Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A night walk to the Red Sea

On our last day in Riyadh, we begin with a trip to the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce. This meeting was a very interesting one. We talked about business and employment in Saudi Arabia.

In Saudi Arabia, there is a large amount of foreign workers in construction, maintenance, and other “blue-collar” jobs, because others tend to not be interested in working those jobs. This is resulting in high unemployment among Saudi Arabians. We also discussed the progress women are making in the job sector. The restrictions placed on women who wanted to work made it almost impossible for them to work in the past. As time went on, these restrictions became less and less. While there are still restrictions on working women, progress is happening.

We then traveled to Al-Yamamah University on the outskirts of Riyadh. The campus is segregated so the girls in our group went to the girl’s side and boys went to the boy’s side. We were treated to a tour of the girl’s campus and then we were given a presentation. This presentation was the final aspect of three female students senior projects. They created an App “Tamween” that allowed people to shop for groceries on their phone. Their project was very intricately designed, and well thought out. In fact, they were entering into a contract to sell Tamween already. And they hadn’t even graduated yet. That puts my little PowerPoint presentations to shame! Those young businesswomen really impressed me.

After our visit to YU, we went back to the hotel and packed for our flight to Jeddah, our next city. Jeddah is located on the Red Sea on the west coast of Saudi Arabia. It’s about a hour and half flight from Riyadh. I was sad to say goodbye to Riyadh but I’m ready to go to Jeddah, which is an older city than Riyadh.

After we arrived in Jeddah, a few of us could not wait to see the Red Sea, so we walked across the road from our hotel and walked along a sort of boardwalk. What surprised me was that there were so many families out having picnics and playing with their kids. It was like 11:30 p.m.!

Our guides told us that Jeddah is more laid back and people stay out until the early morning hours and wake up later in the day. And in the summer months when it gets really hot, the people of Jeddah siesta in the afternoon like some European countries. I could definitely get used to this kind of schedule! We were able to see the King Fahd’s Fountain, which is located in the Red Sea. King Fahd’s Fountain is the largest fountain in the world and shoot water 1,024 feet in the air. It was spectacular to see!

It’s a busy day tomorrow, so goodnight!

xoxo Maddy

— Madalyn Goss is a junior political science major with a Middle Eastern Studies minor.

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