Embracing work abroad

2020-01-21 06:00
Ierfaan Cassiem at Nico Hülkenbergat’s pitstop at the Bahrain Formula 1.

Ierfaan Cassiem at Nico Hülkenbergat’s pitstop at the Bahrain Formula 1.

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Not all of us are able to travel or work overseas but well-known sports journalist Ierfaan Cassiem from Ottery has this privilege.

Cassiem shares his experience of living in Bahrain in Saudi Arabia with People’s Post.

“In March 2013, I accepted a job offer from a company in Saudi Arabia. This meant I had to relocate from Cape Town to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is a huge country with a land area of approximately 2 150 000km2. The company I work for is based in the Eastern Province of the country in a city called Al Khobar.

“What I enjoy most about ex-pat life is working with so many people from different nationalities. Although I work in Saudi Arabia, the majority of my colleagues are Egyptians. Then I have colleagues from Turkey, Spain, England and Portugal. And I have also been fortunate to visit all those countries.

“Another great thing is that all the Egyptians are football crazy. They all support Mohamed Salah, the Egyptian who plays for Liverpool. I have supported Liverpool for more than 40 years and have been suffering for the past 30 years not winning the league.

“An Egyptian colleague and I took a trip to Liverpool and it was an incredible experience. A few months after that I took my family and my sons and I went to watch a few games.

“Travelling from here is quite easy. There are direct flights from Bahrain or Saudi to most destinations, but I prefer to fly on Emirates via Dubai. I then meet my family in Dubai and together we travel to England or Europe with Emirates connecting flights.

“I am not a lover of Arabic food. I prefer the typical South African food I grew up with. Arabic food is mainly chicken or meat with loads of rice. Their meat and chicken are very bland and lacks spice. But the food is relatively cheap.

“During my first year here, I picked up about 30 kilograms. Mainly due to eating lots of rice and bread and doing no exercise. It just worked, ate and slept.

“When I moved to Bahrain, the building I moved to had a gym. I started to make use of the gym and I can happily say I lost all of that 30kgs over the past few years.

“For any South African interested in working in either Saudi or Bahrain, I would highly recommend it. You will miss family and friends if you move here without them. But it is easy to make new friends over here. The majority of the people are expatriates themselves and they enjoy meeting new people. South Africans are highly respected and people see them as similar to Europeans.

“On the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf, between Saudi Arabia and Qatar is a small island called Bahrain.

“Bahrain is the third smallest state in Asia and occupies a land area of about 475.5km2. It has a population of 1 425 171 people. The Gulf of Bahrain (the Persian Gulf’s inlet on the eastern side of Saudi Arabia) separates the two nations. The only crossway between the two countries is the King Fahd Causeway. The Causeway was officially opened to the public in 1986. The idea of this causeway connecting the two states was the outcome of King Saud’s plan of solidifying the connection between the two kingdoms.

“I decided to make Bahrain my residence and every morning and night I cross the 26km long King Fahd Causeway bridge between the two countries.

There were a few reasons for me choosing to live in Bahrain and doing the daily commute. Some of these included language (in Bahrain English is more commonly used than in Saudi where many people struggle with English), the fact that my wife could drive a car (Saudi Arabia only allowed women to drive since June 2018), the food (more western diet in Bahrain), less congestion (Saudi Arabia is overpopulated), freedom of movement for my family and better schools for my children.

V Continued on page 2.

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