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Surviving Riyadh

How My Journey To Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Started

How My Journey To Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Started

Although I'm no longer residing in Riyadh, I would like to share my journey, my experiences and observations as an expatriate in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

My journey to Riyadh, a male dominated society, started in 1993. I was a Medical and Clinical Research Specialist at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California. I just arrived at work at 7:00 a.m.

When I opened the lab, the phone was ringing. I picked up the receiver wondering who would be calling me at this time. A male with soft-spoken voice was on the phone. He wanted to talk to Alma Apostol. I confirmed.  He introduced himself as Dr. Sultan Sulman, Director of Research Center, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I was puzzled.

He was holding a copy of my bio-data and was impressed with my work. He was interested with the projects I was involved with. I recalled the bio-data I sent out when a friend urged me to apply the previous year. He asked if I was still interested. I told him it depended upon his offer.

He thought I was very forward but liked it. Sultan mentioned the salary and other benefits if I accepted the job. The salary and benefits he offered didn’t interest me. When I refused his offer, he replied that I didn’t understand his offer. My salary would not be taxed, free housing, free medical and dental coverage, a very generous vacation and sick days and free fare back to my country of origin after a year.

I heard so many things about his country, how foreigners especially women were treated. Sultan stated that they were not barbarians, but peaceful people. I thanked him but turned down his job offer. I had a lot of experiments to do and time was very crucial. Sultan would be attending a conference at Anaheim Convention Center, January the next year and would like to meet me there.  He would call me as soon as he arrived. He hung up. I didn’t believe him. I started my experiments hoping that I would not encounter any problems.

I had forgotten all about Sultan until one Saturday afternoon while cultivating my plants my cordless phone rang. It was Sultan. He was staying at Disneyland Hotel, Anaheim, California and asked when he could see me. I could not believe it. I told him I had a very busy schedule at work. He would be staying there for a week. He gave me his phone number and hung up. I had to find a solution to my predicament.

Keywords: journey, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, bio-data, expatriate, Anaheim Convention Center



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