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Thank god for Baskin Robbins! December 7, 2006

Posted by Aella in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, Saudi culture, Sweden.

Just came back from  the shopping trip from hell. It wasn’t too hysterical but all these people stepping in my way FREAK ME OUT!!! Really! I know perhaps I shouldn’t go shopping on Thursdays since everyone is there but sometimes you just don’t have a choice. We went to Dahran Mall which is a good mall in the sense that everything is on one floor and that shops aren’t too hard to find. Bought some pyjamas for the kids and some other things… After some time I  started feeling claustrophobic with all the people breathing down my neck, crossing my road very close to me, kids fighting, women not knowing where they are putting their feet cus of niqabs, electrical cars driving criss cross in front of me, noise, noise and fucking noise!

After about three, four hours of shopping, eating and dodging women and their abayas I felt like hitting someone. Really! I dragged my sorry ass to Geant and picked up some items and after that I was ready to crack. My husband bought me some Baskin Robbins and we all went to the car to just enjoy the ice cream and go hooome. Can’t describe the satisfaction of eating that pecan n macadamia ice creammmmmmm.

I really can’t understand how people handle these kind of situations (never mind enjoining them). I mean, I have never been the claustrophobic kinda person but that’s probably cus in Sweden we are used to more personal space. Here, there is no such thing it seems. You just have to push and shove and be in each others face. And I am sorry to say it but why cover your face so you can’t see where the hell you are going? And then you lift up the whole thing and expose your face just to see where you are heading. Aren’t you showing yourself then or am I missing something?
Aah fuck I still feel a little stressed from it all.



1. Fahad - December 8, 2006

Ah, yes, the aspect of proximity and personal space in different cultures; very, very interesting. Here in the US, I would, sometimes, be a little closer than usual to some friends and I wouldn’t notice it, being, as I was, born and raised in Khobar. Guys wouldn’t think too much of it, but girls would infer sexual connotations from such a thing.

It’s so heart-warming to see more and more expats in Saudi Arabia, and especially Khobar, blogging. I’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you might have about Khobar; I spent my whole first 18 years there, and then some, so I know it inside out. Here’s my e-mail:

2. Sous - December 8, 2006


That is ever so kind of you. Thanks.
And yes the issue of personal space is indeed a very interesting topic. You don’t think about it much until you move to a different culture.

All the best

3. Salihah - December 10, 2006


How true!

A Muslim that doesn’t wear niqab,

4. Sous - December 11, 2006

Salam Salihah,

Read your comments on the “Erik” thread at Trueislam. You have some serious common sense :). I like that.

Take care.

5. Norah - December 13, 2006

Sous, nice blog first of all!

to tell you the truth Sous, some times you talk about the city as if nobody lives there but you; no body is experiencing things but you. 😉 I mean, I’m from AlKhobar and I my self have been living there all my life. Its true that the Mall is crowded and busy but not to the extents you talked about in your post. “After some time I started feeling claustrophobic with all the people breathing down my neck” What tha?! I mean come on! Dont you think that this is somewhat exagerated? “women not knowing where they are putting their feet cus of niqabs” COME ONNN SISTA!!! tell me the truth: Did a woman really stepped on your feet or something or was it just an exageration? I’d say that may be it was a bad day judging from the mode in which you wrote this post. 😛 BTW, I wear a niqab and believe me, you can see just fine. 🙂

However, I do understand where this feelings come from. Sweden, culturally, is another extreme when you compare it to Saudi Arabia. lets do a bit of a comparison here:
point of comparision Sweden SaudiArabia
—————– —— ———-
expression of feelings uptight expressive&emotional
person’s comfort zone very wide somewhat tight
weather nice mostly cold warm, mostly boiling
clothes none a lot
standard of living highest moderate to low

see my point? Someone who comes from Sweden to SaudiArabia must be a little open to cultural differences. He/She is obliged to be more open minded, tolerant and understanding. I see this in you and I really appreciate it.

I miss AlKhobar since my husband and I are in Canada studying right now. I am coming though in a week. REALLY EXCITED!

I liked your blog .. and your soooooooo right, THANK GOD FOR BASK n ROBINS.

6. Norah - December 13, 2006

oops.. sorry your gonna struggle a bit when u read the little comparison chart that I wrote for ya. It posted my comment differently for some reason :S .

7. Sous - December 13, 2006

Hahaha 🙂 . What can I say Norah but good to have your comments 🙂 .

First, since I am writing this blog, of course I am writing from my point of view. Don’t see why I should write how other people experience things here in Al Khobar since I haven’t got a clue about that. Would be nice to know though.

And sure I do get freaked out cus I find that MANY women just cross your way without looking at all. I am pushing a pram and it is as if they couldn’t care less that I am there… They would walk one way then suddenly stop in front of you and then walk any other way…Like hello, am I invisible?? I often end up stopping to avoid hitting them with the pram. I perhaps wrongly assumed that this is down to niqabs when really maybe this is just how women here walk.
And heey Thursdays are a terror. I can really understand that we see things differently and this probably due to cultural differences. I doo find the Mall really, really crowded. I guess it is all down to what one is used to and what one can handle.

Your comparison chart is just fine but I must disagree to the point where your saying we are wearing no clothes in Sweden. Not true of course.
As a matter of fact I find that Saudi culture and Swedish culture has many things in common. More than for example Swedish and Lebanese culture. I find many things in the Arab world better than in my own culture but some things are a little hard to adjust to.

I am eager to understand how things work here and the more I read from the Saudi blogging community the more I realise how clueless I am.
I hope you will enjoy your time here in Khobar and I hope I too one day will be that excited to come here :).
All the best

8. poor indian - September 25, 2007

who are you? your princess or quien?

just a local girl first you take this advaise and coppy your remaining life ok:

dont think your the one in the whole world
there is diferend peoples here so try to coparate each athor

ok sweedan v i p

from poor indian man

9. Proud to be a rich saudi - October 15, 2007

As I was googling for bk’s website in riyadh, I came across this amuzing forign resident blog!
I must say I was pretty shocked to notice your insulting point of view about saudies. Without getting into detail, I have to point out one thing, you & everyone else like you only come here for the money.
If I were in Sweden, I wouldn’t judge nor complain about the culture, and the way you live. & btw, a “niqab” is a small piece of cloths that covers the face, so no way in hell are women here trippin’ on them!!
what you meant is an “abaya”. =)
so don’t bitch about it and hey, if you don’t like it, then bounce back where you came from!

10. Sous - October 15, 2007

Nice to hear you are shocked. Hope you didn’t choke on anything. As a Saudi you obviously don’t notice that we expats notice (guess you’re too busy being rich huh) and if you were in my country you would notice things I wouldnt and trust me a lot of expats in Sweden bitch about things there and that’s fine in my opinion. And who the heck said that anyone is tripping over a niqab? I do know what a niqab is duh. It’s the fact that a lot of them don’t take any notice of who is next to them (cus of the niqab) that they used to tick me off since they would just walk in front of you very closely. And hey I didn’t like Saudi so I left 😉 and I am very happy where I am now. I know you Saudis love Bahrain too 😉 .

11. Chandra - March 26, 2008

I spent 10 years in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; because I liked it. Good family life, lots of vacation days and most importantly, tax free money. I had more things to be happy about, than complain.
Right now, I am in USA and still miss my Saudi days. I did come across some people who seemed arrogant, but they were more so because of iliteracy, rather than actual ego thing. I had wonderful, helpful colleagues – Saudi and non-Saudi.
Every place has its good and bad points, including our own homeland, which we leave and call some other country our home. It is our own choice, where we decide to live (or leave).
Good, open blog..Congrats to Sous..

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