Curious future Expat...

Hello Everyone :),
I decided to do some research and find a place I would be able to communicate with people currently living in or most recently relocated to Jubail. My husband's company has given him a heads up that his unit has the option of moving to Jubail for a one or two year project. First thing that came to our minds in this decision is our family's SAFETY. Being American, how is living or even traveling to Jubail been for others like us? Is there hostility? Unecessary attitude or treatment? We have a lot to consider if we make this move and more than anything I just worry about my family's well being. I hope I have not offended anyone with my uneducated questions. I only see what's on the news, that is all I have to base my decision on and I would rather hear it straight from the source. 

Thank you and have a pleasant day!

P.S. I am aware of the laws and restrictions for women in that country. Although it will be different, I will respect it.

I am not American and can't speak for the potential threats Americans have in Saudi Arabia. But I do know from my experience as an expat in Saudi that in general it is a safe place to live in. Things can be deceiving.... curious onlooking can be perceived as a stare, or slightly louder tone of voice could be perceived as rude or hostility which is only their struggle to be able to speak a foreign language really.

Jubail is home to a larger population of expatriates. I am guessing they might even outnumber the local population. It has a nice beautiful beach front and a huge industrial park hosting the top most companies with respect to revenue or production. Plenty of social activities in western compounds and freedom to wear your favorite attires.

Bottom line, you have to come with an open frame of mind to be able to absorb cultural/behavioral differences.

Thank you so much for your feedback! I do intend to enter and live in SA with an open mind. I know I will be miserable if I try to compare it to the way I live now. It is a different experience and I will need to adjust, but I am glad to hear that from your experience you feel safe. That gives me a more positive outlook and puts my mind at ease. Again, thank you for feedback and if you have anything else to share about life in Jubail please do! :)

I'm not America - but British and when I'm in a fatter mode I get confused for an American.......... I've never felt at risk here in Saudi irrespective of the number of "Security notices" that the American Embassy issue regarding maintaining a low profile. I felt far more at risk in Florida or Atlanta for looking out of place particularly at popeye chicken :)

Looking at the news reports you would think that there is a risk, but delve deeper and you'll find that it's not Americans who look like Americans who are being targeted, it's usually personal grudges,  and with people parachuting 8 month pregnant women into the US the victims and perpetrators are usually dual-nationals with personal issues.

This country has no real security issues as far as I can seen, unless you classify a cold shawarma as an issue as you've spent too much time talking to friendly characters in the takeaway restaurants.

Thank you mrthoth. :)

Hi Eflo, I had friends in Jubail and visited them a couple of times. It's quite a pleasant place, no safety issues come to mind except there's an enormous industrial (petrochemical) 'city' which - if the wind is blowing the wrong way - causes some odours. Nothing to be concerned about unless any of you have breathing issues.

They (my friends) were staying in a nice area, along with most other westerners. There are places in the city which aren't quite as easy to live in so the location of your home is worth researching if you decide to make the move.

As posted above safety here in general is very high, especially for families.

Eflo311 -
  I am an American and have been in Jeddah for almost 2 years. So far no safety issues have come up minus the insane drivers. Though I have never been to Jubail. Recently I have heard that some women have experienced some workers at grocery stores or other shops not wanting to help them since they are American, but I haven't personally had it happen to me.

If you have more questions or want to read about a woman's perspective of life here look for the blogs Susie of Arabia (she is an American married to a Saudi) & Blue Abaya (Layla is a Finnish woman married to a Saudi). Both share a group on FB to called Susie of Arabia where you can ask many questions. Many current expat women & former expats are on this page. Including people who are currently in Jubail.

Full Monty, thank you for your feedback. I know what you mean! Here in South Texas I have lived near plenty of refineries and the smell can wake the dead! Sadly, we're pretty used to it.  :P I am hoping with more details we will come to find out his company will set us up in a nice compound, if not I will surely do some research.

stressedmom, I'm glad to hear from an American female! I hope the stories of the workers not helping is untrue. Thank you so much for directing me to other helpful blogs and pages!

South Texas?! Well you'll feel right at home then. I've worked (am working) with a few Texans and they're usually okay with the heat, extra wide roads, big SUVs and laid back lifestyle.

I've lived on a compound and in private apartments and, for me, the inside is more important than out. If I can feel comfortable in my own living space then I'm not so bothered about the outside. Compounds are nice as you have more freedoms to socialize and be outdoors, but they can be a bit claustrophobic if you're living next to your co-workers. The apartment I'm in now (and the one I was in, in Khobar) is very comfortable and I can shut out the outside world, make a cuppa, fire up the laptop and watch BBC TV (via VPN  ;) ). Sometimes I forget I'm overseas!

As someone mentioned before the driving here is 'erratic', although I remember the roads around Jubail being relatively quiet. Jubail's about an hour from Khobar, which has I think the largest mall in the Kingdom and lots of foreign (US, Asian, European) restaurants and shopping. And of course it's the entry to Bahrain which is even more international.

Next to Khobar is Dammam which has an international airport, you'll probably arrive there but don't be put off with the decor - it's horrid! Riyadh, Medina and Tabouk airports are also pretty ugly, very utilitarian, and a bit smelly, but you won't be hanging around there for too long anyway. That is once you get through passport control, which is usually really slow but the security are generally polite and you won't have any TSA frisking you.

Actually I think only female security will speak with you, so just let the hubby deal with the male guards. That segregation takes a little getting used to, as well as the abaya you'll have to wear (hijab and niqab are optional but some places all women completely cover - depends on idea actually, ha ha). Back to your question; yes it's safe. I work with the military here (and did so in Kuwait) and they're serious about their jobs. The locals are mostly very observant of their faith and us expats won't get in the country if we have a criminal record, it's probably safer here than most western cities.

Ha! Yes the heat down here is hellacious but you grow to withstand it. I come from a small town so being home or going over to friends houses to pass the time is something I grew up doing, since it's all we had. I think mostly bigger city folks get cabin fever lol. If we do end up there in Jubail I do plan on getting out and doing things though. It's an experience and I would like to make the most of it. I'm a small town girl, but I'm not afraid to get out of my comfort zone. Thank you for the warning on the airport! I figured I would be asked to wear an abaya as soon as I get there. I even considered going online and buying one when and if the time comes closer. :)

I actually bought my first abaya on Amazon :)  All you really have to do when first arriving is have long sleeves to your wrists & long pants on (covering your ankles). But if you don't want to stress picking up an abaya within the first few days online before going is easiest. Just make sure it is cotton!!!! Zipper front or pull over for your first is also easiest.
As for covering my hair I never have, though I do make sure to have a scarf in my purse at all times in case I am asked respectfully to cover my head. Westerners are not required to cover.

Unfortunately I get cabin fever, but I have always loved driving & grew up in the pacific northwest with 12 years in Vegas. I knew what to expect, but the having to rely on others for driving drives me bonkers. Having little ones also creates the staying home as most activites for women (on my compound at least) are in the afternoon.

Also start looking up the Islamic prayer times. Everything closes for all 5 prayers & many stores are not open until after 5 pm or the 3rd prayer of the day.  This is even harder to get used to as there are small shopping windows 10am-noon for some stores and then 5 pm or later until around midnight.

Also be sure to register with the STEP program through the US government. They will send you emails about security issues and anything else they deem important. Easiest way is to get to the US embassy in Riyadh website & there is a link

Yeah, I'd say buying your female cloaking device (abaya) before you get here is wise. You can try it on for a bit, I imagine it takes a bit of getting used to so doing that where you're home and comfy seems the right idea.

I'm still not used to the prayer times, as they change slightly every day (sun, moon, that sort of thing). I use this website to check Jubail Prayer Times before I go out, I have it bookmarked with other KSA stuff. Usually shops close 15 minutes before and open 15 minutes after prayers but, as stressedmom said, some don't open at all until the afternoon/evening but stay open late at night.

Edit: I don't remember if Jubail is very conservative. I think everywhere here is more conservative than Jeddah, so you might find you need to cover your hair when in certain areas. I remember seeing westerners in Khobar without their hair covered, but if I was in shorts and t-shirt I'd get some Saudi men looking down their nose at me - nothing else, but it just felt a little uncomfortable so I got some really light clothes to cover arms and legs.

I didn't read all of the above but there are no safety issues here. There's a lot to get used to though.

hey there .. i can ensure that there is no safety issues for you and your family ; you will find a good and wide company in your compound , a good sea view and beach and a good food products
the US embassy is 50 miles away from here
most of US , Canadian and British nationalities are here in jubail , Dammam (near jubail ) and riyadh ( the capital )
life here is very quite and it's all about work
police is everywhere you go for your safety specially the US compounds
wish you the best of luck and i am sure you will be pleased here
if you need more information i would be pleased to help

Hi hope u must have settled here by now!
Anyway  i can assure u that its quite safe to work n live here in KSA.
off course local regulations for females r different here, but if ur living in a compound u will be quite comfortable.

let see please

It's my third day here...I love it so much...courage and come in peace

I'm an American, and I've lived all around Saudi Arabia. For the most part it's been a very good stay for me. Everyone I've dealt with for the last year has been pretty nice. I do a lot of entertainment work with Broadcasting channels and I thought it would be a no no for me, however it has been the opposite. Coming from Miami, I can say it's a little more safe here but a lot more boring.

I have been living in Jeddah saudi for almost 2 yrs. though came from a Muslim country as well but I had a difficulty to adjust my life here at first. Especially when I have to rely on our company's drivers all the time to fetch and send us from places. But at least I cud seat and relax while driver do all the maneuvering.

Sometimes i prefer to wear long dress with a pastel color rather than abaya. So long your dress is not revealing and too attractive (color and pattern) it is acceptable to wear least in Jeddah.

hope my 2 cents experience helps ..;)

Want to try feeling safe? come to jubail. I don't lock my car or flat. Abaya is just a cover with no need to cover your head but you need to wear a jeans or any trouser under it if you are getting a front open one.

Its a cool country ..offcourse some risk is there as in all other countires.luks cool

Jubail is a great place to live. I lived here for 18 months and I find it safe.
There's only one thing I don't like though some people just left their trash after having a picnic in the Garden that they call the "corniche". I guess some people think cleanliness is not important.

true kryztal

Kryztal28 :

Jubail is a great place to live. I lived here for 18 months and I find it safe.
There's only one thing I don't like though some people just left their trash after having a picnic in the Garden that they call the "corniche". I guess some people think cleanliness is not important.

It happens in jeddah as well. They throw trashes into the sea n left many rubbish arnd their picnic area. They spoilt my mood to enjoy the see breeze.

Hai Nada and Krystal  thats true rescently i went half moon beach, all the way from riyadh i found juice bottles , lays packets, etc in the much as possible and put in the waste basket..we cant change the attitude of people ..v change ourselves

Jubail is nice place , suitable for families to live there
it is better than Riyadh

I am from States and have not experience any safety issues so far. Most of the expats live in walled-compounds which is extremely safe and provide an isolated environment. You can meet several expat families there but will not experience real Saudi society. This is the reason I decided to live in Jubail Royal Commission Area outside those compounds. But my family lives back in NJ and I do not have same challenges as you. There are so many crazy drivers on the road who consider the shoulder as a lane which make very unsafe to drive in fast speed lane. Summer is extremely harsh and you cannot go any place except back-forth to office and grocery stores/malls. Good luck.

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