Thursday, September 26, 2013

My Second Trip to Riyadh - IV


Please DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT use the photographs here or share this post on social media as the site visited by me belongs to the Government of Saudi Arabia and we are under instructions NOT TO POST THE PHOTOS ON ANY SOCIAL WEBSITE.

As I said in my third post (see THIS), the evening had a lot more in store for us. After we had taken a cup of qahwa, we were escorted through the replica of a genuine Riyadh town as it may have been a hundred years ago. We were shown construction activities, a road-side osteopath setting a fractured forearm of an injured person, a flea market with stalls selling food, rugs, vegetables, fruit, looms, herbal medicines, and similar other stuff. We were also shown homes of that era, wells that were attached to adjoining homes to draw water, animal husbandry areas, agricultural areas and so on. In short, they had erected an entire rural landscape for us to feast on, complete with living human models. Here are some pictures:

Approaching the second palace where we would be entertained next

The inside of a toilet on the ground floor of this palace

An alcove in the wall

Preparation of qahwa

Qahwa being served by a bearer in ceremonial dress through a silver amphora

A general view of the open market inside "Riyadh Town"

A well between two homes

That triangular thing is a sort of preserving vessel that also keeps pests away from hanging fruit/vegetables

This man is "selling" carry-"bags" - cane carriers to take your merchandise home

Selling hats made from cane

Those are drums -I don't know if he is selling them or will play them for a price

He is selling cotton-stuffed pillows and mattresses

Weaving a floor mat

The osteopath - the patient acted fantastically and screamed with "pain" as the care-giver ministered to him.

Spice bazaar

Agricultural area?

Using donkeys to draw water from a community well

The school - the first one in Saudi Arabia, according to the guide


The bricks made by those guys in the previous photo

After this, we were led out on to a large ground. There was a make-shift kitchen here where they gave all the guests a chance to sample traditional Saudi food being prepared afresh by a dozen-odd cooks. The fare included Saudi bread, a form of dal, stuffed rotis (stuffed either with cheese or some form of meat) and a mixed-vegetable that tasted great. We then sat down to watch a Saudi martial dance rendered by well-appointed dancers - all males, naturally. They also invited the conference speakers to join the Saudi dancers, who danced with swords and knives (not the real thing, but blunt models). Here are a few pictures of the same:

After watching the dance, which, frankly, was entertaining but had little music as such, we were all invited to an air-conditioned tent where we partook of a beautifully laid out dinner, ice swans and all! The dinner consisted of both, traditional items and modern stuff and was served by helpful Indian and other south-Asian personnel. 

Eventually, we started back for the Conference suites at a little after 11.30 p.m. From the suites, I got a lift from a Sudanese chap who reached me to Mufaddal's house where I went to sleep before half past twleve. I was looking forward to the final day of the conference.

Thank you all for reading this post. Do comment.

My second trip to Riyadh - III


Please DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT use the photographs here or share this post on social media as the site visited by me belongs to the Government of Saudi Arabia and we are under instructions NOT TO POST THE PHOTOS ON ANY SOCIAL WEBSITE.

In my previous post, you got a glimpse of the excellence that represented the organisation of the conference. I still have to tell you about the car, but please wait while I talk to you about the evening program on day 2 of the conference - which, for me, was the first day of attendance. They took all of us by a specially hired SAPTCO bus (the public bus service of the kingdom) to a place that was a long way off. We drove past busy city areas, reaching the more secluded airport area, and then went past that and drove for another forty-five minutes at a "convoy" speed, led by police cars and followed by many official and other cars. Finally, we reached the end of our journey at a place where one of the princes of the King has created a complete real-size replica of the original palace of King Abdul Aziz bin Saud. The replica is made with original constructing material, which is a mix of mud and some kind of lime, and spans over many rooms, alcoves, the royal kitchen, the sleeping rooms, the armoury, the towers, the school (which, incidentally, was the first school started in KSA), and several other utility areas. We were greeted by decorated camels mounted by professional camel riders. Then, we walked through an entrance lobby adorned with old clothes, ancient muskets and rifles, ceremonial clothes and many decorative items  to reach a huge "hall" with many pillows and seats set against all the walls. Here, they served us a glass of juice. There were many rooms leading off this central hall, and there were guides who took us on a tour through the entire structure. 

The welcoming camel

Traditional wall decor in the corridor leading inwards

A decorative door to an inner room

King Abdul Aziz bin Saud

A battle picture from the mid-forties of the last century

The central hall

The tall king stands among his soldiers at the battle-front

The ground plan of the replicated palace with nine watch towers

Tools of the kitchen

A bore-well in the center of the kitchen

The larder

The oven

I don't know, but they look like treasure boxes!

The arms at the bottom of a watch tower

The steps go up to the observation platform atop a tower

I get the opportunity to ride the camel to the party-dining area

This Japanese kid (son of a conf. delegate) is really living it up

The receiving area for the party with more scenery

The "royal" toilet for guests at the palace

An alcove within the toilet space

Traditional "qahwa" being made here (this is Arabian coffee)

Qahwa server

Photos of previous kings adorn the inner walls of the "majlis" (sitting room)

This and many other photos of the King or his prince with world dignitaries 
(Here, President Jimmy Carter)

Majlis ceiling

Majlis wall with arms

Super cool velvet decoration window
We visited the various rooms, and then, we were escorted outside, where a few among us got to ride the camels to go to the next entertainment area where we would be served the traditional Arabian coffee (known as the qahwa) and then be escorted through a replica of the old town of Riyadh. But, more of this in my next post.