Sunday, July 4, 2010

Practical Points

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

I was asked by a dear sister about certain practical issues relating to moving to and living here in Saudi Arabia. The first one I will address is the bathrooms.

Most apartments and the Universities all have standard, upright toilets which one usually sits on. While these are not the norm in perhaps the older buildings and in all the masaajid bathrooms, they are the norm in private accommodation. For information's sake, the floor toilets where one squats to go, are more widespread in public bathrooms and in the masaajid because they are cleaner, don't get backed up easily, and don't pose the risk of disease that the upright ones do. Think about it, when you squat and do your business down a hole, you never have an issue about a clean toilet seat...there is no seat. There is no issue of splashback from the water in the toilet causing impurities on a larger area of your body. and if there isn't water or the toilet doesn't flush, there is nothing to be seen...whereas just one visit to an upright with no flushing and nobody will want to get near it. Although I have noted several people turning their noses up at the squat toilets, never forget that they are much closer to the Sunnah and a healthier option, even if not what we have become used to.

Another question, regarding shower curtains, is that they are available here along with shower rods. Large hypermarkets like Hyperpanda, Carrefour, and Bin Dawood sell them. True, often one will find that the bathrooms are not set up in a way to use a shower curtain, but that is largely due to the fact that bathrooms here are fully tiled and clean up with a squeegy and mop are fast and easy when the floors are wet. However, if you are actually come and have shower curtains anyway, bring them along rather than try to search for them from a limited selection. It is quite possible that there will only be one or two designs to choose from.

As for appliances, there are dual voltage outlets, one is 110V and one is 220V, so for US appliances there is no need for adapters. The plugs are three pin (small, like the US ones) and will also take the 2 pin plugs. If you happen to have some plugs that are different, there are adaptors to be bought everywhere, no problem at all.

As for pets, I don't have any pets and I don't know the procedure in detail. I do know that any animals (pets) being brought into the country must be quarantined for a period of time and it can be a tad expensive to bring them, however, check with the Saudi Embassy on how to handle that inshaa'Allah.

As for bringing vehicles into the country, they cannot be more than 5 years old. If you get a really good deal on a vehicle or have one that is very recent, then it may well be worth it to ship. In Madinah there is a dealer called Family Car that gives 5 year guarantees on the cars (all imported from USA) and is competitive. After all, paying a couple of thousand dollars for shipping adds a lot onto the price of the car and there will be no guarantee.

It is worthwhile to get your eyes tested before coming. However, there is no problem getting great glasses, contacts, daily wear, colors, etc. here. In fact, opticians are plentiful...just make sure you know your prescription, otherwise you need to go to a doctor to get a new one.

Okay, that's about it for now. Hope that helps a little.