Saturday, March 29, 2008

Picnic time in Riyadh

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Picnic in the UK and picnic in Riyadh seem to mean something completely different!

Since being in Riyadh we have taken the kids out for a picnic to a few different spots that we thought the kids would appreciate... Dir'iyyah which is very close to us and has nice grassy areas; Salam Park towards the south of the city which also has grassy areas, a boating lake and some play equipment.

Salam Park Lake

We've even been out to the desert a few times although admittedly the addition of sand to the sandwiches can be a bit irritating on the teeth! Once we were forced to stop by the road en route to Makkah as it was Ramadan, we were fasting and maghrib had arrived. It wasn't too comfortable sitting on the rocky roadside even on our rug but it was a welcome relief to eat our iftar and then sip on the hot tea we had prepared before leaving.

In the UK we like to go to nice beauty spots for summer picnics too.

Wales... beautiful!

Here in Riyadh though I have noticed that the locals will stop anywhere for a picnic. And I mean ANYWHERE! On a Wednesday evening which is the beginning of the weekend here you will see people stopped at the side of the road with the rug spread out on the dust and a family sitting enjoying a flask of Arabic coffee. Open areas near to us that have been smoothed out ready for building will often have families picnicking, enjoying the slightly more temperate conditions at this time of year and there will be boys partaking in a game of footy. The desert is very popular at this time of year too.

Who'd've thought that the Ikea car park would become the local picnicking spot for people that side of Riyadh though?! We exited the mall next door to Ikea on Thursday evening and there was a very distinct odour of barbecue in the air. I joked that it seemed that someone was having a barbecue in the car park... dh and I then racked our brains trying to think what grill restaurant there could be in the mall. Suddenly we noticed smoke gently billowing in the air just behind a parked car... there was indeed a family in the car park who'd brought all their BBQ equipment not to mention meat with them! How strange I thought that someone would want to have a BBQ in the car park! As we exited the car park though we noticed that there were many families either sitting with flasks of coffee or even with the BBQ and it was not something strange at all!

Ikea, Riyadh


Anonymous said...

AssalaamuAlaykum :)
Sounds like such a natural and happy way to live: taking simple pleasures of life where you find it! MashaAllah!!!

Naeem: said...


Awesome post! I'm constantly amazed by the ingenuity of the Saudis in finding places to picnic.

Your post reminded me of this piece I had written a while ago.

Umm Ibrahim said...

Assalaamu alaikum,

~ Digital nomad... indeed you are nevertheless still a big culture shock when you are not used to such ways!

~ brnaeem... just read your post on the same subject. Seems there is nothing unique to blog about, lol! Nice to read that you yourself have picnicked in the carpark - I like the idea... me go shopping, dh stay in carpark with kids and a tub of sandwiches and a flask of tea... wonder if he'll buy the idea...!

Amina said...

salams sister
i came across your blog today and found it really interesting.
i saw that post and wanted to ask you as you have clean view about it, one of my friend, european muslim is thinking to settle in KSA, how do you see it?

Umm Ibrahim said...

Assalaamu alaikum Amina,

I visited your blog and I see you have a contact email on there... insha'Allah I will get some thoughts together and email you. :)

Saudi is not for everybody and it really depends on your expectations, character etc.

Oum Anas said...

Assalamu aleikum

LOL @ picnic in the car park.

Is the addy on your profile page working. I sent you an e-mail awhile back, but never got a respons?

Anonymous said...

asalaamalaikum sis..couldnt help but laugh. here in madinah you will always find a group of men picknicking even on sidewalks in the middle of nowhere it seems..we dont have the benefit of beautiful waters here in madinah, so i guess they settle for the view of the dessert and buildings!
to be fair though there are parks here..but still every night you see them of all ages just sipping their tea on the side of all types of roads!