Raf’s World: Saudi Through a Child’s Eyes


From the moment he was born, my wife and I wanted Raf to live a life of carefree abandon. Unconstrained by western conformity, we raised our son on a tropical island, taught him how to surf, and took him traveling through Mindanao. In his sixth year, my work contract took him away from Siargao to Saudi Arabia. Raf’s world had suddenly widened to include the most closed country in the world. While we worried about how to survive Saudi, Raf just seized every moment. In doing so, he has taught us all how to live.

Saudi Through a Child’s Eyes

With Raf’s limitless imagination, Saudi Arabia became a playground this past winter. During the day, he skated around without a care in the world on a ripstik board. Beyond the barriers of language and culture, he shared his board with Arab kids and made new friends. At the beach, he explored under the sea with his new goggles. In the compound swimming pool, he mastered basic diving and swam ever greater distances. Nat Geo Wild channel and other nature documentaries educated and entertained him when night fell. While the Kingdom isn’t the easiest place to live for any western child, Raf rose above its reputation and embraced life. Much more than that, he did something completely unique. In a huge country where nobody surfs, he became the country’s first surf grom. Watch him glide over Saudi concrete and sea in the short film embedded above.

Saudi Reflection

Raf’s first chapter in Arabia is now over. And what a chapter it was! Not many kids can reflect on such achievement in a Kingdom where putting your neck on the line is quite daunting. As proud parents, we always felt Raf was one in a million, but didn’t realise he’s actually one in seven million: the only kid surfer in Saudi.


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