Living on a Compound | Saudi Arabia
I live on a compound.
I guess to most people, that conjures up so many different kinds of images, but I thought I’d shed a bit of light on where I live, because if I didn’t live here I’d be curious too.
When I first moved here to Saudi Arabia, I came from London where I worked as a flight attendant also, and shortly after arriving, met my future husband who worked for the same company – different department.
Erm that’s NOT my husband
So even when I resigned from my flying career, I wasn’t required to leave as my husband lived here already.
I guess it’s hard to understand what living in a compound in the Middle East is like, unless you have had a similar experience, even recently when my parents came to visit, it was their first time, and really, they had to see it to believe it.
Last year I wrote about what it is like living in the Gulf here, but here are some facts about the compound I live on.
- it’s a walled residential community, built for the company employees and their families and approximately 11,000 people live here.
- Even though it’s called a compound, it is really like a small city.
- there are many residential compounds through the country, this one however is one of three major compounds for this company. We are in the largest of the the three and one of the largest in the country.
- Although we live in Saudi Arabia, the rules are a little different inside the compound (camp) as we are NOT required to wear an abaya as if I were outside and women ARE allowed to drive inside, unlike outside where it is illegal.
- so large in fact that it houses 2 supermarkets, gyms, swimming pools, baseball fields, running tracks, a dining hall, a mini mart, a golf course, a movie theatre, bowling alley, cafes, hobby farm, fire department, schools, a hospital and other amenities.
- According to wikipedia, the majority of inhabitants of the compound now are arabs, however when it was first built it was mainly for it’s US inhabitants. Now we have so many different expats living here too.
- Although we have most things we need for day to day living within the walls of the compound, ie I haven’t left for weeks sometimes, there are malls and restaurants outside the compound that we sometimes visit, however we need to adhere to Saudi law (ie no women driving, wear an abaya, and women are not supposed to be with a man whom they are not related or married to).
- Usually I do my big grocery shop outside, as our commissary is great for basics but can be expensive and isn’t always consistent with it’s stock however they have been known to stock hemp powder
- Even though we don’t know everyone on camp, you can certainly be sure that when you want to grab a quick bite to eat at the dining hall or slip into the commissary without any makeup on, you’ll be sure to run into at least 3 people you know! Also when I had baby M, one of the midwives who looked after me was my friend, and I had plenty of visitors in the hospital who already worked there.
Life is certainly very different here and was a little of a culture shock for me at first, but I’ve been here for over 3 years. I grew up as a military brat sometimes living on army bases so it doesn’t feel that different, infact my mother thinks it probably feels like I’ve come home
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