In all the other countries that I have lived in so far, I stayed in an appartment in town. Basically like every other person. Be it a local or not.
If you are living in Riyadh however, the term “normal” becomes a rather relative one.
So in Riyadh, I live on a compound, which is something like a small “village” surrounded by tall, thick walls, behind which all the expats live, which is why I sometimes give such places the name ghetto but just for fun. Our compound is great indeed. Unfortunately I do not have any pictures to share because I think I should be careful when it comes to taking pictures in this country,
The compound reminds one pretty much of a luxurious five star hotel. There are about 400 residential houses here. Each house is very big and has an own garden, not to mention all the furniture that is inclusive. Or at least in my house it is.
Furthermore there is a gigantic tennis, volleyball and soccer court, a handful of swimming pools, a playground for kids, a supermarket, a restaurant, a fitness center (usage free of charge), a Swedish school that is most likely a kindergarden and probably some other things that I have not seen yet, since I have arrived just two days ago.
All in all this place reminds me of Fuerteventura. I mean there is sunshine all year long, palm trees everywhere and the houses are made of sand colored stone.
While you have to adjust to the Arabic customs when you are in town, you are free to maintain your Western (or wherever you come from) lifestyle within the walls of the compound. Women may wear ther everyday life clothes, be outside without a male guardian etc. Sometimes you may be able to get alcohol but only sometimes and ONLY on the compound.
Generally I feel as if I am on vacation here, which is obviously not the case since I am here to accompany my family while finishing senior year in high school.
So even though the expats here are sort of kept all together in one place, it doesn’t mean that it’s boring. It is actually quite awesome when you can still go swimming in the pool at ten p.m because there are like 42 degrees Celsius above zero outside and the moon is shining so pretty. And if you are tired of swimming, you go to the restaurant where you can get delicious food, meet very nice people and drink the best NON alcoholic mojito I have ever had and trust me, I have had many.
I will keep exploring our little village during the next couple of days. There is surely more tell about it.