The D.H. announces that he has invited 10 people to dinner on our first day in Riyadh. This he says is not a problem because he will cook! It is a problem though because the kitchen, while perfectly delightful in its Italianatness and superdoopa appliances, has no equipment apart from cutlery, plates and glasses. We have to shop for not only things to cook but things to cook with.
I knew that Riyadh had an Ikea after there was such a row about the company photo-shopping out all pictures of women in their Saudi Catalogue. I also pre- sourced a store location of a big american Weber barbecue, so we can grill.
Shopping here is like planned military ops. You have to be organized there can be no browsing because you are limited in the time you have. All shops close periodically for prayers. So for instance shops open at 10am and close at mid-day, open at 1pm and close at 3.00pm and then again 6.15 pm and 7.30 pm closing for between 30minutes and an hour each time, (I haven’t quite worked that out yet.) Prayer times vary depending on Sunrise and the calendar. If you want to visit more than one shop in one shopping period you have to be precise.
Shopping in Ikea, is almost identical to shopping in Ikea in the UK or USA, The maze, to trap you in the store, screaming children who don’t want to be left in the play area, and women filling giant trolleys while the husbands look on in horror. I even found the Swedish meatballs, which I avoided in case of unknown contents.
We left with Expedit, Smarta, Gosa, Favorit and Skanka amongst other things, I will leave you to work out what they. It’s called the Ikea name game.
The check-out queues were as long as London Ikea’s on a Saturday afternoon, by now we were racing against the clock, would we make it before prayer time. The metal store blinds were half way down before our turn came. Here there is no last person, the check outs stop whether they have rung up all your items or not. Oh no we run into trouble, there is no bar code on the saute pan. We are told we can’t buy it, and there is no time to replace it, (I have yet discovered how to run in an abaya without tripping up). I also leave behind a salad bowl. So what we serve the salad in who knows.