Carren Mines arrived in Utah Thursday night after a 27-hour plane trip from Saudi Arabia, where mounting tensions in the Persian Gulf are prompting Americans to head for their homeland.
Mines has lived in Saudi Arabia for the past three years. Her husband, Kevin, a tax accountant for the Saudi oil company Aramco, is still living and working near Dhahran, about 200 miles south of the Kuwaiti border on the eastern Saudi Arabian coast.Mines decided to leave Saudi Arabia with her two sons because of a travel advisory issued by the State Department saying that anyone who was able to leave the country should leave.
Friday morning the U.S. State Department issued a new travel advisory warning U.S. citizen living in or traveling to countries in the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa of increased potential for anti-American demonstrations, terrorist attacks and other hostile actions.
Aramco paid for her family's trip, and other Saudi companies with foreign employees will probably do the same before long, Mines said.
"A lot of dependents of the companies (in Saudi Arabia) would like to leave," Mines said. Some are staying in order to keep their families together, and others can't leave because of the cost.
Another Utah woman, whose husband works in the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, wants to leave Saudi Arabia but can't. In a telephone interview with the Deseret News Friday afternoon, the woman, who asked that her name not be used, said she is frustrated that dependents of embassy personnel there have not been authorized to voluntarily leave the country.
In a voluntary evacuation, the government pays travel expenses for individuals who want to leave, the woman said. Otherwise, the cost of one-way tickets to the United States for the woman and her three small children is approximately $5,000 - too much for the family's budget, she said.
The situation is particularly frustrating because families of embassy personnel in other Persian Gulf countries - Jordan, Mauritania, Sudan and Yemen - have been evacuated. The State Department has also issued voluntary departures for families of embassy personnel in Algeria, Morocco, Pakistan, Tunisia, the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
The State Department also issued voluntary departures Friday for dependents in Israel and the Occupied Territories.
"For some reason, Riyadh has been left out," the woman said. "I just don't understand why they aren't more worried about dependents here . . . We're left hanging high and dry in Riyadh."
She said some embassy personnel believe the State Department fears that issuing a voluntary evacuation for embassy dependents would touch off panic among other Americans in Saudi Arabia and consequently upset business and government operations there.
"A lot of what the whole American community does is tied to what the embassy does," she said. "I feel like we've been sold out for politics."
The woman is particularly concerned about the potential of terrorist attacks against Americans in Saudi Arabia.
However, Adam Shub, a State Department spokesman, told the Deseret News "we're constantly reviewing the situation . . . We've done the ones where we've perceived a threat, not the ones where we don't perceive a threat."
Mines said she is relieved to be home.
Her mother Dorothy Porter, said, "We are very relieved she is home, but we wish Kevin were here, too."
In the three years since her daughter has been in Saudi Arabia, Porter said she hasn't worried until now.
Mines said that many things her mother heard about Saudi Arabia in the press were true, but others were exaggerated.
There really hasn't been a problem until just recently, she said.
Although daily life in Saudi Arabia hasn't changed much, war has seemed more and more possible because of the influx of foreign troops, she said.
The people there do not seem afraid of Saddam Hussein, Mines said. "They are more afraid of the possible terrorism, especially against Americans, because they really stand out."