Sunday, 24 November 2013

Back to the Desert: A New Jeddah?

Saudi Arabia: a time of exciting change
It’s been some time since I’ve written, and I suppose there are a number of reasons for my absence from the blog world. When I moved back to Toronto this past July, I wondered whether I would continue with the blog; it’s about Saudi Arabia, after all, and since I’m no longer officially living there, I wasn’t sure whether I’d have much to say.

Good news, though! Any doubts I may have had about the relevance of Pink Jeddah Sunset have been eradicated! Obliterated! Blown away! In the few short months since I left Jeddah, many interesting, provocative, and exciting developments and been made in Saudi, and in Canada-Saudi relations, and I hope that I will find time over the semester break (in December) to write about these!

Al Hamra District Beach Area, Jeddah
Here are a few of the *big* events and exciting developments that I consider particularly notable:

(1)    Saudi Arabia has released Canadians from horrendously long visa wait times—it now takes only 10 days as opposed to 45+ to receive a visa. (When I first applied for my visa, I waited over 70 days once I’d submitted my completed application)
Preview from the Saudi Arabian Consulate Visa Page: Good News!

(2)     There is now a direct flight from Toronto to Jeddah via Saudi Arabian airlines! (Horray for easier future visits to see DH!)
Jeddah to Toronto, Direct!

(3)    Many women took to the streets—behind the wheel!—on October 23, 2013

Driving in Saudi
There are all exciting things that I will write more on soon inshallah!

Life: too few hours in a day!
The main reason I have unfortunately not kept up (on the blog) with the interesting stories above is—first and foremost—school. The first year of my doctoral program is comprised of coursework, and that, along with other responsibilities, is making my days (and nights!) particularly hectic. I’m keeping a barely-there balance of readings, teaching assistant duties (marking two sets of 70 essays among other tasks this semester), my own seminar presentations, upcoming final papers, and an Old English exam to top it all off! It’s truly been a whirlwind few months, and for the most part I’m very thankful for the busyness.

And then it’s quiet...for a second.
The rare moments that I have an hour to myself—away from books, stress, and life drama—I feel a bit empty and miss DH so very much. I last saw him in early July, and, as he pointed out the other day, this is the longest we’ve been apart since getting married in the summer of 2011.
Having lived apart in 2009 for two and a half years, and then again in 2011 for four months while I waited for my Saudi visa, DH and I are no strangers to long-distance love.  We knew what we were getting into, and that keeping busy is crucial. By nature, we’re both masters at doing so!
Jeddah: Can't wait!

The countdown is on!
While DH and I are both keeping busy, I’m counting down the days until I can return to warm, beautiful, sunny Jeddah (a city for which I am truly so very nostalgic) and see my love! I’m also eager to see my former colleagues and students, and, of course, my wonderful friends who will be there when I visit for a few weeks next month!

I promise that I’ll write more from Jeddah in a few short weeks! Can’t wait to tell you all about my “reverse reverse culture shock” that will no doubt afflict me in some manner... (Reverse culture shock—even after being back in Canada since July—is a topic in and of itself!)

Until then, As-salam alaykum sالسلام عليكم and ma-salaam مع السلامة to you all!


...and try to stay warm, fellow snow and cold-afflicted Canadians!!!!
Toronto Weather Last Night. BRR!