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How not to go nuts in KSA?
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randall020105



Joined: 11 Jun 2012
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:57 pm    Post subject: just a question Reply with quote

Hey all - I am not there yet. I felt I needed to know this before hand... How are the darker skin colored expats treated in general over there?
Sincere answers please... i get it that some may have some time on hand to poke fun, i honestly don't mind that(given an opportunity i might even do the same...hehe), but some insight and honest responses would be appreciated... sorry if it seems I am hi-jacking the thread!

R.
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12296
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear randall020105,

Is there prejudice in Saudi? Of course there is - there's prejudice everywhere.

How are "darker skin-colored expats" treated in general over there?"

Well, that's not so easy to answer. I worked, in both Jeddah and Riyadh, with about half a dozen such expats, a couple from the US, the others from African countries. I never personally saw any incidents of biased behavior and I never heard any of those teachers complain of any.

However, it's simply a fact that in Saudi, as in every other country, people who harbor racial (and other) prejudices are present, and there's always a chance that you will encounter some.

If you're a "darker skinned expat" chances are people who don't know you will usually assume that you're from Africa, and, in general, there IS a "pecking order," based mostly on nationality there. Africans are not so high on that "pecking order." There are "darker skin-colored" Saudis, too, and, in my experience, there's a tendency for other Saudis to treat them more often as "second-class citizens" (kind of like in the States, huh?). I can recall "lighter-skinned Saudis" admitting freely that they wouldn't let one of "them" marry into their families.

So, yes, there's prejudice, but I'd say it's likely that you won't be greatly affected by it - again, maybe kind of like here in the States.

Which is NOT to say that there isn't any chance that you won't encounter it; however, if you're a "darker-skinned individual," I suspect such encounters may not be all that unfamiliar to you, no matter where you're from (unless it's Africa - and even there, I've seen lighter-skinned Africans
flaunt their "superiority" over more darkly-skinned ones.)

It's a crazy world, after all.

Regards,
John
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cmp45



Joined: 17 Aug 2004
Posts: 1368
Location: KSA

PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 4:00 pm    Post subject: Re: just a question Reply with quote

randall020105 wrote:
Hey all - I am not there yet. I felt I needed to know this before hand... How are the darker skin colored expats treated in general over there?
Sincere answers please... i get it that some may have some time on hand to poke fun, i honestly don't mind that(given an opportunity i might even do the same...hehe), but some insight and honest responses would be appreciated... sorry if it seems I am hi-jacking the thread!

R.

I think you would be forgiven for hijacking this thread... Rolling Eyes maybe even congratulated Laughing

Your question is a tricky one to answer, but do think John answered it pretty well.
It's also difficult to answer unless you have walked a mile or so in someone else's shoes...

Saudi society does seem to connect societal hierarchy such as one's job position, social standing with one's nationality or ancestry; made all the more complex-confusing when skin color is added into the equation. However, I am guessing that there are probably plenty of exceptions that would prove the whole concept to be more stereotypical than anything else. There are plenty of dark skinned people from Africa, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Europe and N & S America etc. Basically from all over the world working in a wide range positions within a wide variety of fields: Business management, Medicine, Education, Law, Construction etc. How they are treated as fellow human beings by the locals and other lighter skinned expatriates is another matter. However...as far as I know I don't think you would have a hard time of it. Most of the Saudis I have met are pretty decent folks. I guess if you want to know a person's attitude regarding this issue, you just need to pay attention to their actions. Most people usually do not openly admit their racial biases, but you can generally figure them out by how they interact with others. I like to believe that the Saudis I know would not treat me any different, if I were darker skinned. Therein lies the dilemma of trying to give any sort of concise answer. Perhaps someone who is dark skinned and working in KSA may offer up their personal experience. My policy is that You (try your best to) treat others the way you yourself would like to be treated... Wink To be on the safe side, smile and bow to the locals since they are running the show and we are hired to do the work Laughing Shocked Wink
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12091
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One tactic is to accept the path to insanity. No one will notice - there are so many crazies around KSA.

Someone might spot it when you leave.
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al-Californian



Joined: 27 Jan 2008
Posts: 95

PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 9:18 pm    Post subject: Re: just a question Reply with quote

cmp45 wrote:
randall020105 wrote:
sorry if it seems I am hi-jacking the thread!

R.

I think you would be forgiven for hijacking this thread... Rolling Eyes maybe even congratulated Laughing



Congratulations, Randy, you've just hi-jacked my thread!


You can thank me and apologize later when you come to KSA with no way out for a year and a social hierarchy that'll have you create posts just like mine. Welcome to the beginning of the end what you know as and are used to an American. Smile
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randall020105



Joined: 11 Jun 2012
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 3:31 am    Post subject: Re: just a question Reply with quote

cmp45 wrote: ... but do think John answered it pretty well...

+1 as did you cmp45...

I do appreciate any input, whether it be positive and whether it be poking

a bit of fun... i'm easy going.

generally i don't let things irrelevant to my own personal growth affect me

like racism and/or other shenanigans... water on a ducks back...

My Momma raised me right!

I need to add though that as a darker skinned individual it's quite an event

though living the actual life of one who is being treated a certain way when

one didn't choose one's own situation(if i could though...i wouldn't for any

amount of money make any changes). some people just get awkward a

suddenly 'politically correct' around a person - a kinda uneasiness...

and I get it... to be honest, I too get slight undercurrent itchy skin around

people who aren't LIKE me... that's not racism though... I'll refer to it as

'clicking' ... we just don't click! not to say there won't be any interaction at

all... man were not created to be an island! i'm all for going out mingling

and all those other good stuff! I have friends from all over the globe, and

we grew up with my parents working in 3 or more continents with their

friends vacationing with us from all walks of life from bunking on a yacht

spinning our arms off to get the sails right to avoid collisions and tipping to

the humblest of dwellings where you really appreciate what you have and

your blessings in life... Asia has taught me to really try... REALLY TRY to

put yourself in another man's/woman's shoes/slippers and see things from

another angle... actions of possible discriminatory intentions are actually

really funny(that's what it boils down to) since sheltered mono-cultural

habits tend to steer you in a direction where general logic may not suggest

the best possible way to behave around people other than yourself.

After selling my book on this I'll forward my letter of apology to the kind

sir/madam aptly named "al-Californian" along with some proceeds to show

good spirit!

I just need to mentally prepare myself all over again for a similar

experience as the one I had all over Asia...

Whoo-Sah!! *gently massaging my temples* I may already be insane!

R.
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cmp45



Joined: 17 Aug 2004
Posts: 1368
Location: KSA

PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 3:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes al-Californian is correct. You will by ALL accounts realize that you are not in america... Rolling Eyes

Philosophical ruminations aside... the color of your skin will be the least of your worries...(you'll be part of the majority) so do not lose too much sleep over it.
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al-Californian



Joined: 27 Jan 2008
Posts: 95

PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 3:08 pm    Post subject: Re: just a question Reply with quote

randall020105 wrote:
cmp45 wrote: ... but do think John answered it pretty well...

+1 as did you cmp45...

I do appreciate any input, whether it be positive and whether it be poking

a bit of fun... i'm easy going.

generally i don't let things irrelevant to my own personal growth affect me

like racism and/or other shenanigans... water on a ducks back...

My Momma raised me right!

I need to add though that as a darker skinned individual it's quite an event

though living the actual life of one who is being treated a certain way when

one didn't choose one's own situation(if i could though...i wouldn't for any

amount of money make any changes). some people just get awkward a

suddenly 'politically correct' around a person - a kinda uneasiness...

and I get it... to be honest, I too get slight undercurrent itchy skin around

people who aren't LIKE me... that's not racism though... I'll refer to it as

'clicking' ... we just don't click! not to say there won't be any interaction at

all... man were not created to be an island! i'm all for going out mingling

and all those other good stuff! I have friends from all over the globe, and

we grew up with my parents working in 3 or more continents with their

friends vacationing with us from all walks of life from bunking on a yacht

spinning our arms off to get the sails right to avoid collisions and tipping to

the humblest of dwellings where you really appreciate what you have and

your blessings in life... Asia has taught me to really try... REALLY TRY to

put yourself in another man's/woman's shoes/slippers and see things from

another angle... actions of possible discriminatory intentions are actually

really funny(that's what it boils down to) since sheltered mono-cultural

habits tend to steer you in a direction where general logic may not suggest

the best possible way to behave around people other than yourself.

After selling my book on this I'll forward my letter of apology to the kind

sir/madam aptly named "al-Californian" along with some proceeds to show

good spirit!

I just need to mentally prepare myself all over again for a similar

experience as the one I had all over Asia...

Whoo-Sah!! *gently massaging my temples* I may already be insane!

R.


Nice little Broadway show there. Oh, and it's Mr. al-Californian to you, bub. Cool
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randall020105



Joined: 11 Jun 2012
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:53 am    Post subject: Re: just a question Reply with quote

al-Californian wrote:
randall020105 wrote:
cmp45 wrote: ... but do think John answered it pretty well...

+1 as did you cmp45...

I do appreciate any input, whether it be positive and whether it be poking

a bit of fun... i'm easy going.

generally i don't let things irrelevant to my own personal growth affect me

like racism and/or other shenanigans... water on a ducks back...

My Momma raised me right!

I need to add though that as a darker skinned individual it's quite an event

though living the actual life of one who is being treated a certain way when

one didn't choose one's own situation(if i could though...i wouldn't for any

amount of money make any changes). some people just get awkward a

suddenly 'politically correct' around a person - a kinda uneasiness...

and I get it... to be honest, I too get slight undercurrent itchy skin around

people who aren't LIKE me... that's not racism though... I'll refer to it as

'clicking' ... we just don't click! not to say there won't be any interaction at

all... man were not created to be an island! i'm all for going out mingling

and all those other good stuff! I have friends from all over the globe, and

we grew up with my parents working in 3 or more continents with their

friends vacationing with us from all walks of life from bunking on a yacht

spinning our arms off to get the sails right to avoid collisions and tipping to

the humblest of dwellings where you really appreciate what you have and

your blessings in life... Asia has taught me to really try... REALLY TRY to

put yourself in another man's/woman's shoes/slippers and see things from

another angle... actions of possible discriminatory intentions are actually

really funny(that's what it boils down to) since sheltered mono-cultural

habits tend to steer you in a direction where general logic may not suggest

the best possible way to behave around people other than yourself.

After selling my book on this I'll forward my letter of apology to the kind

sir/madam aptly named "al-Californian" along with some proceeds to show

good spirit!

I just need to mentally prepare myself all over again for a similar

experience as the one I had all over Asia...

Whoo-Sah!! *gently massaging my temples* I may already be insane!

R.


Nice little Broadway show there. Oh, and it's Mr. al-Californian to you, bub. Cool


My error Mr al-Californian... Humblest apologies dear squire.

I actually had the following in the background when i wrote this... no kidding:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOvEd0uZFuw

Kindest regards,

Mr R.
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Charliedontsurf



Joined: 06 Jan 2013
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Staying sane, afraid of losing it? I guess I never had it to lose in the first place.

Strategies? Keep plodding...keep calm and carry on. That is certainly my experience in the work arena.

Being an economic refugee anywhere is difficult but there are higher degrees of difficulty associated with the Kingdom. Saudi presents you, if you live over here as a single fella, with a myriad of social, cultural and climatic restrictions. Stating the obvious I know.

Strategies. Depends on the type of person you are....you have to look to yourself. The Kingdom allows you the luxury of introspection, certainly.

There are however, certain rules of thumb, practised by the more cannier and economically advantaged citizen.

Plan your holidays outside the Kingdom and plan them well.
Use technology to keep you connected to people...Skype, e mail, Twitter, Facebook.
Plan breaks within the Kingdom.....a weekend away in Taif hits the spot for me.
Play sport....a good way to build up your social network.
Buy a Kindle equivalent...reading cannot harm you.
Embrace cafe culture
Retail therapy is good.....smarten up your appearance. Quality clothes and shoes are far cheaper here.
Look to connect with people...even if it's only the local shopkeepers and cafe owners
Take an interest in the culture, politics and social life of the country.
The list is limitless really....

We are all looking for tips on a daily basis. We look to supplement the time away from our family and loved ones.

Enjoy the journey, the destination is a bonus.

All the best Smile
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al-Californian



Joined: 27 Jan 2008
Posts: 95

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 7:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the great tips, Charlie!
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12091
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Going crazy is just a way of adapting to your environment.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 15857
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Or you could take lessons in driving / car maintenance from the local boys:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/16/changing-tires-on-two-wheels_n_2702583.html?utm_hp_ref=comedy

This is on the comedy page of Huffington Post of all odd places.

VS
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sicklyman



Joined: 02 Feb 2013
Posts: 421

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Charliedontsurf wrote:

Plan your holidays outside the Kingdom and plan them well.
Use technology to keep you connected to people...Skype, e mail, Twitter, Facebook.
Plan breaks within the Kingdom.....a weekend away in Taif hits the spot for me.
Play sport....a good way to build up your social network.
Buy a Kindle equivalent...reading cannot harm you.
Embrace cafe culture
Retail therapy is good.....smarten up your appearance. Quality clothes and shoes are far cheaper here.
Look to connect with people...even if it's only the local shopkeepers and cafe owners
Take an interest in the culture, politics and social life of the country.


two thumbs up for that!
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12296
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How not to go nuts in Saudi? That's easy - be crazy when you go there. Saves a lot of time. Very Happy

Regards,
John
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