(Republished from Expat-Woman, check out their blog for information and news regarding several different countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Vietnam.) 

Saudi Arabia might not be a prominent country when it comes to thinking about expat relocations, but it does grow on you… Every country has its quirks and Saudi Arabia is no different!

Whether its long walks at night, indulging in delicious shawermas all summer long or simply getting hooked on the Arabic lingo, it’s safe to say that Saudi Arabia offers a certain culture unlike any other.

If you’ve ever lived in the Kingdom, there’s a chance that you will feel nostalgic as I take you through a trip down memory lane…

1. When the temperature drops suddenly and the wind picks up, you automatically suspect it’s a “shamal,” and a “haboob” is on the way.

2. Having dinner around midnight reminds you of Ramadan.

3. Whenever someone complains about hot weather, you roll your eyes and start saying, “Yeah, well in Saudi….”

4. Somewhere in your house, you still have a Jarir notebook that reads right-to-left.

5. Whenever you see American treats, like Poptarts or Funyans in the supermarket, you still get a little excited.

6. At one point in your childhood, your parents used you to sneak in at least some of their guilty pleasures like Cosmo magazines.

7. Years after watching a movie for the first time, you realize you missed major parts because of state censorship.

8. You’ve spent hours arguing whether or not beef or chicken-bacon is better.

9. Your childhood friend group consists of at least five different nationalities.


10. People get annoyed because you say things like “inshallah” or “mafi mushkila” under your breath throughout the day.

11. If you’re a female, then you definitely have multiple “abayaas” sitting in your closet because you just kept growing out of them. (I have at least 3.)

12. “Going home” during university meant flying thousands of miles to your compound for winter break.

13. You’re secretly jealous of whoever lives in your old house, and all of those people who still get to visit Saudi for vacation.

14. You’ve spent at least one birthday eating at either Chili’s or Applebees.

15. You can honestly say that fast-food was much better in Saudi. (KFC was spicier!)

16. Even as an adult, the idea of cruising around your compound with your friends is still the perfect Saturday night.

17. You got really good at convincing your parents that A) making the drive in crazy traffic and B) going through multiple security check-points to visit a friend on another compound was worth it.

18. Going on a “date” meant either going to the compound dining-hall for dinner, climbing the roof of someone’s house, attending a school event, or carefully traversing the single’s mall (walking three feet apart so you weren’t caught by the “mutawwa” or religious police for “indecency”).

19. Your eyes automatically roll when someone says something ignorant about Saudi Arabia, or the Middle East. (“No, I don’t speak Saudi.”)

20. Getting use to the fact that most restaurants and malls close at 9 or 10pm, instead of at midnight was surprisingly difficult.

21. You expect time off for Islamic holidays, like Eid, but are consistently disappointed.

22. Saturday still feels like a weekday.

23. You don’t think twice about walking around your neighborhood alone at 2am, because it was OK to do that on your compound.

24. Hiding and/or running from compound security was a normal childhood activity.

25. Sometimes you secretly wish there were those family privacy screens at all restaurants – so you and your friends could eat in peace!

26. You actively repress the thought that gas is still less than $1 back in Saudi.

27. Every shawerma you eat for the rest of your life will be compared to the first impeccable shawerma you had in Saudi.

28. You’re still behind on shows like One Tree Hill and 90210, because Showtime was always a couple of years late.

29. At your high school, the same 20 or so students played every sport and American football wasn’t popular.


30. You still believe it isn’t a meal without hot sauce.

31. You expect fresh dates and tea when you get on an airplane.

32. You either are an ARAMCON or you know one.

33. “Going to the movies” usually meant flying or driving to another country. (Bahrain anyone?)

34. You have mixed feelings about stray cats – sure they’re cute, but when there’s dozens of them hanging around your house they’re a nuisance.

35. Your favourite childhood memories probably involve one of the three: 1) the desert, 2) cheese-bread or 3) the compound pool.

36. Your parents make you feel bad for not appreciating all of the countries they took you to as a kid. (I’m sorry that when I was 12 all I cared about was listening to Linkin Park and looking cool in front of the Italian boys.)

37. If you meet someone else that grew up in Saudi at a party, you immediately feel a deep kinship and subsequently ignore everyone else around you.

38. No one (except other third-culture-kids) can quite understand your life, and you’ve learned to embrace that.