When I think of Old Riyadh, I initially think of a painting I saw in the house of a Saudi while she was living in Washington, DC. This Saudi woman is a dear friend of mine and obtained her Masters in Art while she was in the Washington area. We bonded there and became very close. And then we became even closer as our bond continued when both of us settled in Riyadh. However back to the painting which caught my eye. As an art student, she worked with many mediums and this painting happened to be one she painted in oils. It is a picture of the very traditional Saudi woman back in the days when the women did not wear the abaya when they were outside of the house. Instead she would wear a simple printed and colorful ladies thobe which was modest and demure. She would wear a scarf on her head but not quite the same stretched tight look as of the hijjab today. The painting stood out because the woman was climbing up stairs which instead of leading up to the house beside the stairs seemed instead to either lead to nowhere or perhaps lead to the sky. What one could see of the woman’s obscured face was a serene expression.
Therefore when I see photos from today of Old Riyadh, they take me back to the time of reminiscing of the photo on my friends wall in her home in Washington and in addition to seeing the magnifying resonance of the past, I see how the past also has remained in the presence too with the vibrant hues of the photos and how the buildings with their stairwells leading up remain unchanged.
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