Urgent---Need to hear from husbands (esp US) living alone in Riyadh

Very nice job offer in Riyadh. I would like to take job. Job offer acceptance deadline in 3 days. Wife will not go, so would have to leave family back here. I would have to fly back to US every 3 months to visit. Please tell your good and bad experiences/advice if you are working/living alone in Riyadh the past 1-2 years.

i am a US expat living in Abqaiq and working in Dhahran for Aramco. i am on Bachlour status and my wife is in Houston and not coming permamently. its ok, you just have to find people and stuff to do. i get extra vacation and extra $ for trips back home some that is great. My wife can come and go on her visa but can't be nore than 6 months as tht would movw me to married status.

Thanks for the info. How long have you been gone? Have you been back to US to visit? I'm not worried so much about myself since I will find things to pass the time, but how is your wife (and kids?). Do you Skype regularly for contact?

I have been here 3 months. I talk to my wifevia Tango and talk to her at least 3 times a day. i don't have kids so I can't advise on that lol. It gets boring a bit but for me Bahrain is just a hour or so away. You will be ok. They have miat things here and comunication back home is not a issue.  :)

I forgot Bahrain is so close for you. I would have to take "weekend" trips flying there or to UAE from Riyadh. What is Tango?
Guess I'm more concerned with how your wife is doing, since I think mine would have a hard time with me gone. She's threatened to divorce me if I go and take the job.
I have been learning basic Arabic on the Internet for a few weeks for fun.
Do you live in a "compound", and how is that?

if she is threatimg and you care i wouldnt go. everyone is different. i miss my wife and she does me but ahe is independent. we just built a new home plus she has a great job. if you look how much you will see it each other its not tbat bad. you can go gone evwry for montb for about 3 weeks. she can come and go. ots not easy but me and my wife know that the pay off is for both of us. i will be set in 5 yearsand going back to Houston

Ok. Thanks for your insight. I do care, but I am frustrated because she will not see the $ reality, even after we have reviewed it on paper. My working there, even for a year, will let me make and save significant $ which would really help our $ situation in a much faster period of time. She could stay in US, stay at her job, make some $, and not have to live "boring and horrible" life in Riyadh. I know I am "fighting losing battle", and I am not happy. Thanks again!

Well from the Americans I know at the embassy in Riyadh. most of them like it here. with some adjustment you can make new friends, have time for hobbies, go camping, have time together alone (my brother's marriage benefited a great deal from being alone with his wife in a foreign place), and there are many events setup by the embassy. If you want moveis go for weekends to Bahrain (5 hour drive), or buy them pirated for 2.5-5 $. Riyadh is not boring if you handle your self well.

The biggest thing people face here is culture shock, which tends to go away after you get to know people and hangout.

Thx for your informed reply. I understand and agree, as I have spent some time in "culture shock" in India, so I know it is temporary until you get accustomed and into a routine. My wife doesn't want to leave her job, she'll be bored in KSA, won't wear the abaya, etc. I also agree about marriages possibly getting better due to spending more and better time together in a "really foreign" land.

themoe wrote:

I think mine would have a hard time with me gone. She's threatened to divorce me if I go and take the job.  I have been learning basic Arabic on the Internet for a few weeks for fun.  Do you live in a "compound", and how is that?

I am frustrated because she will not see the $ reality, even after we have reviewed it on paper. My working there, even for a year, will let me make and save significant $ which would really help our $ situation in a much faster period of time. She could stay in US, stay at her job, make some $, and not have to live "boring and horrible" life in Riyadh. I know I am "fighting losing battle", and I am not happy.

Your response above is puzzling.  Right after stating that she's threatening divorce, you suddenly change direction and start on about learning Arabic for fun and asking what it's like to live on a compound.  Huh?  No wonder your wife probably feels ignored; in her mind, you're about to desert her while you're off on some new adventure half-way across the world.  Moreover, this is solely your idea and not a decision you both made together.

Ironically, money problems are at the top of the list of reasons American marriages fail, and it seems to be festering sore spot in yours.  I'm sure your wife is very much aware of the potential to get out of your financial conundrum quicker if you take the job,  However, it's more important to her that you be with her---that's her reality of the situation. 

Of course, this is all speculation on my part.   But although it appears you've nearly made up your mind to go, I suggest for the sake of your marriage that you stay in the US and the two of you sit down with a financial counselor to figure out how to reduce your spending while coming up with viable ideas to increase your incomes to pay down your debts.  Your wife is your partner---find a more compromising way to resolve this issue so that your marriage doesn't end up as another victim of the "Money Monster."

Smurfette,

Thanks for your reply and for your admission that you are speculating, since you cannot know the facts and circumstances involved in my situation.

I was going to reply last night when I received your reply, but I thought it better to "sleep on it" before replying. I was not going to reply, but I believe it will better serve an open discussion for all considering working and living in KSA if I "air out my dirty laundry" by sending an honest and open reply.

I will reply here for the purpose of possibly helping those participating in this forum and website now and in the future, since this specific "expat topic" is constantly an issue for those married couples (especially from the "western world") considering working and living in the KSA.

Another option is for those who are interested to send me a private message for further discussion on this sensitive topic.

I did not, in fact, take the position, which will appease my wife but will also be to our financial detriment for at least several years.

If I had taken the Saudi job, we would have noticeably improved our financial situation after the first year. If I completed the two year contract there, our financial situation would essentially be resolved. But this will not now happen, since I am not taking the job.

My wife refuses to move to the KSA due to the restrictions on women (especially difficult for Western women who are used to their freedoms). She wants to keep working (which is understandable), she doesn't want to wear an abaya (which is understandable), and she believes that her "compound life" there will be interminably boring (I disagree but it may well be that way for her). In addition, my working there and flying back every 3 months for visits in not acceptable to her, as she told me that I should "expect her not to be here when I return".

I think it is more common for non-US wives to consider either their husband working and living alone abroad for 1-2 years, or to agree to go and live in a difficult social and cultural environment as a trade-off for the common future financial good of the family. I also think it is much more common for wives in Asian and African countries to make that decision, as evidenced by the scores who have done this over the decades and who continue to do this today.

I am just frustrated for two reasons: 1)that my wife will not take advantage of the opportunity available to us to erase the bad past 5+ years and rectify the financial situation in 1-2 years, versus it taking at least 5+ here with the status quo and 2) that my wife will not make the tough sacrifices so many other wives make by working and living temporarily in KSA or letting their husbands go there alone if they refuse to live there. You can call me old-fashioned or chauvinistic if you want, but I am just being honest.
 
Instead, my wife will have me here and we will continue the status quo struggle for the foreseeable future. We reviewed the financial details of all the possible situations: staying here as is, my going to KSA alone, and our going to KSA together. That did not change her mind. She knows that, by my declining  the KSA job, we will give up things like having a baby, paying off debt, saving $, being able to get new cars (ours are quite old), and having $ to use for things like a house and further education, etc. She still did not change her mind.

So I could decline the job, keep my wife, and continue our financial struggle, or I could take the job, lose her, but regain my financial footing. Although I am not currently happy about this, I chose the former, which will hopefully turn out to be the right choice in this situation.

Since the economic recession hit the US in early 2008, our financial situation, like so many here in the US and abroad, has been severely affected.

We have had to move to another state for my current job and my wife has taken a job. In addition to my current job, I have also been able to secure locum tenens work in other states intermittently since about a year ago. We have utilized the advice of financial advisors, and we have made plenty of cuts and changes in our household budget. Despite these changes and sacrifices, our financial situation remains tenuous, with no significant improvement or resolution in the foreseeable future.

I have been looking at new jobs here in the US for almost 2 years. The great majority of these do not offer opportunities for a significant increase in income and those that do tend to be in undesirable locations and/or locations that my wife will not consider.

As such, I have recently been looking at possible positions in the Middle East due to the higher potential pay and the partial tax advantages there (US expat workers are not taxed on the first $97,000 of earnings abroad, but all $ over that is taxed at the usual US government rates of 33-40%).

Perhaps a job with similar pay and benefits will become available in the future in the UAE, which may be the only location in the ME that my wife would consider, if she would indeed even consider that as a possibility.

I have gone on much too long here. Sorry to be so long-winded, but it has been therapeutic for me and I hope I have been of assistance to even one person or couple.

Pity she wouldn't consider the move but since she was adamant, I think you made the right decision.  Thanks for your heart-felt post.

FYI- You can try tonget on with ASC or affliated Aramco company as you get the same retirement and etc. you might not get the tax break but tge retirement is well worth it. Whata tour profeasion? I know quite a few people ar ASC. :)

Thx Alliecat, and keep up your informative anf helpful posts!

Beridge, thx for the reply and helpful offet. I am a physician (ophthalmologist). Specialist physician jobs are available in the ME, but not a big supply and few (like the offer I had) that pay enough to make it worthwhile to go there for 1,2, more years. Have a goid day!

themoe wrote:

Perhaps a job with similar pay and benefits will become available in the future in the UAE, which may be the only location in the ME that my wife would consider, if she would indeed even consider that as a possibility.

The UAE is likely to be more within her comfort zone.  However, if you've never even asked her...

Anyway, the opinions of a handful of anonymous strangers half-way across the world do not matter; this is a private issue between you and your wife.  Such personal life decisions are yours to make and not ours.

Good luck.

there might be a compromise. work in another GCC country. you will have most of the benefits of working in Saudi, and most of the freedom of being in the US (minimal NSA spying lol had to do it). This might go over better

I think she will either say no to any GCC ( or yes to maybe UAE or Kuwait).  Basically a yes or no attitude.
Only way to know is to ask. Or, if it's a couple of years from now, with no financial relief, then attitudes may change ;)!!!

well Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, and Kuwait are very similar when it comes to these things. UAE has a lot more places for you to have fun in, but during vacations all the GCC countries turn to Saudi. You can't get away from us if you are in the GCC.

ahelpfulsaudi wrote:

well Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, and Kuwait are very similar when it comes to these things. UAE has a lot more places for you to have fun in, but during vacations all the GCC countries turn to Saudi. You can't get away from us if you are in the GCC.

True but Saudis are different when they get out of Saudi Arabia.  They like to let down their hair and have fun as much as anybody else :)

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