Dubai Consumer Mirror

Friday, December 21, 2007

Redoing Riyadh

Few years ago, i was on an assignment in Saudi. For a few months, I had to spend a couple of weeks per month in the Kingdom. Sometime it was in Jeddah , others in Riyadh.

Jeddah was cool back then. Very chilled out and relaxed, and most of my friends were there anyways. I can say that i had a decent time there.

Riyadh, on the other hand, was a bit of a mission for me. Back then, I used to walk down the street with a haunting sense of self intimidation. Although no one actually bothered me, but its just how way the streets, buildings, the whole vibe of the place made me feel.

"Your walls are very high here," I once pointed out to a Riyadh resident friend of mine while driving around in Riyadh.

I noticed that walls surrounding houses, villas and compounds are 5 to 6 meters high. That's almost the same height of 2 floors in a typical building. Those walls completely blocked out any exterior or architectural detail. Making Riyadh's residential neighbourhoods look like a set of plain and adjacent concrete blocks and an endless series of walls.

"People are very private here,"my friend abruptly pointed out. " Whether they like it or not."

Last Sunday I landed in Riyadh after a being away for about 4 years. I have to say that things were different.
  • Buildings and streets where much cleaner and neater. The city looked really modern and renovated.
  • Streets and traffic were a bit more organised and less chaotic than last time I was there
  • In malls, more women were walking around uncovered.
  • Young married Saudi couples were walking around next to each other. I think i spotted one holding hands.
  • Though walls are still there, add armored vehicles, heavily armed guards and road blocks/spikes..etc, but the overall atmosphere was a bit more chilled out than before.
  • I JUST REMEMBERED! I started seeing outdoor ads with human/people faces and figures. (until very recently, no ads with any human photo or drowning were allowed in Saudi)
The plan was for me to stay for two nights. I had to leave after one. I managed to find an early flight on the new Saudi budget airliner SAMA. But that's another story I'll tell you later.

I am off to Egypt in 2 hours.. will catch you all later



  • One of my clients when I was back in Ryiadh wanted the boundary wall between his villa and his brothers to be 10 meters high.
    I protested: "Man, this is your own bother, why would you need this high of a wall? I would knock off the whole boundary between me and my brother if I was you'
    "We are worried about kids throwing stones at each other" the pre-rehearsed reply was. And this guy has even claimed to be liberal.
    It's good to keep uptodate with Ryiadh, specially that things seem to be better, thanks for the post Mory.
    Waiting to hear about the vibrant Cairo!

    By Blogger DUBAI JAZZ, at December 21, 2007 at 3:22 AM  

  • AH man you are so going to have fun in Cairo, given how much you boast about it! Yalla have fun.

    As for your Riyadh post, my Syrian best friend has been living in Riyadh (just as I have been in Jeddah) and he really loves it much more than DXB. To be honest I do like Jeddah, it is in the end my birthplace and where I lived 18 years.

    It's good that Riyadh got more liberal. Still there needs to be less rigid rules, like for example when my mom had to come from Jeddah to DXB they had me send over my personal details and had to contact my dad in Syria to make sure that mom is going to visit her legitimate son with her husband's consent

    By Blogger KJ, at December 21, 2007 at 11:35 AM  

  • la sho el mashwara 3al riyadh .. wo la sho el analysis .. 3ayb yalle 3am na3imlo be ba3id ..

    3ayb ..

    have u been to DFC .. or DCC ..

    not one eid mubarak sign meanwhile there is a ceiling high christmas tree right smack dab in the middle .. im all for political correctness but when the hell did we get to this point where eid is just another frigin long weekend and there isn't anyone to say kil sine wo into taybeen ..

    I'm on strike from eid and all other holidays . .khalas ..

    By Blogger inmotion, at December 23, 2007 at 12:22 AM  

  • DJ - lol@pre-rehearsed reply... your comment show how embedded ths culture of seclusion is in KSA.

    KJ- these things always happen; the question is how frequent and how fast can they be resolved. My friend in Eygpt was asked for a marriage certificate when he was checking into the Intercon (5 star hotel). He was standing next to his wife and his 5yr old daugher


    Inmotion! Long time ... wainek ya 3ammi? :)

    By Blogger moryarti, at December 24, 2007 at 3:12 PM  

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