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Logan's Run

Part08
My previous diary update produced a number of responses advising me to wait until I return to the UK before stirring-up any further the issues I'd highlighted regarding the homeless Saudi women in Riyadh. So thanks to all those showing concern, and thanks to those interested in more information. I shall hopefully provide more information in due course, but I'll will wait until the time is right. That may be whilst I'm still in Riyadh, let's wait and see!  In the meantime, check out the photo page for a couple of interesting news items from the local paper.  However long I work here, I'll never understand!

18th October
It's great news!! Panic overů.the tea boy's contract has been extended until December 25th - I'll be long gone by then :-)

Oops, almost forgot - I've got to come back next year!

19th October
I had to do a presentation to the CEO and other senior members of the organisation. Things seemed to go quite well, although 45 minutes was a bit longer than anticipated but the audience kept asking questions - which is usually a good thing.

20th October
Today was our follow-up meeting with the female Service Level Manager. It was a very pleasant meeting and, surprisingly, the male Saudi who was also in the meeting left for the last few minutes so we were then alone with her. This was an interesting situation to be in, within this culture, but the lady is very pleasant and easy to speak to. Let's hope that over the next few weeks I can learn more about what working in this environment is like for her.

22nd October
In the evening we went to the Faisaliah Tower to have dinner in their shopping mall. Wednesday evening is a night for families to go out and enjoy themselves as the weekend starts, so the mall was very busy and there were many youngsters present. So me and Tan got our fast-food Chinese dinner and went to sit in the 'singles' section as usual except that as we approached the area we saw a temporary sign that said 'Families'. A look across to the usual family section (that is screened from public view) shows that it is still called the family section. So where would we sit??

We asked an official where to sit and he directed us to the temporary family section - the section usually reserved for singles. So we sat down amongst families , small groups of women (perish the thought!), etc. There were only a couple of tables that had solely men sat at them. We assumed that the women who wear the full veil will still have sat in the usual family section where they are hidden from view.

When we left the mall we looked at the opening hours on the front door to see that Wednesday night (and Thursday night for that matter) is designated as family nights. There was a single man who was struggling to get past security and enter the mall - yet me and Tan together (not like that - penalty is death over here!!) got in with no problems. So, if they're happy to let us mingle on a Wednesday night what's wrong with doing it all the time? Answers on a postcard to the Saudi authorities!

23rd October
After last weeks noise issues from the neighbouring room at the hotel, I finally got a new neighbour but crikey did he snore?! Lying in bed at night it was loud and clear. Imagine the MGM lion when he roars at the start of a movie. It sounded just like that, honest.

Today was a bizarre day for weather - we finally saw real clouds, just like back home. The forecast is even threatening rain but I'll believe that when I see it!

24th October
Today's highlight, or should that really be lowlight, was the car crash that happened on the motorway near the hotel. I could see the aftermath (thankfully not serious) from my hotel room window and it was interesting watching the locals and emergency services cope with it. It seemed that getting the driver out of his car (the door was stuck) and getting the bonnet open caused more damage than the crash itself!!

That's it for this week. Next Wednesday evening we're off to Bahrain for the weekend. Remember, we can't stay in Saudi Arabia for more than 30 days and as we're here for 7 weeks we need to take a trip out of the country. For those of you who remember our road trip to Bahrain back in June, getting through the numerous border checks was a very painful experience but hopefully by the time we get their (approx 10pm at night hopefully) things will be much quieter. Plus hopefully we'll have the right paperwork for the rental car this time!

PS. BREAKING NEWS...Saturday 25th October brought some brief rain showers - we were stuck in the office, so I'm yet to feel Saudi raindrops on my advanced early warning system. (My head!)

 

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  (C) 2008 Mark Sykes