Tag Archives: living in riyadh

Saudis in Audis

What is there plenty of in Riyadh except for sand, American junkfood and oil?

You are absolutely right! CARS!

As of now, there is no public transport in Riyadh, which means that everyone has at least one car. People who have ever been to Kosova or Albania will know what I am talking about. Believe it or not, but compared to the chaos on the streets here, Kosova, Albania and Turkey are a driver’s dream.

I am not sure whether this is because there are just too many cars for this place or because everybody here just drives the way he wants. I guess it could be a little bit of both.

As I was on my way to school, I saw all sorts of cars on the road. However, it is not all about fancy and expensive cars only. There arte also simple cars that are not the newest neccesarily. Also the license plates are in Arabic and non Arabic numbers. Other than the alphabet, numbers are written from the left to the right. Here an overview:

 

image by: https://tsl620atnaz.wikispaces.com/Arabic
image by: https://tsl620atnaz.wikispaces.com/Arabic

The only thing that I noticed about the vehicles here is the fact that there are many Lexus cars around. And a lot of the cars have dark windows in the back. Either to keep the heat out or to hide the women’s faces from the other drivers. Possibly both.

In Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to drive. However, that is not as bad of a rule as some people think. Ladies, trust me, even if you were allowed to drive here, you probably never would like to do so.

Just lean back in the backseat, enjoy the ride and let your driver or husband be mad at all the other drivers. That is going to save you a lot of nerves.

 

 

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Day One- The Arrival

When I was a little girl, I was always kind of scared when I saw women on the street that would be covered from head to toe and all I could see were their eyes. I never had anything against them. It was just the general effect that so much darkness would have on me.

And now, more than a decade later, I have decided to move to Riyadh, where me myself have to obey the local dresscode. I never would have thought that I would get that far in life but looks like that’s how it is now. 🙂

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The flight from Berlin to Riyadh was rather a stressful one. I ended up running up and down Frankfurt airport in search of my gate and whoever has ever been to Frankfurt will know that this was not an easy hike. Having only a few minutes left until the boarding, I ran to the ladies room and put on my abaya (the black cloak that women are supposed to wear) and got on a tremendously big plane. However, Lufthansa planes are very comfortable. Comfortable enough to spend five hours in them while watching Night train to Lisbon on my personal little screen and maybe even talk to a very nice German lady who ended up living on the same compound as me and loved cats, too.

Next to me was sitting a Saudi man. He was not dressed in the traditional white thobe as some other men on the plane, but his skin color and the fact that he did not have to fill out a migration card, let me conclude that he must be a local. He was surprisingly kind. As I was packed with a large backpack and a camera bag, he offered me to put my camera bag under his seat, so I would have some space left to myself. As I was desperately looking for a pen to fill out the migration card, he asked me whether i needed help. So here is to my first confrontation with the local people.

Five hours later I reached the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh. The inside of it made me think of a five star hotel. It was all shiny with a marble kind of floor (if I am not mistaken about the material) and lots of light.

And here comes my first piece of advice to future Saudi Arabia visitors and especially women or short tempered people: In this country, people who are in authority positions, will always make sure that you KNOW and FEEL that they have authority.  At least this is the impression I got from the staff that was checking the passports. So I would suggest to just keep calm and do as they say unless you are a man and have powerful friends I guess. Also, if you want to travel to Riyadh, you better bring a lot of patience with you. People who come into the country for the first time go in a special waiting line that is VERY long. So get ready to spend two to three hours waiting in line to get a stamp into your passport, a picture taken as well as the registration of your fingerprints.

I süent quality time trying to find my suitcase. After walking around the Frankfurt treadmil, as Frankfurt was where I came from according to the screen, I found out that my suitcase was going in circles under the British Aiways screen, for some unexplainable reason.

After some long and exhausting hours of traveling, I was picked up from the airport and brought to my gorgeous compound where I am going to live for the next year.

Tomorrow I have my admission test in high school, so I better get some rest before the big day.

Here is to my arrival in Riyadh.