Thursday, 7 June 2012

The Road to Riyadh…..

The Impressive Kingdom Tower
So, I touched down in Riyadh on May 28th last, my first time in the Kingdom, tired and a little emotional after the sad goodbyes to Laura and the boys, we had a really nice time for the 5 weeks I was home.

The first obstacle was overcoming Passport and Visa Control at King Khalid Airport, which took three hours and going to the end of a few queues, it seems my hosts could do with some assistance in customer care and managing  visitors to their country , I’ve been assured since that this experience was the exception rather than the norm.

I am now based in the centre of Riyadh, right beside the impressive Kingdom Tower, and staying in a hotel on Ollaya St. nearby, for a few weeks while we sort out an apartment.

The Contrasts in my new job couldn’t be more different from my work in Afghanistan, I work as a Project Manager supporting a Saudi Company rolling out new Technical Buildings across the Kingdom, I am based at their corporate HQ at the Kingdom Tower Complex, air conditioned offices etc. a very big change from Afghanistan.

I took a trip this week from Riyadh to Al Hofuf in the Eastern Province by car, a journey of some 370 km each way, It was a great experience driving right across the desert, I am very struck by how influenced this country is from the United States, everything from driving Sedans & Chevrolets, to roadside diners and fast food.
Camels on the Road to Al Hofuf in the Eastern Province
I even came across camels on the road…..see photo....

I completed the journey successfully, negotiating the outskirts of Riyadh, including men herding goats along the motorway and the inner city where it seems everyone has learned to drive like Italians !

I also set out to discover the old and original part of Riyadh with two of my colleagues (I am one of a team of nine Irish here), we spent an extremely hot day walking through the wonderful smells and bustle of the Souks of Al Batha and discovering Musmak Castle , Al Safa Square and the impressive Grand Mosque.
Musmak Castle

We have also found ourselves a new Apartment Complex that we hope to move into in the coming days, looking forward to settling in to the area, complete with a little swimming pool, Gym and loads of small local shops…..

And so begins my Saudi Adventure, I look forward to posting more pieces here on Saudi Arabia………