A British ODP in Riyadh
Why did you apply for a post in Saudi Arabia?
I was just looking for a challenge basically. A new challenge in a new country. I wanted to do the job I love but in different surroundings. I wanted a new challenge and an adventure. Also, when I was inquiring a little more about Saudi Arabia I found out about the 54 days of leave we get every year, and that was great as I am really into traveling.
Can you describe the department?
I worked in the department of anesthesia. It is a big department, with many different nationalities. There are a lot more foreign workers compared to Saudis and they are all very helpful. From the colleague point of view (the doctors, the nurses, the technicians) I can recommend it. They were all very, very helpful and knew what they were doing. However, on the management point of view it was poor.
Can you describe your role and how it was different to UK?
In UK I assist with the anesthesia and in Saudi Arabia I was anesthesia technician so my role was not too different. My role was to help delivering anesthesia, looking after the patient during surgery, waking up the patient and so on. The hospital itself is a big trauma center so it is really busy. One will also see very different cases. For example, during my five-year career in London I did not see any conjoined twins cases, but in Saudi Arabia I was lucky to see few of them. The role was more or less the same in Saudi Arabia. I can't say that I lost any skills during my stint, I rather gained more skills because I was able to do things I normally don't get to do in London. I was able to get more complex cases there and I feel like I became a stronger practitioner.
Can you tell how your experience was in Riyadh?
In Riyadh, I would say, in a social point of view, there is so much to do. First, one has to make friends and be open-minded. Saudi Arabia is an interesting country, because even though it is a conservative country, there are a lot of really nice things to do. For example, I like scuba diving a lot so I could go scuba diving in Jeddah or Damam. There are some really good restaurants from all around the world, from Japan to India and so on. Because of the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf, one can do the water activities. Also, the fantastic thing about it is that because one gets more than fifty days of annual leave, there is a great chance to travel more or less every one month. One can go to Dubai, Bahrain Maldives and Sri Lanka, just to name few, really cheaply. I feel like in Riyadh I had to be very organized with my time because there I had the money and I had the holidays, so I was able to do pretty much what I wanted.
Did you live on site or off site? Can you describe your accommodation?
I lived off site, about twenty minutes away from the hospital. I lived in Al-Yamama, which is a western compound. It is a nice, lovely compound. I lived in a two-bedroom villa and shared it with another midwife. She was a very nice person to live with and we became really good friends. On the compound we had restaurants, gyms, lady massages, beauty therapist, a little shop to buy your bread and milk... It had more or less everything! It is also very secured and safe. It had 24 hour normal security and a 24 hour national guard, military security. The accommodation was very luxurious, and I cannot have anything bad to say about it. The apartment was fully furnished and had completely everything inside ready!
What did you do in your spare time?
The shopping opportunities were fantastic. There were malls behind every corner. There are three different type of malls. One type is full of exclusive designers like Prada and Gucci, then there are the types that have really cheap brands and the type that has something between of these two. The hospital organizes shopping buses free of charge from the compound to a shopping mall and back. Every day to a different place. I know a lot of people went to parties every weekend, but that was not my style. I would want to go out of the compound and explore the country. One could do desert camping, quad biking and hiking for example. I also love photographing. The landscape is very beautiful and untouched, which makes it really nice for taking pictures.
Would you recommend for other UK OPD's to go to work at National Guard Health Affairs?
I would definitely recommend people to go to Saudi Arabia. What I expected from National Guard and what it actually was, were quite different. Maybe if they get their management in order, it will be good. The staff, though, is amazing and help manage the time. I would recommend people to go to Saudi Arabia, as it is an amazing country and many people do not get the chance of visiting there. I have no regrets over deciding to go there. I learned a lot about myself and had a very good adventure!