Saturday, June 26, 2010

13 things i realized i missed about Saudi

So,i just arrived back to saudi this week after a year being in the US,and as soon as i landed,i realized that there are quite a few things i missed about saudi arabia,but some how i didn't know that i did.
so i made a list of the things that came to my mind for now,i might add more later:

- Luggage carts are actually free!
yup! you dont have to pay 3 dollars every time you take a cart for less than twenty minute of use,you can take it for free!

-Gas is so cheap,you never have to worry about topping your cars tank,a full tank doesn't cost you more than 10 dollars maximum for a medium size sedan.

-Streets in Saudi are so well lit at night,u barely need to use the head lights to light your way when you drive at night,in fact,i only turned them on for safety reasons like to be visible in the rear view of other vehicles.

-Streets in Saudi are pretty wide,and in some areas they are wider than the widest street ive seen anywhere ive been.

-Speed limits in Saudi are high,ive never seen a single street or road or even a highway within north carolina that goes over 70 Miles per hour which is equal 112 km/h,and the only part that goes up to 70 is a long stretch in I-85 between North Carolina and Virginia,while ive seen many areas in riyadh,like the ring road that is connects the airport to the city where the speed limit is 120 km/h which is 74.5 miles/h,so i was kinda shocked to know that i was actually driving pretty fast even when i am following the speed limits.
and just to let you know,the norm is that people drive 140 km/h (87 Miles/h) in areas where the limit is 120 km/h.. and of course,some go even faster.

-Traffic lights are different in Saudi and US,at an intersection,when its green in Saudi for your way the intersection is completely reserved for your line,you can go straight or to the left or right without yielding,all the other three intersecting ways are red.
though some intersections in saudi are operated by opposites at a time,so for two opposite ways,it turns green to go straight only,then it turn red,after that it turns green to turn left only for both ways,so at any given green,all vehicles do not intersect paths.
while in the US,its a blend of both,when it turns green,u can go straight and turn left after yielding and making sure the opposite way is clear of cars that are not coming through.
personally after driving in the US for a year,i still get confused at traffic lights in the US and think if its my right of way or should i stop for the others to past first.

-You dont have to pay for receiving calls or texts,YES! its included in your monthly subscription fee,which is 30 Riyals (~9 US$)
for My saudi readers,in the US,you have to pay for every minute of usage,regardless who is the caller,and same goes to receiving text MSG's,you have to pay for each SMS sent and received.

-Banks are much softer on its clients than the nicest bank ive dealt with in the US,they dont charge you for cashing a check(at least i think!),or on money orders,they dont charge you for receiving a transfer,and most importantly,OVER DRAFT protection doesnt exist,yes,it might taste bitter that your transaction gets rejected because you dont have sufficient funds,but trust me,its alot more bitter to know that for every transaction you do when your account is empty,you are being charged 35$ EACH TIME.

-You can withdraw money from any given ATM in the street at any given time for free,there is no charge if you withdraw money from an ATM that does not belong to the bank that holds your account!

-Compared to North Carolina at least,you can buy freshly squeezed Juice from nearly any restaurant,which is something i realized is very hard to find in NC,and further more expensive,a cup of freshly squeezed orange juice might cost you up to 3.50 US$,while in Riyadh and Jeddah,there are Shoppes and drive through kiosks that sell freshly squeezed juices on the spot,and guess what,up to 16 ounces (0.5 liters) is for 5 riyals top. more over, in riyadh,there are Giant shops that sell fresh juices only,and they have over 100 blends and smoothies of all kinds of fruits,which are served in different sizes.

-for early birds and morning people,breakfast shops (mainly the traditional ones) open as early as 4 am in the morning in saudi arabia,or to be more accurate,after Fajr prayer,stores like Qarmooshi and Abuzaid which sell Foul and Tamees (Beans and Flat bread) and Ma'asoob (which is ground bananas with bread,sugar and shortening).

-Freshly baked bread,in Saudi,u can go straight to the Oven and pick up the bread right out from the furnace,and package it your self,one thing i must say though,usually by the time you arrive home,half the bread is already ingested by you,yes,its THAT yummy when its fresh.
while in the US,even in bakeries everything is packaged and bar coded like every other product in the supermarkets.

-People remain more courteous toward strangers in saudi than ive seen in the US,yes Americans are definitly more friendly to talk to while on the bus or the subway,while people in saudi are not,but when you are in need of help,like when your car stops working and need someone to give a push,or if you suddenly fell in the street and got injured,you always will find someone who will come and help you.
now i dont mean that in the US they dont exist,they do,but ive noticed that alot of people rather stay away due to fear that this person might be drunk or a troublesome person like a gangster or something,which is totally understandable as US street crimes are much higher than in Saudi Arabia.

i only realized those things after i actually arrived to Saudi Arabia and noticed them,i did not state the very obvious stuff like Al-Baik or umm..well,its only Al-Baik.

what about you,is there something you didn't know you will miss about Saudi Arabia and only realized that you actually did after you came back?


Chiara said...

Interesting phenomenon and list. I was particularly interested in the early morning activity, at least for a traditional breakfast, as one complaint on the Saudi themed blogs is that the whole country sleeps until noon. Good news for an early bird like myself, although I suspect I would have more trouble finding women's breakfast spots open that early but maybe not.

I'd be interested in what other Saudis experience like this on return.

Souma said...


*goes back to studying for her ENT final*

Qusay said...

Enjoy your time at home, there are always pluses and minuses everywhere... but I do not think anyone could disagree with your list :) Well except for the traffic, it is horrendous.

Dentographer said...

Chiara,there is family section available in those resturants,dont worry :)
i hope u will find more positive experiences around :)

Qusay,yup,the traffic is heavy,but that is because of over population in certain areas..remain though,during off hours take a trip and u will know what i mean.


Souma said...

ajiblak ma39oob, t36eeni the baby? yes? yes? fair trade!

Hanan said...

Honestly you opened my eyes to things I took for granted..
interesting post =)

HishMaj said...

I totally agree with you, man! Great points.

Another thing I really miss is the Athan(call for prayer)!!! Closing shops and all that, during prayer time, was a big headache when in Saudi. But after being in the UK for 2 years, I realize how small things like closing for prayer, is a lot more convenient. Although I disagree on why they have to close for such a long time.

Have a great time in Saudi!

Dentographer said...

Hanan,am glad it did,and welcome to my blog!

HishMaj,Athan is somthing that i DEFINITLY missed,which is why it was not mentioned here,in this post i wanted to address the things that i did not realize i missed till i was actually back to saudi arabia..because they are not so obvious to be missed.

another thing i want to add to the list is,
-In Saudi,u dont have to ever purchase Tissue papers,as long as u have a car,every time u fill up gas (which is already dirt cheap) you get two packs of 150 tissue papers for free!!

Athoug said...

LOL! It's exactly how I felt! My family says I'm like a forigner because I notice things that are considered normal. I missed my abaya more than anything, it just feels great to put on :D

Great post and great blog overall :))

Susanne said...

I liked this list! I live in NC so I was surprised to see it mentioned. I'm now curious if you were studying here and in what area. I've traveled I-85 all my life as I grew up about a mile off the interstate in Alamance County. Small world. :)

Dentographer said...

Susanne,i am currently in NC,my wife is studying in UNC chapel hill,and i am seeking admission there too in graduate school.
must say,NC is a Chill place to be,i like it alot!

Susanne said...

That's neat! My family always cheered for UNC in college basketball! :) We live in the next county over - about 30 minutes or so from Chapel Hill. Small world. :)

Dentographer said...

yup! hope to see ur comments again here!

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

just tell me, where can I find those bakeries you wrote off? Carrefour bread is ok ... but your description indicate one hell of a bread.

Dentographer said...

those are from family business bakeries scattered around in the cities,are u in riyadh? if so,where do u live so i might know how to pin one or two for you.
though,it might not be the kind of bread u get from carrefour,as the types of bread sold there are very local and u wont find much of international bread type choices,though its really tasty cos its so fresh.

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