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07 Feb

I never dreamed that my life would someday lead me from hearing about Saudi Arabia on the nightly news to actually living there.

She may enjoy a life that very much resembles the one she had back home, with parties, concerts or plays, and social events with friends or the expat community.

Since I came to Saudi Arabia as the wife of a Saudi citizen, my life resembles something between that of a local and that of an expat.

I knew I’d need to have my husband’s permission to travel outside of the country.

But that’s about all I knew, and I thought that with a positive attitude and a reliable driver, those things wouldn’t affect my life. Nothing can really prepare you for life here, especially as a woman. You can speak to women who have moved here for different reasons.

The issues facing Saudi women seem a little more relevant to me now, a little more urgent. I am the mother of a spirited, intelligent, and talented half-Saudi girl. She will grow up a witness to the struggles of her fellow Saudi women, but I’ll not raise her to be a victim to those struggles, let her believe that she is limited, or let others tell her that her gender is the reason why she can or cannot do what she wants, say what she believes, or be who she is meant to be.

Expats or not, the issues of the countries we call home are our issues too.

You can even live here for years and still not be aware of certain things that can affect your life until they actually happen.

So I’m here to tell you what it’s like to be a woman in Saudi Arabia, at least from a Westerner’s point of view.

I leave those cultural rules at the door when I come home, and live my private life just as I would back home.

I socialize like an expat with mostly expat friends who are also married to Saudis.

As I sit here on this gorgeous day in February, the warm breeze blowing through my curtains, my marriage is over.

I am not permitted to move back home with my daughter, not able to move on with my life, not able to work to support myself, my gender being the only thing that is limiting me.