Riyadh vs Me

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.

10 thoughts on “Riyadh vs Me

  1. dude,

    I often visit riyadh so I know what you mean. Allah y3ainik..bas yalla..it’s only 2 years that will pass quickly inshalla.

  2. Well ahemd, I am one of Riyadh’s people, I was born here and lived most of my life here (Except 2 years abroad) and it is really killing me day after day, year after year, I am living here just for the sake of my family, I look forward to any oppurtonity to leave the hell out of it.

    I am amazed by people like you, how can you tand it? u r KFUPM student type not KSU and I don’t think u have problem getting into KFUPM and there are no sectarian problems as a lot of KFUPM student are Shiats.

    As you have said, it is about couple of years, It will run fast :)

  3. The sad thing is Ahmed most people in Riyadh know it sucks big time, and it is suffocating, no entertainment what so ever and people just complaine from both the werewolves and lack of anything fun to do but they dont DO anything about it. only thing you can really do is cross your fingers and hope it gets better


    As if its like heaven in the EP …
    I lived most of my life in Riyadh and Jeddah … then I’ve moved to the eastern province… THERE IS NO COMPARISON BETWEEN THE “EP” and RIYADH … EP really lacks night life … I mean .. there is nothing you can do after 8 pm ! … most people of the EP seek refuge in Bahrain ( LOL ) … When I first read your article i thought you came from jeddah … which is kindda more fun than Riyadh … but suprisinglay .. I fugired that you are from ALHASA and then I knew the purpose of the whole article and I don’t blame for hating Riyadh and “the riligous police” at all (LOOOL)

  5. I am really amazed that most of u all are saudi’s and talk about My town (riyadh) as if its an alien place!!!

    Dudes if u really cant take it, leave the damn country cause u all are really being bitchy and child like….

    I lived and studies in the UK all me life, and i am working in riyadh, yes am not 100% happy here, but after all its my country and my Home town 4 that matter, so i ll live in it for MY sake and not because i have too nor for my family.

    Shame on all of u mates, Saudi;s u say u all r, what u think living abroad is better, lol, well Please do take the time off and go live abroad, for me, and am Half british, i found it hard living in london and portland (usa) and actually hated it.

    Yes i do take time off (vacations) every 3 months to visit other locations but i will never leave my HOME.

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