Saeed is one of the two protagonists of Exit West, a philosophical and romantic young man who must reconcile his love of family and the familiar with his new life away from the city he grew up in. The beginning of the novel gives glimpses of Saeed’s loving and supportive family, who appear to understand him as a person. Because Saeed comes from this context, leaving his country means closing the door on a place that he associates with love and belonging and a father whom he loves deeply. From the moment he leaves, Saeed focuses less on the journey ahead and more on what he left behind. In London, Saeed doesn’t try to connect with the Nigerians in the house and even considers trading a private room for a bed on the floor if it involves being near people from his country. Finally, in Marin, Saeed discovers that he can find ways to both connect with his home culture and embrace the new. The mosque becomes meaningful to him because while it practices religion in a familiar way, its active focus on charity expands his understanding of the role religion can play in his life. 

Over the course of the novel, Saeed grows apart from Nadia because while she reminds him of what he left behind in his country, she rejects any connection to that country herself. At the beginning of the novel, Saeed admires Nadia’s independence. He thinks of her while looking at a nesting hawk, a wild, predatory bird, in a moment of domesticity. In this sense, he thinks of Nadia as someone strong who can nevertheless be romantic. He feels proud because she has allowed him to see her without the black robe she wears to keep people at a distance. However, her independent streak and black robe take on a different meaning outside of their native country. Nadia actively avoids people from their country and continues to wear the robe, implying that something from the country Saeed loves is inherently off-putting to her. In the London work camp, Nadia observes that Saeed doesn’t talk about the stars to her any longer, something she once loved about him. Saeed’s love of the stars ties into his love of religion and prayer, and we can infer that he doesn’t speak about the stars with her because of her disinterest in his spirituality.