So, what exactly do you find to do all day?

DESERT TALES (Stories of Daily Life in Saudi Arabia)

by UndaDeVeil

A short introduction Stories of every day life in Saudi Arabia, as seen through the eyes of a British woman living there, may interest some of you. I hope so, as it is my intention to write something witty and amusing as well as to give an idea of daily life in a totally different culture and lifestyle.


So, what exactly do you find to do all day?

A continuation of "Week in the life" day two.


Wake up with slightly fuzzy head.

On the Hangover Scale it's nothing too serious, and nothing that a hot cuppa won't put right. Can't hang about in bed this morning, I've a shopping trip booked with a couple of girlfriends and we have to quick off the mark, as everything will close at 11.45am for Prayers. They won't open again until 4, so we've got limited time.

As I'm getting myself ready to go out, I think back to the cocktail party last night. It was good fun. I saw quite a few people I know, ate plenty of very tasty food and helped rid them of a bottle of white wine and an ample amount of vodka. Not bad for an evening out.

Abaya and scarf on, I go to meet the girls, who are neighbours, so today I don't have to endure the great taxi malarky alone. We agree a good price with the driver straight away so it's not long before we've arrived in front of the main doors of a tall glass tower, of which the bottom 3 storeys make up Riyadh's newest shopping mall, known as Mamlaka. It's quiet as usual during the mornings. The locals aren't awake yet, so this is the best time to go shopping, you practically have the whole place to yourself. We browse the shops: Marks & Spencer (who opened their first Saudi store in January this year), Next, Wallis, Nine West, Debenhams, Milano, Monsoon, etc they're selling the same stuff as at home. In fact the mall could be any mall, in any city ' except for a few small differences. Take Starbucks for instance, the front of which is open onto the mall, rather like a pavement café. We cannot just walk in and sit at one of those tables to watch the world go by as we drink our coffee. This is for men. Being female, we must look for the Family Section, which is a closed room at the back where we may or may not get served..see the last paragraph of my January article, entitled Who said shopping was fun?


However, as we are in the very modern Mamlaka mall, we are lucky enough to have the 3rd floor dedicated as 'Ladies Only'' a floor to which only we females have access, via a lift with a 'minder' stationed outside. A first for Saudi, this floor has only female shop assistants and security guards, and many of the shops have changing rooms. Local ladies can unveil, secure in the knowledge that they will not be seen by any men, though many of them choose not to - I suppose old habits die hard. The younger girls delight in taking off their abayas to shop! Here is a small branch of M&S selling only lingerie, complete with changing rooms, and Debenhams too has their lingerie, cosmetics and swimwear on this floor. There are a variety of other shops, and 3 coffee shops, restaurant, health spa, beautician and hairdresser and not a man in sight. Whether or not this Ladies Only floor will start a trend in Saudi Arabia I don't know, but it is certainly very popular All too soon it's 11.30 and the Prayer Call starts, echoing loudly around the vast mall, our signal that everything will close within 10 minutes. It is time to leave. When we finally find a taxi, we make our way home, a slow journey through this busiest time of day, the roads are heavy with traffic.

After my usual lunch eaten while watching BBC World TV news, I spend the afternoon catching up with writing letters, emails, telephone calls and some correspondence for ******, ********* for which I am Secretary to the ****** Branch Time passes quickly and before long it is time to think about dinner. No invitations out tonight, so it will be an evening in front of the TV. We have a variety of channels to watch, around 35 in all, but only about 5 in the English language'.

It's crazy.

It's Saudi.