Friday, August 29, 2014

First impressions second time around

Yes, friends, I am back in Saudi Arabia. The forces of the universe seem to have conspired to bring me back here for more...

I was just innocently sitting in the cozy living room of my cottage by the sea, in Brittany, one evening, when I had the thought, "I should probably go back to Saudi and work some more. My finances need the boost."

I didn't act on the thought but 2 weeks later I was contacted by a recruiter who wanted permission to present my CV for a post in Riyadh. I agreed.

And lo and behold, here I am!

I am now the manager of the Architecture group of Dar Al Riyadh, one of the largest Saudi owned Architecture/Engineering firms.

Be careful what you wish for!


Things here in Riyadh seem a tad bit looser than when I left here 2 years ago. In the shopping malls I see more women, and more of them are not wearing the full face coverings. Women from the large expat community, ranging from Philippines to USA and Australia rarely cover their hair. In the past, there was strict separation between "Family" areas and "Single Men" areas in restaurants. The clear division seems to be fading. There are still areas reserved for families and groups of women. The single men don't go in these sections. But the families and groups of women are free to sit in the "single men" area without question. It seems to be the norm. So, Saudi women who may still be uncomfortable being in public in the presence of men they don't know still have the option of a "safe" place to go, while also having the option to go anywhere else too. It's a significant change, a small step, but in the right direction (in my humble opinion).

Traffic is still nuts ... but perhaps not quite so crazy as before. When I left 2 years ago the city was just beginning to install speed cameras. Now they are everywhere on the main roads and people seem to be calming down.


  1. Hello, cousin! I look forward to reading your observations and musings. Take care! Love, Vicki

    1. Hi Vicki! Very happy to hear from you... lots of love, Tonio

  2. Hi, Antonio,

    Glad your finances are getting a boost. That will let you go back to France for longer next time!

    Thank you for this glimpse into your world! It is fascinating.