29 Aug Insight and Wisdom from the Ladies of the Award Winning Blog
All of us who have lived the expatriate life know that moving to a new country can be both exciting and daunting. Excitement about the possibilities and discovering a new culture are often coupled with uncertainties about uprooting and leaving the comforts of home. Sometimes in life, the biggest challenges can turn out to be the greatest opportunities.
Meet two ladies who are not only making the most out of their journey in Saudi Arabia, but who are helping thousands of others expats enjoy all Riyadh has to offer! Janelle and Reina are the bloggers behind the well-known online lifestyle guide, The Pink Tarha. Talk to any expat in Riyadh and they have surly referenced The Pink Tarha in their search for answers about life in the capital city! From the best restaurants, to the most family-friendly parks, to the oh-so-popular sale alerts, the Pink Tarha has it covered. Winner of the Best Website Promoting Tourism at the Saudi Excellence in Tourism Award 2014, second place winner at the Pinoy Expats Blog Awards 2009, and named as one of the 100 Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf, The Pink Tarha is internationally renowned.
I had the honor and pleasure to meet the lovely Janelle of the Pink Tarha duo. Over a delectable high tea experience at the new Rosh Rayhaan Hotel by Rotana, Janelle generously answered my many questions about writing a successful blog, empowering women, and making the most out of life in Saudi. Reina couldn’t make the interview but I was lucky enough to get her written answers too. In part 1 of the interview, we cover insights and wisdom about life in Saudi. Don’t miss part 2 for their tips on becoming a blogger!
These ladies are making it happen. If you are new to Riyadh and looking to make the most of your experience, this dynamic duo has some advice for you!
I’m sure you have gained great insight into Saudi culture through your work. Could you share some insights with us?
Reina: One of the things I’ve realized through the years is that Saudis are very family-centered and family ties are of the utmost importance.
Janelle: Saudis are hospitable and warm. We like these traits because we Filipinos are known for our hospitality too. Also, I learned through Saudi culture that tradition and modernity can go hand in hand. A person can enjoy the modernity of life and at the same time, respect the tradition and values imparted by their forefathers.
Your friend is visiting Riyadh for a week. What are your top must do/sees?
Janelle: It depends on what he/she likes. For historical experiences, then the National Museum and a trip up the Water Tower inside the park that seemed to be stuck in time. Also a trip to Diriyah and a quick meal at Al Bujairi District. For adventures, then definitely the Red Sand and Edge of the World. For a food trip, shawarma and kabsa (cheap), Tahlia Street or exit 5 for known restaurants (average price) and hotel restaurants like Pampa Grill, Spazio 77, the Globe, etc. (expensive).
Reina: For a cultural experience, the first thing I will tell them about/show them is the SHAWARMA. I would also always recommend the Janadriyah Festival as it is an all-in-one experience of everything Saudi Arabia. Shopping during the Sale Season is also something I’d like a friend to experience because of the unbelievably low prices and being tax-free. I would also have them hang out at Tahlia Street to see how to hustle and bustle happens in the heart of the city.
*Find links to The Pink Tarha’s recommendations at the end of the article
What are the top 5 things that enhance your life in Riyadh?
Janelle: Having my family here, having friends who have (the same) sense of humor and are open to new adventures, embracing change, good food, and retail therapy!
Reina: Having family here (realizing many expats don’t enjoy this luxury), limo service, low cost of living, a strong expat community, and hmmm, the shawarma!
What are the greatest opportunities you see for female entrepreneurs in Riyadh?
Reina: I’ve seen how sociable Saudis are in general and I believe that there’s a great potential for improving the networking events in the city with more creative and unique avenues.
Janelle: There is a great opportunity to find your voice and your niche in Riyadh. The market is not oversaturated and there are many untapped opportunities in Riyadh that you can do (and be the first to do so). Use the power of social media to enhance your businesses.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Reina: Being kind is more important than being right.
Janelle: Ask! This is an advice from my grandmother: do not be afraid to ask. You will get one of two answers, and both are good if you look at them this way: When they answer yes, you get what you want. When they answer no, you don’t lose anything because you can’t regret the thing that you didn’t have in the first place.
National Museum – http://www.thepinktarha.com/ksa/2013/07/a-walk-down-a-museums-memory-lane.html
Al Bujairi, Historical Diriyah – http://www.thepinktarha.com/ksa/2016/04/food-hub-al-bujairi-historical-diriyah.html
All entries on Janadriyah Festival – http://www.thepinktarha.com/ksa/?s=janadriyah
Riyadh’s Sale Seasons – http://www.thepinktarha.com/ksa/2011/06/how-to-survive-riyadhs-sale-seasons.html