Having lived in Saudi Arabia for 28 years I can certainly imagine that most people would expect me to have a reasonable knowledge of Arabic. Alas, this is far from true. I have tried and probably know a little more than many of the expats I know. Partly, this is due to the limited possibility of  interaction with the Saudi people. Living as an expat on an expat compound I have no need to use Arabic. When I do venture out and about to go shopping many of the shopkeepers are not actually Arabic  and those that are  are male, which in this very sexually segregated society can lead to a minefield of cultural faux pas, misunderstandings and misconceptions on everyone’s part! As for writing and reading Arabic, mastering a new alphabet and writing system is just too much for most.
A couple of days ago the Year 2 teacher arranged for one of the parents to come into school and show the pupils how to write their names in Arabic. My class was invited to join them.
The children took the experience in their stride and enthusiastically attempted to write their names for themselves, which hadn’t really been expected.
I took the opportunity to have my name written too!
I have a feeling that many of the children will already have mastered their names, admittedly by ‘rote learning’ but I will take an awful lot longer to master it by any means! Hopefully, some of them will keep adding to this and not be as handicapped as their parents and teachers in their time in Saudi.


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