Habibi Come to Saudi!

Habibi Come to Saudi!

After I was rudely informed by a direct debit that I am indeed STILL paying for this domain. I thought, why not actually put my site to use and give my readers content. It has been a while after all…

So that being said, I have some news….your girl has JAPA’D to Saudi Arabia (if you couldn’t already guess by the title). If anyone had told me that moving to Saudi Arabia was on the cards for 2023/24, I sure as hell wouldn’t have believed them. But omo, here we are!

Why Saudi?

I didn’t have a strict plan nor was I tunnel visioned on relocating to a specific place – I just knew I needed to get out of the UK. I couldn’t help but feel as if I was in a repetitive and mundane loop living in the UK. I was getting tired of the environment, economy, and being subject to the miserable weather the UK has to offer (especially as a Vitamin D deficient girlie who thrives in hot climate conditions). I did have a few countries in my mind that I could possibly relocate to including the US, Germany, and other GCC countries. But I was leaning more towards Gulf Countries (preferably UAE), because who wouldn’t want to chop tax free salary!

I remember seeing the job advert for my current role on LinkedIn and joking about it to my friend and siblings and said to them:

‘LOL, Guys I’ve just applied for a role in Saudi Arabia. But just on pure vibes because I know they probably won’t call me back’.

Me (May 2023)

My dear friends, let me tell you that they did indeed call me back…the very next day and within the space of 2 weeks offered me the position (yes, me too I was shookethhh). At that moment, I feared that I may have girl bossed a little too close to the Sun because whatttttt?? I was really moving to Saudi Arabia.

Settling In and Adjusting

Before I made the move, I reached out to a few expats via LinkedIn who were already living and working in KSA for some tips and advice in order to help with the transition. As always, whenever you leave your place of comfort – you are more than likely to go through an adjustment period and a few shockers. For me these were:

  1. THE HEAT I meannn I did hear about how hot it gets in the Middle East – but nothing could have prepared me! The first time I stepped outside in KSA the heat shocked my bodyyyy! At one point, I’m sure I struggled to breathe outdoors. I also relocated in July which is the thick of Summer, where there were highs of 47 degrees (equivalent to 116 Farenheit). That heat is not for the faint hearted.
  2. ADJUSTING TO THE NEW WORK WEEK which was now Sunday to Thursday. My first day of work happened to fall on a Sunday and I was terrified that I would forget and sleep or treat it like a weekend at end up at . I had to set multiple alarms and reminders that Sunday is now a working day.
  3. THE TRAFFIC I did read all about this prior to my arrival but again, nothing could have prepared me for this. If you know much about Lagos, you’ll know how bad traffic can be. But hear me out, I truly truly believe that Riyadh traffic trumps Lagos. It takes the medal. Riyadh and traffic is like 5&6. Currently, the city are working on building public transportation system (buses and trains) – which I believe should reduce the level of traffic. And let me be the first to tell you that the day they announce the opening of the train system, I will be sleeping outside my nearest train station the night before they open to ensure I can cut the opening ribbon with them and get on that train. I honestly cannot wait!
  4. MAINTENANCE SERVICES I have given up trying to find a hairdresser, nail technician and lash technician here, simply because I know my standards will not be met. A few solutions which have worked for me is travelling to neighbouring countries like Dubai or Bahrain to do maintenance there or waiting till I get back to London. I’ve been trying to poach both my lash tech and nail tech to move to Saudi because this is becoming unbearable.

Building Community:

This move wasn’t my first stint abroad, so I was familiar with the challenges that come with it such as having to adjust to a new work environment, navigating new social circles, building new friendships, and finding my tribe. However, for some reason this move felt more challenging – I was the furthest I’ve been from home and unsure how I was going to navigate this.

Fortunately, my first few weeks turned out to be far more social than I ever imagined. I arrived in KSA a few days before my first day at work and I was able to meet up with a few of colleagues for dinner. One introduction led to another, and before I knew it, I was making new connections and building friendships with amazing individuals who were also on the same journey as me. What was even nicer was meeting expats from back home and the diaspora. Half of the people I have been fortunate to meet are Nigerians and I chuckle because there is only one thing that brought us all over here OWO. (I truly believe that there is NOWHERE on this earth where you will not find Nigerians and I just love it for us!)

I must also give an honourable shoutout to my community back home. Packing up and moving abroad isn’t solely about forming new connections, it’s also about preserving and fostering the friendships and relationships you had to leave behind. I’ve been blessed to have such a strong support system – so much so that they have taken the time out to come and visit me in my new stomping ground. I couldn’t be more honoured to show them a good time here! Shoutout you guys, you’re the best!!!

Overall

The past 7 months in KSA have been truly unforgettable—an experience I’ll likely never stop talking about (especially to my future children). Despite facing trials and moments where I contemplated packing up shop, these challenges have been outweighed by the positive experiences. It may sound cliché, but there is just something about stepping outside of your comfort zone, quite literally and figuratively, that is transformative. It brings about a new level of confidence and courage, encouraging you to approach new situations with a different mindset.. I imagine this is similar to how Stella felt when she got her “groove” back.

We’re back back back!

7 Comments

  1. Jasmine
    March 21, 2024 / 8:04 am

    Love every bit of this! So glad you’re back!

  2. Abayomi Apatira
    March 21, 2024 / 8:36 am

    What an expose! Well written, well balanced. Another related dimension to Palateport. Nice to have you back.

  3. Steph
    March 21, 2024 / 8:41 am

    Loved this! I now expect regular updates!

  4. Ogechi
    March 21, 2024 / 9:32 am

    She’s back! Such a good read, looking forward to more posts.

  5. OGZ
    March 21, 2024 / 1:14 pm

    I feel like i’ll miss work a couple of times just from adjusting to the new work week style

  6. Tuvola Koroma
    March 21, 2024 / 1:41 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing. Truly a fun read. Can’t wait to hear some of the interesting stories I know you have to tell.

  7. Wumi
    March 21, 2024 / 2:29 pm

    Love! Great read! Cannot wait to visit Saudi. Looking forward to more updates !!

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