Thursday, December 26, 2013

Our Apologies

As salaamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

This blog was set up so that people who wanted information about living in Madinah and what to expect upon arrival here. It was never intended as a job finding service, a database for salaries, or a resource for government regulations and requirements to set up businesses. Neither is it intended as a resouce for finding spouses in or out of Saudi Arabia.

As Shariyf works at Taibah University and has many friends in the Jami'at ul Islamiyyah, he has provided information about them when asked, to the best of his ability. However, he doesn't have any knowledge or information on other types of jobs and cannot get people jobs in Taibah University.

We will try to provide more details on life here and various developments, but please don't send us questions or requests for assistance in getting employment, starting up a business here, or to find you a wife or husband, as we cannot help you. Please accept our apologies for our shortcomings and we pray that you will all benefit in some way from this humble effort on our part to fill an information gap.

Barak Allahu feekum.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Umrah in Muharram/over Aashoorah

Bism Illah wa assalaamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

Going to Umrah from Madinah is pretty much a straight road for 4 of the 4.5 to 5 hour drive. There is, midway, a rest stop that is quite new and very popular as it has fast food franchises of Burger King, Baskin Robbins, Al Baik, Barnies, and more. Of course, there is a masjid there and the bathrooms are large and decent compared to many others along the way.

While we have driven for all the past Umrah trips we made, there is a VIP coach service to Makkah run by SAPTCO, which we used this last time. The booking office is beside Elaf Taibah Hotel and the bus leaves from in front of the hotel. There are three departure times a day, one in the morning, one in the early evening, and one at night. The cost round trip is 180 riyaal ($48) per adult, 90 riyaal ($24) per child, 12 and under.

The coach is large, spacious, with a built in table in front of each set of seats and power outlets underneath. There is a bathroom on the bus and they provide a meal for the journey followed by tea or coffee. The meal on our outbound journey from Madinah was chicken nuggets, potato wedges, salad, an apple, a fruit drink, and water. It is a non-stop service, however on the way the Makkah it stops at the meeqaat for 15 minutes. The meal on our return journey was a Kudo chicken sandwich, a can of soda, tea or coffee. It is a very comfortable ride, which enables one to relax, take a nap, and arrive in Makkah rested and in great shape to perform Umrah. This is quite the contrary to driving, where after a 5 hour drive, one is inevitably tired both physically and mentally. It is also a far better option than taking a taxi, which is usually crammed full of people and puts your life on the line as the driver travels as breakneck speed getting some people there in just 3 hours.

In the aftermath of the amnesty for illegal residents, there were vigorous raids to catch the illegals that stayed. On arrival at our hotel, we were told by the receptionist that they were closed because all the workers had run away! This was due to fear of being caught by the  authorities, the result of which would be imprisonment, a hefty fine, and deportation with a 10 year re-entry ban.

With the Hajj over, one might think that Masjid al Haraam would be quiet at that time of year. Well, comparatively, it is. The Hujjaj are gone and there are no visas issued for umrah for a 2-month period after the Hajj. However, GCC nationals don't need visas and every year over the Ashoorah break you will find many Bahrainis visiting, among others from the Khaleej. This makes for a comfortable and easy Umrah, maashaa Allah.

After several janaza prayers, each one for a woman and a child or a woman, my youngest daughter asked me, "Mummy, all these prayers are for women and children. Don't the men ever die?" Then on seeing the typical Africans waving around deformed or missing limbs begging, my older daughter asked, "Mummy, why is it only the black people who beg? There are poor white people as well, aren't there? Why don't we see them beg?" That left me without words for a while, LOL.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Autumn in Madinah

Bism Illah wa assalaamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

The beginning of autumn is a vague thing here in Madinah, because the weather is still extremely hot. However, over the three months of the season, the temperatures start to moderate, especially overnight. Mosquitoes start turning up and flies can be seen buzzing around the rubbish. During the intense heat of the spring and summer, they rarely make an appearance, maashaa Allah. By the end of November, we finally turned off the air conditioners and started sleeping with windows open and/or ceiling fans on. The air is fresh and cool in the mornings and evenings, while it still gets quite hot during the bright sunshine of the day.

A notable thing here is that the air becomes drier as the temperatures drop and this can have a notable effect on the skin, lungs, and mucous membranes. In our first year, I found myself with sore lips, extremely dry skin, a chronic sore throat, and prone to coughs. I was advised to get a humidifier and, maashaa Allah, it did the trick. In restoring the moisture to the air, all the unpleasant symptoms disappeared. Now, at the first sign of the cool, arid climate of autumn and winter, we switch on the humidifiers and enjoy the pleasant weather. Al hamdul'Illah.