Life in Saudi Arabia is not what you might think. I have had people ask me all kinds of questions and it just shows the misconceptions that we all have about life in Saudi. Life in Saudi is like life any where, there are good things as well as bad things.
One thing everyone can agree on, it is unbelievably hot year round. When I first moved there with my four oldest children it was mid October. We had just left behind temperatures of 50 degrees. Fall was in full swing, leaves were falling and we were all waiting for snow. When we entered Riyadh all we saw from the air was a vast dessert. We entered the airport, went through customs and then walked outside. All I remember was a blast of hot air. It was hard to comprehend at first since 24 hours before we had been bundling up. My kids had on turtle neck shirts and coats.
Riyadh at that time was 95 degrees, not the peak heat you find in summer but still very hot. My sons, then ages 6 and 5 threw their coats off and put on short sleeves. They attended Arabic school and although they did not speak any Arabic the message was pretty clear,they needed to dress warmly, it was now cold! Teachers at the school were alarmed that my children were wearing short sleeves. Other kids walking home from school were wearing long sleeves and jackets! A month later boys were wearing long wool coats and ear muffs. My sons were still wearing short sleeves. In the grocery store my toddler was wearing a little undershirt. She was hot and fussy even with these light garments. Ladies stopped me and stared looking very alarmed at something. One lady then told me bared?? (cold?) I finally understood as she touched my daughters leg and frowned. Yes for them it was cold. After living for months in temperatures of 115, this was cold!
Years later a new lady moved in next door. She had moved to Saudi from the Netherlands. I remember watching her kids on the play ground and wondering how they could be wearing shorts in such cold temperatures. I sat watching them play shaking my head thinking she was crazy! She took her kids to the pool and let them go outside in short sleeves. It was the beginning of the school year and around the same temperature when I had moved to the Kingdom! I smiled and laughed to myself as I remembered my sons sweating in their turtle necks. Yes, everything truly is relative!