In case anyone hasn't heard, Saudi Arabia is hot! I arrived in June. It was a nice base, every time you turned around there was a swimming pool; it was kind of like how there's a Starbucks on every other corner. Friday is the Saudi holy day, so that was most peoples day off, just one day. They had a huge pool and a BBQ was held each Friday. Not too shaby.
My husband and I were very surprised to find out upon arrival that a dormitory was available for married couples. We thought a married couple going to the same Temporary Duty (TDY) location was extremely improbable and so were expecting to have different rooms and/or dormitory. Come to find out, we weren't the only married couple there. We stayed in what they called Kobar Towers. Hope I spelled that right.Just goes to show the difference between the Army and the Air Force; I talked to an Army guy who said the Army purposely sent his wife to a different base entirely rather than keep them together. Something about morale. Guess their morale didn't matter. I can tell you mine was pretty high.
We had to use the buddy system, nobody was allowed off base alone, especially women. Heck, if you were a women driving and you got lost somewhere on base--don't even bother stopping and asking for help--not from a Saudi. They'd just ignore you--women don't drive in Saudi, except for US military women and again only in pairs and only on base. Women did not drive off base, ever.
My husband and I took a tour to a local mall, we had a guide who spoke arabic. A Saudi male spoke to her and she got very agitated and you could tell she was telling him a thing or two. She told us he wanted her to ask my husband if he'd sell me. I was young and blonde. My husband decided to keep me, what a gem.
We took a tour to Bahrain too, but just to a fancy hotel there on the Persian Gulf. It was funny to see all the Saudi men there. Apparently (this is how I remember it) drinking isn't allowed in there religion, so wasn't allowed in Saudi Arabia, but was quite ok if you went to Bahrain. Something like that. Just men finding a loophole.
Now, I'm not here to make fun of or critisize anyone's beliefs, but I do have to say seeing the woman in their Burkas was a bizarre experience. Some of the women were so covered up you couldn't even see there eyes.
Tomorrow I'll write about Italy, that's where I was three years later. Also where I was when I heard that some creeps had bombed a dormitory at Daharan, where we'd been. Blew nearly the entire front half of the bulding off. People just sleeping or bathing or eating--poof that's it--they are dead. More would have died that day if not for Security Forces patrolling the roof of a nearby building. They saw the bomber's truck park and the guys jump and run away from the vehicle. It happened so fast they had very little time to warn anyone, but some people owe their lives to those Security Forces guys.
Such is the risk your military personnel run every time they get dressed in the morning.