As a follow-up to my post, A Tale of Two Cities, I have decided to put together a list of things I’ve learned from all the time I’ve spent in Jeddah. I was supposed to publish this post earlier but then decided that since I’m going back to Beirut in a matter of days, now would be the perfect time. I hope you enjoy reading this list as much as I have putting it together. Here it goes!

Al Baik

Al Baik's Logo

  1. Food, no matter where you get it from, is always great tasting. I’m most partial to Al-Baik, a broasted chicken chain that is deeply associated with Jeddah AND is incredibly delicious.
  1. Wearing the Abayya is not as bad as it sounds. First, you wouldn’t feel like an outsider. Second, you can wear one that’s colorful so you don’t have to worry about conformity. Third, since it covers all your clothes, you don’t have to dress to the nines every time you go out.
  2. Sleeping when the sun comes up is perfectly normal even when you have work in a matter of hours. Day and night have been truly redefined.
  3. Arabic is not the official language, contrary to popular belief. Asian expats don’t speak Arabic, Arab expats have a difficult time understanding different dialects and the locals will only speak in their distinct dialect.
  4. The sheer organization of taxis in this country makes me actually miss the chaos that is Lebanese “service”s.
  5. We’re in the second decade of the 3rd millennium and women still don’t drive, and things don’t seem to be looking up.
  6. All drivers here think they’re partaking in Formula 1 so getting dizzy when getting from one place to another is a given.
  7. Going to the supermarket is considered a family outing.
  8. The smallest shopping mall is as large as the biggest one in Lebanon.
  9. Every shopping center has a gazillion stores, a food court, a supermarket, and an arcade/ mini-amusement park within its walls.
  10. When shopping, you automatically convert all the prices to Lebanese Pound just to point out how you’re being ripped off back home.
  11. You can find virtually any cellphone your heart desires.
  12. BUT, if you don’t have a Blackberry, you are an idiot.
  13. In every mall, there is at least one kiosk dedicated to selling the BB and its wildly distracting covers.
  14. Did I mention how everyone has a BB? Because they do. And it *dings* so, so, so MUCH!
  15. There’s an IKEA store here, and almost everyone fails to recognize its importance.
  16. It’s typical to respond to anything with “Ma Fi Mushkila” (No problem), in fact, it’s the country’s motto.
  17. If you want to haggle with a vendor over the price of an item, you must begin by saying “Ish hada?” (What’s this/that?) in an exaggerated angry tone.
  18. The water comes out of the faucet hot so there’s no need to even have a heating system in the house.
  19. A typical Saudi house will have several partitions and curtains to divide it into rooms for men and rooms for women.
  20. Starbucks is a country-wide obsession. Too bad, frappuccino is never pronounced right.
  21. Bebsi instead of Pepsi.
    King Fahd's Fountain in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

    King Fahd's Fountain

  22. King Fahd’s Fountain is always a marvel, even if you see it everyday.
  23. You can hear the Call to Prayer in your own house, because for every block, there’s a mosque.
  24. Having your phone ringing in the middle of the night, only to realize that, on the other end, it’s just a desperate guy looking to meet a girl is a perfectly normal thing.
  25. This is a great place to grow up in even though you won’t realize this until, much, much later.
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