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My journey to Saudi Arabia started in October 2013 when my husband got an offer to work here in Riyadh. Enjoying my expat life in Saudi ArabiaAt first I was excited about moving away and starting afresh in a different country. However as the time to move got closer I started feeling a sense of loss. The loss of freedom I had in Kuala Lumpur.

Saudi Arabia is a very unique country in which most things we take for granted in the rest of the world don’t apply here. There are no cinemas, night clubs and all eateries here are segregated to singles and family sections. Women are not allowed to drive and are required to wear a black cloak called an Abaya every time we leave our houses.

The first few months we were lonely and missed the freedom of being in Kuala Lumpur. The children had to stay indoors most days as my husband worked and I was not able to take them out on my own as I wished. They were also unhappy with the move as they had to leave their cousins and friends and start anew. However things changed for the children when they started school in April 2014 and made friends.

I started with Crown Riyadh in August 2014, that’s when my life in Riyadh started to improve.  It was good to have something to fill my time and when I started at the office in November, it was a relief to have a normal work environment and be able to leave home 3 times a week.  As time passed, I realised that life in Saudi Arabia is good as it gives me time to learn and explore new things which I never had the time to in Kuala Lumpur. I am also able to read, exercise and our weekends are filed with activities for the children. We go for long drives to the desert and take the boys for desert bike rides on weekends. We also go for picnics to the many parks here in Riyadh.

Despite it being a country known for its strict code of conduct, it’s not bad at all. Once you are used to the uniqueness of Saudi Arabia, you will find that life is a little more acceptable and quiet. We have lots of  family time and I realise that since moving here a year ago my relationship with the children and my husband has built so much as we have time for the important things.

The kingdom is going through a great pace of development and there are opportunities for expats like us to fulfil our talents.  The opportunity to travel is certainly a gift for anyone and as a family we are glad to be blessed with this. Today it is Saudi Arabia and tomorrow it may be elsewhere.  One thing is for sure, for now we are very much enjoying life in Saudi Arabia.

About the author

Phirya Jagathesan

Joined Crown Kuala Lumpur in January 2012 and was the mobility consultant for the Shell account. My interests are reading, baking and spending time with my boys. I live in Riyadh with my husband, sons and two cats.

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