Whether you’ve lived in Riyadh for 2 years or all your life, once you leave Riyadh, no matter which country you go to, Riyadh is gonna make you want to return back.
Leaving Riyadh is not easy. I repeat, ‘Not Easy’. It’s the toughest task. Riyadh is a second home for expats and no matter where we travel to next, (Paris, America, Canada, India), no place fills up the empty space that Riyadh once occupied in our heart. That’s how special Riyadh is.
Here are 10 things most of the expatriates/foreigners misses once they leave Riyadh:
1. Match Made in Heaven
Going for a walk? King Fahad Medical City is the best place for that. You’ll find plenty of walkers, joggers and runners there who will motivate you, too.
But, before that, you had always allowed yourself to get distracted by the bright lights of Mama Noura for some shawarma and aseer mushakkal… because later on, you can walk and lose all those calories… right? *gulp*
Your health-conscious walks were turned into a casual stroll and occasional stops for sitting on the grass with family or friends to complete your hearty meal! From there? Yallah, too tired, let’s go back home.
2. You Don’t Go To The Bakhala, The Bakhala Comes To You
Shout out to all the ladies in the house! If you required something from the bakhala, even if it is just a sack of potatoes or a bebsi, you call up the bakhala and ask them to deliver it home (and they rarely say ‘no’). If they denied your request, then you guys negotiate and agree to place the grocery in a grocery basket, which you artistically tie to a rope and carefully drop it at the entrance of the supermarket from your window (in cases where the market is on the ground floor of your residential building).
3. Sandstorm is Coming
Even before the schools gave you a warning regarding it and cancelled classes for that day, you got the alert from friends and family spread across social media. Most of you were excited about the sandstorms so that you didn’t have to go to school the next day (officially declared by the govt. Hurray!). Everyone was apparently in an unknown, unofficial competition to come up with the best ‘sandstorm arrival’ photographs to be featured or shared maximum number of times on Facebook or Twitter. Those sandstorms were highly memorable.
4. Hot Tap = Hot; Cold Tap = Hotter
During the summers, the air cooling systems seem to make life easier for everyone living in Riyadh. But, then, there’s this one annoying, unmanageable broblem you tend to face, that never lets you live in peace. The water in the tap is hot! The hot side is hot and the cold side is even hotter. Don’t even get me started on the washroom (toilet) sprays / bidet. And during the winters, it’s the opposite; everything is freezing cold! There’s no happy “ending” for us. Though, after leaving the city, you tend to miss that and laugh over all the times you were tortured… from the behind. *wink*
5. Salaam Park
This park is the most happening spot in Riyadh, for people of all ages. It is a Friday afternoon picnic spot for friends and family to sit for long hours and enjoy their meals peacefully, while admiring nature. As kids, you had the most fun there. The train rides, the spiral/curly fries on the stick, slurpee, boat rides and the all the other fun activities this place provided, made it one of your favorite spots to visit almost every other weekend.
6. Sun Top Fruit Juices
Long before Tropicana, Minute Maid and Raw Cold Pressed Juices even had importance in your life, there was Sun Top. The very sight of the juice box was enough to help you imagine the irresistible orange juice smell and taste. The childhood memories of running to the bakhala to select the Sun Top juice box with the sticker that you haven’t collected already are bittersweet (“bitter” because you wish you were 10 again, “sweet” because life was just so easy). And who could forget the collectable sticker booklet you got with these that helped you win amazing gifts?
7. Eid, Unlike Any Other Country
Eid in Riyadh (the entire Saudi Arabia, tbh) is celebrated grandly, with utter bliss and excitement. Though a few days before Eid, as a child, you would’ve scrolled through the newspaper and asked your friends if they had any idea about the locations where the fireworks took place, informed your parents immediately and made sure you reached the location as early as possible, (well prepared with your snacks), to ensure you get a good spot to park your car, see the fireworks and enjoy your evening snack with your family and friends. The unforgettable fireworks show amused everyone!
8. We Will Do ANYTHING For Warak Enab!
Everything you see reminds you of warak enab… even Adele during the 59th Annual Grammy Awards! If her dress wasn’t enough to remind you of it, the song she won the Grammy Award for, that is:
“Hello from the Araaab side, I must have had a thousand viiiines,” will definitely make your love for warak enab obvious and make you shed a tear or two while reminiscing about it.
9. Mama Noura, Yamal Asham, Abu Kamaal… ANY PLACE THAT SELLS SHAWARMA!
While leaving Riyadh, there’s one specific thought that leaves you depressed: All the shawarmas that you’ll miss. This is equal to a breakup. Worse than a heart break. And when you miss BAE back home and decide to give these “foreign” shawarmas a try, the taste drives you insane, because, NO SHAWARMA FROM ANYWHERE AROUND THE WORLD COMPETE WITH THE ONES BACK HOME. WALLAHI!
10. Malum Arabi?
Last, but, not the least, many expats, living / not living in Riyadh (or KSA), proudly state that they’ve spent majority of their lifetime in Riyadh… and then embarrass themselves by saying four astonishing, mind-blowing and life-changing Arabic words: Ana mafi maloom Arabi.
(While simultaneously grinning shamelessly).
I know there are plenty more things to miss about Riyadh (the list just can’t end at 10). Comment below some of the things that you miss after leaving Riyadh, we’d love to know!