Well, after five weeks back home is
was time to head back out to Saudi Arabia and phase
2 of the project, which includes running 9 workshops
and creating lots of documentation. This time
Tan has been replaced by Richard, A) because I'm
still a nervous wreck from Tan's driving and B)
because Tan is off to Thailand on hols.
Alright, that's unfair - it's purely because Tan is
off on a well deserved holiday! Tan, I hope
you have a great time.
flight out of Heathrow was delayed an hour after the
pilot found a dent in one of the cargo doors!
This meant he had to get an engineer to check it out
before we could take off. Finally we got the
all clear and headed off to the alcohol free zone
called.....Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We arrived
just as the weekend started, so we had a couple of
days to acclimatise to the heat and for me to show
Richard some of the sights of Riyadh.
Friday 8th August
Today we went up to the top of the
It had been a been a glorious day with clear blue
skies, so we got to see a lovely sunset and I took
some nice photos with my new Canon EOS 450D digital
camera. A strange sight on the outside ledge
was the headdress of a Saudi, a
assumed that the wind had blown it there rather than
someone scaling the glass wall and jumping off!
Wednesday 13th August
The hotel, as with most, holds various events such
as conferences and training, etc. during the week.
One particular course that caught the eye this week
was called "Ethical Hacking" - an oxymoron if ever
there was one! A company called MARCOM was
also doing some training on ITIL - hmmm, I wonder
what that one was about!!!
Tonight with both the Blades and
Arsenal in footie action, we decided on
the pre-match meal. Buffet style, it was very
good although the crispy Peking duck was missing -
as were the rest of the
With not much water around, I suppose there aren't
that many ducks in Riyadh!!
Thursday 14th August
The first week at work has gone well, four workshops
have been completed, and the weekend quickly comes
around again. We've been fortunate with the
weather so far, with blue skies every day even when
it's been windy. Back in June, whenever it was
breezy the skies were murky with dust and sand, but
not this time. So we headed up to the top of
Kingdom Tower. The first lift takes you up
to the 77th floor, you then take a second lift up to
the 99th floor and the 'Skybridge' observation area,
a mere 300 metres above ground level. It
provides a great view of the surrounding areas of
Riyadh, unless you suffer from vertigo!
Whilst watching the Muslim
equivalent of MTV in my hotel later that afternoon,
prayer time came along and all of a sudden mid-video
we switch to a mosque for 5 minutes of prayers.
Then the coverage switches back to the music videos
of scantily-clad women. Bizarre!!
That evening, after stuffing our
face with pizza, I suggested we go and take some
photos of the UFO building, otherwise known as the
Ministry of the Interior. It's an amazing
piece of architecture and looks so much like a
at night that now I have my new digital camera I've
been itching to take some pics of it.
As with any government building
security is tight, and road blocks are in place all
around the complex. So Richard, my getaway
driver(!), pulls into a side road and keeps the
engine running whilst I get out and take my photos
under the cover of darkness. No problems.
Back in the car Richard then suggests we go down
this other road and get a closer look. Okay
I get out of the car (Richard
keeps the engine running) and take a couple of pics......the
next moment I hear shouting....a guard in full
battle fatigues and armed with a semi-automatic
machine gun is walking towards me. Oops!!
So I quickly hop back into the car and Richard makes
a quick u-turn and makes off. The guard then
starts running off in the opposite direction,
seemingly either to summon assistance or to get into
his jeep and follow us. So we cut through
various back roads ensuring that no one is following
us. Needless to say we went the long way round
back to the hotel to avoid going through the
roadblock again, just in case!!!! Back at the
hotel, fearing the Saudi forces will come storming
through my door at any moment, I quickly upload
photos of the UFO to the server back in the UK.
Hah, I've foiled them :-)
Friday 15th August
It's Friday, (equivalent to our Sunday) so it's very
quiet outside. We have a drive around downtown
and then out into the Industrial City area where the
cement and concrete factories are. The
exciting life we have in Riyadh, eh! Whilst
downtown I take Richard to the As Sa'ah Square, the
home of the 'General Presidency of the Promotion of
Virtue and the Prevention of Vices'. Yes,
quite a mouthful that! Next door is also the
Massmak Palace and a mosque.
So as I do(!), I'm busily snapping
away having noted that the one security car resident
in the square is empty. I then spot an
approaching security car from the opposite
direction. Looking all innocent (or at least
trying to), I point up at the architecture of the
building telling Richard how nice it is, etc.
Mr. Security Man drives slowly past.....we continue
walking around admiring the buildings and lamp posts
(which are actually very nice). I'm then
taking a photo of one of these lamp posts and the
next moment there is tooting of a horn. The
security guard is heading our way, pulls over and
requests (or should I say 'instructs') that I stop
taking photos. It wasn't the lamp post that
was the issue, but the building in the background.
So, after having two close shaves in the last two
days, I put my camera away until we're back in the
By the way, it has been hot
today....one electronic temperature display we
passed whilst driving around showed the big 50
DEGREES!! Whilst it may have been slightly
inaccurate, it was damn hot today.
That's all until the next time,
providing I don't get arrested or thrown out of the
country in the meantime....