After more than five years here in Saudi Arabia, transportation continues to be a major frustration for me. As you all should know by now, women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. Many women here have drivers but I have not been so fortunate. I must rely on my husband to take me places – shopping, the doctor, to visit friends, classes, etc.
When I lived in the states before moving here in my mid-50s, I always had my own car and always drove myself wherever I needed to go. Getting places was never the logistical nightmare for me that it is here in Saudi Arabia - and it also never really required advance planning on my part. Here in KSA I need to arrange to go with another woman who has a driver or I need to make sure that my husband is available to take me places before I can confirm that I am going. Plus I need to give him advance notice - because he hates spur-of-the-moment, last-minute plans. And despite the fact that I tell him ahead of time and remind him several times, the night before I need to go somewhere he usually acts like it’s the first time he’s ever heard of it!
|Traffic congestion in Jeddah|
Because getting around in Jeddah is difficult due to road construction everywhere and poor street planning, traffic in this city is usually quite congested - and the drivers are crazy, reckless, and inconsiderate. For these reasons and many more – chief among them, that women must depend on men to drive them places - women are oftentimes delayed and late for appointments.
My husband/my driver is a stickler when it comes to being on time and always has been. Yesterday morning when he took me to the silk painting class, I was the first one to arrive – a good 15 minutes early. I told him the class would be over at 11am. One woman was late, so the class started late. At 10:45am, I called my husband to tell him not to pick me up for at least another hour. He wasn’t happy about it. I hurried to finish my project but even at that, I didn’t get to the car until 12:15pm.
Turns out he was extra grumpy because the car air conditioner had just stopped working, and he had some errands to run and instead he had to just sit there in the car waiting for me – plus my being so late from the class only added to his frustration. He was fuming mad! He told me that he just wasted a whole hour of his life sitting there waiting on me when he had so many other things he could have been doing. It took him all afternoon before he cooled down enough to speak to me.
P.S. - And if anyone wants to leave a comment saying why don't I just leave Saudi Arabia if I hate it so much here, save your breath. I don't hate living here - but I DO hate having to depend on men to drive me around when I am perfectly capable of doing it myself.