I heard a lot of stories about the traditional and cautious Riyadh. On my way to the hotel, I couldn’t help but wonder, how conservative could a country be with sparkling skyscrapers, polished luxury cars and shiny malls around? Once I was idling in my room, I went out to get more idea of this city. Below pointers might be useful for your future Riyadh trip:
– For non Muslim, do not openly preach your faith to anyone else. Religious is a serious issue in Riyadh!
– During prayer time (which might up to 5 times a day), all activities are coming to a complete stop. Don’t be surprised to be left alone in a huge food court during prime lunch hour time.
– Never try to make a friendship with a lady. There is a thick boundary in between man and women in Riyadh.
– When it comes to Ramadan month (fasting month for Muslim), do not eat or drink openly in public.
– Of course, you can’t have a pork fiesta, beer party or pornography screening in town!
– For local females, Abaya (floor length gown to cover the arms and legs), is a must, no negotiation on this issue!
– Most restaurants (especially fast food) have 2 lines to queue up, bachelor and family section. This must be followed strictly!
– The weekend is on Thursday and Friday.
– Bachelor is not allowed to visit shopping centers in the weekend, because it’s a family days.
– Normally, for the local single females, none of them sit in front of a car!
– Man and woman are not allowed to have a conversation publicly unless they are family or in business talk.
– Some shopping centers have a private level for the ladies only.
– I can hardly spot a female employee manning a booth or store in the malls.
– Most of the international brands do not display and sell any wardrobe for man. Even H&M and Zara!
– And one of the most incredible observation of mine, no fitting room in international fashion retailers too.
– Big black sticker is used to cover the CK underwear model in front of the packaging. No bulge display for sure! Amazingly, Riyadh has Harvey Nichols and Debenhams!
Despite all the rules and regulations, these make Riyadh even more unique in its own league. I’m still trying hard to think about another city that might be as controlled as Riyadh, maybe Jeddah?