Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Saudi Syndrome

I made my first visit to Saudi Arabia - my third visit to a new country for me in as many weeks. I flew to Riyadh on Saudi Arabian Airlines - which was more "east end" than "west end". It did give me a chance to read the Saudi Arabian English newspaper the "Arab News" - I was quite taken by the green colored paper on the front and back pages. Also Saudi Air provide a prayer area at the rear of the large 777 plane - a nice touch for the majority of their customers.

I stayed in the very nice Al Faisaliah hotel - the room was really impressive with a simply huge walk in shower and bath tub in the elegant bathroom. The service was also excellent with each floor having a dedicated "Butler" - it was late and I was in urgent need of an ironed shirt. The Butler arrived quickly and took my shirt and asked me when I wanted a wake up call - I replied 7.30am. Sure enough at said time, the room phone rang and not 60 seconds later a chap was knocking on my door with a crisply ironed shirt. Service to make me smile.

The people I met in Riyadh were all very warm and friendly - I had to agree with them that Riyadha was quite, more relaxed and a little cooler than Dubai. However it was not until I was on the flight back to Dubai that I noticed a distinct lack of a few things in Saudi Arabia:

1. Booze - I noticed a large number of my fellow passengers joined me in Dubai Duty free
2. Women - I saw none other than on the plane
3. Music - there was none playing in public anywhere I visited
4. Radio - there was none in any of the cabs we took
5. Billboards - none that I could see outside - I did see one in a shopping mall and the woman's face had been digitized out
6. Mannequin heads - they had all lost theirs

A friend of mine lived in Jeddah for almost 4 years - I can see now why he claims it was the ultimate health farm. With no booze and plenty of time to work out he lost a considerable amount of weight. I however found myself suffering from "Saudi syndrome" and all I wanted to do when I got back to Dubai was have a beer and 3G - "Girls, Gambling and Games" - nothing new there then...

3 comments:

Curiosity said...

I don;t blame you..you sure sound 'starved' and no wonder we find 'crazy' saudis going away on weekends and driving to Bahrain to get sozzled! and making a mess of the country and being a pest..I am sure you were relieved to get back to Dubai.:)

Aaron said...

It sure did make me appreciate Dubai a whole lot more!

CG said...

3 G's.....HAHA

excellent.