The Roads of Riyadh

29 Apr

As today is the first day of our weekend (weekends are Thursday and Friday here), we popped out to the shops this morning to get some supplies. I took some pics of the streets as we travelled in order to give you an idea of how things look in the Land of Sand, outside of the compound.

Taking photos in Riyadh needs to be executed with sensitivity as you really have to be careful not to offend anyone, take pics of areas under security or catch a muslim woman in one of your photos without her permission. Also, keep in mind that we were travelling whilst I took most of them so bear with me if they are not great.

 The large tower in the background of the following photo is Kingdom Tower, and is where we were headed this morning. It is owned by Prince Waleed. He is the nephew of the Saudi Arabian King Abdullah. An entrepreneur and international investor, he has amassed a fortune through investments in real estate and the stock market. As of March 2010, his net worth is estimated at US$19.4 billion, according to Forbes, making him the 19th richest person in the world on their list published in March 2010. He has been nicknamed by Time magazine as the Arabian Warren Buffett. He recently bought his 38th car, a diamond studded Mercedes! 

It is the tallest building in Saudi Arabia and is the 45th tallest building in the world. It contains a high-end shopping mall, a Four Seasons Hotel, apartments and offices.

Kingdom Mall has all the designer shops from Gucci to Prada to Burberry. One of my favourite’s from ‘a beautiful looking shop’ perspective is the Dolce & Gabanna store. All black and sleek and very sophisticated. I wish I could have captured the beauty of the store in the photo but I had to take it really fast and didn’t want to attract the attention of the security people. Imagine if they confiscated my camera, I can’t afford to lose another one after losing the first one during the desert camping trip just a few weeks ago!

The mall also has some run of the mill shops like Debenhams, Body Shop, Marks and Spencer’s etc. It has one floor dedicated exclusively to women which is great for one very particular reason. It has fitting rooms! That’s right…clothing shops do not have fitting rooms here, you have to buy, then take home and try on. But I will keep those details for another day as it is a story on its own.

Anyway, contrast the glamour of Kingdom Mall to a smaller street not far too far away.

This is more typical of smaller streets in Riyadh, though they were all shut up for prayer time when I took the photo. Quite different, huh? And yes there are occasions when one thinks to ones self…What are we doing in a place that looks like this? But the moment passes and we move swiftly along. We humans are wonderful creatures of adaptation and we soon get quite used to our new surroundings and hardly blink an eye when driving down the street…well almost hardly.

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One Response to “The Roads of Riyadh”

  1. Brigitte April 30, 2010 at 7:13 pm #

    hi pips;
    i really enjoyed this page. cant wait to skype 2 morrow

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