After months of medicals, form filling, and general faffing around. The Family, that is the children and me, (Saudi terminology , I promise you will get used to it) arrived at King Khalid international airport, Riyadh, late on the 27th March. The airport is vast, with more runways and space than any of the large European or US airports. It has the potential to be a huge hub and there is unlimited room for expansion. Although the current terminal building is relatively small but modern. I have expunged all Nutmeg from my luggage, as that is a banned substance along with poppy seeds, alcohol and many medicines. The list includes mouthwash and perfume if they contain alcohol. I find it hard to come terms with the idea that I might drink a bottle of Channel No.5 followed by a chaser of listerine but who knows how desperate I might become. Actually the alcohol ban is in fact the least of my worries and I am hope the reduction in wine drinking might actually be good for losing some pounds.
The DH, (darling husband and designated hitter) had arranged a lovely surprise, a VIP greeting service. We were met on the Jet-way by a man, smartly dressed in a thobe and keffiyeh, holding a large sign with my name, very Brangelina! We were whisked off through a special gate to the VIP lounge. This was intended to be a luxurious and relaxing experience, however while our greeters were hurrying to deal with our immigration forms and luggage a sinking realization fell upon us that the DS (darling son, or not so darling in this case) had left his baggage tags on the plane. Oops. A furious Darling Daughter (DD) whipped the DS in pursuit of the greeter claiming the bags in order to identify our luggage.
Meanwhile the DD and I sit in silent splendour being served dates, Arabic coffee, cakes and tea. There is a frosty atmosphere as the DD is so concerned that the DS has lost her bags. I am just longing to get away and wonder if it is rude not to drink the coffee or if I drink it they will continue to fill my cup. I don’t know the custom. After 3 cups I decline more as I know that I will need a bathroom visit and would rather not have to ask where the bathrooms are.
The DH is arriving from Jeddah and manages to meet us in VIP suite at the same time the DS reappears with the greeters. All is well. Now is the big moment, I don an abaya bought by the DH. The abaya is a black tent like garment that goes over your clothes, compulsory for all women, unless your name is The Duchess of Cornwall, or Hilary Clinton. I am naming it the Penguin Suit from now on, as that is how I feel, like a giant penguin. The children have called it my Dementor outfit, which might tell you something about my character.
The “Red Carpet” way has been remarkably smooth, I could get used to this. However, when I find out how much the VIP greeting service costs it is clear next time I will have to “slum it” and wait in line for at least 2 hours. I think the DH was trying to gain brownie points to make up for various misdemeanors by booking the service.
We walk out onto the concourse into a barrage of heat. Our new driver, Ronnie, has managed to maneuver our new big black SUV into a competitive position with the other equally big SUVs jostling for position. It’s obvious that no one here cares about the cost of fuel it’s only 50 cents a gallon.
We head for the company compound and our new home.