Posted on March 1, 2013

Kidnapped in Saudi Arabia

Expat

I swear this is a true story. Even I find it hard to believe, considering how insane the situation really was , it’s hard to grasp. I thought this was a must share, because it is a lesson much learned. The safety of single females in the Kingdom is very questionable, the sought out independence accustomed to back home quickly dissolves while being here. Anyhow, this is how my what the he** moment came to be; 

It all occurred within a few months of being here; it was also my first vacation break from work. I had decided to stay in the Kingdom and venture out to Jeddah for the first time. The break was lengthy around 21 days or so. I had booked a ticket via Saudi airlines and was due to fly out from Riyadh International Airport. There is no airport in my village, for considerable reason. This meant and means for any trips within/outside the Kingdom I would have to endure a 2hr drive to get there. Because departure date was one in the same for all the expats here we were able to arrange transportation to the airport together, however upon return we would all find our own ways home. So, I had a fantastic time in Jeddah (fell in love with the city) and was sad for it to come to an end. But even sadder was of what the end comprised of.

When returning to Riyadh we had all got several independent drivers phone numbers to contact for the 2hr trip home? Well days before my departure from Jeddah, I called all the numbers to no avail. So last resort I asked a friend from Riyadh if she knew anyone and said there was a taxi driver that did these trips often with expat women in Qassim (3hrs from Riyadh). With no other choice I rang him and he agreed, completely relieved we agreed to meet in the airport and he would drive me home.
It all started here, when I arrived in Riyadh. I found the driver waiting in the arrivals lobby (he rang me) and made our way to his car. This in any other city would be fine, a little sketch but understandable. In the Kingdom it is common for single females to hire drivers (Women can’t drive here) to get to and from. What I didn’t know was taking a hired driver long distance alone is not recommended and ill advised. Anyhow, we started the trek home within minutes of being in the car I noticed he had a knack for socializing something I am not comfortable with. He asked a few question and I ignored and figured he got the hint. He didn’t. I resorted to calling a friend and decided to chat on the phone for a lengthy period of time. After about an hour in the car, he pulls into a gas stop.
I figured he needed gas, he did not he sat in the car idle. I put down the phone looked around, suggesting a reason why we stopped. He then turns his head towards the backseat and asks me if I want to have lunch, I am shocked at this and say no abruptly. He starts the car and goes back on the route; we’ve been driving for around 1hr and 45 mins. I become a bit concerned, nothing looks familiar and all I see is acres of sand. At this point I ask are we close and he replies yes no too much longer. I go back on the phone at this point he begins to grunt and shake his head; I ignore this and continue on the phone. I am known super freaked out and think it’s my last day. I tell my friend who begins to freak, and start yelling on the phone making me more frazzled. My friend suggests he talk to the driver and set him start, as we know have been in the car for close to 3hrs and there is no sight of my town. I tell him to hold off telling the driver off because all I can imagine is the driver either shooting and/or raping me in the desert and no one would ever know where to find me.
Literally, point of extremes, pissing myself scared. I ask again, if we there yet, how much longer and he replies close, close. At this point I am holding back my tears. He then comments that he is jealous of my phone. #WTF. My phone? Supposedly he thinks I give it to much attention. I say nothing, but that my boyfriend (imaginary) is expecting me and
we are very delayed. Let me mention there are no streetlights, traffic jams, intersection, just straight freeway with nothing but sand dunes. He then says all he wants is someone to talk to; we could have lunch in the desert, blah blah blah. All I hear is MURDER MURDER MURDER! I am at this point on the phone again seconds from bawling in tears, when my friend says to control myself and give me a pep talk. I quote “put this bastard in his place and tell him you’re calling the cops”. Its now been 4 1/2 hrs. of driving in sand dunes.
So, I got a grip and said do just that.
Lo and behold within 20 mins his 60km/hr turned to 120km/hr and I was approaching the outskirts of my town. I was floored. This asshole was literally circling the outskirts of town for hours hoping he was going to get something out of me. What? I can only imagine what this sick fuck is thinking. I was finally home, an emotional wreck after probably the scariest couple hrs of my life.
To all my female readers, please please please be beyond cautious when travelling in the Kingdom. It is highly advised that any type of road trips be done with people you know, never alone and if a must you take the commercial buses if needed. I cannot stress how important it is for single expat women (specifically) to be guarded at all times. Thru the years it has become clear to me that foreign women are very stereotyped and are perceived to be “loose women”. I don’t know why, I don’t care why but we’re smarter than them, so be wise!
Take Care,
Enjoy xx

 

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Got something add?

  • Francesca September 21, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    I love your blog, I am coming to Riyadh to work as a nurse next year, am worried sick due to mixed reviews.

    Any ideas for photography classes or sewing? as these are the only thing I enjoy aside work

    I look forward to your feedback

    • Gina September 21, 2013 at 6:17 pm

      Hello Francesca

      Aww. Thank you I am so glad your enjoying the blog. Don't worry about coming to Riyadh there are plenty of expats here, so you have nothing to be worried about. Everyone has different experiences you just got to get here to see how it goes.

      I don't know about any specific sewing/photography classes but I am sure they are available. I suggest you join the popular expat online communities http://www.internations.org/ & http://www.expat-blog.com/. They are loaded with information for expats and a great place to find clubs, classes etc. with like-minded individuals. I find its a great way to keep up to date with events and things happening in the city.

      Hope that helps.
      Take Care
      Gina

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