May 12, 2013

Neighbors Socializing and Summer events

Here is a little back story on today's 'Phenomenon'. In Saudi Arabia, things are a bit different in the neighborhood kids playing field. Since all the homes here have high walls with yards closed in, there is little to no interaction with the neighbors  I lived in my FIL's house for 8 years, and never once met the neighbors  I have lived in my house here for nearly 2 years, and only made a connection with one of my neighbors after our husbands met. Children barely interact with other children. The high walls make it nearly impossible for neighborhood kids to meet, and play together in a traditional sense. Anyway now on to my story:

So I am cooking in the kitchen like the awesome (rolling eyes) Domestic Diva I am, and then suddenly I hear my children talking to someone. I turn down my music, and listen to them. The conversation was going like this:

Lujain: Hi
Neighbor Kid (NK): Hi, where are you?
Lujain: I am here, Are you really a kid?
Neighbor Kid: I am M.H, what is your name?
Mansour: I am Mansour
Lujain: I am Lujain, and this is my baby brother Abdullah, are you sure you are a little kid?
Neibor kid: Na3am (meaning yes)
Lujain, I am in KG2, and I have PE tomorrow.
Neighbour Kid: I am watching Mickey Mouse and eating a banana...

Excuse the dusty ground... we have construction going on, and well.. nothing ever stays clean in Beautiful and Glamourous Rio De Najdero~

The conversation went on for about 30 minutes, and all this was going on over the wall, Abdullah my youngest even got into the conversation. I had to call my friend MR to share this amazing site! My kids were standing on our side of the wall, and the neighbor kid was standing on his side. They were completely and utterly mesmerized with it all. They were so excited to have other kids to interact with. Such an adorable little moment. The conversation took many different adorable turns. The kid would go between speaking in English and Arabic, and I just went on with my cooking while they were in complete awe of what was happening. So my kids have asked me to bake cupcakes sometime soon, so they can walk it over to the little kid. Here is hoping that this is the start of a new friendship. It would be great to have play dates with neighbors and not have to wait around for driver issues to be resolved for play dates with kids on the other side of Riyadh.

Anyone have plans for the summer? Will you be travelling? Staying put? Activities for kids? I will probably be suffering the heat within the GCC this summer. Short 'Sanity" trips out of Riyadh, but mainly staying put.

If anyone is interested a good friend is starting up some workshops for kids this summer, so feel free to contact her ASAP. It is on a first come first serve basis... and why not let your kids enjoy their summer and still learn in a super fun environment!


  1. Ahh mashAllah that is so cute. I hate how the kids have no interaction with other kids really bc growing up any new kids you would meet were your best friends, its such an innocent thing. I feel bad for the kids here but alhumdullah yours have one another.

    1. It was adorable. It must be hard for T... why don't you all come over one of these days? I think it would be fun for the kids? I think you live pretty close to me.

  2. So cute :)
    The pic is priceless ^^

    By the way, as far as I know, it's so important to have a friendly kinda family relationship with our neighbor in Islam.

    I know that in small cities of KSA it is actually the case. Maybe it's something people lost in such big cities like Riyadh ?

    I imagine no one there welcome you when you arrived ?

    Noor is right, this is so sad for the kids

    1. You are right, it is very important. Back in the day here in Riyadh people would leave their gates open, and people would know it was OK to just pop in for a visit and some coffee... the days of open gates are pretty much gone, and most people fear becoming victims of one thing or another.

      And you are right, there was no welcome, nor did I welcome anyone who moved in after me. Everyone seems to be busy with one thing or another, or perhaps waiting for the other person to make the first step.

      It is absolutely heartbreaking for the kids :s

      Thank you for Passing by!

  3. That's a cute story indeed.
    But things must be really different over there.

    I'm in San Francisco - and I know all my neighbors - some are even on the other side of the street and around the block.

    I've made a point of getting to know people, by and large because I'm outgoing and I feel it's important to feel like you live in a neighborhood. Sometimes I will notice someone quite a lot and say, aren't you my neighbor ? and then forever after, we wave to or chat with each other if we pass by.
    And this is in a good sized city.

    Remember, pretty much everyone is social, wished they had friends and knew their neighbors. But someone has to make the first move. We have a nice little informal neighborhood social group now - sometimes we have get-togethers or brunches - sometimes we have each other if we run out of sugar, butter, whatever - it's all good.

    People will praise you for getting people together if you try.
    I suppose though, it's much different in your society for a woman to be outgoing like that - I realize that. Too bad, but things will change over time.

    1. Firstly, I love San Francisco, I was in your lovely city to ring in the 2000 New year! Still remember how absolutely clean it was (I hope its still the same).

      You make a good point, perhaps everyone is waiting for the neighbor to come to them, everyone is hesitant to take the first step. I have promised my kids to bake the neighbors cupcakes, so that will hopefully be an ice breaker. I just really don't want to go through it all, and then be seen as the crazy lady. :)) But yeah, you made very valid points, and I value your insight on it. Thank you!

      Thanks for passing by.

  4. I did have one introduction not turn out as expected. A woman across the street had just moved in to the neighborhood, so a few days later I saw her in front and went across to welcome her.
    She just kind of went, "Whatever" and I felt a bit shut down.

    But I found out later from other people - she's a bit unfriendly and cold like that. And I know myself well enough to know it wasn't me, and besides, everyone else is pretty friendly with each other. So really, she's missing out. Too bad for her. I think most people are inherently social and enjoy knowing their neighbors - that's been my experience anyway.

  5. One more thing . . . if it's not customary to do things like approach the neighbors, bring cupcakes over - which is a great idea by the way - then there is a chance of course that you will be perceived as a bit different. But most likely that will be in a good way.

    Probably you will get a reputation as the friendly outgoing one - so how bad can that be. It could be the start of something in your neighborhood, and you will be the one that started it all.

    It's pretty innocent if you go to your neighbors and say, "Maybe people don't normally do this, but I don't know any neighbors, and we're living so close, so I thought I'd at least say hello" - I mean - who could turn that down ?

    My experience in the long run, having done this a lot is, it's really nice when you are coming home and you see your neighbors, and you can wave and say "How's it going ?"
    The world is too big and cold to live isolated.

    Good luck and let us know how it turns out.


    1. I agree with you Kent.
      Moreover, this attitude (being friendly to the people who live next door)is in their religion ! So how could they even dear to judge you for it ?
      I hope the cupcakes will be a good start :)

    2. hum sorry : "DARE to judge you"

    3. Kent, sadly they went on their summer holidays before I could send some over. But I will be sure to send something over during Ramadan.

      Anonymous, you are absolutely correct, it is in the religion, but the days of socialising openly, leaving the gates open as was customary are pretty much gone. But I will make it a point this Ramadan to send things over to more then one neighbor.

      On the plus side, I found out that one of my readers, who is an American married to a Saudi, lives in my neighborhood minutes from my home! It's been wonderful! I have been able to bake goodies and send it over to her kids, and now her son and my middle son are good friends :) It really is a small world

  6. Asalaam alaikum Om Lujain!!

    This is Aalia from the old Chasing Jannah blog -- except now I have a new Blog and came upon yours on a referral of another Western Blogger here in Saudi Arabia. Reading thru ur Posts and even your profile is like thinking out loud mashaaAllah. Anyways come by my Blog sometime ^_^

  7. Hi
    I just came across your blog... I love the kids pic and the story behind it! Reading your blog reminds me of myself and my kids! It's really hard getting to know people here and getting around!
    Best Wishes

    1. Thank you for passing by dear! I think many people can relate to how things are here. It's amazing how many people are in their closed off spaces wanting to know a few people. Are you here in Riyadh?


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