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February 26, 2007

The Hidden Cost Of Foreign Workers

…The new employer treated Maribelle cruelly and regularly locked her inside the house with his three children. “If there was a fire, we would all have died,” she said. When she wasn’t cooking, the fridge was kept permanently padlocked and she was given a small box of noodles and some Arabic bread to eat. She went to her mattress on the floor hungry every night, her stomach aching….

In this powerful, hard-hitting column Angela Townsend tells of the mistreatment of some of the foreign workers who go to Saudi Arabia to earn much higher wages than they could get in their home countries.

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January 24, 2007

Syrian New Year

…We crossed into Jordan with no problems the following morning and drove directly north for 90 minutes to the Syrian border. However, the Syrian formalities proved far more interesting and, although we had completed our visas in Riyadh, bribery was the name of the game if we wanted to gain entry to this country. By the time we were driving towards Damascus, we had spent a full six hours completing formalities at both borders and spent two hundred US dollars extra….

Angela Townsend, her husband, and their two-year-old son, who currently live in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, went for a turn-of-the-year holiday drive through Syria.

Do also please click on the Gallery on this page to see photographs taken by Angela during her Middle Eastern travels.

To read more accounts of Angela’s vivid experiences in the Middle do read her popular column by click on Arabian Autographs in the menu on this page.


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April 11, 2006

The "G'' Word

Angela Townsend desperately tries to balance the demands of holding down a job while caring for a young son who is ill. “Guilt will pervade us no matter how much we attempt to juggle the competing priorities of children and career.,’’ says Angela, who reveals that the problems which a working mother has to face are as acute in Saudi Arabia as they are elsewhere in the world.

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March 14, 2006

Desert To The Rains

Beneath the stars he wanders
Where arid lands link rocky seas…

Angela Townsend’s poem concers timeless human emotions and the ebb and flow of ancient sands.

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February 28, 2006

A Privileged Life

Angela Townsend tells of the unhappy lot of all too many “foreigners’’ who work in Saudi Arabia.

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December 20, 2005

Advances Of The Unwelcome Kind

“…a note with a phone number was thrown into the car. This is a common way for Saudi men to meet, or talk to, women….’’ Angela Townsend brings us another slice of life in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.

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December 06, 2005

Kindergarten In The Kingdom

“I began to delight in the joys of learning many of the children possessed. To see the looks on their faces at a simple science experiment or the breathless rapture on hearing the same story for the twenty-ninth time was a reminder of how ‘tuned out’ we as adults obviously become…’’ Angela Townsend becomes a kindergarten teacher in Riyadh.

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November 15, 2005

In The Footsteps Of Lawrence Of Arabia

"We wander through the first few sandstone tombs with their smooth facades reaching from fifteen to fifty feet high. Intricate three-dimensional carvings of eagles and winged lions, once beautiful, aloof and defiant, have kept watch over the burial tombs for two thousand years...'' Angela Townsend and her husband Amer follow in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia on a journey to Jordan.

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November 01, 2005

House Hunting In Riyadh

"Surely, the sharing of cultures and the creation of friendships – some fleeting, some lingering – form the true essence of life...'' Angela Townsend and her husband go house-hunting in Riyadh, then meet neighbours from countries as diverse as Germany and Jordan. Bosnia and Lithuania.

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October 11, 2005

Ramadan Mubarak

Ramadan Mubarak. Blessed Ramadan. For millions of Muslims around the world this is a time for reflection. A time for reading the Koran and the strict observance of taking no food or drink during daylight hours. Angela Townsend brings a vivid and detailed account of what life is like in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, at this very special time.

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September 20, 2005

Heading For The Hills

ANGELA TOWNSEND paints an inviting portrait of life in Australia's Dandenong Ranges - though don't be surprised to find a crushed shed in your garden!

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August 16, 2005

Adventures Of An Aviatrix

"...I flew to the New Zealand Airwoman's annual conference which was held at Nelson at the top of South Island. This was the farthest I had ventured and it was with mixed feelings of excitement and trepidation that I and two other local lady pilots slowly crossed the white-capped ocean between the two islands...''

Read Angela Townsend's vivid and passionate account of her days as a pilot - and you too will begin to imagine that you are at the controls of a Tiger Moth.

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August 02, 2005

Of Flights And Frights

Every time she hears the roar of a Jumbo jet, the purr of a light aircraft or the sputter of a vintage plane Angela Townsend's palms grow itchy for the controls.

Angela qualified as a pilot in New Zealand. She loves to fly, but flying has its share of frights as she reveals in this absorbing column.

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July 19, 2005

A Day Of Disaster

A tiny handful of Muslim terrorists make world travelling difficult for all Muslims. Border guards are increasingly suspicious. Innocent travellers can find themselves being treated as criminals. Angela Townsend tells of the difficulties she, her Iraqi husband and an Iraqi friend experienced while trying to return to the USA from Mexico.

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July 12, 2005

Procrastination And Temptation

Angela Townsend is spending two months in Australia, escaping from Saudi Arabia's 50-degree summertime heat. She was hoping to settle down to some serious work on her GBN (Great Bestseller Novel) - but a new temptation is gobbling up the time she intended to devote to writing.

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June 28, 2005

Rich Rewards In Riyadh

Angela Townsend's vivid and moving account of the birth and traumatic first seven days of her son Faris in a hospital in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, will make you accutely aware of the value and importance of every human life.

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June 14, 2005

My Nan The Busker

Angela Townsend introduces us her Nan, Hazel. When Hazel stopped driving at 85, she had a mountain bike specially designed for her. Ten years on, and Hazel still enjoys playing old-time music on the mouth organ.

Agela writes a glowing tribute to a wonderful lady.


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May 31, 2005

On The Saudi Catwalk

"Black abayas and scarves were cast aside and it felt as though we had been transported to a different world during our short elevator trip...'' Angela Townsend is in for a big surprise when she goes to a fashion show in Riyadh.

Angela says that one of the things she likes most about Saudi Arabia is that she never knows what is going to happen next. Read more of her excellent articles about life in the Kingdom by clicking on Arabian Autographs in the menu on the right-hand side of this page.

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May 24, 2005

Iraq Reminiscences

Explosions in Iraq. American and British troops patrolling the streets... To most of the world, Iraq is another grim news bulletin, one more dire headline. But real people are involved in the present sad imbroglio. Our columnist Angela Townsend knows some of them. Knows their kindness, their generosity. And she worries about what might be happening to them.

This straight-from-the-heart account of her visit to Baghdad should be read by all those politicians who are never likely to visit the country, yet they are making decisions that affect the lives of ordinary Iraqis.

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May 10, 2005

Promise Of Paradise

"Soldiers of their of their own beliefs, interpretations full of holes, the book can turn a few wronged men into martyrs with no souls...'' Angela Townsend's poem is topical, disturbing and profound.

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April 19, 2005

Another Maasalaama

In painting a vivid and appealing picture of the friendships formed by ex-pats living in Saudi Arabia, Angela Townsend declares "I feel safer in the shopping malls of Saudi than on the streets of America.''

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April 05, 2005

Townsends' Luck

"My liberty has been taken from me and it is the strangest feeling. I can take on the world with my passport in my purse, but...'' Angela Townsend's passport is stolen in Saudi Arabia. There you go. That's Townsends' Luck. Fortunately, there is a happy ending.

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March 29, 2005

Dinner On The 73rd Floor

"...waiters appeared from the shadows with armfuls of fluorescent-lit slates. It turned out these, resembling something out of Star Wars, were our menus...'' Angela Townsend dines in a classy restaurant in the Kingdom Tower, the tallest landmark in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

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March 15, 2005

Freedom And Family

Angela Townsend has been on a holiday visit to her home land, New Zealand, enjoying familiar scenes and storing up precious memories before flying back to Saudi Arabia.

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March 01, 2005

Driving Madam

Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. "You couldn't pay me enough to drive 500 metres down the road,'' says Angela Townsend. "If you have lived there and seen the way the locals drive you would understand.''

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February 15, 2005

Saudi Road Trip - Part Three

"The sand dunes are spectacular, several hundred feet high, in neat rows, far into the distance. This was the desert I had imagined. It was easy to picture Lawrence of Arabia dressed in flowing robes, wandering the soaring sand mountains atop a fine golden camel...'' Angela Townsend presents a vivid word portrait of the landscape and villages of Saudia Arabia.

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February 08, 2005

Saudi Road Trip - Part Two

"Soaring rocky mountains stacked high in rows as far as the eye could see, with sheer drops to the green patches of valleys below...'' Angela Townsend paints a colourful word portrait of a Saudi Arabia that you have probably never imagined.

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February 01, 2005

Saudi Road Trip - Part One

"Monkeys provided entertainment at every corner as they scurried along concrete barriers or perched on rocky outcrops awaiting tasty snacks thrown from the vehicles.'' Angela Townsend and her husband Amer set out on a long journey in Saudi Arabia, and spend a night camping in the desert.

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January 25, 2005

Of Creed And Culture

When Angela Townsend arrived at Riyadh airport last March she saw a sea of multi-national faces, thronging in anticipation of meeting family and friends. "Thankfully, my husband recognised me in my new uniform of black ankle-length abaya and scarf and steered me towards the car.''

Angela writes vividly of life in Saudi Arabia, describing a visit to Mecca, the sacred birthplace of Islam.

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January 18, 2005

A Very Saudi Christmas

Open Writing welcomes a new columnist, Angela Townsend.

Angela is a New Zealander. She was a commercial pilot, a flight instructor and a veterinary nurse. She was also a community newspaper journalist in Australia.

She gave birth to a son a few weeks ago and is now living with her husband in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

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