• This site moved from forums.flightinfo.com to flightinfo.com. Please update your bookmarks.

Saudi

Fitzy

Active member
Joined
Jul 10, 2002
Posts
36
Total Time
7500
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.
 

DC10

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Posts
145
Total Time
11000
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.
 

Timebuilder

Entrepreneur
Joined
Nov 25, 2001
Posts
4,625
Total Time
1634
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?
 

Ty Webb

Hostage to Fortune
Joined
Dec 10, 2001
Posts
6,525
Total Time
11000+
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!
 
Last edited:

F/O

Smells like....
Joined
Mar 7, 2002
Posts
485
Total Time
8000
Is that the ARAMCO contract on the Dash?
 

DC10

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Posts
145
Total Time
11000
Ty,

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.
 

Timebuilder

Entrepreneur
Joined
Nov 25, 2001
Posts
4,625
Total Time
1634
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?
 

Draginass

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 29, 2001
Posts
1,852
Total Time
5000+
I don't even like visiting Gulf countries . . . . much less being their servants.
 

typhoonpilot

Daddy
Joined
Feb 24, 2002
Posts
1,381
Total Time
17000+
Fitzy:

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.

Typhoonpilot
:cool:
 

C-5 MEM

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 25, 2002
Posts
459
Total Time
550
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.
 

bobbysamd

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 26, 2001
Posts
5,710
Total Time
4565
Saudi Arabia

I have a very good friend who instructed Saudia primary students something like twelve years ago. He signed some kind of contract. Somehow, I gathered that while he was paid very well he found the culture and environment as very restrictive and regimented compared to the U.S. Maybe this was the "compound" that DC10 references. Also, as DC10 said, not much to do in your spare time. I recall my friend telling me that he could get English-language TV, but not all the programs we enjoy (and I'm NOT talking about x-rated pay TV! :) ). At any rate, he was very unhappy and was let out of his contract.

Also, very hot from what I recall my friend telling me. It sounded like a great adventure, though.

It's probably not everyone's cup of tea, but I'd bet that you would come home with some interesting stories!

Good luck with your job search.
 
Last edited:

typhoonpilot

Daddy
Joined
Feb 24, 2002
Posts
1,381
Total Time
17000+
The term " compound" is somewhat misunderstood. I think it was the way people envision it way back in the 70s and possibly 80s when the foreign workers were kept separate from the local population. That is not how I found it to be. I lived for two and a half months at the Hotel Intercontinental in Jeddah, hardly a compound. It was located right on the Red Sea Coast. Getting tired of that, the group of us staying there made a deal to rent two Villas at a golf resort a little ways up the coast. We made sure to include free golf in the price. :D The villas were definitely not a compound, this was a resort area that the locals frequented on the weekends.

Having said that, it does make sense to live where the other foreign workers are living and some " compounds " still exist. The Saudi Arabian Airlines compound in Jeddah is a huge affair that covers multiple city blocks. It is a great place to go because the residents make some good beer and wine. You are by no means restricted in where you can go within the city though. If you want to go out to a local restaurant for dinner or go to the old town for shopping then you just get in your car and go. Another " compound " is the Aramco residential area in Dhahran. It is a lovely neighborhood bordering the Aramco facility. When in there you would think that you were in some arid western state like Arizona and not in Saudi Arabia.

To edit my first post, the bureacracy is actually the second most annoying thing. The most annoying thing above living in Saudi Arabia is the call to prayer five times per day. I honestly believe there is no place in the country where that can't be heard. It is particularly enraging when you just finished flying at 0400 in the morning and want to fall fast asleep. First call is something like an hour before sunrise. Picture yourself just falling asleep after a long night of maintenance delays when all of a sudden someone starts shouting at the top of their lungs right in your ear. If you go, just remember to get an apartment as far away from a minaret as possible.
 

taz

Board Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2001
Posts
50
Total Time
12pm
Another View of "The Perfect American"

I've read most of these posts and agree with some of them but have one comment:

"FOR GOD'S SAKE IF YOU VISIT A MAN'S HOUSE RESPECT IT"
regardless of what you think of him or his rules.
Most of the people (foriegnors) in trouble over there some how have the (stupid) notion they have rights because they may be US or British or other. The true fact is you are a guest in their country (house). I have been ferrying Aircraft through that region for some time and have made friends with the Immigration and Customs officials there and they do admit that all their laws aren't perfect, but its their law and they "DEMAND" respect.
So if you going to stay in your yard and bark like a 'ole dog' then thats fine, but if you plan on visiting Saudia or anywhere else for that matter "Be RESPECTFUL"
Because the same view you have of them "THEY HAVE OF Us"

hope that helps.

Cheers
Taz
 

Timebuilder

Entrepreneur
Joined
Nov 25, 2001
Posts
4,625
Total Time
1634
Perhaps they view that they have of us is this: a necessary evil, a consumer of their product, a defender of their regime, a detested servant.

If we were smart enough to explore our own oil reserves, the royal family would easily topple from the loss of their largest customer.

A house that deserves respect is a house that GIVES respect.

They have made clear the lack of respect for the "guests" in their house.
 

cvsfly

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 30, 2002
Posts
723
Total Time
4600
Sure the people can be nice to your face one-on-one. You don't hear what they say behind your backs. The general impression I get from the whole culture over there is disrespect to US. The term infidel is well known over there and pehaps we do represent the infidel from time to time. The only reason they tolerate US at all is because we are such a good customer for their oil and we deliver some of our best technology to them. They will take our flying talent all day long too - oh as long as you are not a woman. There are definitely many finincial supporters of the terrorist we are after in that country and are not going to be supportive of any actions against Iraq. I say reduce dependance on their oil and pull out and see them come running to US when the s**t hits the fan. I'm torn at the thought of military action against Iraq at this point in time, but if we (and what I would like to see is some sort of alliance and support from the rest of the world) don't get some resolution from this madman/Saddam weapon plans our only option will be nuclear and won't that be a nice cloud over Saudi Arabia.
 

Ty Webb

Hostage to Fortune
Joined
Dec 10, 2001
Posts
6,525
Total Time
11000+
This is for the guy that thinks that we were "guests" of the Suadis during the Gulf War and should have followed their local customs:

We were not "Guests" of the Saudis. Our people were not there because they wanted to be there. They did not choose voluntarily to "visit", they were there because the Suadis begged us to come save their royal asses. THAT is the difference, and to deny our personnel their own religious symbols was incredibly disrespectful.

The Saudi PR machine thinks that we are all fools, and all they have to do is buy some air time warm fuzzies, and we will not see that they are funding terrorist activities and bad mouthing us all over the Arab world.

If it were up to me, I would tell them that we are calling in our markers, and if they don't like it, we'll make the battle plan such that the fleeing Iraquis will be driven into Saudi . . . now, wouldn't that be poetic justice.
 

CCDiscoB

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 15, 2002
Posts
779
Total Time
7500
Getting back to the original question...a year tour in Dhahran.

I spent 3.5 months there. If there is a place to go in Saudi, that is the place. The Air Force sends pilots there for a year tour to run the Saudi's F-15 Weapon's School. So, many have done what you are thinking about doing. I would do it only if:

I was single
I needed a type rating
They paid me huge $$$
Two free trips home during the year

Pros:
The "compounds" are very nice. In fact, you want to live in one of the compounds. They are guarded, for what that's worth, they have large pools and nice tennis courts. The compound is like a safe haven. Wives in bikinis, booze, etc, etc. Yes they get beer, somehow. Aramco has people you’d want to visit.

There is a huge mall we called the MSIP mall, (inside joke) and another mall we called the Tacan mall. You'll see why. You'll be able to buy what ever you want. They have nice restaurants around too.

If you like beer, spend your weekends in Bahrain. Just spend those big bucks on a hotel room. Bahrain is better than Saudi and there is a British airline flight attendant school there too.

I kind of scoff the golf comment. There is golf, but the fairways are sand and the greens have no grass.

The cons:
Driving there is anarchy. Seriously, the worst I’ve seen. It’s a desert it’s hot. People don’t like us, which is ok, the feelings are mutual.

But how often will you there if the job is so good? For a 747-400 type rating, sign me up.

As far a war, you won't even know it. Unless the company stops flying. By then you'll have your type-rating. The next Iraq war won't be fought out of Saudi.

Good Luck. The more I think about it, I may join you. Either that or Truckmasters.
 

KC-10 Driver

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 24, 2002
Posts
503
Total Time
~7500
From Dharhan, Bahrain is a relatively short drive across a causeway. Of all the Saudi cities, Dharhan would be the most palatable solely due to its proximity to Bahrain.

Otherwise lots of pros and cons of living in Saudi, mostly discussed above.

As someone who has spent well more than a year of my life in total (although not all at one time) on the Arabian peninsula, I have to say that Saudi would be the last on my list of the GCC countries in which I would want to live. UAE or Oman would be the first, followed by Qatar, Bahrain and then Kuwait.

Even if you take the job and end up regretting it, you could follow the advice my father used to give me. "You can stand on your head in a bucket of s**t for a year if you have to."

Good luck with the decision.
 

furloboy

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 2, 2002
Posts
79
Total Time
4800+
I'm just finishing up a year-long flying contract in Kuwait--just north of Saudi. It is somewhat similar to Saudi with a few more freedoms but dirtier. It is relatively big bucks, but I will DEFINITELY not renew my contract. Take all the negative things you've read on the thread, multiply them by ten, and that's how I feel. Good luck.
 

Kaman

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 26, 2001
Posts
947
Total Time
8.2
Be very careful what you ask for...

Hello,
I would basically agree with everyone's statements and comments in regards to living in Saudi Arabia. I've spent time in Saudi, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the U.A.E. (Dubai and Abu Dhabi). I would necessarily say that we are the most welcome people in a general sense, but taken as individuals. The people over there aren't a lot different from us when it comes to pursuing their daily lives, working, school, etc... In fact I met some really nice folks over there.
Having said all that, I couldn't care less if I ever went back there again. Maybe, I'd consider Dubai or Bahrain, but forget Saudi Arabia. From personal experience and observation of theri military I'm neither a believer nor a fan in their modus operendi. The US pretty much maintains their F-15s, the Brits maintain the Hawk and Tornado fleet. When the US had a major presence in Dahran prior to the Khobar Towers debacle, we were shoved off to one side of the field (out of sight, out of mind). Also, keep in mind our "allies" will not provide basing for an attack on Iraq if it comes to that and they are a supporter of terrrorism indirectly, yes, but nevertheless the evidence of Saudi money making it to the "bad guys" is hard to deny.
If you are bound and determined to go, I'd make sure that you live as close as possible to the causeway into Bahrain if not in-country. Bahrain is very progressive as Arab countries go and the Gulf Hotel has a great Irish pub that is typically full of western airline stews (not like the kind in the US that are great-grannies either, I know that wasn't nice but I couldn't help it:)
Even if 9-11 never occured I'd still not even consider going over there. If it is a means to end for you, perhaps it might be worth it. I don't know what the perentage of people extending their contracts is, but I reckon it's less than 50%.
Best of luck to you, and have a "Swarma" (sic) on me:)

Regards,

ex-Navy rotorhead
 
Top