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Living in Salwa Garden Village

My husband is very keen to relocate our family to Salwa Garden Village in 2 years time and work for BAE systems.  He has been to a briefing and is excited about the lifestyle but I am more cautious.  Can anyone tell me what it is like as I am genuinely concerned it will be like living in a Truman show like prison.   Would I have to wear the abaya in the compound ?  How safe is it ?  What is it like when you arrive in the country ?  Do you have to surrender your passport ?  Our children are currently 4 & 6yrs old, would they have to cover up also ?   Any opinions would be brilliant, thank you in advance.

Hi anya36,

Welcome to Expat.com :)

You can browse through the discussions on Everyday life in Riyadh please as it may contain some interesting information which might help :)

Thank you

Maximilien
Expat.com Team

Thanks Maximilien, i really appreciate that link.

I've read quite a few threads but can't seem to find any where people really talk about what it's like to live day in day out there as a woman.   I'd love to read someones story of arriving there from the UK (or any other free country) and what their life is like.   How they've adapted to all the customs and rules.  How many times they go outside the compound, how many times they go to other parts of the world.   I'd like to know how safe they feel when driving outside of the compound and if they have any worries about living on this type of compound it being more of a threat.   My children are used to being free and able to just get in the car with me and we drive to the coast / beach, or drive to Scotland for the weekend.  We always go cycling in forests here and have our own allotment, they are nervous they won't be able to do any of that as it will be too hot.  Does anyone grow any veg / fruit there ? are there any garden type shops ?  I'm also anxious as I'm a fashion designer and am keen to keep working, I'd need shops with fabrics and trims, people to work with and teach design to ?  I have spent a few days now trawling through threads but can't find detailed honest accounts of life there, any bad opinions of life there seem to get lost quickly.   Can anyone help ?

Also, I don't like the idea that we have to give up our passports when we arrive and we have to get permission everytime we want to leave.   I've been married a long time and am very happy but if this put too much strain on our marriage and I wanted to go home I would have to get permission to leave and it would go through my husbands work also.   Anyone felt similar.  To me the idea of moving there is quite prison like.   Also, does everyone wear the abaya in the compound ?   I read on here that the buses are blacked out and the women have to sit at the back, is that right ?  I have so many questions

Usually, employers hold the other nationalites passports but not Americans nor British. and this scene of holding passports happens in th small comanies.

you will be on your hasband sponcership and you can leave when ever you want.

As I said to you Claire, Abaya is mandetory when you are outside the copound.

Lion R.E :

Usually, employers hold the other nationalites passports but not Americans nor British. and this scene of holding passports happens in th small comanies.

you will be on your hasband sponcership and you can leave when ever you want.

As I said to you Claire, Abaya is mandetory when you are outside the copound.

Sorry, Lion, but not true.  They hold American and British passports, too (mine is held) and it happens in large companies, as well (but perhaps not BAE).

You may not get any replies because all of your questions have been answered time and again.

Do you see the Google Custom Search Box?  It's a white rectangle, upper right hand.  If you type in a few key words (with 'Saudi Arabia' or 'Riyadh'), you'll find many discussions in this blog on everything you've asked.

Best of luck!

Alliecat :

Sorry, Lion, but not true.  They hold American and British passports, too (mine is held) and it happens in large companies, as well (but perhaps not BAE).

Sorry to know that, what an employer.
But my friends from those two nationalities have thier passports not held and I know few larg companies not doing so.

Hopefully the system of sponsorship get its new procedures effective and this problem solved for ever.

By the way my passport is with me.

Don't know about holding passports, I'm British and work for one of the biggest companies in the world, and they don't have mine (how could I go in and out if they did), but I do know as a kid my dad held all the passports in his safe, and he pretended it was a Saudi rule !

From a women living in compounds perspective I can't say, but my mum seemed to enjoy it, in and out, but then she was seen as a super woman having 4 sons, particularly the little blonde cute one - me.

From a safety perspective you can be as paranoid as you want, we lived on the dwidag, ericson (now Riyadh village), B-2 compound, Boeing rented a few units out to non-Boeing people and we all know what happened there. I've never felt unsafe here as a kid or adult.

who knows I've a skewed opinion, and no-one hates the Scottish, that's reserved for the Americans and English :)

mrthoth :

and no-one hates the Scottish, that's reserved for the Americans and English :)

We're all lumped together as western foreigners.

mrthoth :

how could I go in and out if they did

Actually, they will give you your passport no problem when you ask for it.  We just have to trade our Iqama for the passport.

I tend to go back and forth to the UAE/UK/Germany/Bahrain with all my cards, Iquama, Passport, license, Istamara etc....

Different companies different rules, just depends I suppose.

You might find when you visit other compounds the guards ask for one of those and hold them till you leave again. I know a lot of people who don't have Iquamas have handed their passports in. Also know a few people who haven't, but who are also on a 3 month clamp when they first come.

Best ask the questions in advance, I'd be suspicious of an employee demanding to keep their passport when there's no travel in the job, but also of an employer asking to keep it when it's technically the Queen's property :P

Inquire about the multiple entry exit, stapled in to your passport, can't use it without it.

Seems there are no standard rules.

mrthoth :

I tend to go back and forth to the UAE/UK/Germany/Bahrain with all my cards, Iquama, Passport, license, Istamara etc....

Different companies different rules, just depends I suppose.

You might find when you visit other compounds the guards ask for one of those and hold them till you leave again. I know a lot of people who don't have Iquamas have handed their passports in. Also know a few people who haven't, but who are also on a 3 month clamp when they first come.

Best ask the questions in advance, I'd be suspicious of an employee demanding to keep their passport when there's no travel in the job, but also of an employer asking to keep it when it's technically the Queen's property :P

Inquire about the multiple entry exit, stapled in to your passport, can't use it without it.

Seems there are no standard rules.

True about no standard rules.  Also true about the multiple entry/exit visa.  Even if you don't use it much, it does wonders for one's morale knowing you can leave anytime you want to! :D

mrthoth :

Don't know about holding passports, I'm British and work for one of the biggest companies in the world, and they don't have mine (how could I go in and out if they did), but I do know as a kid my dad held all the passports in his safe, and he pretended it was a Saudi rule !

Hi
Was he doing that as a kind of a protection?

mrthoth :

I've never felt unsafe here as a kid or adult.

Great self-confidence.

mrthoth :

who knows I've a skewed opinion, and no-one hates the Scottish, that's reserved for the Americans and English :)

Your opinion is fine and no hate for any body.

I went to a restaurant on Salwa Village Compound last weekend. The compound has 4 bars, a few restaurants, plenty of outdoor swimming pools, a huge gym and recreation area, and a cinema. Also a small grocery store, and regular transport to and from Riyadh. It's a scene from the Truman show that's for sure; row upon row of exactly the same style of villas, with exactly the same trees, manicured in exactly the same fashion. But if you want to wear a bikini all day by the pool then there's nothing stopping you. Plenty of social gatherings and outings organised.

My passport is with me, i also got multiple exit reentry visa. from now on i will keep renewing it every 6 months, Different companies different rules. It mostly depends on the management and bosses, they are saudi or other foreigners.

I live on Salwa; feel free to PM me.

Hello i live on Salwa it is nice here. Women do not have to wear the abaya or headscarf on the compound. Outside of the compound everyone has to wear the abaya. The weather is amazing here, however in the summer does get extremely hot. For your children there is a school on site.

Hi all,
Me and my husband are currently considering a job offer where we would be living in Salwa Garden Village. I have a 2 year old and we are looking to have our second child very soon.
If anyone can share any recent experiences of living at this compound with young children that would be great. Also if anyone has actually had a baby out there that would also be interesting to hear your thoughts on, as I'm currently thinking about whether it'd be better to return to England to have the baby and then return to Saudi a few months later.
Many thanks

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