When I moved to Riyadh at the end of 2002 to study at KSU, I hated the city. Homesickness, everybody was telling me. It was my first time to live away from home, and I was telling myself: it’s just because you miss your family and friends. The first few months passed weirdly. I did not pay much attention to school as we were taking an English course that I did not really need.
I was admitted to the hospital two times during that period: first for a cardiac catheterization that failed, and a month later for an open-heart surgery. The surgeon told me it’s a standard operation, but did not tell me that I would need a long time to recover. He had given me a two-month sick leave and described me some powerful pain-killers with a special physical therapy program.
During these two months I was not allowed to drive car, carry heavy things, and had to avoid anything that could affect my chest. I had the operation at KFSHRC in Riyadh, then spent a month in Hassa. I did not want to take that stupid English course again, so I went back to Riyadh to do my finals. I passed.
Through the two years that followed, I came to the conclusion that life in Riyadh is not the one I’m looking for. Living in the Easter Province is much less strict and much more relaxed than living in Riyadh. But at the end of the third year, I got to know someone from Riyadh. This new person in my life was really great, and was not happy about my feeling for the city. However, our relationship did not last long. We broke up after few months (but we are still friends, kinda).
For some time, I thought I started to love the city. Probably because it used to bring us together, but I guess I was just fooling myself; I never loved it, I never will. At the that time, and until recently, when anyone asked me how’s living in Riyadh, I used to say: I got used to it, and maybe I’ll stay here for another couple of years after I finish studying. Well, I was lying.
This week, I realized that I don’t belong to this city. It is a Mecca of extremism, and it is killing all the beautiful things inside me. Riyadh is a living hell for guys like me. There is nothing to do, and nowhere to go: no cinema, no theater, no clubs, no parks, no nothing. The segregation of sexes is way too extreme, and most people here think this is Islamic. I’m afraid it is not. In fact, it is pathogenic psychologically and socially.
The ban on entering shopping malls for young men makes it a challenge for those boys. So, sneaking in and hooking up with some girl has become an achievement the to the boys show off and be proud of. The result of such situation is that all males are viewed as hysteric sex monsters, or as Farah once put it, “werewolves.” In the same time, any girl is viewed as an “absolute seductress,” Farah said.
I’m pretty sure some of Riyadh people will jump on me now to defend their beloved city. However, I’m not bitching, I’m not complaining; it’s just the way it is, and that’s how I see it. Riyadh is a dead city from inside, and it really needs to ‘get a life.’ Now, I just want to finish my studies at KSUL, King Saudi University of Lunacy (credits to Jo), and get get the hell out of here. It’s only a couple of years more, and I’ll be leaving this city for good.