Last weekend I had the pleasure to visit my friend Christian in Riad.
After having heard a lot about Saudi Arabia i looked forward to see for myself how it really is.
Obviously you can’t see too much in two days but one thing I did see. A country having such a huge surplus from oil revenues should be in a better state.
I’m not talking about freedom, womens rights or other “soft” assets, I’m talking about infrastructure.
The airport is pretty old and run down, the roads overcrowded, the public transport is basically non-existent, mainly with old cheap cars, ok there is the ocasional Lambo, Ferrari or Rolls.
Next to the gouvernors palace you can spot ruins and I mean that literally. The elevator to the restaurant in the kingdom tower, the prestige building in Riad, looks like the construction guys have forgotten to get their crap together and the few parks that are there open at 4 pm.
In the shopping malls as a male you are first and foremost suspicious you can’t even enter some stores, discrimination the other way round, ans security measures in front of the compounds, are heavy and irritating for european eyes.
They are evidence that the situation is simply not stable.
The Masmak Fort, its recapture plays a very important role in the founding of present Saudi-Arabia, is nice though. Of course I paid the so called “chop chop square” a visit where there used to be the beheadings. (youtube)
Generally it was obvious that money doesn’t make everything possible and by comparison are the UAE, that I complain often about, simply paradise.
Besides tourism I held a little speech for the employees of Riads Hilton Garden Inn Hotel whose GM Christian is currently.
Triathlonwise Saudi-Arabia is tough stuff, it’s dangerous to ride in the city, although I saw a brave one doing so on a proper MTB, it isn’t easy to find proper spots for running and there aren’t any races outside the compounds.
Saudi definitely needs another 30 years.