Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is only place in the world where I wanted to go since I was a small child. My inspiration was an Azan from HARAM everyday that I used to watch on my local TV channel PTV (Pakistan Television) since my childhood. So I always wanted to see this place personally where everyone has same color, same cloths and have no apparent difference among them.
So I got a chance after 27 years and my biggest wish seem to come true when my husband called me from United Kingdom and told me that he have got an offer for job in Jeddah Saudi Arabia and asked for my opinion, if its fine to join… I was like, what you are waiting for.
That was one of happiest day of my life; it seems to be a long-awaited dream coming true. I was so excited that all at once I informed my parents about the news and they were extremely delighted when I told them I was going to apply soon. They increased my joy saying, it’s a wish of every Muslim of the world to visit this Holy place and you are one of the lucky people of the world if u get a chance to live and visit Makah. My parents were not afraid about me as I will be going that far from them first time in my life but they were happy that at least I am with my husband and I am going to KSA.
I was a working lady so I also informed my friends about leaving them soon they were sad as we were working together from last 5 years but also they were very happy for me and asked me for regular updates about KSA and asked me to pray for them when I will be standing in front of Ka’aba(the House of God) . Who ever come to know about this was contacting me and asked me to pray and I felt that I was extremely lucky to get to go to Saudi Arabia.
My husband came back to Pakistan from UK within a month and after usual visa process I have to fly from Pakistan to Jeddah Saudi Arabia on 24th of September. We were not sure if we will get visa that quickly as many countries have long process for visa but we were happy that everyone in Saudi Arabian Embassy in Islamabad Pakistan was very helping and the process was very simple and quick.
As my time to leave for KSA was approaching, I experienced mixed feeling of excitement with a little bit fear in my heart. I was happy that I will visit Haram in Makah and Medina but I fear about all that I have heard about life in KSA. I was told that there are a lot of strictness in KSA for females. Females are always kept inside houses they are not allowed to leave at all without MEHRAM and they have to leave with Abayas. Females are not allowed to talk men etc. As this is what Islam teaches us to do; not to leave homes or talk to men purposelessly. Even being a Muslim lady I have not experienced any such restriction in my country. It frightened me as Saudi Arabian society was built on strong Islamic laws.
Finally I was on airport and we were flying to KSA via Islamabad city to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, It was my first impression on Saudi Arabian Airlines flight. We boarded the aero plane, and almost all of the old and young women in flight were already in niqabs and abayas even all were from Pakistan.
I was beginning to realize how deeply Islam is built into Saudi Arabian society; I watched some Islamic messages on TVs attached on walls inside plane and also heard prayer to begin our journey and visited room to pray in and majority of people on flight were reciting verses from Quran and had rosaries in their hands.
I was feeling happy as how by living in Saudi Arabia the life style of people has changed, as I have not seen such scene outside this aero plane. People seem to be practicing more Islam and I was praying if I can be firm in my belief and practice Islam in every aspect of my life.
After a 4 hour and 57 minutes flight, we arrived in Jeddah Saudi Arabia. First thing that I felt when I stepped out of aero plane was PEACE, it was everywhere, I can see peace on faces , I can feel it in air. Everything was done peacefully. There was no shouting or screaming and no hustle and bustle at all, that I left on airport back home.
There was clear difference in airports from where we left. Jeddah International airport was modern, I will say huge and populated with many women and men with pilgrimage wearing white dressed called ihram, women were covered in white or black abaya from all over the world. Mostly local men were wearing in white color their traditional long shirt like dress called thobe.
It was my first experience when I saw people from all around the World under one roof having different features and speaking bizarre languages as I cannot figure out even a single word they were speaking. I do not feel I can meet so many people from so many different countries of the World except in Saudi Arabia, as Muslims from every part of the World come to perform Hajj and Umrah. It was not season for Hajj but still so many people were here to perform their Umrah.
The friend of my husband have to pick us but he was bit late so we have to wait for him and I was just walking in different sections of airport to see things around and also observe people from different cultures , meanwhile my husband was looking for his friend. While wondering around I kept my husband in my eyes as I was bit conscious may be someone approach me and ask me where was my mahram .. But this thing never happened so far.
I was curious to see if all females were covering their faces and if it was a must , but it was a sigh of relief for me that this thing was not true and I have also seen many ladies who were travelling alone there was no male with them so two things were false straight away on airport.
At last the friend arrived and we came out of airport, the thing that I realized now about Saudi Arabia was, it is far hotter than I thought. We came in September and it was 9:45pm local time but the temperature was around 35 degree Centigrade or even more. The other thing that I noticed was the city was very well-organized; roads were beautiful, wide and clean with rows of date trees. I was expecting there will be no sign of greenery and there will be an unending desert everywhere. But I will appreciate the hard work of Saudi people who worked hard to grow a lot of trees and did a lot of plantation in this dead desert. Then we left the main road and entered in streets in our way to hotel I noticed that all streets were filled with different and new models of cars in every size, big, small, there were lot of huge malls and modern buildings in our way. Each place was properly air-conditioned, when u enter in cars or buildings you just forget about the warmth that is burning everything outside.
Finally we reached hotel it was nice and clean hotel with a room, sitting, small kitchen and washroom it was like a small apartment and it is called shugah mafrosha in local language. After long flight we were very tired and as we had our good/heavy dinner in air so we thought to take rest. When we woke up in morning first thing was from where we should get our breakfast. My husband went out to see some place around where he could get some food. On his return he was excited that variety of food is easily available everywhere and is very cheap and much more in quantity in comparison with England and the shops have many familiar foods some new stuff was also there that was unfamiliar.
Now we have to leave for our next destination that was Rabigh. It was 159.7 KM away from Jeddah and it is in outskirts of Jeddah it took 1 hour and 39 minutes to get there. I saw many families sitting everywhere in desert having fun … it seem to me that everyone is out of house sitting in desert as it was evening. The Rabigh city was quite and small compared to Jeddah.
My visit to Saudi Arabia teach me a lot about Saudi Arabia, after I came here I got to know really there is no way to know Saudis or understand Saudi culture until you spend time here, the things you hear from people or read in books or papers are far more different than current situation and mostly things that are told are pages from history now. Saudi Arabia is much more developed country than we expect as normally we think of KSA if it is just a desert, I will tell you its not like that despite its worth visiting.
Every facility is available at your door steps, mostly the system is computerized its very helpful where ever you go. Internet facility is available at very cheap rates. People are very hospitable and generous. They are all ready to help and ready to give. Petrol is cheaper than water, sometimes I ask my husband we must start drinking petrol J as it’s very expensive in Pakistan. Everyone is fond of travelling and visiting new places, people are travelling a lot during vacation not only inside but also travel abroad and take families with them.
Government have given all rights and support to females to work and progress in every field of life, they have equal opportunities of education and work. One can find females working everywhere from malls to hospitals, banks etc.
It’s a worth visiting place, I will share my experiences in Rabigh city in my next writing. I will be happy to have your feedback to improve my writing or if you have any suggestion you can leave a comment below.
LONG LIVE SAUDI ARABIA!!!