Calendar   Home
Previous Day

April 17, 2002

Next Day
Taxi drivers don’t speak English and no good infrastructure exists for tourists. Riyadh challenges the foreigner. In a sparkling mall we searched in vain for the cinema (movies are banned) and we talked to a Saudi woman at the mall’s food court. She expressed frustration with some of her government’s oppressive policies towards women, including the religious police, but she seemed contented with the monarchy and Saudi Arabia. We also talked to foreigners working behind the fast food counters. These people, mostly Asian, earned a good wage but paid for it in boredom. The government doesn’t allow them to travel, even to other cities within Saudi Arabia, and there’s nothing for them to do but work. They asked us for visas to America in exchange for fries and a Big Mac.
Dir’aiyah, a mud brick city near Riyadh, is the region’s most interesting site. It’s possible to see how the region look before oil came on the scene in the 1950’s.
The Saud family accepted Wahhab, a religious teacher who preached back-to-basics Islam, and together they united the Saudi people with a religious movement that inspired the Saud clan to takeover Arabia. Wahhab’s strict form of Islam rules Saudi Arabia today. Riyadh and Di’aiyah are the ancestral homes of the Saud family. Since their ascension to power, Riyadh became the capital in 1932.