Friday, October 14, 2005


Faintly Lost in KSAFaintly Lost in KSA
One day, Juma from admin came to me and gave me an airline ticket and a letter in Arabic. I asked him what this was about and he said ‘you are going to Jeddah tomorrow to meet people at xxxx client site.’ It’s the first I’ve heard of it. ‘Abdul and Abdullah are also going and they will hire a car and take you to the meeting’. Oh great, and what’s this letter? ‘This letter is from Mr Bongo, authorising you to leave Riyadh for tomorrow only.’

That’s another amazing thing about Saudi – expats cannot leave their base without permission from their sponsor. They also cannot leave the country without an exit visa!

But I was puzzled about this sudden need to go to Jeddah, and why Abdul and Abdullah were being sent as well. Who was I going to meet? What to do? What was it all about? I still don’t know. When we arrived at the airport in Jeddah, A and A organised a very crummy hire car, and drove us to the client’s premises. After much confusion and difficulty getting into the building, it turned out that the main guy we needed to see, inshallah, was in Riyadh today. So we saw his assistant but it was a complete and utter waste of time. I asked A & A whether this meeting had been pre-arranged with the client and they said they didn’t know, Mr Bongo had just told them they had to go.

Anyway, Jeddah looked like a nice place – the women wore multi-coloured abayas, and the whole place seemed a bit more relaxed than Riyadh. It is also a much older city and there were some fairly interesting old buildings with intricately carved wooden balconies and mushrabiyahs. And, unlike Riyadh, it’s on the coast.



Blogger Abu Sinan said...

My wife is a Hijazi, most of her family lives in Jeddah. The Hijaz is historically known for its tolerance and multi-culturalism. It is only when the Wahabi al-Saud family came into power that this changed.

In their conquest of the Hijaz and pacification they killed thousands of people and destroyed many religious buildings and sites. Hijazi people are much different than the Najdi up in Riyadh.

4:11 pm  
Blogger Keefieboy said...

It's a shame ain't it.

...Abu Offspring

4:18 pm  
Blogger Mansur said...

I grew up in Jeddah, and I also worked there after my graduation. I love Jeddah. I love it miles better than Dubai where I am currently working. I hope you get a chance to see Jeddah on your next trip.


2:15 am  

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