Friday, March 27, 2009

Am I an EXPAT?

One of the many signs at my compound (most commonly known as Regatta or Al-Magrib Al-Arabi Residential Village)

Expatriate; Expat - An expatriate (in abbreviated form, expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person's upbringing or legal residence. The word comes from the Latin ex (out of) and patria (country, fatherland)


Last night I was taken out to a dinner party which was being thrown for an expat who has lived here for the past 14 years and is now returning home to Bulgaria.

It was a great opportunity to meet the expat community and also to get some food – something which I ignored all day during the non stop move.

There was a variety of people at the dinner – Scottish, English, Irish, American, Italian, Jamaican etc, all of whom were aged 40 plus. I seem to be the youngest expat that has come to work on a town based assignment – this seems to be the trend with the oil and gas companies recruiting from abroad, they want to ensure that they are taking on someone who will settle down here and won’t get homesick and leave after the expense they have gone to in order to relocate them.

The expat community here is relatively small at 3,000 people and there seems to be very tight knit groups within that again.

It is very segregated from the Libyan society and in a sense quite “inbred”, everyone seems to know each others business with chinese whispering campaigns & a very fluid gossip grapevine.

There is also a certain arrogance connected to the attitudes of some people who are all joined together with one common goal – money. It is as though they are creating there own aristocracy within this country. There is a certain status for people who are recruited from abroad, junior expats earn double the salary of a senior Libyan member of staff. Further more they are given free accommodation , travel and so forth. So it is as if you adopt a certain status here, when really if you return back home – you are just a nobody like everybody else!

That said, I have met some wonderfully genunie expats, in particular, my adoptive Mother, the Irish secretary I spoke about previously. She has been absolutely wonderful , she cooked me breakfast and dinner today AND took me out for lunch and to the market! Her advice, tips and care have gone down really well, I have to say, I’m really lucky to have her here. (Tis the luck of the Irish!)

Regatta or Al-Magrib Al-Arabi Residential Village