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Active member
Jul 10, 2002
Has anyone flown in Saudi Arabia? I have an oppurtunity to fly a 1 yr contract in Dharan, great money but is it crazy on the verge of war? I don't have a lot to go on. I wouldn't lose any seniority at my airline, if they don't cut my head off!!!

Saddam borders to the north---bad bad.I won't be flying a fighter. I want a fighter escort---any info on the subject would be greatly appreciated.
Contrary to popular belief, Saudi Arabia is a very safe country. There is virtually no crime there as penalties are so severe. As a foreigner living in Saudi, you'd be living in a compound with other foreigners (a few apartment blocks and houses, security, your own stores selling western goods, maybe booze if you're lucky). There is no tax in Saudi Arabia so your income is yours to keep. However if you are American, the IRS expect you to still file your taxes in the US and you will be taxed on anything you make over $70,000 a year.

The climate is great (a tad hot in the summer though!) and the people are extremely warm, friendly and generous. When going out with your Saudi friends, you will never be allowed to pay for anything and people will really treat you as a honored guest in their country (just like we treat Saudis over here - yeah right!)

The downsides are that there is really very little to do with your spare time. Alcohol is forbidden, so no bars or clubs and you'll spend most of your time hanging out with the other ex-pats. If you bring your wife with you, she will have to wear very conservative clothes in public (foreign women don't have to fully cover up but cannot wear anything that reveals the shape of their body) and won't be allowed to drive a car or work so this may be a consideration as well.

I have not lived in Saudi myself, but have been there many times and have lived the ex-pat life in Kuwait which was OK, but not as strict as Saudi. If your contract is only for a year, I'd say to definitely go for it, however more than a year in Saudi may be a little too long.
Yesterday, as I taxied along Alpha on my way to Signature at KBOS, a nice, new 737 was going the other way on Kilo. It said United Arab Emirates on the side (along with the Farsi version) and I had exactly the same thought as yourself.

What would it REALLY be like to work there for a while? Does anyone know the requirements? Will they pay for your type for an FO job?
DC10, you said "just like we treat Saudis over here - yeah right!"

Why don't you tell us more about how you feel Saudis are treated poorly by the US and its citizens? I would be very interested to hear more from you on the subject.

Why don't you elaborate on how well they treated our service personnel when we saved them from their Arab "brothers" during the Gulf War? Making our chaplains cover their crosses on their uniforms? Making our women cover their heads when we they were over there to save their royal asses? Give me a break!
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Is that the ARAMCO contract on the Dash?

I think you're over-reacting a little at my comments. I was merely stating my opinion that many Americans have a preconceived opinion of Arabs. This is nothing new - when the Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed, there was an estimated 6000% (six thousand - that's not a typo) increase in hate crimes and violence towards Moslems in the United States and thousands received anonymous death threats. Of course this was before they found out that an American was responsible.

As far as your information regarding how service personnel were treated in the Gulf War; however outraged we may be at their laws, the fact stands that foreigners must abide by local laws when in another country just as they have to in the United States.
Didn't I hear a report this week that Terry Nichols and friends had some ties to Al Quida, according to intelligence reports from camp x-ray? Perhaps OKC was not as "American" an activity as we first thought...

It seems that the Saudis have wanted to have their cake and eat it too, considering the restrictions they like to place on their biggest oil customer and protector. Soon, the may not have the leverage in these matters that they currently enjoy. Time will tell, eh?

I spent 7 months in Saudi Arabia in 1998 and 1999. I did not live there but stayed for a few months at a time instructing on the MD-90 for Saudi Arabian Airlines.

I stayed in Jeddah on the Red Sea coast, which is the opposite side of the country from Dhahran. We had many overnights in both Riyadh and Dhahran. Aramco is based in Dharan and there are a significant number of ex-pats living and working there. There are also a significant number of western restaurants including a Schlotzky's Deli in the big mall. There is another popular area on the coast that has a bunch of American fast food restaurants and a big book store that carrys a fair number of English books. It is just down from Pepsi Cola Street. No kidding there is a street that everyone knows as Pepsi Cola street because that is where the Pepsi bottling plant is.

If you like golf and tennis those are year round activities that can keep you busy on your days off. Scuba diving is another big one over on the Red Sea coast. Probably not so good in the Arabian Gulf. If you like drinking and don't mind a little drive then trips over the bridge to Bahrain are definitely worth while. Great British pubs over there and some nice clubs with good music. Something of a hassle to go through the seven different checkpoints on the way over ( toll, immigration, customs, car insurance, immigration, customs, and one more I can't remember ) Slightly easier on the way back, only five stops.

In the time I spent there I never felt threatened in any way but I couldn't say for sure if that is the case now. Dhahran is not far from Kobar, which is where the Kobar towers were. That blast took out the windows in the airport, not to mention killing many U.S. servicemen. So there is an element of danger. But hey, there is an element of danger in any major U.S. city too.

The people that I worked with were very friendly towards me and I characterize some as the kindest most gentle people I have ever known. The islamic militants are a small minority. The great majority of Saudia's pilots have spent a considerable amount of time in the United States; speak excellent English; and are good to work with.

There are some annoying things about being there and number one would have to be the bureaucracy. They are a very literal people and go to great lengths to make you jump through all the hoops that they erect for simple things like getting visas, I.D. badges, etc..

DC10 said it gets a tad warm. That is a little bit of an understatement. Dhahran in the summer is consistently in the high 40 degree Celcius range with high humidity and strong winds. I can honestly say that is the hottest place I have ever been. Kuwait, that wonderful place that we saved from Iraq is probably a little worse but I only stayed there on one hour turns and that was in the air-conditioned terminal.

I'm not sure what kind of flying you will be doing but flying over there is fairly easy. Lots of Arc approaches at the outer cities, but good vectoring and ILS approaches to Dhahran, Riyadh, and Jeddah. Their PCA mimics the FAA and is in fact advised by the FAA. So the regs are almost identical. I have flown with a pilot where I work now who spent 10 years at Aramco in the 70s and 80s. He didn't particularly have affection for the place but he made good money and staying that long does say something.

I was over in Saudi 3 months ago and getting ready to go back next week. Saudi is really no different than here in the US. There are bad people and good people just like here in the US. I don't agree with some of the things there government does, but then again same here in the US. Now in the news Saudi prince does not want the US to launch attacks on Iraq from there country. But I recall over 10 years ago there people begged for us to come in and protect them even when SCUD missles were hitting there cities. Now they don't want us there. I say pack up are belongings and move. On a stop in Kuwait City I became good friends with one of there aircraft refuelers. There they are afraid of the Iraqi dick.

By the way have you heard about the weapons found outside the gates of our AFB?

Terry V.

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