Thursday, October 18, 2012

2 days in Riyadh

I had a short business trip this week to The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - Riyadh to be more precise. I had heard lots of horror stories about Riyadh and everyone commiserating with me over my trip etc., but honestly I didn't think it was too bad. Obviously, as with anywhere, it is different visiting rather than living somewhere, but as a trip it was ok.

I had been told that for my first visit, it could take ages to get through Immigration in Riyadh. It is infamous for long queues and they have to take finger prints, thumb prints, inside leg measurement and anal swabs (actually, with the number of Saudi homosexuals I wouldn't have been surprised by the last one, but prints were good enough). I think i just got lucky, 'cos I was through in about 20 minutes.

They did make you feel really at ease with the landing card mind you ...

... good job I left my Anadin at home.

Riyadh is a very large city with somewhere around 5 million. It is the capital of KSA and houses all the major government ministries. I had meetings in the two most prominent towers in Riyadh...

...The Kingdom Tower

... and the Al Faisaliyah Tower

I know there are folks that read my blog that will appreciate this, but if you are not in the cabling/networking industry, go and make a cup of tea at this point....

Just across from my hotel there was a "souq" - market - of electrical shops. Within about 100 feet I found shops selling SYSTIMAX, Belden, 3M, R&M as well as the usual Chinese crap I expected to find (including some Excel by the way guys!)

Here's some of the shop signage....

This one was particularly well stocked!

So the trip wasn't so bad, but not an attractive place at all. Maybe I will need to go back at some point, but until then, Abu Dhabi will do me just fine!

... these did make me smile on the way back to the airport...

The worst Immigration problem I faced was back in Dubai (T2) where I had to join the queues from hell and it took me an hour just to get through Immigration - jeesh! And then I got Mr Sleepy taxi driver from hell to take me home. He was literally, constantly, on the point of falling asleep! He was veering all over the road. Without asking, he stopped at a garage to get coffee (I wasn't going to stop him!) and then continued. I usually keep my seatbelt well and truly fastened in UAE taxis, but for this guy I felt I needed to be at the ready to dive forward and grab the steering wheel if necessary! Fortunately, as this blog would suggest, I got home safe!

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