Monday, June 07, 2004

Saudi Arabia, it appears, to be shifting into a war torn zone.

RIYADH, 7 June 2004 — The BBC's security correspondent Frank Gardner
was critically injured and his cameraman Simon Cumbers was killed
yesterday when they came under fire in a Riyadh neighborhood
notorious for militants.§ion=0&article=46416&d=7&m=6&y=2004

I am one of Frank’s new fan and was alarmed to hear that he was shot in Suwaidi district.

The recent spate of events has made many expats, who have not already left, to consider how worthwhile it is for them to stay here. That includes us. How much is our lives worth to us?

Perhaps, some of you may wonder why many expatriates chooses to come to work in Saudi. The answer is simple – money. Most good contracts in kingdom of Saudi Arabia offers a tax free salary, accommodation in an expatriate compound, air tickets to one’s country of origin once a year and a generous annual leave. Considering that a country such as the UK has a taxation rate of 40%, this offer is very lucrative indeed!

But many have packed their bags to go. Perhaps they have made their money over the years and decided that this is the last straw and will take no more of it.

But I have only just arrived.

Many asked me, why Saudi Arabia now? My answer to that is because the opportunity has just come up recently. Well I wanted to try Europe first, and after three years I thought well, why not. Its not fair to say that I want to try living in Europe and not the Middle East. If given the chance yes I would like to try living in every continent in the world. Only to see the greatness and the diversity of the different cultures and terrain of this world that we live in. And it will be unfair to say that I am only attracted to North America and Europe, and not try the Middle East.

Some asked, why not just visit? Well when one visits a place as a tourist, one sees the place only from one side, the touristy places, the people in the tourist industry and the shopping, not able to experience the richness or the culture of actually living in that place and understanding the psyche of the people there.

And normally the first month living anywhere is difficult because one goes through a culture shock, due to unfamiliarity to the environment of a place. (I had a culture shock when I first lived in Kuala Lumpur, I call KL home now but it sure didn’t feel that way my first month there.)

But with all this shootings and attack, I begin to wonder, is it worthwhile to try living here?

For now, I’d have to say we will wait and see. (I have only just finished unpacking my luggage that arrived yesterday.)

I have been in denial for the past week. I have focused all my energy in making my new abode home. But I am beginning to ask, how worthwhile is it for me to try it out here?

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