Saudi Arabia: Fluffy the Comedian Visits Saudi Arabia

I’ve had a series of serious posts on sensitive issues so I decided it was time for something light and entertaining.

This 24 minute video is worth watching in its duration and guaranteed to put a smile on your face!


Saudi Arabia: Alcoholism in the Kingdom



Alcohol is legally forbidden in the Kingdom and against Islam.  Possession of alcohol or public drunkenness carries strict penalties.  Yet that being said, there are individuals in Saudi Arabia, both Saudis and expatriates, who have alcohol addiction problems.  Expatriates may have had their addiction prior to arrival in the Kingdom and some Saudis may acquired their addiction while outside of the Kingdom.  However, there are also individuals actively battling against an alcohol addiction within the Kingdom.

There are Saudis with WASTA who are able to acquire alcohol.  Foreign Embassies and diplomats have an exemption and are allowed set quantities of alcohol. There are also a number of bootleggers who illegally bring alcohol into the Kingdom’s borders.  These bootleggers believe the high risks, which can include the death penalty, is worth the ultimate gain in profits.  In addition, there is a wide “home brew” market in the Kingdom where others make their own spirits within the privacy of their homes.  Last but not least, many Western compounds which prohibit Saudis from being on the property, will have a bar which will also sell “home brew.”

Alcoholism is a disease and while alcohol is illegal in the Kingdom, treatment for the disease is available.  This is not a topic that is widely discussed and some individuals battling with an alcohol addiction in the Kingdom may not know where to turn for help.

This link  takes one to the web site for Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in Saudi Arabia.  Meetings take place in the cities of Dhahran and also Al-Khobar (Eastern Province).  In addition there are meetings in Riyadh and Jeddah.

Although the website Alcohol Rehab does not contain factual information in regards to the availability of AA in Saudi Arabia, it does contain good background  information on illegal alcohol in Saudi Arabia and the dangers of “home brew.”

Saudi Arabia: Too Handsome for the Festival

handsome emirati


Saudi Arabia’s annual Janadriyah festival held in Riyadh is THE cultural event for the Kingdom.  It is the annual cultural festival which showcases the traditions and customs of each Province within the Kingdom.  It is the best event that is produced and held in the Kingdom and provides the best image of Saudi Arabia.

Layla of Blue Abaya blog recently wrote a post on the top ten things to do at the Janadriyah festival.  In addition to having this post on her blog, it was also published in “Destination Riyadh.”

Janadriyah, unlike a Saudi wedding, is NOT the place to go to see and be seen.  People come to Janadriyah to experience the best of Saudi Arabia’s culture, customs, tradition and heritage.  They go to sample the delicious foods from the differing regions of the Kingdom.  They go to see traditional Saudi dances performed.  They go to both see and learn how some of Saudi Arabia’s unique crafts are fabricated.  They’re too busy with the festival itself to stop and stare at the other people around them.  In addition, in Saudi culture, it is considered rude and inappropriate if one were to stare at someone else, especially if they were of the opposite sex and unrelated.

Therefore, it truly comes as surprise to learn that representatives (Muttawa) of the Commission for the Protection of Virtue and Prevention of Vice had three men from the Emirates ejected (polite term for thrown out) of the Festival.  According to the Muttawa, the men were “too handsome” and as a result were a distraction.  Worse yet, in the view of the oh-so-wise Muttawa, female visitors at Janadriyah would “fall” for them and although not stated, implied their sensibility would be overcome by the sheer handsomeness of the Emirati men.



Does it make you wonder about the sensibility and perhaps gender preference of the Muttawa?  Whose right is it to determine whether one is too handsome or too beautiful?  And doesn’t that go against the Saudi culture and tradition of paying too close attention to someone to whom one is not related?

Saudi Arabia: Meet Renowned Italian Chef Igles Corelli

La Cucina Welcomes Legendary Chef and Creator of Modern Italian Cuisine

igles corelli

-Chef Igles Corelli to Host Celebration of Italian Cuisine at Riyadh’s top Italian restaurant in Al Faisaliah Hotel-

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 15th April 2013:

Riyadh’s trendiest Italian restaurant located in the renowned five-star Al Faisaliah Hotel, La Cucina is set to welcome one of the world’s most celebrated chefs and a founder of modern Italian cuisine, to offer residents and guests of Riyadh a new and exclusive taste of Italy.

Chef Igles Corelli, a Michelin-starred chef, restaurant owner in Tuscany, bestselling author and recipient of many international awards, will host a series of unique and inspired lunches, dinners and interactive cooking classes from 21st– 25th April at La Cucina.

A native of the province of Romagna in Italy, Chef Corelli is one of the forefathers of what is recognised today as modern Italian cuisine.  Breaking away from the traditional presentations of Italian dishes favoured in old fashioned hotels and restaurants, Corelli proposed the use of local and seasonal ingredients to create dishes that burst with flavour and encouraged creative flair. Employing avant-garde technology years before it entered the kitchens of Europe, Corelli is a pioneer in molecular gastronomy.

La Cucina’s five-day celebration of gourmet Italian cuisine created by Corelli will include some of the master chef’s signature dishes using game, fish and wild herbs. Three-course lunches and four-course dinner menus will allow guests to savour the finest flavours and ingredients sourced from Italy and crafted by Corelli into culinary masterpieces. Participants in the chef’s cooking lessons conducted in the kitchens at La Cucina will earn a certificate of achievement personally signed by Corelli.

La Cucina, located in the renowned five-star Al Faisaliah Hotel, A Rosewood Hotel, has enjoyed a reputation for exceptional contemporary Italian cuisine since the day it opened, and is currently under the direction of talented Chef Marco Devicentis.

Erich Steinbock, Regional Vice President for Rosewood Hotels in the Kingdom, and Managing Director of the Al Faisaliah and Al Khozama Hotels said: “We are delighted to be hosting Chef Igles Corelli at La Cucina, and to be offering our guests an opportunity to enjoy truly unique and inspiring Italian cuisine from a world master. This will certainly be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

To make a booking at La Cucina, call: +966.1.273.2222 or email: [email protected].  Al Faisaliah Hotel is owned by Al Khozama Management Company (Al Khozama) and operated by Rosewood Hotels & Resorts.


About Al Faisaliah Hotel, A Rosewood Hotel

Riyadh’s most luxurious property opened at Al Faisaliah Hotel in May 2000. In a city that gracefully melds tradition with sophisticated style, Al Faisaliah Hotel defines the ultimate in modern elegance and prestigious location. The stunning hotel boasts the largest column-free banquet and meeting facilities in the Kingdom. With the introduction of dedicated 24-hour butler service, the 330-room and suites property has elevated the art of personal service to new levels. Perfectly suited to the discerning business traveler, Al Faisaliah offers spacious accommodations, technologically advanced in-room communications systems, five culinary venues, with “La Cucina” being the sixth addition, a state-of-the-art health club and easy access to world-class shopping.

About Al Khozama Management Company

Al Khozama Management Company (AKMC) was originally founded as the direct property investment and management arm of the King Faisal Foundation. AKMC is a property investment company, based in Riyadh, developing and investing in prime, modern properties and providing property asset management to third party property owners across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. AKMC owns Al Faisaliah Hotel and Hotel Al Khozama, and manages Al Shohada Hotel in the holy city of Makkah, as part of a larger portfolio. For more information on AKMC, please visit

About Rosewood Hotels & Resorts®:

Founded in 1979 and headquartered in Dallas, Texas, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts® manages one-of-a-kind luxury properties in the world’s most desired destinations. Rosewood properties embrace the company’s A Sense of Place® philosophy, reflecting the history, architecture, scale and sensibilities of the destination. The Rosewood collection includes some of the most legendary hotels and resorts in the world, including Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek® in Dallas, The Carlyle in New York, Rosewood Little Dix Bay on Virgin Gorda, as well as contemporary classics such as Rosewood Sand Hill® in California, Rosewood San Miguel de Allende® in Mexico, and Rosewood Tucker’s Point in Bermuda. Rosewood also offers Sense® spa – featuring treatments reflective of the location’s culture and natural environment – available exclusively at select properties.

Saudi Arabia: Expatriate Housing Decisions Made by Employer

saudi apt bldg


There seems to be a greater trend now among Saudi Employers in the Education Sector for the desire to have the expatriate employees consolidated.  In the past, expatriate employees were either assigned housing in an apartment or small villa or perhaps received a housing allowance and found their own housing. If expatriates had to share an apartment or villa, they were generally matched on being from the same region.

However, newer schools and universities are now having their own apartment building built next to the facility.  This is certainly convenient for the employer knowing that all employees are close by to the facility but it does not take into consideration cultural aspects or practicalities.

Like most employees, teachers do not want to live near the same place as they are working.  They need that break and separation.  It is important to have neighbors who are not colleagues.

One new school plans for all of its employees to live in the same apartment building – married, single, male, female, Saudi, expatriates, muslim and non-muslim.  In a place like Saudi Arabia where the culture is more restrictive and modest, a hodge podge of nationalities, cultures and religions can easily lead to conflicts.

A single Saudi woman may eagerly want the job as a teacher but could face strong family and tribal reaction if she were to live in the same building as unrelated non-Muslim men.

While in other places Muslims and non-Muslims can live easily side-by-side, the culture and traditions of Saudi Arabia make this more challenging.  At the end of a workday, a non-Muslim western expatriate would likely want to put on shorts and t-shirt, turn on some familiar music and relax without worrying what his/her Muslim colleagues next door might think.

Saudi Arabia is not the place where you intermix colleagues who are single, married, with or without children, or practicing different faiths in the same facility.

Ideally, there should be separate buildings for single men, single women and families or provide these employees with their own housing allowance.  Don’t consolidate them all into one large apartment building as presently proposed.

Nb:  American Bedu is aware of a specific educational facility whose housing plans are as described.  However, the name of the facility can’t be disclosed.


Saudi Arabia: Panorama Mall – A Place to Avoid?


I am beginning to think that Panorama Mall is a place to avoid.  It is among one of the oldest malls in Riyadh and that is emphasized by attitudes and incidents.

I’d been to Panorama Mall several times while I lived in Riyadh as it was not too far from my house.  However, my husband and I went there more to just walk around.  I don’t recall having ever bought anything from that mall.  We did enjoy watching the children having a good time with its amusement center which was one of the nicer features of the mall.

However, after hearing how a dear friend of mine and her husband were physically hassled when leaving the mall helped me make up my mind that this was not a mall I’d recommended to others.

That opinion has now been further reaffirmed by the latest incident which has occurred at Panorama Mall.  I mentioned that its saving grace was the amusement center for children?  The amusement center was so well-known it was not unusual for some schools to make a special trip there.



Sadly, 12 children from the Manaret school for  boys were taken to the hospital in late February after one of the rides inside the amusement center at Panorama mall malfunctioned.  The incident happened so quickly that all bystanders were taken by surprise and in shock.  To further compound matters, the staff were not trained on how to respond to such an incident either.

The ride malfunctioned and the young boys were thrown from their seats.  Two of the boys were seriously injured.

Young Muhammad was one of the boys from Manaret school and present when the accident occurred.  “It was field trip to Panorama mall.  My friends went in to the ride that vertically goes up and down and something was loose from inside so from up the ride came crashing down. I know this because they are my class fellows and ,i was also in that trip.”

Panorama Mall has closed down the ride and an investigation into the incident is still pending.  However, this begs the question, are the rides within Panorama Mall and other amusement facilities in the Kingdom safe?  What kind of inspections and maintenance work are done?  How well qualified are the staff operating these rides and what training, if any, do they receive in basic or advanced first aid?

Saudi Arabia: Perseverance Pays Off – 2013 Riyadh Book Fair




The Annual International Riyadh Book fair for 2013 is in process.  The Ministry of Culture and Information has made an effort to launch a web site specifically for and about the book fair.  Although the English version is sadly lacking in substance and information, it is a start towards progression.  However, the Arabic language version of site is much more detailed.

The show commenced on 05 March with its opening ceremony and continues through 23 April, according to the official web site.  Although according to an article in the Saudi Gazette, the book fair ends on 15 March.

Previous years one could expect the Riyadh book fair to be segregated and proliferated with the religious police.  The book fair would be surrounded by some controversy due to disagreements on some of the books presented.

However, 2013 can be seen as a year of forward progress for the book fair.  For example, this year:

  • Men and women were openly mixing in a public!  Of course not interacting, but sharing the same space.
  • At prayer time they didn’t close anything – people kept right on buying and selling while the prayers were broadcast.
  • It was very festive with the bright lights for the tv cameras and interviewing authors in the middle of the place.
  • No one yelling or trying to enforce women to cover up.  However, a female friend of mine who was present advised that 99.99% of women wore niqab, including her.  She was not comfortable being up close and personal with so many people and feeling  exposed.  She could blend in more and not have people looking at her by her decision to wear a niqab.

The 2013 Riyadh book fair will have over 250,000 paperback titles and offer more than one million e-books.  The book fair is one of the biggest cultural events in the Kingdom second perhaps to the annual Janadriyal festival.  Organizers anticipate more than two million visitors while the fair is in progress from both the Saudi and expatriate communities.


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