Dhahran, Saudi Arabia Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

Dhahran, Saudi Arabia 04/01/16

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No

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2. How long have you lived here?

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Plethora of western style housing compounds. Depending on where you reside, commute times vary, however, driving in KSA is aggravating no matter where you live and will affect your commute time. Most housing compounds are serviced by third-country national laborers such as Indians, Pakistanis, Filipinos, Bangladeshis, etc.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Widely available. Check out Tamimi (owned by Safeway and very similar), Lulu, or Hyperpanda. They also have a Carrefour. Lulu is big and caters a lot to local/third-country population, but still full of western brands. Tamimi, although like Safeway, is not as well stocked as Lulu, but you can still get everything you want there.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Any U.S. fast food chain is available here. Some European brands available as well. Prices are cheap and comparable to the U.S. Example: Whopper combo at BK runs at the equivalent of US$5-6. There's KFC, McD's, BK, Applebee's, Chilli's, Starbucks, Popeye's, etc. Quality/taste isn't the same as U.S., but once you've been here a while, you will crave it. Unfortunately, you have to time it so that you get your order before the place closes down for prayer, usually 30 min. They also have a lot of gourmet-style, up and coming burger joints like Burger Fuel, Wayback Burger, Five Guys (coming soon), and other chains. Schwarma joints that sell the local, regional stuff are awesome too.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Nothing worse than the States. Yes, you can find mosquitoes, flies, and bees here, but not in significant numbers.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Depends on your compound. Ask around the compound and you'll get the market price for whatever third-country national provides the service on the side. A lot of it is word of mouth.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Depends. Some compounds have varying sizes of fitness centers that'll do the job. There are also community centers around and they cater more to locals, but are decent and if you speak Arabic, it helps to get you in. There are also conventional privately-owned gyms that cater to all. There's a "Fitness-Time" chain in Dhahran, Khobar and Dammam that patterns itself off U.S. brand big gyms like Gold's, 24-hour fitness.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Relatively safe. Chip cards accepted at most reputable businesses.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Knowing a little Arabic is good, same thing for Hindi and Urdu. You can get by with English, and may have to resort to "simple" English when conversing with third-country nationals.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

There's a train station in Dammam that you can take to Riyadh. Taxi's are relatively safe, but I don't really use them. There are not really any buses.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Any car will work, no need to get caught up in the whole SUV need, unless you want to check out the dunes. Toyota compact cars like the Yaris and Corolla are common here.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. A few hundred dollars for a pre-paid, 12 month plan (wireless router/hotspot).

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

You'll need to obtain a resident ID card called an "iqama" before you can purchase a phone/SIM card. It's cheap to have a cell here and you "top up" your account (non-contract plan).

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No. But if you're affiliated with a certain big name Saudi owned oil company, you'll be fine.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Abaya for the women, usually long pants and any type of regular shirt for males.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

There's been an uptick in violence since 2014 related to attacks in Shia populated areas (Google "Qatif" and "Hasa" and "Hofuf"). There's also been incidents in KSA targeting expats.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care is decent. SAAD Specialist Hospital is comparable with western type hospitals and you can given get physical therapy, dental work, ER, etc.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Good, but hazy and you're not going to see any starts because of it. Sandstorms tend to happen more in the winter. We used a face mask a few times over the course of the season.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Sandstorms can be bad 1-3 times a year.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It'll get really hot and humid starting June and last till September. Winters are mild and you'll need a decent fleece for the coldest part of winter, which may last a few weeks from Dec to Jan.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are many international schools that cater to the various demographics of expats. Keep in mind, there's a significant amount of expats here, including third country nationals and they have their own set of international schools. International Schools Group is at the top and caters to western expat kids and wealthy Arab/Saudi expat kids and other nationalities whose families are wealthy/privileged. The quality is similar to a typical public school in the U.S.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

None that I'm aware. Saudi isn't necessarily ADA compliant.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

People here seem to either utilize daycare if available at their compound, stay-at-home moms (since it is difficult for expat women to work), or nannies (a lot of Filipino nannies).

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Depends on your compound, school, etc.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Depends on who you work for and where you are housed. There are a lot of great people in the various housing compounds and outside the walls. However, don't be naive and think just because you're overseas with other expats, that the shared hardship will mean you can instantly trust everyone.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Families - yes. Singles - No. Couples - Ok. Experiences may vary. Families do well since kids are usually confined to their respective compounds and thrive among the small communities made.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

No.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes. Third-country national expats are treated unfairly by western expats and Saudis alike. Women are restricted and cannot drive. Depending on if you're a western expat woman or third-country national woman, you will be treated differently accordingly. Westerners tend to be treated better than non-Westerners. Any religion besides Islam is not condoned publicly.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Good food, saving money, cultural experiences, regional travel opportunities

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Bahrain next door. Going off-road in the desert. Getting away from western expat communities and finding your way with Saudis or non-western expats who have made KSA their "home". Get out of the bunker mentality and exploring "local" areas.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Souvenirs that appear to be Saudi or Arab, but are sold and made by some third-country national who will sell to you at a high price since you're a westerner.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Saving money.

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10. Can you save money?

YES.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How restrictive it is with prayer 5 x day closing shops and restaurants down. TERRIBLE and unsafe drivers.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

I suppose.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Expectations of spontaneity, ease of adventure, Lawrence of Arabia daydreaming.

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4. But don't forget your:

Reasons for why you came here and if you're on a contract/assignment, that it will end.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

The Kingdom. It's not based in Dhahran, but it is the closest thing. YouTube Dhahran and browse the videos of the crazy drivers here.

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Dhahran, Saudi Arabia 07/01/15

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Fourth expat experience.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

DC, about 24-30 hours of travel time, connecting through Bahrain, Qatar, and Frankfurt.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is all on compound and there are a number of different options. Most are housed on the Consulate compound or a compound approximately 15 minutes away. There is a shuttle service.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Comparable to U.S. There's a number of Safeway/Tamimi grocery stores, Geant, Lulu, Danube, and Carrefour hypermarkets.

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3. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Roaches around the Consulate compound, these are mostly eaten by the dozens of geckos. Geckos are eaten by cats. Circle of life.

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Daily Life:

1. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Gyms are available on all housing compounds for free. There are also gyms on the economy but they typically men-only. There is a rumor of a women's gym in one of the malls.

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2. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

No problems.

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3. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None. Saudi Arabia is the 5th largest country for native English speakers. Nearly everyone you will encounter on the economy will be South Asian or Filipino.

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4. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes. The Consulate bathrooms would be inaccessible for anyone who could not walk up/down stairs.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Not authorized due to security situation. Get friendly with motorpool.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Yes. Numerous terrorist groups active in the area. Occasional threat of war. One of the housing compounds used by the USG was the site of deadly terrorist attack in 2007 (?) and Khobar Towers are nearby. In 2015 two bombings in the Shia neighborhood nearby occurred within the same week. Occasional attacks targeting Westerners (knife attack, shootings, etc).

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Many. Again, the health risks are (and will likely always be) murky. During my tour it was announced that women were required to have their male guardian's permission to receive medical care. What care there is can be a roll of the dice. There is no mental health care available on the economy. Professional healthcare workers have varying degrees of education and experience.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Atrocious. Aside from the fact that Dhahran is located in a sand sea and subject to sandstorms ("shamals") throughout the winter, the consulate is also downwind from the world's largest chemical plant. This creates some beautiful sunsets, but at night the area itself looks like a movie depiction of Hell with all the natural gas flare-offs. The impact of this on the health of the staff is unclear; unclear because there are no official stats. Officially the cancer rate is the same as anywhere else, but anecdotally there is good reason that Aramco maintains strong relationships with U.S. cancer hospitals.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It's hot, it's Saudi Arabia. Unlike Riyadh, it is humid because you are so close to the Gulf. In the winter, the sandstorms can lower visibility.

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Schools & Children:

1. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Aramco's little league team is world famous.

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Expat Life:

1. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Not particularly, but there are a number of expat circles for dating. Aramco has a number of singles, plus local military detachments. There is also Bahrain close by.

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2. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Saudi Arabia does not recognize religions other than Islam. There are "underground" Catholic Masses and non-denominational Christian services held at Aramco.

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3. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The biggest highlight was really the sense of community and closeness of the consulate staff. Everyone really is in it together.

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4. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Aramco has every activity under the sun. Hazzaz is great for cheap shopping and offers pillows to build your own diwaniya.

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5. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Buy a table made out of an antique door! Desert Designs is amazing.

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6. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Desert Designs sells some really great furniture and decor. My house ended up looking like a Bedouin tent. You can also earn/save a good deal of money. Plenty of opportunities to travel around the region.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No.

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2. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

The Kingdom (based on Aramco!) and

Zero Dark Thirty (features the attack on the Oasis compound!).

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3. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/014311347X/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=014311347X&linkCode=as2&tag=thesunspousunder&linkId=4YV5TJTVX4C74ECO

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Dhahran, Saudi Arabia 06/18/15

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Monrovia, Liberia and Stockholm, Sweden

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Georgia, 24 hours (give or take) with connections in Frankfurt or London or other large hubs

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3. How long have you lived here?

10 months

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Most every expat lives on a residential compound. These are spread throughout the Khobar, Dahran area. Everything is fairly close together, my commute was a 20-minute drive (with heavy traffic).

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

This all depends on where you purchase your groceries and household supplies. In general, I would say they are slightly more expensive here than State-side. (Keep in mind, I moved here from Sweden where everything was WAY more expensive.)

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Can't think of anything.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Yes. There are many American restaurants as well as Middle Eastern ones as well. Most deliver (even the fast food ones). I have an app on my phone and often order directly from the restaurant of my choice from that and have it delivered within an hour. The price is generally comparable to the States.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

occasional ants and flies during the winter

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We have access to the APO system which is dependable. International shipping is available through DHL and FedEx.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Domestic help is available. Finding a good/dependable worker that is available when you want is sometimes difficult but doable. The cost is generally around 25-35 SAR (US$7-10) per hour.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are gyms at most of the residential compounds, most are free of charge. There are also some health clubs, but I believe most are for men.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Many places don't accept credit cards so it's smart to have cash on hand. I use ATMs all of the time here.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There are some on Aramco but not sure exactly which ones.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Very little

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

There are some places that aren't quite as developed as we are used to but I have noticed elevators and ramps in most large facilities. Therefore, I don't think it would be too difficult depending on the disability.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxi services are available, but as government workers, we aren't authorized to take public transportation.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Pretty much anything goes from what I've seen but the roads in general aren't maintained very well and drivers have to be defensive. Gas is cheap, so the large american SUV is popular.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

internet is available. I'm not sure if it would be classified as high speed. I paid nearly US$1,000 for 10 months of service.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

We brought a GSM unlocked phone with us and bought a sim card when we got here.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No quarantine. There is a vet and kennel on Aramco.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Maybe for men... I couldn't imagine there being many job opportunities for expat women on the local economy

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are plenty of volunteer opportunities at the school, and at Aramco.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Work: business casual
Public: conservative (all women wear abayas)

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Normal concerns that go along with Middle Eastern posts

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

I've found the medical care here to be quite available and good quality.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Moderate to unhealthy (when there are sandstorms).

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

October through May the weather runs between 70-90F degrees, there can be some rainy days that dip into the 60'sF. June through September the weather is Hot, Hotter, and "OMG, I think I'm on fire" temperatures upwards of 120F degrees

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The school is next door to the U.S. Consulate and I've found it to be very accommodating.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

I'm unaware.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

My child goes to the nursery at the school next door. The nursery is open from 7:30am until 3:30pm. It's perfect for someone working part-time but can be problematic for families in which both husband and wife work full time. I LOVE the nursery!!! My daughter has learned so much. It's super inexpensive too. It averages about US$15 per day. Usually my monthly charge is around US$300.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, Aramco has plenty of sports programs for all ages and some residential compounds have free play sports programs.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

There is a large expat community. As with many posts, some love it and some don't. I personally love it and find that many of my friends do too so I find morale to be high among my friends.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Getting together with friends

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It's a good city for all of the above as long as they are open minded and adapt to any situation easily.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

No

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

I don't know much about the racial part but there's definitely no freedom of religion and there is no gender equality.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Connecting with great people and being invited to the homes of locals

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

visiting Bahrain, getting involved in Aramco activities, the consulate and compounds put on fun events, desert camping, women's spas.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Local art, furniture, and clothing

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Saving money, experiencing a very exclusive culture that most people can't just choose to visit, a sense of community among various groups (consulate, school, residential compound, etc.), and various functions and social outings.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

I felt pretty informed.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

furniture

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1476773963/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1476773963&linkCode=as2&tag=thesunspousunder&linkId=GW2LBZR73ERSYHS2

He mentions Saudi Arabia a lot in this book and it is insightful on the roles of women in this country.

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Dhahran, Saudi Arabia 01/22/14

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Not my first expat experience.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

From Washington D.C. there is a flight to Amsterdam, then Kuwait for refueling, then to Manama, Bahrain. It is recommended flying into Bahrain because the airport is easier to navigate then Dammam Airport in Saudi Arabia.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government employee.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Consulate compound housing is older government quarters with no commute time; off-compound housing is comprised of pretty nice villas and commute time is around 30 minutes.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Most American products are available here and several British products; all available at a higher cost than locally produced items; popular grocery stores include Tamimi (Safeway company); LuLu, Danube.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Light weight dresses/shorts for women (to wear under the abaya and at work in the summer); more sandals; light weight suits for men, your favorite toiletries; craft/hobby items; Netflix subscription; good laptop and high quality router; English language books; camping gear.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

All American fast food restaurants are available here and most American restaurant chains (KFC, Pizza Hut, McDonald's, Applebees, Red Lobster, etc). Prices are comparable to the U.S.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

A lot of flies in the warm weather.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

The Consulate has diplomatic mail pouch and military APO; expats can use the local mail system but it is slow.

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2. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Most compounds have gyms; women and men cannot attend gyms together locally but I've heard there are "women's gyms" in Dhahran. The Aramco compound has gyms if you have access to the Aramco compound.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

ATMs are available in town and I haven't heard of anyone having problems; credit cards are commonly used at large hotels and higher-end restaurants.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

None.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

If you live on the economy, speaking Arabic is important; otherwise, you can get by without it as a lot of locals speak some English.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

There is not local transportation that diplomats can use. Expats do use taxis or hire local drivers; prices vary but are not more expensive than the U.S.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Women cannot drive here; recommended vehicles are SUVs and crash-resistent vehicles!

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

No.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Women have to wear abayas in public; on Aramco and in the Consulate, women should dress fairly modest but Western business attire is acceptable; men can wear anything they want (except shorts in public).

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Of course ... it's Saudi Arabia. Terrorism is always a concern although in the recent past, things have been pretty quiet on that front; needless to say, diplomats drive around in heavy (often armored) SUVs, vary the routes, times, etc.

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2. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

In the summer, the air quality is moderate due to the heat and humidity - there is not fresh air; in winter, the air is cool and pleasant; dust is always present.

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3. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot humid summers, cool winters (light sweater or jacket); it almost never rains but when it does, there is flooding.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The ISG is located next to the Consulate and the education seems to be pretty good, although there are a lot of "home school" days where parents are required to stay home with the kids and do their school work with them - not convenient for working parents.

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2. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Care for small children is usually provided by nannies; young children (preschool age) do have the option to go to school at the international school for a few hours each day.

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3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, if you have access to the Aramco compound; otherwise no.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

People tend to adapt differently; some are miserable; some Aramcons love it here and stay for 10-20 years; diplomats' morale comes and goes; the diplomatic community is extremely small.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Make homemade beer; sleep; workout; go out to eat, have dinner parties; watch movies; travel out of the country; have a lot of spa time; go shopping.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

The Consulate has turned into a family post; all events are family friendly which is great for families but the needs of singles are ignored. Aramco seems to be a bit on the wild side but it's not always easy to attend events there if you work full-time or don't have access, or aren't still in party mode. Again, not the best posting for singles.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

No, it is against Saudi law so gay or lesbian expats should be seriously private about their business or not accept an assignment to Dhahran.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes! The only authorized religion is Islam so other denominations have to practice in private. Saudis can be extremely prejudiced against people with brown skin, especially if they are of Asian backgrounds. (Saudi) Women are viewed and treated as property; Western women are often viewed as immoral whores by Saudis though Western women are "tolerated" in business meetings.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling to countries in this region that I have not visited as a tourist in the past; leaving Saudi Arabia on a regular basis is a necessary evil (costs money of course) due to the severe restrictions on personal freedoms (clothing, driving, religion).

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Day/weekend trips to Bahrain are popular because women aren't required to wear abayas, alcohol is permitted in hotels and women can drive/use taxis. Diplomats have security restrictions on in-country travel but it is possible to visit other cities. In Dhahran, popular pastimes include shopping and eating in restaurants (family areas for women). Travel in the regional area is not too difficult. Life in Dhahran takes place in private compounds and is easier depending upon "who you know."

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Not much honestly, most unique local items are imported, but still nice and still available.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Saudi Arabia doesn't officially allow tourism so not many Americans have the opportunity to live here. Saudis are very hospitable on a one-on-one basis although dealings with government officials can be difficult. You can save money here due to the extra allowances you receive being assigned here and there are interesting places to travel to in the region.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes if you don't travel too much.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

That the Consulate is a "family post"; that expat women out-number men 3 to 1; that there is no spontaneity in your day to day life; that it is difficult to maintain any privacy.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, but only once.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Expectations that this is a great place for singles to be assigned; winter coats; car if you are a woman; religious items; any expectation of privacy if you are a diplomat.

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4. But don't forget your:

Swimsuit, sandals; sports gear; hobby items.

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5. Do you have any other comments?

Have a plan before being assigned to Aramco or the Consulate - use this job/assignment to travel regionally; get in shape by becoming a workout fiend; go to school online, become proficient in a hobby, etc. If you don't have an advance plan, the adjustment will be rough.

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Dhahran, Saudi Arabia 10/05/12

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

California. Travel takes 29 hours through Dubai.

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3. How long have you lived here?

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

(The contributor is affiliated with the U.S. Government and has lived in Dhahran for a year, a third expat experience.)

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Houses/duplexes within closed/gated community compounds all around Khobar/Dammam.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

We've got LuLu's (an Indian chain), Safeway Tamimi (more expensive, but a wide variety), and Farm 5. Everything is available depending on how much you want to pay for it. A Mrs. Smith pumpkin pie at Tamimi will cost you about $20, the same goes for a kilo of asparagus imported from the U.S.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Everything's available in 220v (import of 120v was discontinued by the Saudi gov't. in 2012).

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Everything under the sun: Hardee's, Baskin Robbins, Applebee's, Burger King, McDonald's, Domino's Pizza, Pizza Hut, Little Caesar's Pizza, Chili's, etc. Cost range is about $5 for a full fast-food meal, about $20 for a restaurant.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

No real insect problems. Ants. Geckos that eat insects. They're cute and good!

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Compounds usually provide a mailing address (depends on the compound). FedEx is available.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

We pay about $6/hour for household help and also pay $10 for transport per time she comes to the house. If you have a living permit and can afford it, you can sponsor to bring in household help from another country-depending on where you work.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Usually in living compounds. Pools are also usually found in the living compounds.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

ATMs are plentiful. Not too many places accept credit cards except hotels and Safeway Tamimi, though it's becoming more wide-spread.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, but you need to ask around where you live to find them. Be careful whom you ask. Practicing any religion except Islam is punishable by law. According to Wikipedia, "Saudi Arabia allows Christians to enter the country as foreign workers for temporary work, but does not allow them to practice their faith openly. Because of that, Christians generally only worship in secret within private homes. Items and articles belonging to religions other than Islam are prohibited.These include Bibles, crucifixes, statues, carvings, items with religious symbols, and others."

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Arab news. No idea of cost.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Arabic is helpful. Knowing the key words: thank you, please, etc. is essential for courtesy.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

The lack of elevators, ramps, and sidewalks makes it very difficult for someone with disabilities to live here.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

We've got LuLu's (an Indian chain), Safeway Tamimi (more expensive, but a wide variety), and Farm 5. Everything is available depending on how much you want to pay for it. A Mrs. Smith pumpkin pie at Tamimi will cost you about $20, the same goes for a kilo of asparagus imported from the U.S.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

We don't have a car.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, at about $100/month. It could be more or less depending on speed, where you live, and the provider.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Per a new Saudi regulation, one must have an iqama (a living permit) to buy and register a SIM card for a cell phone--no exceptions.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No idea. You will need your company's help to get animals (especially dogs) into Saudi. Do not bring any pet that has a difficult time living in extremely hot conditions--they WILL die.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Pet care available at the Aramco compound's Arabian Kennels Club (if you can get on to the compound).

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

If one looks. You have to get a permit from the Saudi government to work in Saudi and that can be EXTREMELY difficult.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

No shorts for men or women in public. Women must wear an abaya (a long, black, shapeless dress worn over clothing that looks like a graduation gown) in public. When not wearing an abaya, women should wear shirts that go below the elbow and skirts that go below the knee (if not near the ankle), but usually anything goes within one's living compound.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Possible terrorism. The last incident in this area, the Khobar Towers bombing, took place on June 25, 1996, and targeted U.S. Airmen, killing 19. Riyadh diplomatic quarters (4-5 hours drive away) were attacked November 8, 2003 (watch "The Kingdom").

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Medical care here is excellent. Saad Hospital has many qualified doctors who have trained in developed countries, and the hospital has top-notch equipment. If you are anything but light-skinned, though, expect discrimination.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Moderate with lots of dust and sand constantly blowing through. Many people suffer from allergies.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

It's wonderful late-September to March (70s-90s) and blazing hot April-August (up to 120 F).

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

International Schools Group. Has an excellent reputation for all grades and offers an IB program.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Not much. I've heard it's difficult, if not impossible, to find good schools for kids with severe special needs. Most programs/schools try to integrate special- needs students into regular classrooms. Some schools will not accept special-needs students.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Also available at ISG.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

At Aramco, if you're lucky enough to work there or have access.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Significant due to many third-country nationals being hired for physical labor, and international companies being here. Aramco, American Consulate, and British Trade Office are also here.

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2. Morale among expats:

Some expats have been here WAY too long, though they would never know it. But you will. Most folks are happy here; it just takes some adjusting to the prayer times, restrictions, etc. We're thankful to be here but are looking forward to getting out and moving on, as well.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

N/A. Music, movie theaters, and alcohol are banned. We highly recommend bringing hobby supplies.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Women cannot drive; they must wear an abaya in public; and they are only permitted to go into restaurants with family sections. Single women have complained to us that Dhahran is a difficult place for them to live. It's good for families, as child care is available and reasonable.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Per Wikipedia, LGBT rights in Saudi Arabia are unrecognized. Homosexuality is frequently a taboo subject in Saudi Arabian society and is punished with imprisonment, corporal punishment, and capital punishment. Transgenderism is generally associated with homosexuality.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes. Islam is the only recognized and permitted religion in Saudi Arabia. It is possible to find folks who practice other religions, but they do so quietly.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Saving money. Being able to say we've lived in Saudi.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Go to Bahrain, and/or Aramco (if you can get in).

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Saudi does not value its history unless it relates to Islam. One can find interesting trinkets made by expats at the occasional craft show, but there's not much to buy on the local market. You'd have better luck at the Dubai airport. Carpets are expensive and not usually of decent quality. One can find doors made into tables at shops.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Saving money.

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11. Can you save money?

ABSOLUTELY. The cost of living is exceptionally reasonable.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, because it's a great place to save money. We wanted to experience Saudi Arabia and we have. No regrets, but we will give a second thought to coming back.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Bikini and common sense. Expectation to be treated decently if you have any pigment in your skin. Racism is rampant here. You can also leave behind any expectation of meeting Saudis; it doesn't happen often.

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3. But don't forget your:

Polarized sunglasses. Large humidifier for the bedroom. A sense of humor.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

The Girls of Riyadh It's nice to imagine what goes on behind the walls of Saudis' homes.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

The Kingdom (Riyadh). (a most macabre recommendation)

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6. Do you have any other comments?

We would not advise Saudi Arabia for one's first exposure to the Middle East. You will likely never want to come back here, nor anywhere near here, and that would be most unfortunate.

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Dhahran, Saudi Arabia 04/12/08

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, I've also lived in Dublin and Monterrey.

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2. How long have you lived here?

6 months.

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3. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

From Dulles there is a non-stop beginning soon to Kuwait and then from Kuwait into Dammam airport. Most people at post, however, fly in and out of Bahrain because it takes just as long to get to the airport there and it's much easier to fly into and out.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

I work at the U.S. Consulate General Dhahran.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

About 2/3rds live on compound in either a large stone home built in the early 1950's by Italian POWs or in small prefab homes. The other 1/3rd live in either apartments or townhomes in secured Western compounds around the area.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Meats and produce are expensive, everything else is about the same as the U.S. (I think, haven't lived back there for awhile). I have been able to find more American products here than in Ireland. However, for many things, if you see them, grab them because they probably won't be there tomorrow. The best is being able to get good corn and flour tortillas at the store! We're also able to order from the Military commissary in Riyadh and they deliver weekly (including frozen food). There's also a U.S. naval base in Bahrain with a small commissary that we have access to.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Right now we're only allowed to ship 2,500 lbs, so that doesn't give you a lot of wiggle room. If you have a grill and won't be assigned to an apartment, you should bring it. About 6 months out of the year the weather is great for outdoor parties.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Just about all of them, plus Chili's, TGI Friday's, Applebee's, and Starbucks. There's also good Arabic, Thai, Indian, Chinese, OK italian available. There is a Mexican restaurant but I haven't tried it yet.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

We have APO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Cheap. I pay my maid 100 SR (about US$26) for 5 hours work. If you want a live-in they are easy to find as well.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

No problems at all for either credit cards or ATMs.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, but you must know someone. I think both protestant and catholic are available.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes, newspapers are available free in the consulate. All houses are provided with AFN, plus there are two satellite services available for a fee (don't know how much).

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None. English is the language used to communicate between the TCN community, the Western expats, and the Saudis.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

A lot. It's hard enough for an able bodied person to cross the road without getting run down by a vehicle. Most buildings do have elevators though - but the consulate is not 100% accessible.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

We're not allowed to use any public transportation.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Any vehicle is fine - however you are extremely limited at the moment as to where you can drive a POV - unless it's an armored one. There are lots of big SUVs here. Due to the way the locals drive, I wouldn't bring a small car. Gas here is about US$1.65/gallon.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, provided to us free of charge by the employee association.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

You're provided one by the consulate and only repsonsible for personal calls.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

IVG or Vonage.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Aramco has a kennel club, costs 300 SR (about US$80) a year to join. They have a great vet and grooming and kennel services. For dogs to be granted entry to Saudi, they must be listed on the paperwork as a guard dog or a guide dog. Cats are abound and have no problems entering the country. The paperwork is a bit time consuming, but it's much easier to get an animal (even a dog) into Saudi than into Ireland or the U.K.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Both ISG schools and Aramco always seem to be looking for teachers. For men the opportunities are better; for woman their only options are really teaching, working at the consulate, or finding some small job at Aramco.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Casual at work unless you have a meeting with someone from outside. Men wear what you wear in the U.S. For women, you can wear what you wear in the States, but if you are not covering your legs and arms and chest, you should consider wearing the abayya to avoid harrasment.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

There's a lot of dust - so it's hazy most days and most people are sick every couple months or so with some sort of respitory illness.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Have you seen the movie The Kingdom? Just joking, currently we are a one-year high-threat unaccompanied post; but it's the safest one-year high-threat unaccompanied post I know of. There hasn't been a terrorist attack in the EP since 2004. Most of the American and other Western expats have returned with their families. The American school next door is full of students. We are currently required to travel almost everywhere in armored vehicles.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

If you're allergic to cats, beware - the compound is overrun with them. The dust is also a problem and causes people to be sick often. Post has a full time nurse and the RMO is in Riyadh. There is a hospital here that has better quality of care than you'd find in most U.S. cities and looks like a 5 star hotel. I know women that have given birth here and enjoyed the service they received.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

From November until about March it's great, dry for most of the time, not too cold, great during the day, requiring a light jacket sometimes at night. The rest of the year it's at least 100 degrees F. I'm told that from about July until October it's very humid (we are next to the Gulf).

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Children are not currently allowed at post. The International Schools Group (ISG) runs an American school for elementary-middle and high school as well as a British school for elementary-middle. This campus (Dhahran Campus) is right next door to the consulate - there are even doors in the wall that were used to allow kids to go to and from school when they were here. It's the most secure school compound (apart from Aramco) in the Eastern Province.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Dhahran Acadamy also runs a nursery/daycare and preschool.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Approximately 14,000 Americans live in the Dhahran area. The consulate is small though. There are also thousands of other Westerners living and working here. There is no other Diplomatic mission in the EP.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good for the most part. When we need a break we go over to Bahrain to recharge. Living in the EP as a woman is not as tough as I expected. I never cover my hair, I only wear the abayya when I have cropped pants and/or short sleeved shirt - I never close the abayya when I do where it. Have yet to be bothered by the religous police and only a couple of times have locals said anything, but I just ignored them and it wasn't a problem.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

There's not much of a social life in Saudi Arabia apart from private parties and going out to eat or cruising the malls.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Its a segregated society, and you see men holding hands all the time - but any other type of PDA amongst men could get you arrested. I'm sure the same goes for women.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

The only legal religion in KSA is Islam, however there are options for Christians. If you're Jewish, you wouldn't want to advertise; although I've heard of openly Jewish officers serving here with no problems. Non-diplomats probably have a harder time and wouldn't put Jewish down on the visa form for the answer to the religion question - yes they do ask.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Go to Bahrain for a night or a weekend. Where you can wear pretty much what you want, eat what you want, drink what you want, for women they can try on clothes before they buy them at the store (not an option in KSA except for one floor in one mall in Riyadh), women can drive there, and they have several movie theaters. The only movie theater in all of KSA is at Aramco and it shows older movies; although there is a new I-max theater in the EP as well. Another thing to do is take advantage of the recreational facilities at Aramco, including their private beach. You can also go out quad riding in the dunes and you can go scuba diving in the Red Sea in Jeddah.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

If you have the HHE space some people buy old doors that they hang on the wall or tables made out of old doors. Carpets are another big hit, as well as Saudi gold (very yellow and very bright). If you've been dreaming about an LCD or Plasma TV, this is a good place to get one.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes, due to the hardship and danger pay. I think our COLA should be higher though. And you may spend a lot of money on weekend trips out of the Kingdom.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter clothes - although it did get down to zero degrees for a few days in January this year. Your rain boots, you might need an umbrella a couple of times a year though.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunglasses, sunscreen, linen and cotton clothing.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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