Well, here is a trip really worth mentioning. On Sunday I made my first trip to Saudi Arabia. The suggestion was to fly into Bahrain and drive from there to the office, so I took that advice. My flight was late leaving Dubai and then my driver was delayed on the causeway between Bahrain and Dammam, but when I finally arrived in the office, lunch was just about ready. So I got to work that day, but by the end of the day I was feeling kind of sick.
I went out to dinner that night and kept getting sicker. The second morning there was a safety meeting at the hotel I was in, so I went to that, but immediately afterward went back to my room and stayed in bed all day and night.
The third day I didn't really feel any better, but I went to work and had some good meetings. The managers there are liking me so far and gave me some pretty good compliments.
The fourth day I went to work feeling sick still and finished out my meetings.
Now for the fun part of the post:
Driving there is completely chaotic. No one follows any rule, they drive where ever they want and the drive what ever speed they want. The guy that drove me from Bahrain to the office was doing well over 200 Kilometers per hour over the causeway. The taxis were totally crazy and just pushed people out of the way by drifting into and out of lanes.
Restaurants are segregated between family areas and people that are not related. So there may be a hundred tables open, but if you don't belong in that section, you aren't sitting down.
Women cannot leave the house without their husband or father. They can't ride in a car without the husband or father and are not allowed to drive. Women cannot work anywhere except schools and hospitals. In hospitals they cannot serve in the men's ward. The secretary in our office is a man and there is not a single woman in the office. During our safety meeting, which was the whole corporation in Saudi, there was not a single woman.
On the way into the office the car is checked over at a security check point. Same thing at the hotel and there are armed officers outside to ensure no one gets in that isn't supposed to be in.
I will say that the culture is far more obvious there than it is in Dubai.
It is all a bit odd because just over the causeway in Bahrain it is much more relaxed, though they are two completely different Kingdoms. And Dubai is only an hour flight and is competely different. Next time I go I will take a camera, but this time I didn't want to stick out too much as it was my first time and I didn't know what to expect.
I was stopped at immigration on the way out of the country, it was a bit scary because they didn't really speak English and I don't understand any Arabic. But it was all resolved quickly and I was just told to re-queue.
All in all it was a good trip and I am less nervous about going there now.