Riyadh – The first impressions

The Indian flag shines @ Riyadh

I decided to celebrate this Holi in Riyadh. Well, not really. But that is how it is. I somehow landed up here.

So what did I expect to see here? Actually no expectations. I did not realize that I am headed off to a desert until the plane touched the King Khalid International Airport @ Riyadh. You immediately notice the dryness and the desert. The airport was quite deserted, like the surroundings. Surprisingly, very few airport staff. The immigration counters were also deserted. I had to wait for sometime before I noticed a few people coming up to the counters. Since there were too many people in the general queue, I took a chance and got onto the Diplomats queue behind a few ‘smarter-looking’ people. To my surprise, I was cleared off the immigration formalities without being asked anything. So far so good. I claimed my luggage which was lying off the conveyor belts and went for an additional luggage scan. Again the guy monitoring the scans seemed to be extremely cooperative and carefree. I just took my luggage and came out of the airport.

I got onto the taxi and once the taxi was out of the airport, the infrastructure looked as good as any other city in the world. I bet, in Riyadh, if you stay for a couple of days, you will notice all great cars under the sun.

So while we were cruising along the highway into the city, for a moment, I though I saw the Indian flag. I knew that couldn’t be the case. And again! I saw an Indian flag. And again! I didn’t believe. To my surprise, the Indian and Saudi flags were hoisted alternatively along the roadway into the entire city. What was going on? Was my visit so important? Kidding. But it was something I couldn’t comprehend. It was yesterday when I read the news that our beloved Prime Minister is here on a historic visit. And guess what, King Abdullah gave an unprecedented welcome to our Prime Minister along with his entire family. And the people here say, that this is, by far, the most warm welcome anyone has ever received by the King himself.

Good times to be in :-). More about Riyadh and SA later.

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Amit Srivastava

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