living abroad Lost in Riyadh-Blog saudi arabia saudi arabia expat blog saudi arabia expat life traveling

Why Do You Write About the Good Things?

Those of you who have been reading my blog might have noticed that the significant majority of my articles on this blog have a positive tone to them.

Considering the fact that I have dedicated this site to live in Saudi Arabia, which is unfortunately not seen in a positive light by many people from the outside, many of my readers probably ask themselves why I am keeping a blog that talks about the positive things of Saudi Arabia rather than the whole injustice and all the other questionable things that are going on there as well.

In fact, one of my relatives who has been to Riyadh, too, asked me this question a couple of days ago after I told her happily about all the positive feedback I am getting from my Saudi and non- Saudi readers.

“You must be very talented”, she said. “I have no idea what good things there are that one could talk about considering Saudi Arabia.”

In order to clear at least some of my possible bias, let me say that I am indeed aware of the fact that there were also things during my stay in the kingdom which I did not like and did not agree with. I am also aware of the fact that certain social norms and laws seem or are very unjust in comparison to what we western people know from our societies.

My contributions on here are not supposed to be some sort of propaganda that sugar-coates literally every single aspect of living in Riyadh. Since some people may think that this is exactly what I am doing, I just want to clarify that this was definitely not the motivation for all this.

But then, some of you may ask, why am I writing down the good things instead of challenging what is not so good?

Three hours after I got on the plane from Frankfurt to Riyadh, I got into a conversation with my neighbor who later on became a good friend of mine. “I am excited about my new life”, I said. “I will finally get to know something new and will have some material to write a book about.” This is where my friend told me to be careful with what I published online while in Saudi Arabia. There are certain things which are not supposed to be discussed, hence freedom of speech is rather limited in this country as some of you may have noticed. Maybe it would have been one of my tasks, as someone reporting from this place, to challenge certain things and point out what is not so good. But given how much of such content is already out there, I really started to ask myself who would read my articles if I would just re-write the horror stories that so many before me, including the official western media, have already published? If people wanted to read about what is bad, there would be no reason for them to read my blog. They could look up all the other websites and books instead, reading what they were expecting to read: How terrible of a society Saudi Arabia is. I would not take anything away from them or deprive them of valuable information by not being pessimistic.

So I needed to choose another perspective under which I would compose my articles, which does NOT mean that what I have been writing about so far was all made up.

I knew that I could just as well have written a whole bunch of stuff about everything I did not like, about everything that made me want to pack my bags and leave for good. I could have chosen to be fully affected by negativity and spend nine months in fear, depression, cynicism and homesickness, ruining my mental health as not too little expats in Saudi choose to do unfortunately. But I did not. I wanted to tell others why it is not the end of the world to live here, taking away at least some of the fear that so many foreigners have.I came to the conclusion that looking for some positive things would be much healthier than pointing my finger at everything bad.

You see, the way we perceive things are all a matter of perspective and a matter of choice. In the case of Saudi Arabia probably even a matter of circumstances. A foreigner will have  a different view and a different story to tell than a domestic worker or a local or someone whose marriage to a local turned into a disaster or an expat stay at home mom who has nothing to do all day than look after her child and stay home. So when you reflect upon all the things I have written over the previous months you should keep in mind that this is the story of my circumstances and they are not universal for everyone.

What also contributed to the way I wrote was the fact that I had something to do every day and that the people around me were good to be with. I was lucky to be a student in Riyadh, going to class every day. I had the opportunity to have contacts with other people, not isolating myself entirely, as some other foreigners choose to do. Had I not have my classes, I would probably have turned into a sad, depressed person because there would have been nothing to keep me busy. If you have nothing to do and don’t know why you should be getting up every day, every country will turn into a horrible place, be it Saudi Arabia, Germany, Iceland…you name it.

And this is exactly why I tried to point out something good about the kingdom. Next time you ask yourself that question, remember that everything is a matter of perspective and circumstances.

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  • Reply
    March 15, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    I can honestly relate.

    • Reply
      March 15, 2015 at 1:50 pm

      Thank you. I am glad you do. 🙂

  • Reply
    March 15, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    I agree completely. That is why I started writing .my blog.

    • Reply
      March 15, 2015 at 2:45 pm

      I had a look at it. You write in Dutch, right?

      • Reply
        March 16, 2015 at 3:51 am

        Yes I do. We are neighbours:-)

  • Reply
    March 17, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    firstly, i’m glad for you writing again after three months of silence >> at least in this blog

    i agree with your perspective by 999%
    the same perspective which forced me to read every single post in this blog

    if you have any more interesting thoughts please do share it with us !!

    • Reply
      March 18, 2015 at 7:01 am

      I am very happy to see that you seem to be reading my other blog(s), too. I wish I could contribute to this blog more often but since I left there is not much that I could write about. But I am glad that you have taken the time to read what I have written so far. I also take great pleasure in answering reader’s questions so if you have questions or suggestions for topics I have not covered but should have, you are most welcome to share them with me.

  • Reply
    March 21, 2015 at 7:07 am

    I started my blog with the same intentions as you. I didn’t expect it to be helpful for others, but rather a way to explain my life here to my family back home. To my surprise I have had women come up to me at work saying that they or a friend had decided to take a job here after reading my blog. What a fantastic feeling! Let’s keep spreading the positivity!

  • Reply
    April 10, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    It was a great blog. Thanks for the useful posts

    • Reply
      April 10, 2015 at 3:41 pm

      Thank you. I am glad to know you found it useful. 🙂

  • Reply
    May 10, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    Great post! I am living in the eastern province of Dhahran and have really enjoyed my time so far. Such an interesting country that you’ve had the unique opportunity to experience. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to reading the rest of your blog.

    • Reply
      May 11, 2015 at 4:12 pm

      Thank you for the kind words! I am amazed to hear that you are enjoying your stay. So many people from abroad get frustrated. I rarely heard anything good from them. Wow.
      Glad that you like my shared thoughts. This blog is coming to an end slowly but I hope you enjoy the previous posts anyway.
      Cheers! 🙂

  • Reply
    June 2, 2015 at 7:23 am

    I really like the way you write your blog. They are deserve to be appreciate.

    • Reply
      June 3, 2015 at 9:17 am

      Thank you very much. I am happy that you liked it. 🙂

  • Reply
    Blue Abaya
    September 8, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    Yes! And why wouldn’t you write about the good things? It’s always a good feeling to prove people they were wrong about Saudi Arabia being just a pile of sand and rocks where all wen must be absolutely miserable and mad to live in 😂

    Thank you for linking to my Saudi Arabia guide 👍🏻

    • Reply
      September 29, 2015 at 7:28 pm

      Great to see that you agree with me and btw, what an honor to have you visit my site! I have been reading your blog for a while now, even as preparation for my own arrival. Thanks for that guide. It’s really interesting that you can actually find so many things to mention. I wish I would have seen it sooner.

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