I worked in Saudi Arabia from 2015–2016. What sticks with me today is feeling of psychological claustrophobia.

There’s, of course, a Thing that dominates every single facet of life. The clothes you wear, who you can talk to and the food you eat are all determined by it.

Even the most mundane parts of life revolve around it. The design of toilets is dictated by it, nail polish is forbidden by it, the timing of every event of the day shifts because of it.

An idle word against the Thing could get you deported or worse. You learn to self-censor and always wonder who you can trust with your actual opinions.

None of these rules was that outrageous in and of itself. What wore me down was the totalitarian nature of it. Nothing was not about it.

You could never go take a walk, have a conversation or get on with life without it. It was never gone.

I know that feeling again.