“My father had twenty six children with three different women. I am the only one who lives abroad. Three months ago I arrived in Amsterdam. It was the first day of Ramadan and you have to fast for longer here as the days are longer. After such a long journey this wasn’t easy. My bags were also lost en route for two weeks, so I only had the one T-shirt. And as we’d never been here before, I had no idea where I could buy special ingredients.
I came here with my wife and three children. My friends had told me, “don’t go to Amsterdam, everything’s allowed there. There are drugs, and prostitution”. But I was prepared, and knew what went on here. I accepted that everyone is free to do as they wish. I can’t stand the smell of weed and would never bring my family to the Wallen, but other than that life is good here. I like the fact that my children come into contact with a wide variety of cultures.
My parents found my leaving hard, and cried when we left. The first weeks they called daily. I invited them to come and visit us, but don’t know if they’ll ever dare to.
In the three months that I have been here the major difference with home seems to be the weather. In Saudi Arabia there is air conditioning everywhere: at home, in the car, in the shops. We don’t walk outside as much as we do here, more from one air conditioned building to the next. My children play outside every day here, something they wouldn’t do over there. And I also am coming to realise that back home the noise from the mosque is always in earshot. That’s not the case here. I miss that. Just like I do the food. The real, traditional Arabic dishes. For example, we have forty sorts of dates. I brought ten boxes with me.
They came in handy when my neighbour came to my door complaining about the noise my youngest son was making. In Saudi Arabia the houses are big, with thick walls. You don’t hear the neighbours. Here you are so much closer to each other and this takes some getting used to. I gave the neighbour my apologise, and some dates. All’s well that ends well.”
16 people in Amsterdam have the Saudi nationality