Amidst my regular postings, I’ve been interviewing the owners of Saudi related online groups/forums. I previously posted on Saudi Wives and Gulf Wives. The Expats In Saudi Arabia group is a hit with expats of every nationality and widely popular with a membership of 4358 to date. It is a great source of information and personal experiences for expats due to arrive in Saudi Arabia and those already situated here. Even after expats return to their home country, they remain loyal by still contributing based upon their recollections of having lived the life in Saudi Arabia. Above all, running a group as large and active as Expats In Saudi single handedly is no mean feat and its owner deserves an honorable mention and round of applause!
How and why did you create Expats In Saudi Arabia? EXPATS WAS STARTED BACK IN DEC 1998 BY LECKIE LUK A ENGLISH POLICE MAN THAT WAS BASED OUT HERE. IN 2000 MY HUSBAND WAS DIAGNOSED WITH CANCER AND AS IN SAUDI ARABIA THERE WERE NO CANCER SUPPORT CENTERS I LOOKED ON LINE FOR CANCER GROUPS ON yAHOO, I FOUND EXPATS AND THOUGHT MAYBE THEY MAY BE ABLE TO HELP ME, SADLY THEY COULDNT BUT IT WAS THE START OF A LONG PROJECT WITH EXPATS, i WAS SURPRISED TO SEE THAT I KNEW THE ANSWERS TO LOTS OF QUESTIONS PEOPLE WERE ASKING, BY THEN i HAD BEEN IN THE KINGDOM 10 YEARS. LECKIE ASKED ME TO HELP MODERATE THE GROUP AS HE WAS PLANNING ON LEAVING AND THEN LATE IN 2001 HE LEFT AND GAVE THE GROUP TO ME TO RUN.
Who can be a member? ANY ONE CAN BE A MEMBER NO MATTER THEIR NATIONALITY OR RELIGION THE ONLY RULE IS THAT ALL POSTS ARE IN ENGLISH.
What benefits do you expect members to get out of the group? MEMBERS GET A SUPPORT BASE THAT YOU CANNOT FIND ANY WHERE ELSE ON THE INTERNET OR THRU BOOKS. MOST SAUDI GROUPS ARE FULL OF OLD INFORMATION FROM PEOPLE WHO WERE HERE 20 OR 10 YEARS AGO. SAUDI IS UNIQUE THAT THINGS ARE CHANGING VERY QUICKLY POLITICALLY AND CULTURALY, USUALLY WHAT WAS A RULE OR WAY 6 MONTHS AGO IS NO LONGER ANY MORE. ALSO PEOPLE DONT RELISE
THAT EVERY CITY IN SAUDI HAS DIFFERENT SOCIAL LIFE, CULTURE AND RELIGIOUS BASE, SO WHATS APPLICABLE IN jEDDAH IS NOT IN RIYADH. ANOTHER FACTOR IS THAT DEPENDING ON YOUR NATIONALITY, YOUR EXPERIENCES CAN BE DIFFERENT OUT HERE. ALL OUR MEMBERS ARE ACTUALLY LIVING AND WORKING IN SAUDI NOW, SO IN FACT YOUR GETTING LIVE FEEDBACK ON HOW THINGS ARE HERE. WE HAVE MEMBERS IN EVERY CITY OF SAUDI AND YOU CAN ACTUALLY ASK A FILIPINO HIS EXPERIENCES OUT HERE IF YOUR FILIPINO, OR AN AMERICAN WOMANS CAN FIND FROM ANOTHER AMERICAN WOMAN, WE ADVISE ON EVERY ASPECT OF LIVING OUT HERE, FROM CONTRACTS, JOB OPENINGS AND OPPORTUNITIES , SCHOOLING, MEDICAL SERVICES HOUSING, SOCIAL LIFE AND ACTIVITIES, SALARY STRUCTURE AND LAW, CULTURE AND SHOPPING WHERE TO GET THAT ELUSIVE PRODUCT THAT REMIND THEM FROM BACK HOME LOL.WE ALSO ENSURE EVERY EXPAT RECIEVES A COPY OF THE SAUDI LABOUR LAW IN ENGLISH SO THEY ARE AWARE OF THEIR RIGHTS IN THE KINGDOM. WE HAVE MANY PROMINENT LAWYERS REPORTERS AND CEOS OF COMPANIES ON THE GROUP. WE ORGINALLY WERE PROFESSIONAL ONLY GROUP BUT OVER THE YEARS WE HAVE BECOME A SUPPORT FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NO PERSONAL FRIENDSHIPS IN THE KINGDOM AND HAVE HELPED PEOPLE FIND CONTACTS LIKE THEIRSELVES, SO LIVE IS NOT SO ISOLATED.
Do you or your members find support here that is lacking elsewhere due to being an expat living in Saudi Arabia? I BELIEVE SO FROM WHAT ALOT OF THE MEMBERS HAVE TOLD ME, ESPECIALLY AS MEMBERS ARE AT THE TIME LIVING HERE, SO INFORMATION IS NOT OUTDATED. ALSO WE GIVE A BALANCED VIEW ON THE LIFE HERE. IN VEIW OF RESTRICTIONS IN THE KINGDOM, WE WILL NOT GIVE ANY INFORMATION ABOUT ANY ACTIVITIES THAT ARE CONTRARY TO SAUDI LAW. i MODERATE MALE TO ENSURE THAT THERE IS NO SPAM OR VIRUS’S PASSED THRU AND ALSO NO HATE MAIL AS BELIEVE IT OR NOT THERE IS A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO RELISH STIRRING UP RELIGIOUS OR POLITICAL TROUBLE.
What are your hopes for the group in the future? IDEALLY IT WOULD BE GREAT TO SEE HOW MUCH WE CAN EXPAND, BUT CURRENTLY AS I RUN AND MODERATE THE GROUP ALONE IT IS HARD WORK WITH HAVING OVER 4000+ MEMBERS. i WOULD LIKE TO START A SISTER WEBSITE UP, AND HAD BEGUN ONE, BUT BEING A SINGLE MUM WITH 3 JOBS TIME IS AGAINST ME. I HAVE SOME PEOPLE TELLING ME TO OPEN A WEBSITE AND CHARGE MEMBERS, BUT I KINDA LIKE THE FACT THAT HERE IS HUMAN BEINGS GIVING THEIR TIME FREE TO HELP A TOTAL STRANGER, THATS VERY RARE TO SEE THESE DAYS. i GUESS TIME WILL TELL THE FUTURE OF EXPATS IN SAUDI ARABIA, MAYBE IF I HAVE MORE TIME i WILL FINALLY GET
AROUND TO OPENING THE LONG AWAITED SISTER WEB SITE.
Is there anything else you would like others to know about the group? WELL I THINK THE GROUP SPEAKS FOR ITS SELF. WE BASICALLY WANT PEOPLE TO COME OUT TO SAUDI ARABIA AND SEE THE BEAUTY OF THE COUNTRY AND CULTURE AND MAKE IT A HOME AWAY FROM HOME AND LEAVE WITH P[OSITIVE EXPERIENCES. ITS VERY HARD TO TAKE SAUDI WAYS AS IT IS SO ALIEN TO OUR OWN, SO HELPING PEOPLE TO ADJUST AND ALSO ALIVATE THE WORRY OF THEIR FAMILIES WHO THEY LEAVE BEHIND. AS THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE FROM DIFFERENT CULTURES AND BACK GROUNDS, I FEEL THIS IS ABOUT THE MOST HONEST VEIW YOU WILL EVER GET ON SAUDI ARABIA, WE ARE NOT BAISED ON ONE WAY, WE GIVE THE GOOD BAD AND UGLY OF A COUNTRY THAT IS VERY UNIQUE.