Sunday, April 26, 2020

Reflections of the Saudi Experience - Part I

Good thing I like to take notes while we travel. Here were some interesting experiences, observations and things learned along the way after our first few days in KSA and Jeddah:

Thursday, November 7, 2019
  • Prior to getting to Saudi Arabia and spending any time immersed in the culture, I was fearful of coming. But after talking with the people, walking the streets, and partaking in daily meals, my fears have subsided significantly. As-salamu alaykum - peace be upon you.
  • Sitting at the King Abdulaziz International airport in Jeddah waiting for our flight to Riyadh. We are two of the very few non-Arabic / non-Muslim people in the entire airport. But no one looks at us twice. We are foreign but it doesn’t matter to anyone, which is great. Only for the 2nd time did we have to line up separately (different lines for male and female) to get into the airport. The first time we experienced the segregation was to order food at Al Baik. Otherwise, it hasn’t been anything to think about.
  • There’s a lot of mystery behind the women but I think that’s the purpose. They’re not hiding. They’re keeping private while in the public eye.
  • The food has been really delicious thus far. It’s just another reason to support my love for Middle Eastern food. Lebanese, Egyptian, Turkish, Yemeni, and now Saudi Arabian foods are all some of my favorites. The different kinds of bread, the fresh herbs, the use of yogurt and honey and freshly ground spices is essential to the cuisines. I think that’s what I love most. The grilled meats are tasty and juicy but I think it’s really the herbs and freshness that capture my palette. And the breads fill me with sustenance while conveying the various bounties.
  • We were told that Saudi kids will start to be taught Chinese in school as a 3rd language in addition to Arabic and English. It’s in preparation for the future of business. China is becoming a bigger force in the world economy and the Saudis have recognized this. The future is bright for these kids and a new cross cultural wave is about to begin.

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