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Friday, 20 June 2014

Middle East - My first visit to the holy country

Rarely have I been so excited to visit a new place. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia is a city which many feel they know, even if they have never been there. The streets, the houses, the sound of the holy prayer, everything seems a little different than expected. I had been to this city called Jeddah in Saudi Arabia with my very close friends who are also my colleagues at work. This 15 days visit was initially about work for 8 days and leisure for rest of the days. To start with, we landed on the royal King Abdulaziz International Airport after a 5 hour journey, expecting a warm welcome from business associates which was indeed very pleasant. We were then, driven to the place of accommodation, a royal colony about 20 KMs from the airport. We had no time to explore the city that day since we landed almost at midnight and had to head on for work the very next day. Unlike in India, surprisingly, Thursday and Friday are weekends for the city. Skipping through the 8 days we were working hard on an assignment, I jump on to the 9th day where work was not a priority since it was successfully completed on the 8th day (Including 2 holidays, Thursday and Friday where we worked from our suite. 9th day and forward was the time to explore the city. We tried to plan our itinerary in a way that we do not miss important parts of the city. 

Jeddah, being a country of strict laws and principles, does not tolerate any nonsense. So we, did not try any. We were accompanied by a chauffeur who knew the city very well. After all, having done hard work for 8 days, we deserved some royal treatment and our associates were very generous to provide us exactly what we wanted. Saudi Arabia is a country where temperatures are always above 40° C and it rarely rains in that part of the world. Thus, there is a compulsive need for air conditioning. Homes, offices, cars, malls, stores are constantly air conditioned. The most interesting fact about Saudi is that fuel is actually cheaper than bottled water. 

The city is surrounded by the beautiful Red Sea. The Red Sea and its uncontaminated reef are incredible natural beauties. Jeddah offers some of the best beaches in Saudi Arabia. In particulat, the area north of the city has plenty of beautiful beaches for spending a relaxing day under the sunm swimming, water sporting and having fun.

The Jeddah Corniche, which is the largest seafront area in the Kingdom, has a great bunch of bars, beaches, monuments, shops, and boulevards. On the one hand, it represents an important meeting point for both local citizens and tourists, just in front of the city centre. We did an array of activities, such as skydiving and snorkelling. We also hire small boats to reach the coral reefs. The best part about these tours is that they are complete trips including food and drinks. 

However, for fully equipped areas, to enjoy sand and swim in the wonderful Red Sea, we went to the seacoast just above Jeddah. We went there by car , from the city, down from Camel Roundabout towards North Obhur Road. Here, on our left going direction north, we found some pristine and peaceful oasis of rolling waves, combed sand, teal umbrellas, and assorted crabs that troll the beach. They are both private clubs and Resorts clients reserved areas, such as the one offered to us by our business associate.

The most known among the private beach clubs is the Silver Sands Beach. It was about 5 km from our villa on the same Obhur road, just after crossing Abdul Majeed road. The beach was very nice. It had a long enough shore line to walk along and a very large swimming area. We had the opportunity to snorkel and dive. Umbrellas and loungers were included in the 50 SAR entry. Skimpy bikinis were ok in that area as it was predominantly a western beach.

To conclude, this was the best experience I ever had with my friends  who are more than colleagues to me and I would like to state that every place is heaven when you are with the right people. A strict country did not let us down even a bit and with great memories, we returned to our beloved country, India!

Here are some more pictures:

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