The nation of Saudi Arabia hosts a sizeable number of expats. The total population of this nation in January 2016 was 31,000,000. However, in April 2013, it had a sum total of nine million foreign workers. This group includes a large number of Asian immigrants such as Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Indonesians and Filipinos.
Thus, it only stands to reason that schools in Saudi Arabia are literally flooded with expat children. However, there is a drawback in this situation. State run schools only admit locals and naturalized Arabs. Nonetheless, for expats, there is a wide choice of private international schools available. A lot of these are in the three main cities – Riyadh, Jeddah and Dhahran.
Saudi Arabia, as such, is not a very easy place to live in for the expat community. As per a survey, only 41 per cent of those surveyed said that the friendliness of the local population was good. Also, it ranks 64th out of 64 countries in the ‘feeling welcome’ subcategory of the ‘ease of settling in’ index in foreign lands.
Inspite of this, there is said to prevail a wide cultural diversity in the schools of this country. Children, by their very nature, mix up well even with those who are not from their own background or nation. Thus, one finds that in Saudi Arabian schools there is a great influence of multiculturalism. Children coming from very diverse religions and cultures bond very well with those from other religions and cultures. There is a lot of positive learning happening in such schools of children who get exposed to things, manners, languages and a host of other nuances of other countries.
Children, for instance, even get the hang of habits such as those related to food, clothes, music, dance, art and other related intricacies of their fellow students. This leads to a lot of information exchange occurring at the kids’ levels. And children, due to the pureness of their hearts, learn not to differentiate but accept these social differences very well. This leads to a great deal of picking up of tacts and tactics of those societies which are far different from their own. Along with this, children also learn about festivals and occasions to rejoice of people from countries other than their own.
Naturally enough, such friendships which blossom at the level of children, even percolates to their parents. Meeting at parent-teacher meetings and other school events leads to a lot of exchange of thoughts and ideas of the expats from different countries. This also materializes into lifelong friendships and associations which even continue after the expats have gone back to their native soil.
As mentioned before, the environs in Saudi Arabia do not encourage much of interaction with the local crowd. However, there is a lot of interaction between expats. All this leads to the entire experience of living in a foreign country not all that difficult. Some, in fact, may even learn to enjoy and treasure the whole gambit of living in this Arabic state.