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.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

RF #3: Chumpoo

This is where stupid people wash their hair.

Badoom tish!


If eating at Villa inspires you to try the same type of cooking at home just wander next door to Chumpoo Food Store as it’s a good place to buy Asian ingredients. In the fridge, you will find a selection of fresh vegetables and herbs including lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, water convolvulus, to name a few. You can also purchase shrimp paste, curry pastes and Asian sauces.

Location: Next to Villa, you can see it on the same map.

RF #2: Villa

Enjoy Asian food in general? If so then it's worth trying Villa where they offer a dizzying selection of Thai and Filipino cuisine. The restaurant d├ęcor is basic to say the least and the waiters are often thoroughly disinterested but the Asian food is amongst the best you can get in the Riyadh city centre.
I recommend the Thai curries and sizzling platters.

Location: It is located on Al-Urubah Road (west) in the direction of the Diplomatic Quarter on the right hand side. There is a map here.

Margrave vs The Traffic Police pt2

Unfortunately there has not been a happy ending to this story.
As I understand it, there is a telephone number you can call in Saudi to query your traffic fines but it's an Arabic language service and not many expats are aware of it.
Therefore in the past the only way an expat would find out whether he had any traffic violations would be when he tried to leave the country. This is because your traffic violations are checked at the airport / border on exit and if you have any outstanding fines you are not allowed to leave. This results in a mad dash to pay the fines before you miss your flight and you have no time to complain if you feel the fine is unjust.
This is no longer the case. You can now query your Saudi traffic violations online.
I suspect the policeman that stopped me either did not know about this or did not care. This explains why the traffic violation that he never handed to me (for not wearing a seatbelt even though I was) was still processed and I now have a 100 SAR fine.
This of course is thoroughly unfair.
Therefore I've decided to complain. Perhaps nothing will come of it, perhaps something will.

Either way, I will let you know…

Sunday, 2 September 2007

RF #1: Granada

If you've just arrived in Riyadh this is a great shopping mall to come to for a soft landing, especially if you live in one of the many compounds to the north or east of the city as you won't have to deal with city centre traffic to get there. If you're going by taxi, make sure you arrange to be picked up as it can be difficult to get a drive-by cab once you are there. If not, exit the mall from one of the 2 gates near the hypermarket as your chances of hailing a cab will be much higher there.
Granada has a Carrefour hypermarket for all your basic needs, from food to underwear to a screwdriver. To address your audiovisual and electrical needs, there is Extra (by the way, Carrefour also has a range of electrical appliances and so it may be worth shopping around for the best product at the best price.)
At Axiom Telecom, you can purchase a local SIM card for prepaid services or subscribe to a mobile phone package.
If you need to get an abaya there are two places in the mall to get one from (depending on your budget). There is a high-end boutique called Beddon Essm, or Carrefour for cheaper alternatives.
If you’re male (or you’re picky about what you wear under your abaya) there are the UK high street brands, namely Topshop, Topman, Next, Oasis, River Island, and also Debenhams for all your clothing needs.
To address any hunger pangs the food court is located on the second level. Here you can find the usual fast food joints like McDonalds and Burger King. If you’d prefer restaurant dining, there are two restaurants located near the food court, Steakhouse for steaks and Zee Noodle for Chinese cuisine. If you are feeling a little more adventurous try the pizza and manaeash at Saj. You can’t miss them as they have a large dome-shaped heat plate right in their shop front.

Best time to visit: Thursday morning. You'll have the entire mall to yourself. When I first arrived my experience of Thursday morning at Granada left me wondering whether something terrible had happened and no one had told me. It was like 28 Days Later, with less zombies.

Riyadh Favourites (RF)

So you've just landed in Riyadh. You're dazed, confused and possibly mildly terrified. Where can you go? What can you do?
In separate posts 'm going to make some suggestions as they occur to me. If I become smart enough (i.e. stop being lazy) I will (eventually) embed Google Earth maps so you can see where they are.
If anyone wants to write their own recommendation please do so!