Apologies to all. I have been on the high seas pursuing a sailing odyssey interspersed with shouting at teenagers, building contractors, and so forth for the past couple of months so have neglected my blog. My children are now in school and I am back in Arabia, and so the journey continues.
I thought that I would make this a “Supermarket Trolly” column, hence named after those articles at the front of glossy sunday supplements, or at least that’s what one of my journo friends would call it and try and update you on what’s been going on since I was last in Riyadh.
Our compound is gaining new inmates all the time, and at last there are a few more “trailing spouses” (such a derogatory term, for those not paid to work). So it is beginning to feel like more of a community rather than a building site. We have still not moved to our permanent home, but we hope to move for the end of October, Insh’allah. I have at last seen the house and it is fantastic, although still engulfed in the building site, so am not too hopeful about the moving date.
Talking of building sites, the new financial centre of Riyadh is coming a long a pace. Instead of individuals commissioning their own office blocks, the king decided that Riyadh needed a “state of the art” financial center and has commissioned the whole “down town” area, which towers out of the desert. It is an entirely new way to go about creating a city centre rather than allowing it to develop haphazardly and of course Saudi Arabia is one the few countries where this could happen. It will also be the center for the new metro system. I am not sure when companies will move in, but is clear that incentives are being given and all major businesses will have to move there eventually or…? I suspect a touch of carrot and stick. Other building also continues apace, and I have noticed buildings on the road to the supermarket are now complete, and more have been started.
Another new development that is virtually complete is the Nofa Resort. An African themed hotel/ conference center/safari park/ horse riding center/ golf course/ country club. I was invited with a group of golfers to play there last week. The resort will be a real addition to sporting facilities in the Riyadh area.
The golf course is situated within and around the King Abdullah race track, with the grandstand being used as a club house for the course. The course is unexpected with water coming into play on many holes, and devilish bunkers protecting every green. We even encountered pygmy hippos on the 9th hole, a first for me (and tops alligators, I think). Be warned they are to avoided.
It is a well designed course, getting the most out of the topography in a relatively small area. Unfortunately the course beat me, so I am looking forward to getting my own back and playing it again when it opens for Pay and Play in January 2014. The cost will be comparable to Riyadh’s two other 18 hole courses, Dirab and Riyadh Greens.
Decisions about how the rest of resort will be managed are yet to be confirmed, but from having seen the accommodation, and surroundings I was stunned by the thought and detail that has been put into the project and hope that we will soon be able to enjoy it for all sorts of events.
I was reminded of an old knock knock joke this week.
“In tents you often find snakes” Ha Ha!!
When the DH and I went in search of the Tent souk. There are many souks in Riyadh and I heard mention of a tent souk, but did not know exactly where it was apart from it being part of the huge Batha’a souk. After wandering around the huge expanse of Batha’a with its crowded alley ways and dark corners we thought we would never find this mythical souk as most people we spoke to did not know of it. Eventually we found a merchant who spoke enough english to direct us, and we found the Tent Souk. It does not look much! but don’t let that put you off. The vendors will make anything in canvas for you, and copy any canvas bag that you may already own.
The DH ordered a very natty suit carrier in garish colours to his own highly (over?)engineered specifications. But we could have bought an enormous traditional Bedu tent with a beautiful lining made, for as little as a 1000 SAR. I will definitely be returning. I leave you with a map link so you can find it yourselves.
An update on girls’ sports. After I reported on women’s sports in an earlier blog I was pleased to announce girls’ sport in private schools. According to the Saudi Gazette this is not happening and the ministry is looking to enforce its ruling. It goes to show that change is tricky here in the Kingdom.