I promised myself (and others) that upon my return to Canada I would speak of Saudi Arabia, as I found it, and it really was. Not the way it is portrayed in Western media – not the misinformation media, but the entire media – of otherwise seemingly honest journalists.
I do realize that I have been back for an entire month and I have not done as promised (to myself and others). I experienced outrage when I first realized what was going on. I hate being lied to – most honest people do. Hypocrites (and liars) only know lies – so it doesn’t bother them. But truthful people, – the kind of folks you want in your life – despise lies. That is one of the many reasons that I appreciate the Islamic faith. Truth is valued intensely, above all. The Quran tells us that truth will always prevail over lies. It might take some time – so patience is needed but it always happens.
My first plan was to organize a tour – called it This is Saudi Arabia! Force lying journalists to come on the tour. Confront them with the lies they printed then force them to view the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The tour has not found sponsors, as yet, but patience is slowly becoming an instrument in my tool box. It is effective.
One day ago Welcome Saudi Arabia posted a gorgeous photo of Riyadh with the following caption
They: Riyadh is considered a unique model in the field of urban development and urban growth for a major global development in nearly half a century. It is unprecedented civilizational and urban achievement in what is known in the emergence of cities.
I simply HAD to respond and I did.
Me: I totally agree after just returning from a visit to that city. I plan to write of it on my blog soon. Thanks for inspiring me. I do know about urban planning as I was a government lawyer. One of our jobs was to advise the Planning Department.
They: That’s great.
Me: So is Riyadh. Hahaha 🤣I think I have a photo of Riyadh t looked in 1943. Dirt road was the Main Street.
Let us now go back about five weeks. My room at the Riyadh Hilton overlooked a busy road but beyond that portions of the city stretched out. You shall see a photograph of the view at the end of this blog. It was an excellent example of urban planning. It is a residential neighborhood – the homes are uniform – not tall ones, commingled with short, dumpy ones with no views because of tall ones. The roads are hospitable to traffic, just correct size to travel upon but not major thoroughfares. At the periphery there is a park, green public areas. It is difficult to know but it looks like schools and public buildings border the green spaces and recreation areas. Trees line the streets. Looking out that window made me want to live there,
Is this typical, the standard fare of urban living in the Middle East. Absolutely NOT. Dubai is an absolute horror. Buildings (largely empty) stacked upon buildings, traffic jams, no parks or public spaces. The Ruler of Dubai holds vast expanses of land throughout the city where his Arab horses are given free rein (so to speak). There is a huge race track, with an enormous adjacent hotel and complex. The track is not sand, but grass. When I saw that I immediately knew that the man has lost his way (if he did once know it). He, in a grandiose fashion, near the time of Expo 2020 announced that there would be a Master Plan – that Dubai would be transformed by 2040 (I believe). With the congestion, the buildings placed on one another, the mess – the only way that could take place would be if there were an atomic bomb which would level the crowding, the wall to wall unattractive buildings and the congestion that exists.
I am eager to return to Riyadh to see more of the city and its environs. A wonderful Saudi physician took me to the UNESCO sight – the palaces inhabited by the Royal Family of long ago. Restaurants and parks surrounded the area – there was effective and efficient parking and traffic control. Too much walking and I was wearing my Jimmy Choo shoes, not comfortable and more appropriate footwear. I purchased the shoes (which cost a fortune) at the Dubai Mall (would not you know?)
I was so eager to learn the real truth of Saudi Arabia. My Makkah hotel had the answer in its Lounge library there was a book: Saudi Arabia by Mohammed Babelli. Beautiful photographs with explanations in both Arabic and English. I took photos of some of the written pages, in order to capture his words.
The bright green of the Saudi flag brings to mind the Qu’ranic Sura or verse about Allah’s gift of water, essential in arid countries: “Seest thou not that Allah send down rain from the sky, and forthwith the earth becomes clothed with green?” Another page”The boot-shaped Arabian Peninsula is located between the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea. The rising Arabian Rift lifted the Arabian Peninsula, trapping tiny plankton in silt, thus creating petroleum. King Abdul Aziz, who portrait the wood engraver incises, used the oil wealth to fuel Saudi Arabia’s leap into the modern world.””Al Faisaliyah Tower tomes the Riyadh skyline, which blends cutting edge architecture, such as the Ministry of the Interior in the front, with Traditional Najdi architecture elements. Another page announced. “From Al Souda, the highest peak in the Air Province and Saudi Arabia, a long river valley cuts through the mountains. Thanks to copious rainfall, juniper trees dot the hillsides, sheltering several species of indigenous birds. A photo of woman with this on adjoining page. The combination of hijab (hair covering) and face covering highlights a woman’s eyes, her window on the world. In Saudi Arabia women’s choice of dress protects them from the stares of strangers.” This described an incredible photo of Makkah. “ Pilgrims from all over the world pray together at the Holy Mosque in Makkah during the Eid. Preforming Hajj, or pilgrimage to Makkah, is one of the five pillars of Islam.
His amazing photograph will be shown. But this to me is absolutely splendiferous. The hotel on the left, is ‘my’ hotel. Need I remind you, yet again, that I was born in Saskatchewan. It is truly mind boggling that in my (almost) eightieth year I was there, in that hotel. The hotel staff treated me (truly they did) as if I were Sheikha Fatimah. Fatimah is my Muslim name but it does not have a Sheikha in front of it – well not yet anyway. (Hahaha 😂)
More excerpts from the book shall follow. I do marvel at my ingenuity, my iPhone actually. But I did have enough brains to ask the hotel staff if I could please borrow the book. They said yes, and I did return it upon my departure. The Lounge with the greatest food, a quiet breakfast and the library was on the same floor as my room. A delightful young man, a staff member had a great idea.
He: Sheikha Fatimah. Count the steps from the Lounge to your room.
Me: Okay! I will! One, two, three, four, etc. etc. etc. It was only twenty steps away.
I must go back, it is mandatory. There shall be three photos. The view from my Hilton hotel window. One of Mecca taken by the author. The other one, from my missing May 31, 1943 Life magazine, showing the condition of the main road in those days. I too have changed since then – I was two days old then and almost eighty now. A tiny girl – born into the Christian faith. But always of the Islamic faith, I do believe. I am a revert. More about that later as well.