Stage 2: Riyadh


Riyadh is the capital city of Saudi Arabia since it was established by king Abdul Aziz Al Saud in 1932, when he established the third Saudi state. It is a very large city with a population of 7.6 million people. It has been under massive developments in the past ten years and it would be impossible to recognize for someone who came here just three or four years ago. Entertainment and shopping malls are mushrooming everywhere, fancy restaurants, all the global brands, even a touch of hipness is in the new Riyadh air.

The surroundings of Al Safa Square have been renovated

There is also an enormous effort to renovate historical places like Al Diriya (Ad Diriya in Arabic) or the area of Alsafat square. This is the reason why our visit is not very successful as both places are closed due to renovation works. We visit the Al Masmak fort close to Al Safa where we learn a little bit about the history of Saudi Arabia and the struggle of the Saud family over the centuries to control the big territory against the other tribes. The Saudi state was destroyed twice and was only restored in 1902 by King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, the one who unified the different territories under what is Saudi Arabia today.

Al Masmak fort

Crossing the street from Al Safat you get into a maze of streets and ruined to the ground houses that create a strange feeling in the visitor. It is very surprising that just a few meters away from a very popular place, home of festivals and social life, you find yourself in such an abandoned place.

The inevitable sofa you find in any Middle Eastern old city. You never know when you will need a rest.
A beautiful old minaret
Even the most modest door is well decorated
Information Age
Some masonry work is required here

Saudis, especially the young ones, are very friendly and welcoming. They are willing to meet and talk to you and sometimes (happened to me with my friend Angel in Jeddah some time back) they will invite you for lunch, just to get to know you while they have the chance. Arab hospitality is notorious for a reason.

Friendly and joyful Saudis

An amazing local food dinner in Najd Village closes the day. We have the opportunity to finally meet the rest of the group. A mix of nationalities (Irish, Indian, British, Saudis and Spanish) spread across the Middle East ready to take on this adventure along us.

Colourful dinner in Nejd Village
Nejd Village

Tomorrow we start the real trip. We will visit the Edge of the World and whatever this untamed land has in store for us.

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