Bonjour, I’m Florence Chabert d’Hieres, a Saudi Arabia mom! I’m a French national, an international adoptee from Sri Lanka, married to a Frenchman. I’m an intercultural specialist coaching expat families and their children around the world to make their lives abroad a success. I have lived and worked in over four continents.
We are raising three little girls, ages 6, 5, and 3, whom we like to call “Third Culture Kids.” Three years ago, our family moved from Dubai, where our children were born, to Al Khobar in Saudi Arabia. After having lived in the Middle East for 10 years, we’re now about to settle in another kingdom, the U.K. This will be the first time our children will be moving away from the sun into the rain!
Please join me as I share with you a slice of our daily lives in Al Khobar.
On weekdays, it’s all about getting ready for school! We all wake up at around 6.30AM and get ready to go to the French school, the Lycée Français International of Al Khobar which starts at 7:45AM. The girls have to get dressed in their school uniforms and lunch boxes must be packed and ready to go.
We try to keep our French culture for breakfast. Today, it will be pain au chocolat and croissant and Nesquick hot chocolate. Most of the time, we have breakfast at home. When we are out and about, we really enjoy going to a small place next to our compound called Seven where we have an authentic Arabic breakfast including local staples such as fresh labneh (yogurt cheese), ful mudammas (a fava-bean-based recipe), grilled halloumi cheese, Zaatar (a spice blend), and scrambled eggs served with Arabic bread.
As I’m lucky enough to be able to drive with my Dubai license, I’ve been bringing the kids myself to school in the few last months. I can now keep the car for the day which wasn’t the case until recently–the government did not allow women to drive. Previously, I had to have a driver bring us to school.
On weekend mornings, we often go to the desert: our favorite place on earth! Since Al Khobar has great weather at least eight months a year, we take full advantage of being outdoors to discover new places where we can spot camels and camp overnight. We might also picnic in the desert once we set up our overnight camp.
Until recently, we weren’t able to freely wander on our own and would generally have most of our meals at home.
The kids return from school around 1PM unless they have an in-school activity such as ballet. With most places closing between the noon and 4PM prayer times, it’s basically a long naptime for the whole country to enjoy. Before government restrictions on our movements were relaxed, all our afternoon activities were based in the compound including swimming, fitness, and tennis. The compound is also a great place for the girls to go on their bikes and see their friends. Now, we also sometimes go to the mall or the playground by the sea, known as the Corniche. This waterfront walkway along the Arabian Gulf features a number of family attractions and pristine parks. We also love going to a brand new museum called Ithra which is wonderful for families bringing them access to culture, events, and exhibits. The children’s museum is really interesting!
We have dinner at home around 6PM. After showers, it’s time for homework and bedtime stories. Then it’s off to bed!
Or, if we are in the desert, we settle around a campfire in the dunes, where we have hummus, chips, hot dogs, and of course grilled marshmallows!