Thursday, 26 May 2011

Jeddah on my mind...

Welcome to "Pink Jeddah Sunset!"
I'm writing this evening to give a bit of background on this blog, my reasons for writing, and some quick facts about where I'm moving with my husband-to-be this fall: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (KSA). I've decided to call the blog "Pink Jeddah Sunset" because I love pink (really, I LOVE it!) and, well, Jeddah is self-explanatory! One of the things I'm very much looking forward to about being there is being able to walk along the corniche by the Red Sea at sunset, so there you go! 
Jeddah Corniche
Why Jeddah?
As I mentioned in my previous post, my fiancĂ© is currently working in Jeddah. Jeddah is a the second largest city in KSA and is located on the Red Sea. It's the most liberal cosmopolitan city in Saudi Arabia because of its ports, which seem to have opened it up more to the West than other more conservative cities. It's been called the "Vegas" of Saudi Arabia, but I am well aware that is a VERY relative thing!!! 
Map of Saudi Arabia * Jeddah
My soon to be husband has been in Jeddah since October 2009, and we've been engaged long distance since last February. He'll be back in Canada for the summer and we're getting married on July 22 before moving to Jeddah together at the beginning of September, Inshallah (Arabic for "God willing," as the Arabs say!) We're super excited to finally be together again (we dated in Toronto, Canada for a year and half before he moved abroad). This subject, our move to KSA, is the real subject of my blog and the reason I thought I would start one! Since I'll be on the other side of the world, I figured "Pink Jeddah Sunset" would be a nice way to share my / our experiences in the Middle East with friends and family back home in Canada. 

A bit of background on us and KSA
I am in the process of sorting out a job at a Jeddah university to teach English (and put my master's degree in English to some use). While my husband-to-be works in the men's branch of the same university, I would be teaching in the ladies' branch. You see, if you're not familiar with Saudi Arabia, this may be a surprise: everything is segregated--from high schools, universities, restaurants, coffee shops, etc, etc! There are religious police, called the "muttawa" who enforce the gender segregation. Jeddah, though, from what I hear and have so far learned, is more laid back. I'm not completely sure what to expect, but I'm not too concerned. As a married woman (wow, that feels so cool to say...since we'll be married when we go) my husband and I will be in the family section of restaurants and other places that enforce the gender division. For now, since he's there alone, when he goes out to a restaurant, he has to go into the single men's section. Apparently the mall security even monitors who can enter malls. The amazingly luxurious, spacious, theme-park shopping centres are one of the few places that single woman can roam free from single men. Married men, as long as they're with their wives, generally have no trouble getting into the malls though. So we should be doing lots of shopping! lol
McDonalds: family section; single men's section
At the moment, other than trying to finish my MA before our wedding, I'm working like crazy to make all the wedding plans perfect. I'm also about to start figuring out how to bring my cat, Oreo aka Ophelius, along to Jeddah. I can't bear to leave him here and not see him, and I'm anticipating a wild adjustment when we move. It would be nice to have Oreo with us for the time we're abroad. So, in addition to all the paperwork for my moving to KSA, Oreo will need what I'm sure will be lots of his own documents and health checks. *fingers crossed* that it will all work out... but in KSA, nothing goes smoothly. I even had an interview where the head of HR took a "day off" and didn't bother to let me know we'd have to reschedule the interview. My fiancĂ© took that story as an opportunity to "welcome" me to Saudi Arabia: this is how things are done! 

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