Our Third KAUSTiversary!

By | July 11, 2014

bikes at KAUST

Three years ago today we moved to Saudi. We didn’t know what we were in for and that was part of the allure. Every time I have moved to a new country (to study in New Zealand, to live in the UK, and to live in Saudi), I have had this  very particular and hard to define sense of blankness when I boarded the plane. The sense of a blank slate and an opportunity to redefine my life. It is an incredibly liberating feeling.

Living in Saudi has changed me. It’s made me more patient and more relaxed. It’s made me much more realistic (what happened to my youthful idealism?!). It has made me live a quieter life that is much more focused on my family and close friends. It has turned me into a parent. Most scary of all, it’s turned me into an SUV driver.

I am tremendously grateful for this opportunity.

One of the frequently asked questions you hear among friends and colleagues here at KAUST is “how long do you plan to stay here”. Most people will tell you 3 years, or 5 years, or “until I’m done with my PhD”. Our answer is different. We plan to stay here as long as life is good. If Kevin’s job continues to go well, if the schools stay good for our children, if the health care stays good for our family, and if the community life continues to be vibrant, then I can certainly see us as being “lifers” like so many of our friends who grew up at Aramco have become…. (or maybe we’ll see another bright shiny object and move to another wonderful place that will change us in equally wondrous ways?)

As the university matures, I see so many positive changes in the way that it operates. I am quite active in encouraging the community to be one which I would like to stay in. I wrote a bit about this in my President’s Task Force Post. All of this really plays a big role in the being the change you want to see in the world theme that I wrote about in last year’s KAUSTiversary post.

So this year, I invite the rest of the KAUST community to join me. Join me in allowing Saudi to change you. And join me in being the change you want to see in your world!

  • Hesitant

    With the recent developments in Syria and Iraq and KSA’s involvement in the coalition, do you still feel the same? Do you feel safe at Kaust and KSA? I’m asking because I am considering appreciating an offer and the only reason for the hesitation is this new development. Would appreciate your views (on safety issues, not the political part :P), as you’ve done a wonderful thing here with your blog providing very useful information for people thinking/planning to move there. Thanks!

  • Hi Hesitant – Security is very important to us. I lived in/near Washington, DC for most of my life – including on 9/11. There, we had many things to worry about in terms of safety and we learned to be smart with our actions and prepared for possible emergencies.

    Here in Saudi, driving in a car (outside of the KAUST compound) is the biggest threat to our safety. We feel safe here in Saudi and at KAUST, but are always vigilant and try not to stand out – the same precautions we use anywhere else in the world. There is no place in the world that is truly safe, but certainly I feel much safer living here than I ever did in DC.

    I don’t know where you are coming from, but you might check your government’s warnings on travel to Saudi Arabia. For Americans, you can get this info at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings.html And also for Americans, you can sign up to receive alerts to your email via this url: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/go/step.html

    Hope this helps!

  • Hi Hesitant – Security is very important to us. I lived in/near Washington, DC for most of my life – including on 9/11. There, we had many things to worry about in terms of safety and we learned to be smart with our actions and prepared for possible emergencies.

    Here in Saudi, driving in a car (outside of the KAUST compound) is the biggest threat to our safety. We feel safe here in Saudi and at KAUST, but are always vigilant and try not to stand out – the same precautions we use anywhere else in the world. There is no place in the world that is truly safe, but certainly I feel much safer living here than I ever did in DC.

    I don’t know where you are coming from, but you might check your government’s warnings on travel to Saudi Arabia. For Americans, you can get this info athttp://travel.state.gov/conten… And also for Americans, you can sign up to receive alerts to your email via this url: http://travel.state.gov/conten

    Hope this helps!

  • Hesitant

    Thanks for the reply! Yes, yes, it helps. I have accepted the offer… thanks again for this blog and keep writing :)

  • I am happy that you are taking your move to Saudi Arabia in a very positive way. I wish you a memorable and amazing stay.

  • Claire

    Thanks Andleeb!