Myth Two: Saudi Houses, Palaces or Tents?
So excited for the number of viewers who checked out the first Saudi myth, Myth One: Saudi, the Land Of The Riches. This encouraged me to share another myth sooner than planned!
This second myth is a little bit of a weird one because it touches on two extremes. It is about Saudi housing. Some people come to me and ask "So, do you have an amazing palace back home?" or worse "Aren't you glad to be in the west and live in normal house instead of a tent?" My answer to both is a no.
News flash, no one in Saudi lives in a tent. In fact, even my great grandparents never lived in tents because they were born by the seaside and worked as fishermen. They had their little roofless, clay, open houses. These days, the only time that people actually use tents is when they are doing a reenactment, camping trips and decor, never for living.
My fictional tent, source.
In regards to those fictional palaces and fictional free housing schemes, they don't exist. To be honest, I have never even seen a palace in Saudi. I am sure the king and the royal family live in them, but they are so off limit and they aren't even mentioned in the press unlike Buckingham Palace that you see in the middle of London. I couldn't even find a real one of google! I guess it's a good thing. The king doesn't want to flaunt his wealth.
My fictional palace, source.
Let me tell you the reality. Saudis live in houses and flats. They either inherit the land from their parents or get to hustle and bustle until they buy their own and build it. These days the minimum price is £200 per meter. Most people aim to buy a 500 square meter land, which makes the price for a land so payment will be around £100000. This is in the much cheaper areas. Of courses prices go up the nicer the area is. By nicer I mean that it has water pipes and electricity all lined up with close by amenities because not every area has those things. That's only the land. Add another £200000 for contractors, designers, building materials, and the furniture. It really costs a fortune these days. A lot of the newlyweds either get a small rented flat of a £5000 a year. For the couples who can't afford it they just live with the husband's family. Keep in mind that the average Saudi income isn't more than £1600 a month. There are some loans, but they are not usually sufficient. I know a lot of shocking numbers.
One of my friends thought each Saudi gets a free house. Sadly, it's not the case. Believe it or not. There are people in the country who can't even get houses and live on the streets. I know this is a hard fact to swallow. Even some Saudis seem to be oblivious to that fact. A quick look at the local newspaper will prove this tragedy. According to Alwatan local newspaper in the issue dated 24th of November 2010, there are 48 families in the East part of Saudi (where the oil wells and companies are located) living in miserable kinds of houses made of light metal that leaks during winter and gets extremely hot during summer.
Pretty Saudi house
Ok, back to a happier note on the more average side of Saudi housing. Since I am a designer, I will tell you about the houses' designs. Most houses are angular with flat roofs. Houses in Saudi have mixed designs because people build their own places. It sounds like a dream at first, but the long period those houses require to be built and all the crazy paperwork makes it difficult. Also, houses have tough regulations. Even the type of building material is set in Saudi. You can't even be inventive with your own house or even be sustainable, but that's a discussion for another time. Generally, Saudi houses are very spacious, but some of the space is wrongly used. I just sit at my grandparents house *God bless them* and I just think of how I could re-plan the whole house. Every time, I go back to Saudi, I like to go around the city to checkout what's getting built. It's exciting at times.
Hope you know the reality now. Saudi housing is just like any other country where the people have limited options.
Look out for the third myth by next week.
Feel free to comment and share your thoughts :)