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Logan's Run

It’s been a quiet few days recently so I’ve been trying to wind down ahead of returning home after 4 weeks, but unfortunately the Saudis keep giving me more work to do! You may wonder how I survive out here without some of the niceties of home; well I came well prepared this time. A box of Yorkshire T-Bags, a bag of jelly babies (they didn’t last long though!), a box of Mr Kipling’s mini Angel Cakes, and two boxes of my luxury item – Mr Kipling’s mini Battenbergs. Delicious J and no, I didn’t declare them to Customs!

We’ve had some rain the last couple of days, including a violent thunderstorm last night which thankfully has cleared the air. The last week or so has been really bad; every day has been windy meaning very poor air quality as a result of the dust and sand. That, together with me having a very heavy cold for the last week, has kept me indoors most evenings.

I did manage a drive out into the desert a week ago, and you can see some photos from that journey here.

I’ve reported on some interesting stories in my time over here, but the latest in my ‘Believe It or Not’ series features a recent breastfeeding story which is quite extraordinary. If you were breastfed (even on just one occasion) by someone else other than your birth mother, then you are forever related to that mother and her children. If you were to marry one of her children, that is classed as, effectively, incest. I just don’t know how they make up these rules! Read more here……and you thought the offside rule was complicated!

As a final wrap-up for a while, I thought I’d give you my top tens of being in Saudi Arabia:

Top 10 positives:

  1. Good food, and lots of it – albeit mainly American restaurants and fast food joints
  2. Fuel prices – typically less than a fiver for a full tank of petrol
  3. Having a tea boy – although a tea girl would be better J
  4. Consistent weather
  5. Air conditioning – for when it’s damn hot!
  6. Shopping – if you’re into fashion there’s plenty of it, although not necessarily cheap
  7. and, er, that’s it….I can’t actually muster a top 10 on positives!!

Top 10 negatives:

  1. Expanding waistline – see item 1 above
  2. Alcohol – the lack of any
  3. Smoking – just about everyone smokes, and although it’s ‘No Smoking’ in the office they just pop out into the corridor for their fag break!
  4. Women – not being able to freely socialise or communicate with them (or even look at them most of the time!)
  5. Censorship – pages ripped out of the Daily Mail, web-sites banned (e.g. www.FaithHill.com), etc.
  6. Lack of entertainment/socialising – no pubs, bars, cinemas, etc.
  7. The heat – 45 to 50 degrees Celsius in the summer, damn hot!
  8. Sand – too much of it, especially when it’s windy and it affects the air quality
  9. You can’t shop when you want – everything closes during prayer times
  10. You can’t eat when you want – everything closes during prayer times
  11. The class structure – and the way ‘lesser mortals’ are treated
  12. Arrogance – in their way of life, in their driving, in ordering food, everything in fact
  13. No gambling
  14. I could go on, but you get my drift – the negatives far outweigh any benefits, especially when you’re not being paid tax free!

And finally…..I won’t bore everyone (!) but I’ve written a piece about my thoughts on the way of life out here. It’s called Logan’s Run and you can read it here.

And that really is it, until the next time. Bye.




  (C) 2009 Mark Sykes