Arcticterntalk.org

The blog of a travelling psychiatrist and football lover. Who happens to be a halfway decent photographer. Takes a cynical view of the world

Archive for the day “September 30, 2012”

Final thoughts on Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Do you want to pay 9p for a litre of petrol?


The two days I have been here have been interesting although I am not sure I have seen much if any of the kingdom. My conclusions are simple that I like the people or to be precise I like the men. They are more humble than I would have predicted, not all but most and interesting human beings. I hate the roads they are full of cars and bad driving. Yet astonishingly I have not seen a single accident. The reasons for the roads? Easy. The price of fuel is incredulously cheap and each family has 2-4 cars. Women are not permitted to drive so a second car is needed for the driver who drives the women.

The whole women thing takes some getting used to. In the audience for my talk tonight ( they like the term talk and not the term lecture) were no females. To have allowed them to be present would I was told have needed special governmental permission. I did see around 10 females arrive and sit down, and one was of european origin, but then they vanished. At the end of my ADHD talk I realised where they were, in a separate “womens room” presumably watching the slides on a monitor. Yet on the Saudi Arabian airlines flight this morning the cabin attendants were all female and wore no specific coverings of the face. Maybe I need to understand a little more.

Saudi Arabia is not a small country with a constantly growing population of 28 million inhabitants of whom 8.4million are non-nationals.  The two largest cities are where I have been staying, Riyadh 5 million and Jeddah 3.5 million. The native name for KSA is actually Al-Mamlaka al-‘Arabiyya as-Sa’ūdiyya (I have to admit to copying and pasting that one).

Geography was never my strong point but it is interesting to note the size of Saudi Arabia when compared with the other Gulf countries that surround KSA. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Arabian Peninsula. It occupies an area about the size of the United States east of the Mississippi River. Saudi Arabia’s population is 28 million, including 8.4 million foreign residents (2010 census),  and its capital city is Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia’s geography is diverse, with forests, grasslands, mountain ranges and deserts. The climate varies from region to region. Temperatures can reach over 110 degrees Fahrenheit in the desert in the summer, while in the winter temperatures in the north and central parts of the country can drop below freezing. Saudi Arabia gets very little rain, only about four inches a year on average.

green background, with in white letters the Muslim creed in Arabic: “There is no god but God: Muhammad is the Messenger of God.
I will definitely return and would encourage others to do so.

By the seaside. Jeddah in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)


Jeddah is about 75 minutes flight from Riyadh and very different. Firstly it is by the sea and I know that as I can see the sea from my window on the 6th floor. The humidity is incredible, so different from Riyadh which seemed pleasantly warm although around 30 degrees even in the evening. Lots of usual signs appear for Domino’s pizza, Subway, McDonalds and many more. The driving here is incredulous. I would issue a challenge to anyone to determine in the first 30 minutes of being in this city which side of the road they drive on. At one moment this morning my taxi on the right hand side was passed on its right hand side by another vehicle. Each and every car has serious dents and paintwork needs and I can see why. Most cars are Hyundai, the Elantra seems popular and most cars are white which is a big mistake as the sand everywhere soon turns them a kind of beige colour.

The hotel I am in, Crowne Plaza seems excellent and its location at the end of a dusty bumpy road is just odd. So, sadly with no swimming items I can neither go down to the sea, though suspect that oil tankers might be my company there nor go in the swimming pool that can be seen below. But the last bit of good news if you are listening Marriott hotels, is that the room wi-fi is totally free and excellent quality. That alone would make me choose this hotel. Simples…….

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