Ramadan Kareem, hello and greetings from Riyadh where it’s another day of sun! We have actually been experiencing very strange weather lately – thunderstorms mixed with dust storms. Apparently that’s the normal pattern when the weather changes from the cooler months to the hot summer months. The temperatures are also starting to go up – the last couple of days it has been 38-40 degrees – so it’s time to crank up the AC!
Last week was also the start of Ramadan – so that’s another very new experience for us in a Muslim country. I will do a longer post about it later in the month, but at the moment it means our working hours are shorter and cafes, restaurants etc only open at night because everyone who is Muslim is fasting during the hours of daylight.
Anyway, for this blog I thought I would share some photos from a recent visit we made to the DQ in Riyadh, some photos from the compound we live in and finally tell you about the Financial Sector Conference I recently attended through my new job!
So a couple of weekends ago we headed off early to the DQ (as the Diplomatic Quarter in Riyadh is known). It’s where all the embassies are situated. There are also businesses, hotels, parks, residential housing etc. It’s a large area in the west of Riyadh which was built on the edge of Wadi Hanifa (the temporary river which gave birth to old Riyadh). In the 1970s all the embassies were instructed to move from Jeddah to Riyadh. Today there are lots of parks and a walking track around the perimeter overlooking Wadi Hanifa which makes it almost like a green oasis in the middle of the desert. It’s a lovely place to go for a walk or a run and it’s also popular with dog walkers. You can follow up your walk/run with a coffee or brunch at the newly opened Oud Square which is packed with cafes and restaurants and has a very European vibe. Another major attraction of the DQ is that you don’t have to wear an abaya!
In contrast to Wadi Hanifa the compound we live on is called Wadi Qortuba. It has a man-made wadi running through the middle of it which is filled with plants and trees and there are also some resident ducks on the central pond #quack. Our compound is a mix of apartments and villas built in the Lebanese style. They are large, airy and light with big windows – in contrast traditional Saudi style is to have few, small windows to either keep the warmth in in the winter and the heat out in the summer!
Living on a compound means we also have access to a clubhouse which has a gym, aerobics studio, tennis courts, squash courts, a swimming pool, a cafe and a restaurant. The compound also runs shopping buses twice a day to the local malls and supermarkets and for those with children it operates a bus service taking the children to the different schools – British, American and multinational are the most popular, and we are about 30 mins from downtown Riyadh. The management also puts on a residents’ BBQ once a month and a coffee morning with craft sellers once every couple of months. It’s a very nice community to be apart of. The majority of nationalities are Lebanese/Jordanian, South Korean and Western. It’s a relatively new compound so it is not yet full but it’s a good way to meet people and share experiences of living and working (and surviving!) in Saudi Arabia!!
Finally, as I mentioned in a previous blog I have got some part time work working with a PR company and as part of that I attended the recent Financial Sector Conference 2019. It was held at the King Abdul Aziz International Conference Centre which is part of the Riyadh Ritz Carlton complex – and Oh My Word – I have never been at such a luxurious conference centre, or such a high level conference. There I was in the same room at the Saudi Minister of Finance, the CEO of Aramco, a former Italian Prime Minister, the head of HSBC etc. Basically KSA wants to diversify its economy and move away from its dependence on oil so it wants the world to know it is open to investment. It really was a pinch-myself moment just being there. Here are some photos to give you an idea of the scale:
And that’s all for this installment – I hope you have enjoyed!
Until next time,