Just after Kevin and I moved from DC to Cambridge two years ago, my parents decided to accept a job offer at a brand new research university in Saudi Arabia. Since they’ve been there, we’ve been learning a lot about Saudi and the wonderful community they live in.
In February, we decided to go visit them – which in and of itself was very exciting because of the strict visa requirements to visit the country. In the months since our visit, Kevin was interviewed for a position on the IT Security team at the university and we decided to accept their offer. I’m lucky enough to continue working remotely at NetSquared.
So, in just over a month, we’ll be on our way to Saudi Arabia!
Life at KAUST
The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology is a new graduate-level research university located on the Red Sea about an hour north of Jeddah. It is modern and exquisitely designed, with the research library where my dad works being the heart of the university.
The university and community that supports it are located on a compound, walled off from the rest of the country – kind of like the Saudi-Aramco compounds that many people have heard of. Once on the compound, we’ll have everything we need – a thriving community, amenities (like grocery stores, restaurants, and shops), and activities (like beaches, boating, gyms, and even a movie theater).
We’ll have to pass through two layers of armed security guards to reach our new home, but once we’re there we will have the luxury of increased freedoms to the rest of the country:
…Men and women will study side by side in an enclave walled off from the rest of Saudi society, the country’s notorious religious police will be barred and all religious and ethnic groups will be welcome in a push for academic freedom and international collaboration sure to test the kingdom’s cultural and religious limits.
[Source: New York Times]
Unlike most women living in Saudi Arabia, on the compound I will be allowed to wear what I like, drive, use money, and move freely without my husband. It is my hope that by participating in the culture of progress for women on the KAUST compound, I can help to encourage progress for women throughout the rest of the country. This is a very delicate subject for many in the region, and I wish to simply listen, learn, and hopefully, demonstrate cultural sensitivity in this regard.
What about Muttley?
Yep – Muttley is coming too! He’ll be the most complicated and expensive part of our move, but he’s a part of the family and he will definitely be joining us on our journey! I doubt he’ll like the Saudi summertime very much, but we’ll do our very best to keep him cool, exercised, and most of all happy. There are lots of other dogs living on the compound, so we look forward to introducing him to some new friends!
It will be very hard to leave as we say goodbye to all our friends and family in Cambridge. Having done the move from DC just two years ago, we know how hard it is to leave everything and everyone you know and love. The lure of adventure just seems too strong. To all of our friends and family in both the US and the UK, please know that we love you and will miss you and we’ll do our best to visit often!