Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Saudi on Sea

A lot has been happening for me over the last couple of weeks hence a bit of a shortage of posts. I spent last week running around Jo'burg and Cape Town and this week I write this from Saudi Arabia.

I first went to the The Kingdom just over a year ago and visited Riyadh. This time I flew into Bahrain and took the limo across the causeway to visit a very large oil customer based in the city of Al Khobar.

It was interesting crossing from Bahrain into Saudi Arabia. First you have to pay the Bahrain Toll, then you stop for the Bahrain customs. Once this is done you take the nice drive across the causeway which I guess can be described as the "neutral zone". On arrival at the Saudi border you present your passport and then finally go through Saudi customs which seemed to involve opening the boot of the car. Oddly enough the first thing you see when you drive out of the border is McDonalds.

My visit to Al Khobar has given me a different perspective on the Kingdom. Situated on the coast and being smaller than Riyadh with a long palm lined corniche running through it - it has the feel of a resort town. Laid back and relaxed.

I stayed in the Gulf Le Meridien hotel which offered spectacular views of the Gulf:



During Ramadan there is "enforced" fasting i.e. all the super markets and restaurants are closed during the day. I had to get room service for breakfast and am currently patiently waiting for the flight back to Dubai where I will be going for a tasty meal. I am rather glad I hid a banana in my bag, from the fruit bowl in the hotel room - it is providing me with the energy to see out the day - though I had to hide in an office to eat it!

I have feeling that I am going to be seeing lot more of Saudi Arabia in the near future.

Note: Part of this post was published in the Gulf News 15th October 2007

2 comments:

Mermaid Lost in Dubai... said...

Hi, enjoyed your Saudi read. I've been to Al Khobar as well (Dammam actually), and yes it is pretty laid back. I was surprised the first time I saw expat females without the abayah at the airport! I think Al Khobar/ Dammam are among the most tolerant places in Saudi.

Aaron said...

Mermaid - I can only agree with you!