top of page
  • Writer's pictureVoita

Alone in the capital

Every morning washes away the charms of the night passed and ushers in a crude awakening ... does that ring a bell? Except in traveller's life it means that whatever cozy spot I secured for the night, I need to let go of and begin the search anew, blind as to where I may wind up the following eve.

rain season coming in

And so I left Anas' villa, traditionally only burdened with my bag, the weight of which is now securely spiralled out of control, and took off into the megapolis. I've been told there's around 8 mil people living here, but the friendly cabbie taking me from airport, who happened to be from Sudan, mentioned there's at least 10 mil foreigners living and working in the capital. This decade is in KSA called Road to 2030, one of the reasons being Expo 2030, the largest and prettiest convention selling dreams, will take place here. It is expected the city will double up on its population by then, although I'm not sure if they mean people or citizens. Maybe it won't matter anymore in seven years.

one of the two public skyscrapers

with the National Library


Half way through the afternoon I got an apologetic message; I am visiting the king, I can't host you today. Not much I could say to that. I'm used to it by now. I thanked the guy, wished him a pleasant chat and moved onto scouring apps which trade in accommodation for a baksheesh. Hostel, which I'd occasionally spot during my fake searches - isn't it lovely to play mind games with an AI - had vacations. Costs third compared to the next cheapest option.

Kingdom Centre

hotel and shopping mall with a 1.000 ft sky bridge

south and north - by 2030 it'll be filled with skyscrapers

And it wasn't far from skyscraper in which I lingered during the afternoon, contemplating the city's transformation. About thirty minutes, car or walk. And I wasn't in a hurry in any case...

red ... or blue ?!

back on the ground

smaller skyscrapers

In KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) I'm nobody; no selfies, cat calls, weird looks gets maybe my bag and even then people move on in an instant without second thought. Politeness I receive is a tourist's; the smile and words come from head, rather than heart or stretched palm. I don't need be fleeing in terror from flocks of children or excited adults. If someone opens their mouth, I don't have to unthinkingly quip I'm not buying or I'm all out of selfies, sorry. It'll take me a while to flip that switch.

Al Turaif

cultural skanzen

at home

selling dates

gong to war

building houses

An invitation to go see more of the city right on the street was about the last thing I'd therefore expect. And so I went to see At Turaif in Al Bujairi which is an old royal town and fortress, ruined in the last century's local wars (before WWs) and now undergoing an amazing reconstruction under the 2030 scheme. It now resembles a living skanzen, such as you could find all around the world. Except here even the children roaming the streets are a theatre actors, photographers are employees rather than subcontracted entrepreneurs... there's one entrance and no more fees are required. And Saudis come to take pictures of street vendors, the likes of which I've walked around the entire year. They whisper to their kids, look this is how we lived, without being aware of how wrong they are. The skanzen misses the toxic dirt, sticky stench, grossly overgrown flies and others. I had to laugh as that used to be their grand/parents reality... how quickly people forget.

-- error --

that's the right guy

Current score 2/2: I met two Czech business in the mosque yesterday, today I met a Czech family on top of the skyscraper. We might be a small nation, but you'll find us anywhere :)

7 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Remember please to like (works as activity counter) and share with your friends if you enjoyed the post. Thanks!

bottom of page