Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Education in Saudi: Part III

Refer to the previous entry Education in Saudi: Part I and II.

The issues has started several months ago. We were realized when we were bout to register/ to have entry test for our second daughter to Yanbu International School(American Curriculum).

At first we heard as rumours, so we tried to get clarification from the school registrar and then she confirmed the story. We felt very dissapointed with the news. Its not only us. Also for all muslim expatriates that have kids to go to international school. Se told us that is not only affect the YIS but also all international schools in the Kingdom. When we heard that, we were very sure this will take time to solve.

The decision only affects to muslim to enroll to international school, because one of the criteria to get registered we must have muslim approval from Ministry Education. We have been informed by Miss Bonnie(School Registrar), even the submission for approval in January still not approved yet.

For infos, the options of schools that we have right here in Yanbu are very limited.
1) Radwa International School(Indian Curriculum)
2) Al-Tawhid International School(Philiphine Curriculum)
3) Al-Israa International School( Indian Curriculum follows British Syllabus)
4) Yanbu International School(American Syllabus and Curriculum)- Accreditate by Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools

other than than Local Government Schools(Arabic medium)

If the ministry is trying to implement community schools as per said, where do our children can go ? Not only for us Malaysian, also Indonesian, Australian, Canadian,French,Italian, Singaporean, China etc.

For us kids education is the priority. If Kingdom cannot promise any place for education, why should we stay here?

Education in Saudi: Part II

A Mother’s Plea for Schools

by Tariq A. Al-Maeena,
Saturday, May 24 2008

A letter I received recently highlighted the anguish of a mother as a result of unthinking bureaucratic decisions by some of our ministries. In this case, the culprit was the Ministry of Education. The letter read:

“Dear Mr. Tariq,
“I am writing to you this e-mail requesting a favor. Many Saudi parents including myself are having a dreadful time at the moment. In my case, the problem started two years ago when I tried to enroll my youngest son in the same Saudi school as his elder brother. The school owner refused to accept him claiming that my son is autistic because he failed the entrance exam for KG2. She insisted that we had to have him assessed and so we did.
“We felt that we had to do everything possible to have my son accepted so that he would be in the same school as his brother, but it was all in vain. She just didn’t want my son in the school, and thus we had to consider another option which I had long resisted, and that was to put my children in an international school.

“The process of registering both my sons in an international school was easy and heartwarming. After what we had faced with previous school, it was humanizing. My sons went through the assessments easily, not because they were geniuses or wizards in the English language, but because they were treated as kids who are growing, learning and have potential. My children spent that past year in Jeddah Prep and Grammar School, leaving me to wonder why I had not thought about it before. My kids come home cheerful, happy and enlightened. My seven-year old comes home with a tiny school bag with a few notebooks but with a world of knowledge and learning. The teacher recognized that he needed help with reading, so she had him go a special learning lab at the school. Now my son enjoys reading, swimming and his personality has developed tremendously.

“Now we have come to know that the Ministry of Education will not issue any renewals for permission for Saudi students to attend international schools. Not only that, the British school will have to accept only British pupils, German schools German pupils, Indian schools Indian students, Italian school Italian students, French school French students, and so on.
“Can you even start to imagine the consequences of such an irrational decision? What effect will this have on the expatriate community in the Kingdom? Many foreigners come to this country with the promise of a good salary, good accommodation and good education for their children. If these requirements are not met, they will not continue to hang around here much longer.

“Also, in my son’s class, there are only three British students. Under this new decree, most schools will not be able to operate without Saudi students who make up the bulk of enrollment.

“In countries like Qatar and the UAE, for example, nationals of these countries get a monthly stipend for their kids’ education and get insurance; they get all the help from their government to ensure that citizens live a decent life. Here we don’t have that luxury and we work for what we earn, so we pay for this school from our own pocket and still we are told what to do and what not to do.

“I will not put my sons back again in Saudi schools, I would rather have them home schooled or move to Dubai or Bahrain. There was a meeting on May 14 in Jeddah Prep and Grammar School to discuss this issue. The school sympathized with the parents but there’s little they can do. They are in more trouble than we are, because if things remain like this, they will be forced to close down.

“On Friday, May 16, an article published in Arab News by Fatin Bundagji titled “What Saudi Parents Want” touched only the tip of the iceberg. My request is that you let people know what’s going on. Hopefully, some media pressure will result. Even if my husband and I somehow manage to get a permit for enrollment, most of the other parents won’t, and the school may not be able to operate next year. F.G.”
This letter from a distraught mother who wants the best for her children highlights exactly what is wrong with some of our ministries who issue decrees without studying the destructive effects it would have on the future citizens of this country. This is akin to the Commerce Ministry dictating to me what vehicle to buy next, or the Housing and Rural Affairs Ministry telling me which neighborhood I should settle in.
And where is the rationale behind such a move? If international schools deliver a better quality of education to our children, shouldn’t the Ministry of Education be more concerned about elevating the quality of learning in our government schools, rather than depriving some of our young of the opportunity to shine to the maximum of their potential and among other citizens of the world?
Or is it that some people within this ministry fear that close proximity to foreign teachers and children will erode the “special qualities” of our society? Whatever it may be, I call on the ministry to take a second look at this ruling. Let us allow our children every opportunity to excel, no matter where they acquire that ability.

Current Issues : Education in Saudi Arabia-Part I

To all parents from our District Superintendent:
April 30, 2008
To: The ISG Community
From: Norma Hudson, ISG Superintendent
Subject: Update on the Ministry of Education’s Directive About Student Enrollment


Recently ISG and other Foreign Education schools throughout the Kingdom received a letter from the Ministry of Education, Department of Private and Foreign Education which stated that:“… we hope that students who do not belong to the same community will not be allowed to attend our schools until pre-approval is obtained.”Note that the letter mentions “community” and at this writing that word is translated from Arabic to mean “nationality”. Since it is difficult to find community schools for all nationalities in the Kingdom, the Ministry of Education is clarifying its intent for students who cannot easily find a community school.

It is our understanding that the referenced directive does not affect current students who have received Muslim approval and are attending ISG. Students needing annual Muslim approval may be affected. The directive is currently being focused at new students because there is a desire to have more students attend schools operated under the ownership of local citizens.
We have been an international school district with an international staff and international students since 1962. For almost 50 years, the Ministry and ISG have had a successful relationship. We have worked with and supported each other. The Ministry of Education approved our name as International Schools Group several years ago. ISG has remained a not-for-profit school district and has served the Kingdom as needed to provide education to the children of men and women who have come to the Kingdom to help.

At this point the full implications of the Ministry’s letter and referenced directive are unknown. Our Assistant Superintendent of Government Relations, Rashed Al-Doulab, has diligently been working with the Ministry of Education to seek clarity on this letter.

My letter is for your information and is not to be used as a catalyst for action to the Ministry of Education by parents. My personal goal is to be respectful and considerate to everyone as we work together with the Ministry and other appropriate Government agencies by using suitable protocols.

I thank you for your time and interest. If you get new information, I would appreciate it if you would share it through your school administrators. Your patience and understanding are needed and I will continue to keep you informed.

Norma Hudson
ISG Superintendent

Am I a forgiveful person?

Allah had test me again last two days. He wants to see wether I am still the original "Siti Haryani" who used to forgive and tolerate. Before he had test me with a big "fitnah" to see wether I still have the courage or sabar or not.

I am about to surrender to the bad whispers that kept haunting me not to forgive those who make up the huge stories.

Today, Allah had helped me to lift up those feelings. "Allah hu Ghafurur Rahim". I realized He still love me by made me realize nothing is better for a muslim except always forgive and establish good relationship amongs muslim. With that I said " Astaghfirullah, Please Allah give me courage to face this short life always lead me to the correct path.. Ameen". Again I remind myself, Man perception (how people think , how people see you) is not important. The most important how Allah sees you.

Hopefully.. I can smile better now.. even it is not as cheerful as before.

Monday, 26 May 2008

A Very Touchy Moment..

This time round the entry, is a little bit personal and emotional. I have earlier in my plan to discuss bout the current hottest issue in Saudia Arabia. But I delayed it because I like to frame my gratitude to one of my student, her name is RANA. She made me remember the most dearest friend to me in Malaysia, Arnie Fadzillah and Siti Hanim Mohd Kudus.

Usually its really hard for me to have someone attached to me. I always want to spare my little heart for those who deserved it(My husband, my parent, my brothers and sisters.. bas). I could hardly recall anyone that I can call bestfriend. Since young, I don't really have bestfriends but I have many friends that like to hang around with me. May be I kind of happy go lucky person, so people can easily attached to me. But it works contrary to me. I may look easily to be approached, but it's difficult for me to consider people as special. I can numbered them if I want. Too few too count. Arnie(in Penang now working in - Anti-Drug Department) she is my ex-prep year classmate. We have been together since then till we completed our studies though we were in different program. We have different interest, different opinion but yet we like each other. We are chemistry suited to each other. She was in Pharmacy but I am in Computer Science. Totally different line but yet we still together. Till now, before I left I made an effort to pay a visit to her family. Same to her, if happened she came down to KL for court-case hearing she will pay a visit for me though its only took 20 minutes to be together. Even sometimes, I did smsing her when suddenly I had a thought of her.

Met her and have her as my friend is a fate from Allah.

Another one is my x-collegue-mate. She has the same interest of me, share same thought, have the same inspiration. Even share the same initial name S... H.... Mine Siti Haryani. We use the same initial. Usually I dislike people that have the same characteristics with me, but with her, masyallah she is my sister billah. A very close I can say, I put all my thrust to her. I don't know if she took me the same way or not. If I died, if I have anything left to manage maybe I will put her name to manage the leftover. She is an 'amanah' person. I really pray for her so that Allah will always reward her with the most highest pleasure in this world and world after.

Today.... I felt the same feelings, someone who is a stranger to you.. suddenly shows her concern like she had knew you for many years. She did not do anything to me except looking at me while I am cheerfully talking to her. And ask one shocking question " Are you sad teacher?". It is a shocking question becoz I was laughing and cheerfully talking to her as usual whenenever she drop in to my office. Suddenly I can't hide anymore, my tears running heavily because I did not believe that she realize something from my eyes and she really concerned. Earlier she did not want to leave me till I settled, but I refused and leave her instead of waiting any longer. Her name is RANA.

For her, she had several time saw me cried before, usually due to students problem. The trouble that their makes sometimes not only broke your heart but make you burst to tears. It never happened to me in Malaysia. 6 years teaching, I am crying due to student attitude? Never happened in Malaysia, but not in here, I still remember almost 5 times I cried because too angry with the students. But this time round she knew it is not from the students. She knew almost all the students I taught now know how to behave with me. She ask from me a clarification. But I can't explain why and what the coz. I told her this is very personal to me. And I told to her not even ask or tell anyone that she saw me crying. She agreed. She does not deserve to know. She refused to leave me till she told me to read this doa'.

" Allahuma inni auzubika minnal hammi walhazan wanauzubika ajzi wal kasal, wa nauzubika minal jub ni wal bukhl, wa nauzubika min ghalabatiddai ni wa qahrir rijal"

When she mentioned the verse, I told her I knew that verse, and I pronounced it properly for her to listen, and ask her is that the one and she said yes. And I told her that is my favourite doa actually. I told her don't worry about me. I will always have Allah beside me. Then she felt relief and leaved me alone with my one world.

Why??? Too complicated to describe. But I felt so grateful Allah give me courage and wisdom to think wise so that I will not make stupid decision or reaction. I don't need hablum minannas if things go so difficult with the nas.. I prefer hablum minallah. He knows what I had done. The most important thing later, I will return to HIM and to be questioned everything for what I had done.

"Perception is man-made views, good or bad is only a phenomenon."

Who is RANA to me?

When I first came here, she is a very shy and gloomy(sad, dreamy, always wandering in class) student. She could not even understand a word of English, yet the class here are delivered in English. She faced a very difficult time to master English language. Everytime when she approached any teacher to clarify the subject matters, she will always bring along her travel dictionary(her friend (formerly - Naeemah, now Noora)).

Somehow after one year past, one of the seniour teacher in the department called me when she noticed that RANA like to cling around me without nothing to do or nothing to say, she always come and see me. She said " I realize she is very close to you and like to be with you. Since she looked like comfortable with me I want to tell you something about RANA" . I made to understand during the early semester, a year before I came, she is a very hardworking, bright and talkative person. Something is happened in her family and till then she became so quite, like to dreaming and wandering and loss in her world. When she told me the problem that RANA is facing I started to understand her problem. Nothing much I did to her just to encourage her to study and attend her when she needed me.

Soon after 2 years, she felt I am so closed to her till she did not want anything disturbing me. It was so kind of her. She now dare to meet teachers without her "walking dictionary". I started realize she comes and visits almost all teachers and communicate in English without help. During my relationship with her I taught her to make " nasi goreng ikan bilis" . I gave her some " ikan bilis" from my stock so that she can try. She made it and gave some to me. Not bad for first timer. I didn't realize it made her feel so fond to me, till today when she showed her concerns then I knew what I did, had leave special marks on her .

Thank you RANA anyway.

Saturday, 24 May 2008


It has been a long time for us to find answers on this issue..

We tried to find out advices from the local residents. Some give positives views(meaning can .. no problem) some said no..(not allowed).
Even my cousin Hj Azman the Umrah Tour Operator(staying in Kingdom for 20 years) mentioned the same thing but he could not prove to us from where we can get the information.

Finally we manage to get the answers, source :

Menu: Iqama System Violation and Penalties

Related infos that we are looking for are stated in paragraph 16,17 and 18.

16. Hajj, Umrah guest or the Prophet's Mosque visitor, who travels outside Makkah, Jeddah or Madinah during validity of the visa granted to him or after its expiry. • Fine is 10,000 S.R. or one month imprisonment or both

• He shall be deported at his own expense.
• Investigate the role of the establishment responsible for his entry in the occurrence of the violation before imposing the penalty.

17. Transporting a guest for Hajj, Umrah or the Prophet's Mosque visitor outside the established routes specified for him by the establishment responsible for his arrival and departure during his visa validity • If the carrier is an expatriate resident, the fine is 10,000 S.R. or 1 to 3 months imprisonment or both in addition to deportation.
• If the carrier is a citizen, the first instance fine is 10,000 S.R. or 1 to 3 months imprisonment or both. Second instance fine is 20,000 S.R. or 3 to 6 months imprisonment. Third instance fine is 30,000 S.R. or six months imprisonment.
• Fines are multiplied according to the number of individuals involved.
• Investigate the role of the establishment responsible for his entry in the occurrence of the violation to be punished if the violation was established.

18. Transportation of an Umrah or Hajj guest, or the Prophet's Mosque visitor outside the established routes specified for him by the establishment responsible for his arrival and departure after the expiry of the validity of the visa.
• See penalties in paragraph 17.
• Publish the violator's penalty in the local press with the judgment thereon according to the censure instructions.

The sentence that we were searching for a long time, finally we found at end.
No more puzzle in our head. It is clear now. Hope this reference can help others to make decision as well.

"Rules made not to be broken"

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Cinnamon Rolls

My family is fan of cinnamon roll from Cinnabon. But the price is so expensive for us to enjoy the bun so much. I took effort to get recipes from internet. Several try out.. today I got this . I assumed this is the best result of my cinnamon rolls. We like to have it with cheese frosting .. umm so yummy ..

Now we can enjoy to have more than one rolls for everone of us.

If you ask for recipe.. I am sorry.. I always cook without proper measurement. Only with love and tenderness hoping to produce the best. That is the bad side of me. When it turns good.. I could not remember the exact measurement. If I follow proper measurement the dish did not turn good. So what to do....

Yanbu Al-Bahar Fish Market

Here are some picuteres from the Yanbu Al-Bahar Fish Market. You can see the fish ranges from the giant one to the smallest. You can even see the coral fish. Most of us Malaysian don't dare to eat the colourful coral fish e.g , parot fish, angle fish. But I tried once.. so.. chewy.. no more next time. Usually we go the market once in a month. Its quite a distance to go frequently. So we decided to limit one trip and with bulk shopping. See my freezer as well.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Yanbu Made Teh Tarik

This is an experiment to make Yanbu "Teh tarik". Specially made by chef Siti for her regular customer, It's me laaa..

Look at these two young lady. Impatiently want to sip the tea although it still hot (Harr Jiddan).

Congratulation chef Siti, the tea was perfect and "miah-miah" (100% in arabic).

Lots of love from us...zaujuki, ibnatuki wa auladuki....

Nahnu nuhibbu anti.

Mekah Al-Ann (Mecca Now)

Few photos showing Mekah As-Shamiyah area at this time.
Demolishing work is in progress for future expansion of Haram Mosque and Hotels. Pictures spoke a thousand words, nothing was left behind and the only remaining was a memories.

My parents in-law has a good memories about As-Syamiyah. Their first visit to Mekah 36 years ago for hajj and yet the place still fresh in their minds. It was proven when their last visit on February where they still recall the shop selling "Tamis" and others stuff. Ohh My God! It still the same, they said. Although after 36 years the building and road were still the same. But that was on February, now everything has gone. Gone with the memories.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Oppss! We hit a Camel

Last Wednesday we planned to have our last Umrah before we fly back to Malaysia on July 3. The journey was fine though all the way Hannan did not cooperate very well. She cried along the journey. Don't know what really troubling her. We assume maybe she want to free herself from the baby car seat. Together with us, are family of Suhaimi and Sadimin.

It was Maghrib time when we arrived Meqat Juhfah area. As usual, we decided to stop at Meqat Mosque to perform our Maghrib prayer and then continue our journey to Mecca. It was another 200 meters away from the mosque when we saw in the darknest,from the opposite direction a car giving high beam. We thought it was for the car that at that time was using the road(opposite direction). Unfortunately, it was a signal from camel shepherd to tell us there was a flock of camel ahead and want us to slow down. It was too late to slow down when we saw the camel just a few metres in front of us. It was a big size camel and it hit our windscreen and bounce to the side of the road. Sadimin who was leading the convoy safely passed the camel flock. Me and Suhaimi did not realize caused it was dark. Suhaimi a few metres at the back suddenly stopped his car and checked on us. Alhamdulillah, nothing happened to anyone of us. Except I had some small pieces of broken glass got into my mouth. At that time, my main concerned was how was the kids? I turned back and checked all of them and turned to my husband. When I found everyone was ok then I realized there was something in my mouth and started to spit it out.

We decided to continue our journey, since there was no point to go back, we almost in the middle of the journey. In fact,it is dangerous to drive back with shattered windscreen at night. So, we started our niat ihram and continue our journey. It was 12 midnight when we reached Makkah.After settled our kids in the hotel, at 2.30 a.m we performed tawaf and Saei. Then after fajr we returned to hotel. In the same hotel we met my cousin 'Yop Najib' and wife, Azlindawati's in laws and other relatives who happened at the same time came here to perform Umrah.

Friday, Hj Azman(my cousin , Umrah tour operator, who is staying in Makkah for 20 years) sent us home to Yanbu. Surprisingly, he never been to Yanbu. This is the hikmah of what had happened. So, after he had lunch with us, my husband brought him for city site-seeing. He seems enjoyed the city and promised to come again with his parent and family to spent a few days to enjoy the beach in future.
On Saturday, my Saudi neighbours offered us help to make police report. In KSA if you had an accident and need to repair your vehicle, the wokshop will not accept your vehicle unless you have police report. Earlier, we made to understand, the report should be done to the nearest police station of the incident. Its mean we had to go to Rabigh police station to lodge report which is 200+km away. But luckily, Alhamdulilah, we got help from my Saudi neighbour so we manage to get the police report from here. And now she is in the workshop right now.

p/s: We would like to thank to Sadimin and Suhaimi for their help and patience. May Allah will reward you hassanah.

Monday, 12 May 2008

My Handprints

Yesterday , I received a most valuable gift from my dear son. I am kind a person never celebrate seriously special days. I used to treat everyday as special day to me. Yet, sometimes it makes me forget on certain special dates. 11 May is Mother's Day and I found this handprint note on my study table...
My Handprints

Sometimes you get discouraged

Because I am so small

And always leave my fingerprints

On furniture and walls

But everyday I'm growing big

And soon I'll be very tall

Then all my little handprints

Will be very hard to recall

So here's a special handprint

Just so that you can say

This is how my fingers looked

When I placed them here today....

Shah Eiman Amzar Shah Apandi

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Happy Mothers Day

Happy Mothers day to my beloved wife, my mother in-law (Pn. Habshah Mokri) and to all mothers where ever you are. I miss my mom very much. Indeed. I miss her cooks, her smiles, her calm face and her love.

I wish I could bring back those moment. A moment when I sleep on her lap, kiss her hands and moments surrounded with joy and happiness. I wish I could see she laugh again.

Memories are always memories. I lost her last year, May 2007. I was in Yanbu when she died. 2 weeks before, I went back to Malaysia just to be with her. My tears drop when I saw her lying on bed unconciously. Mom is a fighter, she has survived longer than what was predicted by the doctors.

I also lost my sister (Yong) on May 2007. Yong died due to heart failure. I saw tears from mom eyes when we told her about Yong. Yong is the only daughter she has after Nyah died. Both Mom and Yong is a gem in my life. Both raised me with patient and full of love.

To Mom, Dad, Yong and Nyah......may Allah bless you Jannah for your kind deeds and love.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Cuti - Cuti Malaysia

We will going back to Malaysia for vacation this summer. We collected the tickets from Saudi Airline yesterday after received the travel voucher from Royal Commission in the morning. Our flight will be on Thursday 3rd July, 2008 and coming back to KSA on 31st August, 2008 which is approximately 60 days in Malaysia.

Flight itinerary as below

From Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (JED) To Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia (KUL)
SV 1072
Jeddah (
JED) Saudi Arabia 20:45, Thu 3 Jul, '08
Riyadh (
RUH) Saudi Arabia 22:15, Thu 3 Jul, '08

SV 3840
Riyadh (
RUH) Saudi Arabia 23:59, Thu 3 Jul, '08
Kuala Lumpur International Airport (
KUL) Malaysia 13:00, Fri 4 Jul, '08

From Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia (KUL) To Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (JED)
SV 831
Kuala Lumpur International Airport (
KUL) Malaysia 11:30, Sun 31 Aug, '08
Jeddah (
JED) Saudi Arabia 14:50, Sun 31 Aug, '08

Sounds good?.Yeah..for the kids, but it is quite bored and tiring for us. I don't like to travel with Saudi Airline. From my experience with Saudi Air, everything was not good starting from the airport until you fly with them. The services and comfortness are less than other airlines especially Malaysia Airline. No dedicated tv screen for passengers (we have to watch the big TV on top of our head) which already applied in other airlines, No baby bassinet for infant (they just give you bag, put your baby inside and put it on the floor infront of your leg) and the unfriendly crew.

As during summer in Middle East, most people will travel outside from their country to escape from the heat. Since September 11, people from Middle East has made Malaysia become their favourite place to visit. Some of them went to Malaysia for their honeymoon and many of them not only went there once but repeatedly.

For airflight tickets, you have to book as early as February in order to travel on July or else you will stay behind. This July, we will flock Malaysia together with the Arabs.

InsyaAllah, we will spend most of the days in our hometown, Perak. Visting relatives and friends are the main agenda, apart of that we will try to resolve all matters arised while we are here. An island in Terengganu will be our choice for relaxing.