Solving The Top Issues Facing Expat Women

Like any teenager who fusses and complains that things aren’t going as they’re supposed to be, my father used to tell me “wherever you go, you take yourself”.

I believed like many do i suppose, that changing a geographical location is usually the answer to my set of problems. I didn’t quite comprehend till my later years. I see now my childish desire to run to a fairy land away from my problems.

I’ve travelled enough to know that every place carries with it a set of goods and bads, and that what may seem good to you is quite the opposite for others.

Complaining about the way of life in Saudi may come as second nature for many, but there is no denying of the many perks that this country has offered so many. After all, expats make almost a third of the population. They have blended their unique cultures to the mix, enriching Saudi Arabia and making it their new home.

Below, we offer tips to some common struggles expat women may face in Saudi. After all, a change of perspective is often what is needed.

It gets lonely, being new in town.

You’ll need to be proactive in this area. As we grow older, it becomes easy to isolate oneself and to be lazy towards meeting new people. However, you’ll find that it’s easy to make friends here because there are people from all over the world. It’s not long before you find someone from your community that you click with. Saudi’s in general are well travelled and well informed of other cultures. If you speak English, it doesn’t really matter where you’re from. And if you’re from the Middle East, it won’t be long before you immerse yourself so much that you begin to speak Arabic with a Saudi accent.

Our take:
Join communities and find Facebook groups (like book clubs, hiking groups, horseback riding clubs) for activities. Gyms are a great place to meet active people. If you have kids, meet other like-minded parents at your kids’ school.

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I miss my family back home.

True, very true. But, if you’re married, being in foreign land usually strengthens the bond and friendship which you build with your husband. Also, unlimited internet subscription is quite cheap in Saudi Arabia. You’ll find you just might stay on skype all day if wanted to. If you’re from the Arab world, you can always buy a cheap ticket and fly over for the weekend.

Our take:
Like other expats who miss their family, you’ll find comfort in each other’s company.

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I miss home’s authentic meals.

If you’re having trouble in this area, it means you’re not aware of the food scene in Saudi Arabia. There are authentic restaurants from all over the world scattered around town. Use Destination Magazine’s restaurant guide to stay on top of the latest places or those hidden from the scene. Many local websites ( or list restaurants based on cuisines from around the world.

Our take:
Now’s the time to learn how to cook. Don’t get lazy. Pick a local cookbook from Jarir Bookstore and start cooking.

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I’m a single woman and need to rely on my driver or a male relative to drive me around.

Expat or not, Uber and Careem have made this easier for all women in town.

Our take:
Plan your trips in advance if you can; download these apps. They’ll come in handy.

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I miss the pedestrian walks.

When the weather allows it, you’ll want to make use of the new pedestrian walkways popping up around town. If it’s too hot outside, the megamalls are a great way to co-join walking and shopping, the beloved activity for many women.

Our take:
Tahlia walkway, Cornishe walkway, and…. are just some places you can use to exercise your legs. They’re well-kept and safe to stroll alone.

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The abaya is difficult to get used to.

We promise you this: after a while, you’ll wonder why they don’t have Abayas back at home. They’re very comfortable and trendy if you shop correctly. They relieve you from the effort and budget planning needed to put together outfits for work, casual outings, and formal events.

Our take:
Have at least two abayas: one elegant abaya, which you can match with heels, and one casual abaya that is light and easy to move in, has arm tight sleeves, can be zipped or buttoned, and has a short train (not touching the floor).

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I miss Cinemas, Theater, & Live Shows.

When it comes to cinemas, it my opinion, the company matters just as much as the movie. you can always rent a fantastic movie, invite friends over, and enjoy a memorable experience.

Our take:
Invest in a state of the art, home movie TV set. You can even make homemade snacks like popcorn, nachos, and small bites. Anyhow, you can always make it to Dubai for a weekend, if your favorite artist happens to be in the Middle East.

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Destination Magazine will always be your go to lifestyle guide in Saudi Arabia. Pick up your monthly issue.

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