Back in 2012 when I randomly landed a job in Saudi Arabia people thought I must be nuts. In fact, I probably was a little bit nuts. But the truth is, moving to and living in the Middle East was the biggest and best risk I’ve ever taken in my life. I’ve said time and time again that I had no idea what direction my life was going in, I made choices around other people’s expectations of me.

The Treasury Petra Jordan

The Treasury, Petra, Jordan

Finally taking that risk and breaking free helped me to learn so much about myself. Spreading my wings so far certainly taught me how to fly as high as the sky is the limit. There was literally no better place to teach me lessons I needed to learn than Saudi Arabia.

living in the Middle East

Madain Saleh, Saudi Arabia

The strictest Islamic country in the world

Saudi Arabia may seem like a strange choice to some. The strictest Islamic country in the world, rich in oil and poor in equality and human rights. But this country still holds a dear place in my heart and the Middle East still feels like my spiritual home, and probably always will. Here’s why…


This one 100% goes without saying. Middle Eastern cuisine has become a world-wide favourite and turned me into a massive hummus snob.

living in the Middle East

Traditional Arabic food in Amman, Jordan

Four years of living in the Middle East and feasting on world class falafel, tabbouleh and baba ghanoush has not worn thin. From the musty aromas of traditional Arabic coffee laced with cardamom wafting through the streets on a morning, to the sweet locally grown dates.

living in the Middle East

Arabic coffee, Beirut, Lebanon

Food plays the biggest part in Arabian hospitality and I miss every single dish.

Middle Eastern cuisine has become a world-wide favourite and turned me into a massive hummus snob. #expat #travel #foodie Click To Tweet

The Majestic Architecture

If there’s one thing I don’t get tired of looking at, it’s Arabian architecture. I love seeing Mosques on every corner and streets that are straight out of ‘Aladdin’.

living in the Middle East

Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Probably the most famous in the way of Arabian architecture is Sheik Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi (pictured above). Hands down the most beautiful Mosque I’ve had the privilege to visit (and I’ve visited a lot).

Related: My Middle-East Expat Life – Common Questions Answered

living in the Middle East

The old town of Saudi Arabian city, Jeddah showcases some stunning ancient architecture and is now a UNESCO Heritage Site.

living in the Middle East

Old Town, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Of course, you can’t miss Dubai’s skyscrapers, the epitome of flashy Arabian architecture and I cannot stress the sheer beauty and goose bump inducing majesty that is Petra in Jordan.

The Treasury Petra Jordan

The Treasury in Petra, Jordan

The Middle East has mastered the art of showcasing an eclectic combination of the truly ancient and the fascinatingly futuristic, often all intertwined in the same city!

The Friendly People

Despite what you’ve heard, or you think you know about living in the Middle East, Arabian hospitality is beyond world class. Kindness and generosity play a huge part in the Islamic religion and the Arab culture which changes slightly across the different Middle Eastern countries. Every country I’ve visited across the Middle East I have been welcomed with smiles and non-intimidating curiosity. Oh, and the Arabic language, such a rich and complex history has led to a language that may be hard to learn but sounds completely magical and writes like an art form.

The Arabs are extremely proud of their language, its easy to see (and hear) why.

The Insane Natural Beauty (and the camels of course)

From miles of untouched sand dunes (complete with thousands of camels) in Saudi Arabia, to the stunning mountain ranges of Oman, Wadi Rum desert in Jordan, and world class diving in the Red Sea. The Middle East is beyond beautiful, with landscapes that will transport you to another planet.

living in the Middle East

Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan

As well as history, heritage, culture and sky scrapers, this region strikes gold with some of the most dramatic sceneries on this planet.

A Magic, Mind-Opening Land of Opportunity

The Middle East is home to a vast array of people from all corners of the world. Exposing yourself and immersing into this kind of environment provides a great personal platform for opening the mind and seeking new opportunities. Working and living in the Middle East, an environment so different to your own, opens the mind.

living in the middle east

Camels in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

For me it helped to mould many life skills. Patience and understanding to name just a few.

Is living in the Middle East safe?

There’s so many reasons why I miss the Middle East. From the call to prayer to the manic shopping malls, shisha nights to day in day out sunshine. There’s so much to love. But one question I get asked so much is, ‘is it safe?’

During my 4 years living in Saudi Arabia, and my extensive travel across the Middle Eastern region, I have never felt unsafe. The sight of armed guards is frequent and although at first can feel intimidating, it starts to feel like second nature.

living in the Middle East

Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan

Don’t believe everything you read in mainstream media.

Educate yourself.

Take a deep breath and go explore!

Are you a Middle East Expat or is living in the Middle East something you’re considering doing yourself? Share your own experiences, thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

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Middle east expat Gemma on living in the Middle East

Visiting Saudi Arabia? Check out our Saudi Arabia Travel Tips