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Saudi Arabia: On the move…or not

The journey, not the arrival matters? Two bloggers from Jeddah would disagree. They have both been having problems getting from one place to another: one in Jeddah itself and the other back to Saudi Arabia from Canada.

Yasir Matbouli has just returned for a visit to Jeddah from Canada – where he has left a chaotic situation:

بدأت اكتب هذه التدوينة ونحن في السماء ، في الطريق إلى باريس ، وحتى هذه اللحظة أنا غير متأكد من أني احضرت كل اشيائي من الغرفة ، ومن البيت!
اليوم صباحاً ، انتقلت من سكني السابق إلى سكن جديد ، وهذا بالنسبة لي الانتقال رقم … مممممم … خمسة!
٥ مرات غيرت فيها السكن خلال شهرين تقريباً!
ولأنه كانت سفرتي اليوم لجدة تزامت مع انتقالي للسكن الخامس ، فإني قد (تلخبط لخبطةً) الله بها عليم. كدت اترك اشياء كثيرة في السكن رقم اربعة لأن فكرة السفر سيطرت علي واصبحت افكر في ما سآخذه للسفر وما سأتركه.
I started writing this post while I was still in the sky, on route to Paris. Until this moment, I am not entirely sure that I have brought all my things from my room and from the house. This morning, I moved to a new place and this is the fifth move for me! Five times I had to change my place of residence in two months! And because my fifth move today coincided with my travel to Jeddah, I may have been confused and God only knows what I have done! I was about to forget a lot of things in place number four, as the idea of travelling preoccupied my thoughts, and I was thinking all the time of what to bring with me and what to leave behind!

Yasir is not sure if he has left anything in his old accommodation by mistake – but right now he's just grateful to have his passport:

كانت رحلتي من سينت جونز حوالي الخامسة عصراً ، ومنذ استيقظت في الصباح وضعت جواز سفري في جيبي ، لأني احياناً احلم اني اسافر وانساه ، ولو نسيته لاقدر الله محا انتبه إلا في باريس
…تحديث: لو نسيت الجواز ماكنت حا انتبه الا في جدة! لأنه الموظفة في باريس نسيت تشوفه! بعد ماشافت اسمي على التذكرة سألتني عن واحد طلع يقربلي . بعد ما جلست لحقتني وسألتني: أنا نسيت اشوف جواز سفرك ، هل هوه معاك؟ قلتلها ايوا وبدأت اخرجه قالتلي لا خلاص مايحتاج (ثقة!
أثناء خروجي من الطائرة في باريس علقت حقيبتي في المقعد ، فعدت احاول اخراجها. تخيلوا ماذا وجدت؟ محفظتي على المقعد!
أنا اصلاً من زمان ضد اني اشيل محفظة وماكنت اشيل محافظ. اخلي كل حاجة موزعة في جيوبي عشان لو ضاع شي ماتضيع كل (البكشة). الحمدلله.
My departure from St John's was at around 5pm. I kept my passport in my pocket when I woke up in the morning because I sometimes have dreams that I am travelling without my passport. Had I, God forbid, forgotten it, I would have only realised that in Paris.

Update: Had I forgotten it, I would have only realised that in Jeddah as the employee in Paris forgot to check it! After she saw my name on the ticket, she asked me about a relative of mine. After I sat down, she ran after me and said: “I forgot to check your passport. Is it with you?” I told her yes and as I was about to get it out for her, she told me it was OK and she didn't need it. (Trust!) As I was leaving the plane in Paris, my bag got stuck in the seat. I returned and got it out. Guess what I found there? I found my wallet on the seat! I have always been against carrying wallets for a long time and did not want to carry one. I usually distribute all that I have on all my pockets and this way, if I lose something, I don't lose everything! Thank God for that!

In Jeddah, Zuhair describes the difficulties of moving around without a car, because there is virtually no public transport:

رغم حبي الكبير لهذه المدينة للدرجة التي اشتاق للعودة إليها لمجرد مغادرتها الى أي مكان في العالم ورغم الحالة المعقولة حسب المعيار العربي لجودة الخدمات المقدمة لسكان هذه المدينة فان لي ملاحظة مهمة لمن يزورها وهي ان جدة تكون في أبشع صورها اذا لم يكن لديك سيارة للتنقل بين أحيائها المتناثرة. وخاصة في فصل الصيف الذي يمر على جدة لمدة عشر اشهر في السنة. المواصلات في جدة لا يوجد مثيلها في أكثر مدن العالم. لا يوجد في مدينتي قطارات أنفاق ولا قطارات علوية ولا باصات منتظمة ولا يوجد في جدة شركة أجرة واحدة يمكن ان تتصل عليها لترسل إليك سيارة. ونتيجة لذلك فشوارع جدة جميعها مزدحمة حد الاختناق وفي جدة الجميع يملك سيارة من الوزير الى الغفير. صحيح انك يمكن ان تخرج قبل ساعتين من بيتك للحاق بموعد ولكن بدون سيارة قد لا تصل ابدا.
فكرت في كتابة هذه التدوينة المختصرة وانا امشي تحت الشمس العمودية ودرجة الحرارة قد تتجاوز الخامسة والأربعين وقد تركت سيارتي في الورشة. كنت أتصبب عرقا وابحث عن سيارة أجرة وأفكر في الدش الباررررررد.
Despite my love for this city, to the extent that I long to return to it whenever I leave, and despite the acceptable level of services, according to Arab criteria, that the services provided in this city enjoy, there is an important observation from all those who visit it. They say that Jeddah is at its worst, when you don't have a car to travel between its scattered neighbourhoods – and especially in summer, which Jeddah enjoys for 10 months of the year. There is nothing like the transportation system in Jeddah anywhere else in the world. In my city, there is no underground system, nor elevated trains, nor organised bus routes and not even a taxi company you can call to arrange for transportation! The result is that all the roads are congested as everyone in Jeddah has a car – from the minister to the doorman. It is also true that you could leave your home two hours before an appointment – but without a car, you will never get there. I thought about writing this post as I was walking under the direct sun, when the temperature was 45 degrees Celsius, after dropping my car at the garage for repairs. I was sweating profusely as I was looking for a cab and looking forward to a cold shower.

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