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Adventures with John and Nina – Saudi Arabia …Where’s that?

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

by Nina Sabin - Travel

Welcome back to our adventures again!

Today, I am going to focus on what it was like moving across the world to the Middle East. Before I do, here are some details of how our desire for adventure began. My husband has always like excitement, explorations, and traveling. After we were married, I realized I also like the thrill of adventures. Our first real journey started with our honeymoon in the Smoky Mountains. I lived a more sheltered life style than John and didn’t take that many risks, but in our honeymoon weeks, we avoided a tornado, went white water rafting (class 5 and 6 due to the previous day’s weather conditions), hiked challenging terrain, and conquered a long horseback ride through the wilderness. All firsts for me! It was the beginning of the exciting Sabin family’s “once in life time” excursions.

We had a first real overseas escapade when John’s company brought him on a six day 6,000 mile journey through England. During that time we learned about how tricky it is to drive on the other side of the road. At the first place we lost a hub cap, second place I took off a side mirror, and finally John totaled the car. J Thankfully, his company was understanding and gave us another car. It was our chance to understand there are many differences when you are not in your own country.

Now to the main reason of this article...moving to Saudi. As I mentioned on my first blog, The Beginning, in August of 2001, we packed up and moved around the world to Saudi Arabia. We left everything we knew and felt comfortable with and entered the unknown. To do this, we prayed for God’s will and guidance. He gave us a peace that is beyond ours or anyone else’s understanding. Most people thought we were crazy to uproot our family and move to the Middle East where things appeared to be in constant turmoil. At the time, I only knew that Saudi Arabia was in the Middle East. I actually had to look at a map to see where we were moving to.

I still have the image in my mind of us being at the airport in Miami saying goodbye to our parents. (Even today that image brings tears to my eyes.) We were off to start our new life in Saudi. We were thrilled that the company paid us to go business class. Other than John’s business trips, that was first and almost only time to ride business class. What a great way to enter our new phase in life. For those of you know about traveling, there are no direct flights to Saudi. We had a layover in London, where our three year old was playing on a line queuing bar while we were waiting in line at the airport and did a flip over the bar, landed on her face and ended up with a black eye. What a way to start our new life!

When we arrived at the Dammam airport, we were blurry-eyed and majorly exhausted. We come to find out that is the price to pay when traveling around the world – it is called “being jet lagged”. As we came to the immigration, there were men in military uniforms and had machine guns. John and I looked at each other and though “what did we get ourselves into.” They actually were very friendly and love children. They moved us up to the front of one of the lines and we had smooth experience going through immigration. (We received our visas in the mail before arriving to Saudi; we actually arrived in 2 weeks, once the visas were approved, as a company incentive to come live there.)

There was a liaison from the company at the airport and he helped us finish through the process and head to our new home in Saudi Arabia. Before moving to Saudi, I had the opportunity to correspond with an expat mother who was able to share some insight on the expat living. My next article will include those insights.

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