Confessions of a Saudi Diva: FAQ’s about being Saudi and Arab Culture (Part Nine)

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There are many entertainment options when living in Saudi Arabia

 

Tonight, I write this post from my little balcony. The weather in Dubai is at its best these days. I’m still trying to understand why I haven’t thought of sitting in the balcony to write or work on my laptop. It’s not like I have a desk or any space to work in my tiny studio apartment. My bed is my usual work space. It’s a big bed, and I use a laptop cushion to support my PC. So it’s a very comfortable setup. But nothing beats some fresh air and a good view. I’ve shared my balcony view on Instagram recently. Check it on the account: nadaalghowainim

I think that from now on, I will be blogging and working from my balcony. This weather won’t last all year, so I should make the most out of it.

In today’s post, I answer another common question that people wonder about my country. A blogger friend asked me that question about two years ago or more, but I only started writing these series now, hence the delay 🙂

By government laws, we don’t have any movie theaters, bars, or clubs in Saudi Arabia. Alcohol is banned throughout the whole country. You’re not allowed to consume it anywhere – even at your own home. Doing so is illegal and it’s completely your own responsibility. That’s when the intriguing question arises: So what do you guys do for fun? for entertainment? We like to go out clubbing and dancing.

To give you an idea of what we do for fun, let me state that we do have chain coffee shops, franchise International restaurants, and local cafes and food shops.

So, if we wanted to go out for dinner, we can. It’s just that there is no alcohol served anywhere. If we want to catch up with a friend over coffee at Starbucks, we can too! if we wanted to go to the beach (in my city), we could easily do so.

For us, residents of Al Khobar city in Saudi Arabia, we can even drive over the causeway to neighboring Bahrain for a movie and dinner. Yes, we are the lucky ones – as I told you this earlier. We can get to Bahrain within 45 minutes to an hour if the road is clear and there isn’t much traffic. Bahrain has normal cinemas just like everywhere else in the world. However, the movies are highly censored, so you should be prepared to miss out on a lot of scenes. This can be frustrating, especially when the censoring effects the understanding of the movie script!


Another favorite past time for Saudi people is to gather in someone’s house and do different activities together. Of course, the gatherings must be separated by gender. So, if you’re a woman, then you will be hanging out with women only. And the same rule applies to men.

The gatherings can be done on a weekly basis. So during weekends, we would go to our family friends’ house for a meal and catching up. The mother would cook food at home, and we would gather around a wonderful spread of tasty homemade food. To be honest, food in Saudi Arabia takes up a major part of our lives. It’s part of our culture to cook homemade meals, and host dinner parties at our homes.

To us, gathering around a meal with friends or family is a significant part of our culture and lifestyle. It creates a warm atmosphere and strengthens the ties between us. It’s not only about the bond, it’s also about the food.

I don’t think you can be raised in Saudi Arabia and not become a natural foodie. Because the food is so good and makes up a big part of our lives, we grow up to be foodies and home bodies.


Aside from gathering around freshly prepared homemade meals, we also used to play board games with our friends and family. I’m talking about the ’90s here – the simple days. In those times, technology didn’t play a big part of our lives and we didn’t even have mobile phones!

For entertainment, we played cards – UNO being a popular one, Monopoly (we were business-minded even as kids!), Charades, and my all-time favorite – Guess Who.

Yes, those were the days. Of course I’ve explained what we girls used to do in our free time. The boys obviously played video games, football, or other types of games.

We also occasionally went to the cinema in Aramco or just went for a walk in that area. We were even able to go Trick or Treating inside the Aramco camp! and as teenagers too! not as kids!

I must admit, I was a late bloomer. But so were many of my friends. Those were the nineties. It doesn’t bother me that I took my time to grow up. I’m still in no rush to move on to any other phase of my life. If the right person comes along, then yes. Otherwise, I’m happy just living my life as I wish without any interference or meddling from anyone.


There are many advantages to not having so many outdoor entertainment options in a place. One is that you develop deeper and more meaningful connections. Your social circle in Saudi become your community. That way, you can be assured that you always have someone to confide in and who you know you can trust. We all shared similar mindsets, goals, and dreams. Well at least to a certain extent.

While living in Saudi, your social support network is a vital element in your life. You will always have someone to spend time with, and to share memories with. That’s why, there’s always a sense of community. You almost never feel lonely or isolated. You tend to spend most of your time with friends or family. And you rarely go out alone or do activities alone. Even shopping for clothes is done with a friend or two.


Another obvious plus to not having many entertainment options is the ability to save more money. Saving becomes a piece of cake when living in Saudi. Since the sources for spending a lot of money don’t exist in the first place, you find yourself naturally saving more money than you would living somewhere like Dubai for example.


As you can see there are endless benefits to not having the conventional entertainment venues as in the Western world. The alternative recreation options offer wide opportunities for self-development, connecting with others, and building strong bonds and solid friendships.


For someone who is partially introverted and who likes to spend some quiet time in self-development and growth, I used to read a lot, play video games and ride my bike around the house. The bike riding is another story for another time.


I truly enjoyed writing from my balcony tonight. I think this will be my new winter blogging ritual. Who wants to stay indoors in this beautiful Dubai weather?!

Saudi Diva signing off XXX

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Saudi Diva talks Arab culture

 

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