Well, I'm sorry I couldn't post this earlier but that's what happens when someone comes back from a business trip and was in charge of preparing all the documentations to be sent out to those who attended! Anyways, here goes.....
Went to Kuwait Intl. Airport on Saturday and accidentally bumped into my Uncle who made fun of me for wearing a suit to go to Saudi! It wasn't my idea I told him since it was my boss' suggestion! It was at the airport when my boss found out that my tickets was on an Economy seat and he got pissed mostly at the person who booked the tickets but also at me for not telling him! Anyways, I snuck into the first class lounge with my uncle and my boss! *GRIN* Flying out of Kuwait on a calm 50 minute plane ride to Riyadh airport was good since it made me catch up on paperwork. After getting there my boss and I were taken into the VIP section of the airport by someone who looked familiar to me! We sat down and they took care of our passports and baggage! All we did was talk and I showed my boss the paperwork I finished on the plane! (Bonus points for me!) We left the airport and were taken to the hotel and I was amazed at how paranoid people in Riyadh were when it comes to terrorism! All their buildings, as in hotels and governmental sites, are surrounded by blockades and have high security police officers and military guards with tanks at the gates and entrances! We were checked in and I was extremely amazed that the organization that was hosting the meeting was not only paying for the room but for 3 daily meals (room service and coffee shop included) as well as laundry! One thing I was majorly bothered by was that the internet connection in the room was dial-up and you had to pay for every minute used! I didn't use the printing office cause they treated the internet as if it was an internet cafe! I settled in my room and enjoyed some time to myself but then went back to doing paperwork!
Day 2 was ok! I woke up and went downstairs to have breakfast with the boss and after that we waited for the chauffeurs to come and take us to meet the general manager and the operations manager of the hosting firm and discuss what needed to be discussed prior to the meetings that started the day after! From 9 to noon we were there trying to finish everything up then my boss and I went back to the hotel to relax a bit! I had lunch and watched TV while my boss took a nap! My boss had his own room so he wasn't bothered by the TV! :oP 5 o'clock hit and it was my favorite time of day... shopping and a night out to see the town! We went to 2 modern malls called the Faisaliya and the Mamlaka then I asked to be taken to an old souk (Souq Sha3bi) to get gifts for my brothers and friends! (Ni3il :oP) I liked the size of the modern malls and their design along with the stores but I felt that the standard on the malls was more like Al-Fanar or Marina! I was hoping for something like Al-Raya or better! I laughed when my boss and I tried to go to the top floor of the Mamlaka and we were told we can't! "Ladies only!" Apparently that top floor was shops concerning covered ladies (mu7ajabat), lingerie, and all sorts of feminine products! Think of a floor as big as Souq Sharq in length! Damn people!
Day 3... The Mayhem begins! I met each organizations Director of Operations and his entourage! (The meetings concerned 8 organizations till the last day we had a group from The World Bank!) Meetings started at 9:30 and ended at 5! There was a lunch break that was an hour long and a prayer break that was 30 minutes in length! My hand was aching by the end of the meeting cause I couldn't stop from taking notes, it was part of my duties! Once the meetings were concluded we were invited to dinner and we were told to be dressed down! About 2 hours in the hotel I came down to the lobby in jeans and a t-shirt and waited! The others came in dishdashas and business casual wear (slacks and a shirt) I guess since I was the youngest at 25 while everyone was over 45 I was the only one who took sport/casual wear for what it meant literally! We were taken to a private garden (mazra3a or ya5oor or as the Saudi's like to call it istira7a!) The place was amazing! One third of the place was a soccer field with green grass, the second part was cut into 4 parts, a pool, 2 green patches (1 for sheesha and the other for food), while a small part was shared with the last portion to contain a small building (mul7aq) for bathrooms, and housing for the worker! The last section not only was shared with the second section but had a tent that had AC and an outdoor seating area! We decided to sit on the "outdoor seating area" since there was this awesome cool breeze! The weather that night was AMAZING! Dinner was served at 10:30PM and it was saudi rice and meat/chicken depending on where you sat (kabsa s3oodiya or like we say it in Kuwait Machboos Diyay aw Machboos La7am!) After eating I had tea and sheesha before leaving that place at midnight!
Day 4 of the trip (Day 2 of meetings!) also started at 9:30 and ended at 2 for me but some people didn't leave till 5 due to private meetings! During the meetings I wanted to literally cut my right hand off cause I wanted to have an excuse to stop writing! Leaving early was a big PLUS for me! I got back to the hotel and relaxed before having to meet everyone at the lobby at 6:30 to go to the national museum (Al Mat7af Al-Wa6ani) We walked through the main building and was shown a video about Saudi Arabia and it also had a laser show as well! Once we were done with the tour we were taken to another building that used to be part of an old palace and had dinner there! We had dinner with the World Bank Group and there were ongoing discussions about what the World Bank was here to present! To the hotel I went after dinner! I was a little worried that night cause I mis-placed my sun glasses! I didn't know if I left them in the car or on the desk in the lobby of the hotel! I asked the hotel when I got back and thankfully my glasses were at the reception since a hotel employee found it and took it to the lost and found box!
Day 5 (Last day of the meetings) I was hoping for an easy day but I was wrong! Meetings started at 9:30 and ended at 3 after lunch! I took just as much notes but this time it was in English instead of Arabic! And we still got a 30 minute prayer break! Got back to the hotel and relaxed, had dinner and then went shopping again! I actually asked to go to the best traditional market and I was taken there! I bout a few things and I was surprised cause the places were still open at midnight! After leaving this area I asked the chauffeur to take me to a pharmacy to get medication my dad asked me for! I went to 3 different pharmacies and each one said that they didn't have it! I went to a 4th and the pharmacist told me he didn't have the measurement (40mg) I was looking for and the only ones he had were 10 and 20 mg.
Last Day in Saudi! Went shopping with my boss in the morning at the Faisaliya for about 2 hours before going back to the hotel to check out! We both were packed and ready but I need to purchase a small bag to put my things in since the bag I came in was a tad small for all the things I had to take back! (I came to Saudi with my laptop case and a small suitcase that the pilots use but when I left I had those 2 bags and a smaller suit case as well as the briefcase that was given to me by the host organization that had all the paper work in it! The paperwork filled that bag and I had no place for anything else!) My boss and the Director of Operations at the organization I worked for went to the hospital while I took a different car and went on another pharmaceutical hunt for the medication! I ended up buying the 20mg medication but doubling the amount my dad asked for! He was happy when he saw them! I arrived at the airport about 5 minutes after my boss got there! Talk about crazy drivers! Saudi drivers are insane! They drive like the covered women (mu7ajabat and munaqabat) here! They don't care who has right of way and they speed! The worst are the cab drivers since they don't care if their car gets hit! Every accident I saw there had a taxi cab involved in it! Sitting in the VIP section with 2 bosses can get weird so I decided to walk around the airport! BIG MISTAKE! There was nothing but 2 shops! A gold shop that made me thing I went into Murghab or The Gold Souq in Kuwait (Souq A`thahab) and a store that was as big as a baqala, bodega, or corner shop no matter how you look at it that sells pretty much everything from candy to digital cameras! The plane ride back was horrible! The plane was late due to technical malfunctions on the first plane so they had to get another plane from the hanger that was extremely dirty! You can see the cleaning crew go in with buckets, vacuum cleaners and so on! The crew within the plane were crazy! Running around like chicken with their heads cut off! There were a lot of people who were pissed cause they filled out the Duty Free purchasing request form and the attendants said that they were going to get them the things but by the time we arrived the attendants said that they didn't put the good on the plane! When we got to Kuwait everyone wanted to leave the plane so everyone got up thinking that they would open the door but NOOOO they can't! Apparently the Saudi's say that the ramp does not want to link to the door but we can see that they are having difficulties opening the door! Some guys in the back of the plane mentioned that the attendants not only forgot the duty free trolley but they also forgot the keys to the door! :oP 45 minutes later they open the back of the plane and people started going down the staircase that went from literally the A$$ of the plane to the streets below! We took busses and arrived at a door that was right next to the passport desks! I got past the passport desks (jawazat) and found our bags lined up and ready! I put them on a cart and waited for the bosses to show up and we left!
I was exhausted but at the same time excited cause I was going to see my parents later on that day since they were going to come back from Lebanon, "D" and my friends who were soo happy to see me and who apparently missed me! :o)
Sorry for the long post but I had to do it this way! As for the pictures, well they are still in my phone but I will put them on here sometime this week!