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.


  1. Assalaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu.

    Jazak Allah khair, sis!

    When I was in Aziziyah for a couple of weeks and sharing one bathroom among 14 ladies (whew!) we had a floor toilet, and it really took some time for me to get the hang of using it comfortably. However, you're right that if you consider all aspects of it, it really is a cleaner system. I'm still relieved to hear that we can probably expect the standard style toilets in long term housing.

    Alhamdulillah about the outlets. I was assuming I would have to stock up a bunch of adaptors, and they are pretty expensive here when I find them.

    I got a dental check-up for the whole family this past week, and we told the dentist of our plans to move. He himself is Syrian but did his training here in Boston. He told me that many of his classmates went to work in Saudi and that the dental care we will receive there will be as good as or better than what we expect in America! Masha'Allah, very nice to hear.

    The option for buying a vehicle there actually sounds better than I thought. That is something to consider.

    If anyone else has dealt with importing pets, could you post and let me know how it went??


  2. Check out this link:

    Most definitely you need to contact the consulate about it! Things are already vague about getting PEOPLE into Saudi Arabia, let alone pets, LOL!

  3. Also, follow this post with the comments below it:

    Hopefully, if you do manage to meet all the requirements and have your documents in order, a pet expediting service will be able to get your cats in without a problem, inshaa'Allah.

  4. And here is a final little bit I got from another site:

    "The following is a general overview for how to ship pets to Saudi Arabia:

    Obtain a Veterinary Health Certificate with an accompanying letter from your vet. The Certificate must be done within 10 days of your pet's flight. It will confirm that the animal is up-to-date on vaccinations, and is free from rabies and other diseases. If you are moving from the US to Saudi Arabia, this Veterinary Health Certificate is also called the APHIS Form 7001, and must be endorsed by your state's USDA office.

    Get the Saudi Arabian Consulate Endorsement. You'll need to have the health certificate endorsed by your local Saudi Arabian embassy or consulate's office. Most of these offices require payments made in cash only-be sure to call ahead to find out their office hours and what they will require for payment for the endorsement."

    As salaamu alaykum!

  5. Assalaamu alaikum sister Mai.

    Just an update here in case there are others following the pet thread. We are in the process of getting both of our cats ready to come with us. The important things we have discovered so far:

    Immunizations need to be up to date and taken by the cats 30 DAYS OR MORE before you leave. In other words, you can't wait and get their shots when they are seeing the vet to get their health certificate to leave.

    Your cats will not pass the health inspection if they have been out fighting other cats and they are scratched up. We have a male who is always out fighting, and our vet advised me yesterday that he needs to stay indoors and have all his cuts healed before we can get his health certificate.

    You will have a scramble to get them ready in the 10 days before you leave. You must get them examined by a vet and receive their international health certificate, a proof of rabies vaccination, and a letter from the vet to the Saudi customs officials NO MORE THAN 10 DAYS prior to leaving. You must then immediately TAKE these three items (or mail them if there's no other option) to your nearest USDA aphis office and get them certified by them. Your vet can tell you where the nearest office is. Then lastly, you have to send these three documents to the Saudi consulate to be certified by them.

    Once you actually get your cat to Saudi, I have heard that there seems to be no problem with pets being allowed in apartments, and it should be easy enough to find cat food and cat litter.

    One important thing to note is that I was told by our pediatrician that there is a high amount of rabies among the street cats in Saudi. This would mean two things. #1 Don't let your kids pet stray cats. #2 Be cautious of letting your cats go outside, and make sure to keep their shots up to date.


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