I flew from San Francisco to Dubai, non-stop on Emirates. It was 15.5 hours and went over Greenland. I flew economy class and was impressed with the quality of the flight crew. Very pleasant experience considering how long it was. Here's a photo inside the airport of Dubai. I was there a few hours. Then on to Riyadh, which was a 2 hour flight.
For the last 3 weeks I've been staying at the Mena Hotel, medium sized and very comfortable place with an excellent breakfast buffet. Here's my room. You know how it is when traveling. One bed is currently serving as my dresser.
Here are a few views of Riyadh. The authorities look askance at taking pictures out and about. So I won't be taking many. In Riyadh there are important government buildings scattered around the city. Many of them are inconspicuous. The authorities absolutely don't want people photographing them. Since they're not always obvious you have to exercise a certain amount of common sense and observation to make sure you're not photographing something you shouldn't. They've got perfectly justifiable reasons for their concerns. Given the situation across the Middle East with terrorism of various kinds, they don't want the wrong people conducting surveillance on their government facilities. I respect that. Their caution is the main reason this is the safest place to live in the Middle East, and certainly a great deal safer than Chicago.
Well, here are a few photos. I'll start with a typical neighborhood mosque.
I should also mention that it's not polite to take photos of people without asking their permission. So that's why you'll see few in my photos. Next up is a typical street view. This is Olaya Street, one of the main boulevards through the city. Note the typical Saudi style landscaping at the left of the photo. I say typical, because this is what you see all over the place. They are definitely capable of doing much better. The diplomatic quarter is quite beautiful. But that's definitely not a place to wave a camera about. My hotel is just out of the frame to the right.
This is the view directly across from my hotel. There's a big bunch of construction mess in the foreground. The whole city is under construction. Two block beyond is the Faisaliah Tower, the second tallest building in the city and wildly inventive in its geometry. I haven't yet had a chance to go inside. I believe there is a luxury restaurant in the gold sphere near the top.
A view down Olaya Street, looking towards Faisaliah Tower at night.
Here's a view from near my office, looking across town. At the left is the Faisaliah Tower. Faintly visible on the right is Kingdom Tower with its instantly recognizable crescent shaped top, the tallest building in Saudi Arabia.
As I mentioned above, I won't be taking a lot of photos. But when I move into my apartment I'll take a few of that for you all. It just occurred to me, something I haven't seen here in Riyadh, busloads of Japanese tourists with Godzilla sized camera's hanging from their necks... hhhmmmmmm