I was just updating my blog and I saw that I posted about Hajj in May. Now as I read it (scroll down, you will see it) I’m like OMG OMG OMG!!! =) I got to go and I wanna go every year. I can’t describe how blessed that place is and how one has the opportunity to disconnect with the worldly affairs to focus on their own spiritual path! Check out my YouTube Channel here with videos and my Hajj Story Told =). I went without a mahram and camped with some of the best ladies Riyadh has.
One of the hardest things about moving to another country where your native language is not common is the language itself. While I now know intermediate Arabic, it was not always the case. I had several barriers in communication because I didn't know the particular lexis of vocabulary needed either in the cab or super market. Those can be one of the challenges. Although, you don't need to know the language of the land to have a good time, its really all about you and what you make of your time. In Saudi Arabia, English is taught at all levels to all age groups. Tele-communications companies teach their employees English. The Saudi Royal Airforce hires teachers from abroad to teach their pilots and soldiers English. So really, you can be an English Language teacher and experience an array of beautiful professional dynamics. If you want to learn another language quickly and in your privacy and time then I would recommend purchasing a language software. Click here for for the Rosetta Stone ---->>>> amzn.to/3p48aJ2
We used Rosetta Stone when I was working in Rafha and I saw it first hand. The university had a massive subscription and it was honestly breath taking to be able to see students who refuse to learn English because of their strong connection to their culture and tribalism. The Rosetta Stone made these students speak English like in 1 week. If they can do it, you can. The benefits are that there are many languages that you can learn so if you are planning on working, vacationing or studying in France, or Germany than you can also learn those different languages in a short amount of time. It is a good investment in language learning software and should your academic or professional goals change to another region, then this software will be useful for you. When you know the language of the land, you will have a better experience.
Now, Hajj is around the corner and May Allah reward the blessed ones who are able to make Hajj this year. For the 1.8 billion of us who will not be making hajj this year, what can we do to celebrate Eid-ul-Adha? Typically, in a normal school, kids would be doing so much more art activities and crafts with their peers side by side in a classroom. We can do the same thing and have them do crafts for the day of Eid because we are homeschooling during these covid times. Not only is it fun, but these things are very easy to do such as making a crescent canvas or a piñata. Whatever your decoration colors are, just give your kids about 3 colors that will compliment your home furniture and decorations. Then, enjoy the beauty! #Hajj2021 #EidDecorations
For a good 'ever since the loud speaker has been at KSA masjids' have been there, it was a delight to listen to the full adhan and prayer. You can be at any part of the country and always be reminded of the prayer and listen to some of the most beautiful qirat. But now that has all changed. I think I just heard the very last maghrib prayer first rakat on the loud speaker and then I couldn't hear anything else. With these new stipulations, the adhan and iqama will be called but not the rest of the prayer. I will be missing that. I feel like a very special part of the world that is truly unique is coming to an end because when it enters the way of the rest of the world in almost every aspect, then there is nothing unique left.
Eid Eid Eid....Our religion is priceless and so are our memories. If you are looking to get creative, look no further. No matter what country you live or if you are the only Muslim in your household, there are a number of things that you can do to make it spectacular.
I created 2 homemade piñatas and stuffed them with chips and candy. It is a task worthwhile with kids as an activity especially since their are homeschooled. I used recycled cardboard and anything that I was able to gather from home- hot glue, 1 large chips box, expired edible gold glitter sprinkles. The only thing I bought was garland and gold spray paint - which btw does not work the best on cardboard but I was satisfied with the final look.
I also made Eid cookies with cookie cutters shaped in masjids, camels, and lanterns. You can easily find them on Amazon.com. I packed them in a clear food bag and had the kids make bag toppers and stapled them with Eid stickers. A lot of the prep was done before Ramadan so that we can focus more spiritually not be as tired.
We had black Eid Mubarak Balloons and like a gender reveal party, we put different amounts of money in the black balloons and when each kid picked their balloon, they popped it to see the amount of money they got.
Once again, Eid is priceless and so are our memories and identity.
Besides new clothes and wrapped presents , I wanted to go a little further. I did something that has never been done before in my household or in of our social circles and therefore the reactions are priceless. After all, an experience can have a price tag but not the memories-those are priceless and that's what I want.
I ordered a money cake! That's right! We had a splendid money cake! What better way to celebrate and distribute Eidi (Eid money) for Eid-ul-Fitr! All you have to do is give your design to any cake decorator and ask if they can make a money cake. You can put any amount and I put about 1800 Saudi Rials. This has been by far the most expensive cake I have ever purchased and I am so glad I did =) I wanted everything to match my house decorations and theme because most of what is available for purchase is either gold, black, silver or blue. So I chose gold and blue and it was a beautiful cake. Btw, I am not an artist or have a lot of creative ideas. So here goes the priceless, reaction...
Like any other country, should this happen to you, you should call Najm at 9200 00560. This is the legal way and you are protecting yourself. Your car should always be insured. Never negotiate with the other driver about paying them for damages. Let the insurance deal with it. That’s why you pay for it. Driving a noninsured car is a crime. Just get your pics of the damages and license plates, exchange driver’s license info and call Najm at the time of the incident and at the place. Najm will not help you if you leave the incident and if the other car has your picture, then it can be reported as a hit and run which is a bigger issue. To make things easier, always have wifi on your phone. Najm also has an app which makes reporting an incident much easier with the maps, location services and getting pictures. Here is their number 920000560. Hopefully, you never need it.
So now that there are tourist visas, what can tourists expect if they choose to visit Saudi Arabia? Well, there are many brilliant places that are quite different than home besides the usual touristy places such as sky scrapers and fancy restaurants. You can rent a car and do a driving trip and complete the whole country within 2 weeks comfortably. There are winter concerts at the old heritage site of Al-Ula called ‘Winter at Tantura’. Of course, Makkah and Madinah needs no introduction and you can research the information about those places before going. I would say to visit the local culture and to do that, one must interact with the public. Since modest dress is now the attire, I would recommend that one blends in as much as possible to the eastern side of the spectrum when it comes to being ‘modestly dressed’.
What to eat?
You can get great fresh local food from many restaurants and nearly all of them deliver. There are apps such as UberEats, CareemGo, Talabat, and Hungerstation that provide a very good service to food junkies.
This is the new KSA and in light of the very recent changes, you will be one of the first to have your passport stamped with a tourist visa from Saudi Arabia. For sure, you will see women driving, different styles of abayas, lots of Riyadh traffic and hair styles. This can be your page in your life of visiting a land that is not like any other, literally.
I never thought that women would be officially allowed to drive in KSA, at least not for another 25 years. Surprisingly, anything is possible and it is great because it is the revival of the sunnah. During the times of the beloved Prophet Muhamad S., women had their own camels as their means of transport. By 2018 women be able to drive their own car in the city and not just the dessert. So there is much to celebrate about! I've asked my students what they thought about the whole thing and some were very happy while others were could not care at all. If you ask me, I like to be driven than drive and that is a great luxury I wouldn't really want to trade. But to each their own wishes and now everyone can roam the roads as they please according the Islamic laws.
The Eastern Province has some nice places but the most precious beach of them all is Fanateer beach. It has mini huts, clear water, and plenty of clean sandy beach for everyone. There are boundaries and the water from the boundary to the shore is not more than 7 feet give or take. The tides were little to nothing which makes it very safe and pleasurable for kids to enjoy the beach. There are playgrounds for kids as well and there is a Roman theatre in addition to an indoor play-land for kids. From the looks of it, it is cleaned and maintained everyday which makes it great. Go with your family or even friends and make sure you do your Baywatch slo-mo run =)