Friday, April 30, 2010

He turns out to be she - Arab News (April 27, 2010)

Have to admit I've been waiting for news of the kind ever since landing in Saudi Arabia. That's why it didn't come as a shock at all when I read the news bit He turns out to be she

Infact I'm confident that very recently just oppposite the Dominos Pizza on Talateen street, outside the GNC store I saw a couple. And, no! not a man-man couple but a man-woman couple where the woman was dressed as a man in the traditional thobe and shumag (her partner was dressed in jeans and a shirt). The reason they caught my attention was because the man-cum-woman had a very girly gait, wore a girl's watch, had the most perfectly shaped eyebrows, and was very conscious about the way the loose ends of the shumag covered her upper bod. Not to mention her french beard seem fake. I couldn't stop staring at her and when she noticed how I acutely I was observing her, she held her shumag even more closer to herself and whispered something to her (genuine) male partner. I simply smiled in her direction but she quickly turned her head away (a young Saudi man would've never done that!) And, that's what confirmed my doubt. Well, I just hope she wasn't and never gets caught.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Saudi men told how to stop flirting, harassing women - Newsrelease from March 28, 2010

For the lack of words!!!!! "Saudi men told how to stop flirting, harassing women"...I mean I'd love to know who's line is this (anyway).

I broke out laughing when I read this newsrelease. For me the story isn't as much of a shock as is the ridiculous title!!!

Like seriously...get a life!

FINALLY!!! An airport in/close to Makkah

I can’t seem to hold my excitement no more. Not to mention I couldn’t BELIEVE the news. I mean finally after all this time the Saudi government thought of this! Not that 45 minutes to an hour’s drive time from Jeddah to Makkah is too long, or that any pilgrim would complain about a journey being made for Allah. But still I’m sure it will make a difference, atleast to all the elderly and senior pilgrims.

Then again, it now makes more sense to have an airport in or closer to the city that will house the 2nd tallest building (Mecca Royal Clock Tower) in the world. Correct?

Anyways, though they haven’t yet given a start and end date for the project I’m just content with the thought that it’s happening.

My Love & Hate Relationship...with Riyadh (so far)

Having officially lived in (barely) three seemingly different countries over the entire span of my life, I now feel more adept at making comparisons and deductions.

I’ve been in Riyadh for only 4 months, but it doesn’t seem like I don’t know the place enough (already!). I’m sure people who are new to the Middle East region possibly need more time to ‘get to know’ Riyadh but since I’ve lived in Dubai previously for all my life, living in its look-alike is hardly any variation (though, I’m confident that any Dubai-ites reading this wouldn’t be too happy with me making such a claim, perhaps even the Riyadhis would object). But, in my eyes Riyadh is simply a bigger version of Dubai, minus of course all the entertainment and leisure options (aka cinemas, bars & night clubs, concerts, beaches etc.) that we don’t, can’t and never will have here. In anycase there are several things I’ve come to love about Riyadh, and others I simply don’t. Here are a few:

Love: the spacious apartments and villas here (not to mention the almost-affordable rents)
Hate: the frequent sandstorms. It gets so dusty here, that if you’ve cleaned your house (moreover your maid must’ve) in the morning, by sunset you are bound to see a fine layer of dust on everything

Love: the almost empty streets and pavements of Riyadh
Hate: at the traffic signal, cars have no qualms in stopping NOT behind the pedestrian crossing but in fact over it. (P.S- Even my husband does this. His argument “you will hardly ever see anyone crossing the road using the designated pedestrian”. Argh!)

Love: the petrol/gas. Did I mention how inexpensive, affordable, economical and basically cheap it is? The current rate is only 45-60 halalas (US$ 0.12-0.16) per litre!!!!
Hate: women are not allowed to drive here. Need I REALLY say more?

Love: that one of my favourite chicken sandwiches Pikasso (from a popular Lebanese fast food joint Breakfast to Breakfast) is almost double the size of that given in Dubai for the same rate. Yippie!
Hate: I’d be mad to hate something about this!

Love: the excessive parking space available all over
Hate: the way Saudi drivers park their cars on roads and in parking lots. In fact can’t call it park their cars, instead leave their cars! Believe me the sight resembles horse or camel parking!

Hate: at lingerie shops/sections women shoppers are attended by male attendants!!!!!!
Love: that there is a women’s only section in Kingdom Mall (where I can unabashedly check out or even ask for size L or XL knickers, to say the least)

Hate: that there is no concept of changing/trial rooms at retail outlets here. So much for finding out if you dropped a dress size.
Love: seriously NOT APPLICABLE

Love: the so-called cubicles or separators at the family sections of restaurants/food courts (yes please! bring it on...the stuffed burgers, the fettuccine noodles, the tacos etc.)
Hate: that I can’t seem to like ANY of the Chinese or/& Indian restaurants in Riyadh

Well, so far this is all I can remember of what I love&hate in Riyadh. I’ve got a feeling I will come back to make more additions to this brief list in the future. So I’m declaring this post as work in progress!

(Note: You will have noticed that at certain places I’ve referred to Hate before Love. That is not a mistake, it is by default)

Monday, April 26, 2010

From the Eyes of a Simpleton Ex-Dubaiite

Dubai Oh! Dubai Oh! Dubai...du...du...du. Just before you starting thinking that this is Du Telecom’s new jingle, let me correct you - it is NOT. This is actually the unbelievable cry of my sinking sanity.

You know what they say ‘time heals everything’, well I don’t think so (anymore!). I recently got separated. No! not from my husband!! I got separated...from DUBAI- my birth place, my city of recognition, my real hometown. I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic but you can’t blame me especially since I (happily) lived in Dubai for 27 years and 331 days exactly!

...Last August my family moved back to home country, rather unfortunately because of my Dad’s retirement and yes! my impending December nuptials. Now, here I am in a new country/city separated from Dubai (my husband and I are currently based in Riyadh), and there is not a single day that goes by without me reminiscing my ‘Du’ time.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t miss Dubai for its extravagant ‘high life’. In fact coming to think of it, I was hardly ever a club-goer in fact was more a cinema-goer, was always a fan of mock-tails rather than cocktails, and thoroughly enjoyed open beaches more than shopping malls. Yes! undeniably I also LOVED the monthly visits to Dubai’s breath-taking spas, the weekly pedicures, hanging out with friends, eating out at the finest (and sometimes not-so-fine) eateries, driving around town, etc. etc. Ok! Ok! I admit. I did indulge a bit of the metro life, but then who wouldn’t).

I mean can anyone (really) make me forget – those visits to Jumeirah’s open beach, long walks at Zabeel park and Safa park, waterful fun at Wild Wadi; the scrumptious (and yet unbeatable) nachos of Cinestar, the delectable flavas of Al Hallab, Forn O Saj, Al Nafoorah, Reem Al Bawadi, Gazebo, Coco's, China Times, etc.; the teeth-rattling experience of Chillout Cafe and SkiDubai, the glitz and glamour of Dubai Fashion Week, even the endless gamut of Dubai’s entertainment and lifestyle magazines, and most importantly my old Dubai-based friends – all of whom I’ve had to leave behind.

Coming to think of it even Riyadh has everything. Ahem! minus the beaches, the parks, the cinemas, the night clubs, the concerts, the fashion shows, the ski resort etc.

That said, let me assure you I’m living very comfortably in a beautiful villa here in Riyadh, and practically have everything that a woman could want. But! But! But! No matter what anyone may say, for me no place was, can and ever will be Dubai, except for Dubai itself. I’m sure all Dubai-born expats like myself will second that.

Someone once said to my Dad, “Once you’ve lived in Dubai, you can’t live anywhere else”. Guess he was right. Miss you Dubai!