Images of Riyadh: Lost in Translation (Bob corn)

I love buttered bob-corn 🙂


2009 Gloom & Doom update: a spot of advice for 2009

Disclaimer: This post in not meant to be a downer, just an assessment of the past few years based on indicators that I have been watching since 2003. It was obvious in 2003 that the global financial markets would collapse within 5-10 years. By 2006 it was clear that 2008 was going to be a major eye-opener for everyone (even those not watching indicators). The question now is how low will it go? Will *ALL* the systems come crashing down at once? Or will they follow each other? If all at once, the low will be VERY low. If they follow each other, then the low will not be as bad however the misery will last longer. 

To recap:

2007 was a year of disappointment for many. Financial expectations, business growth and life in general did not work out as planned. The global economy had started to slow but people were mostly not paying attention to the indicators. It was just a few that were starting to face resistance after years of ease. The savvy were pulling out to capitalize on their gains from the previous years. There were a few bankruptcies, several near bankruptcies and some merger attempts.

2008 was a year of transition for many. The market visibly tanked and the global markets were hurt. No one needed indicators any more as we all either faced hardship or knew someone starting to face hardship. Major international conglomerates laid off workers and instated hiring freezes. People who were unemployed were looking and not finding anything. Next years graduates saw a huge decline in interviews and offers. Suicides rates went up.

Moving forward:

2009 will be a year of despair for many.

The upcoming year is going to be hard on many people. The global financial situation is going to get worse before it gets better. SAVE! SAVE! SAVE! Everything you save will be needed later. If you have a miserable job, don’t quit yet. If you do not have a job, grab what you can. It will be worse than many of us remember. None of the indicators are pointing towards anything good.

Expect an escalation in crimes like theft. Expect an increase in riots and protests in various Asian hotspots. Expect growing unrest in Europe. North American social welfare systems will get taxed to their breaking point.

Cracks will emerge that will over the next 5 years result in the changing of some national boundaries.

And thus we continue our journey in life.


Our regularly scheduled transmissions of “life thru dusty lenses” are back after a brief hiatus for Hajj. I have been going through some of my earlier blogs and web-sites and archiving/removing/cleaning up. I might end up posting some stuff from my old recipe and art web-site.

rites of passage

One of the oddities of getting an iqama (residence permit) for KSA is the medical tests that are mandatory. We had FULL physicals done to satisfy the requirements – and I mean full: 5 diff vials of blood, urine and stool twice, chest x-ray, physical exam. The results were submitted so we could get the visa to get into KSA so the iqama processing could get done.

But here’s the kicker, the medicals have to be done again once over here. Apparently the government does not trust the results coming from any other country and so I was stabbed yet again (only 3 vials this time), gave my samples and got the x-ray done again. Actually the x-ray was done twice since it did not come out right the first time. I think I have had as many x-rays done this year as the rest of my life (with the exception of dental x-rays).

By the way, giving a stool sample here is a very non-dignified affair…enough said.


It’s been raining in Riyadh for the past few days. Somehow I always miss it as it’s happening- I heard that there was a major rainfall that left the streets flooded a few days ago! I’ve even missed seeing the short drizzles as I was taking a nap. I am determined to take a picture of desert rain 🙂

parking lot picnics

Once again I find myself in transit so what better way to spend time than writing!

As you might know, Riyadh does not have many options for legal family entertainment. They have a plethora of malls, restaurants, a single museum and a zoo that has different entry days for men and women so families cannot go together. There are no cinemas, no public parks or anything else that might be a way for families to spend some time together.

Part of the reason is that this is the middle of a desert and there will always be constraints about what outdoor activities are possible. Part of the reason is the culture- the Kingdom seems hell-bent on ensuring that there are no public spots where people will meet within the larger cities. They even banned the walking of cats and dogs recently as it provided an opportunity for the different genders to interact.

Those who can afford it go to Bahrain for the weekends, however the working class cannot afford to do so. The local substitute we saw were parking lot picnics! It was an amazing site. Late one night in the IKEA parking lot I noticed a family having a picnic. I commented to hubby that it was rather strange. We moved down the aisle and that is when I noticed that it was not just the single family, there were tens of families doing the same thing. They had spread blankets on the ground, and had coolers of food and drink. Kids were playing soccer and tossing around balls.

It was rather surreal and really brought home how desperate families must be for a little bit of low-cost, high-quality, legal family time.

2009 Gloom & Doom update:batten down the hatches!

In the past months the global economy has become quite sickly. Oil prices are soaring, not because of supply shortages but because of the politics of energy markets and an ever-weakening US dollar. The USD itself is a reflection of the US economy, the ongoing mortgage crises and all its ripple effects.

The mortgage crisis coupled with a credit crisis (US savings rate was negative last year!) is quickly taking us towards a retail sector collapse. Continue reading