standards, it only applied to those students without any wasta. He managed to also "teach" me that Shia Muslims are Iranian spies and have sexual relations with livestock, that Saudi's are superior to all Arabs, but that Arabs are superior to Westerners. Oh and that the "Persian Gulf" is actually the "Arabian Gulf".
I barely made it through with that guy, I almost turned in my resignation more than once. The three other American's while I have my own opinions of them and their decisions individually, left because of this guy. I almost told him what I really thought about him, and where I thought he might spend his afterlife, I almost called and told the FBI that this guy hates America, Americans, and Christianity yet flies in and out of the US at least a couple times a year...why? If he hates us so much, that behavior is a little odd don't you think? In the end though, I just dealt with it.
This year however, my department works under a different structure, that guy is gone (although he still somehow controls my housing allowance), my department head is great, my Campus Dean excellent and very understanding. This year I was asked if I wanted a visa to go celebrate Christmas. This year, many students actually said "Merry Christmas". This year, I felt welcomed and appreciated by my Saudi hosts. This year, I attended a Riyadh Christmas party thrown by a Saudi Arabian man and his wife, (Don't even think about it Mutt's, this guy's got more wasta than most of you). This year I celebrated with American's, Saudi's, Canadian's, German's, Brazilians, the Irish, and a few others I can't think of to name. This was one of the most enjoyable and special holiday seasons I've ever had, I spent it with good friends, ate good food, and had some great conversations. I spent it reconnecting with old friends and meeting some new. Above all though, I spent it with a lot of love.
What strikes me as ironic is that, here in a place where Christmas is illegal, I just had my best Christmas ever.