Goodbye KSA

I never intended to become an English teacher. But, I had always intended to come to Saudi Arabia.

Twelve years ago I was on a train making my way to interview for a place to read Arabic at Leeds. I had never visited the Middle East, nor even heard Arabic spoken. In truth, I had little idea about anything.

To prepare, my mother gave me a copy of the Lonely Planet Middle East edition. As I aimlessly glanced through the pages, one country caught my eye. Looking back, the chapter was particularly under-sourced, under-researched, full of stereotypes: Big, boring cities. Strict laws. Desert for days. No tourist visas. A country you go to for work, and then leave as swiftly as possible.

As rain hammered on the window, I reflected that this country, Saudi Arabia, would be an interesting country to visit. Difficult, but interesting. I liked the desert I told…

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