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 tag “riyadh”

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.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Playing in a sandpit.


Arriving in Riyadh early in the morning is an interesting experience. This last week has been occupied with trying to get a Saudi Arabian visa to come over for the weekend to give a couple of lectures as invited to do so on ADHD. This is a complex effort to do and I am eternally grateful to Ahmed at A and M visas who guided me through the whole process, submitted the visa on monday and had it back in my hands on wednesday.

The flight is an overnight flight of 6 hours from Heathrow and landing around 6 am means the temperatures are already around 29 degrees. Driving seems interesting here. In the short term car park most cars are white and most/all are dented. The huge concrete pillars are all dented and scratched with car paint visible. The driving style resembles Stock Car racing. The lanes seem to be randomised to 3 then 2 then 4 then 3, which makes for an interesting drive. First impressions are that I am in a huge sandpit, which I am of course, in the desert. All the buildings are essentially built on sand on rock and there is a lot of building going on. A huge Hummer car passes with what looks like a mural of Gaddafi on the back. I don’t know enough about history or politics to know whether this is correct or likely, or if it is someone else. What I do know is that writing an address on an envelope must take a long time here with huge long road names mostly named after Saudi princes.

The place is a mixture of Saudi nationals in traditional headdress ( looks kind of smart to me, could be tempted) and westerners. There is little interaction other than the few undertaking business activities. My only dislike so far is that all food is served lukewarm but some of the Saudi desert pastries are delicious and I suspect highly calorific. This Marriott hotel is in many ways just like many others in UK and EU with the exception that no bar is obvious.

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