I knew when we found out that we were moving to Saudi that I'd have a lot of questions to answer about it. But I didn't realize how conflicted I'd feel about those questions.
My first problem is that I'm delighted to be moving there and almost no one else thinks I should be. People think I'm being sarcastic or quite possibly crazy which isn't a good start to the conversation. Then we move on to the stereotypes about living in Muslim countries that I have to shoot down. Kyrgyzstan is a Muslim country too, you know.
The trouble with Saudi is that a lot of those stereotypes about Islam are true. Women do have many fewer rights in Saudi, they can't drive, they can't even pay the phone bill by themselves. There are many rules about their clothing. The penal system is often cruel. The interpretation of Islam that is most prevalent in the country is often extreme. There are a lot of things I can't and won't defend about Saudi.
But I can't defend everything about any country, and I hate it when people just bring up the negative stuff about Kyrgyzstan, or want to rehash every horrible thing the US has done. Saudi Arabia is a lot more than abayas and hot weather and I'm looking forward to so much, like the diversity of the city; seeing old friends; trying new food; enjoying the weather half the year; visiting Jerusalem, Cairo, and other places in the Middle East; speaking Arabic again; seeing how Islam works in a much more conservative Muslim country than we've lived in before; and just learning how to live in another country again.