Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I mentioned previously that Saudi Arabia has a variety of foreign compounds. When I hear the word compound I immediately think of those crazy religious groups in the US that segregate themselves from society. The compounds here are not quite the same they are place to live if you've got the money. Unfortunately my housing allowance does not quite cover such extravagance, poor me.  Generally you can not just walk into a compound and hang out there, you need an invitation from someone living inside. There are some exceptions as one compound will allow you to visit there cafe and restaurant. The compounds are spread out throughout Riyadh the one I have been to is near the downtown. It is completely surrounded by 10 ft walls topped by barbed wire. You enter through a small door at the side where two very official looking men sit in uniforms in exchange for your passport you are given a laminated visitor card. After passing through a second set of doors you are greeted by a guard sitting in a pillbox with 50 caliber machine-gun.  All of this makes one feel very welcome. After the security checkpoint things improve markedly there is a park and sports area. Families walk around, women can wear western clothing; it's a bizarre little community within Riyadh - strange only it's normalcy. There is a city ordinance in Riyadh that there be no water-pipes in public spaces, which is extremely strange because there are plenty of shops selling pipes and paraphernalia, I suppose it is something like the situation in Vancouver and marijuana technically illegal but plenty of places selling the necessary equipment. Regardless, the foreign compounds are somehow exempt from the water-pipe law and it is one of the places you can go and relax, smoke flavoured tobacco and have a coffee while chatting with friends. Sometimes there are even women inside! But the ratio is usually not very favourable last time there were two ladies and about 50 gentlemen.   

1 comment:

  1. Why is nargile outlawed? Isn't that normally a thriving part of Middle Eastern culture?