Important Notice

It is not my intention to denigrate Saudi Arabia or its people. It’s like everywhere else, there is good and there is bad. I would rather focus on the unusual and the humourous. Offence is not intended.

“The country is not perfect. The media cannot be trusted, mistreatment of religious minorities is common and there are some that live in fear.” You can decide for yourself whether that statement is about Saudi Arabia, the UK, or any country for that matter.

To quote the Joker, “Why can’t we all just get along?”

That is all I will say about either subject.

Saturday, 9 September 2006

Soft Landing?

My journey to Saudi was taxing but uneventful. I flew from Singapore to Bahrain at 5:25 am and when I landed in Bahrain I had my first taste of Middle Eastern chaos. I had the passport control guy telling me to go to see the permit stamping guy and the permit stamping guy telling me to go and see the passport control guy.
When I finally got through to collect my bags I waited ages and they never appeared. I finally realised that someone had taken all the bags off the conveyer as they came through so my bag was sitting quietly in the corner of the hall.
I was driven from Bahrain across the causeway to Dammam in Saudi. From there I was driven to Dammam airport where I almost accidentally got onto a flight to Cairo - it seems they don't like to advertise unimportant things like check-in desks and gate numbers for domestic flights in English.
I think by square km Dammam airport is the biggest in the world. The airport road alone is miles and miles long. Yet the airport is hardly used and eerily quiet.
It only took me a few minutes to perform my first faux pas in Saudi Arabia. There were two waiting areas. One was absolutely packed and other one only had one woman sitting there. So I figured it was an easy choice and went to sit down near the woman. The temperature suddenly dropped a few degrees. I realised swiftly that I was a single man sitting in the "Family Area" (for women and families only) and was about to be in serious doo-doo...

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