Thursday, 5 September 2013

Day 8 in Riyadh

Firstly here are a couple of things I have noticed about TV we have here in our hotel.  We have film channels that are in English with Arabic sub-titles and we have caught a few good films so far.  

Some of the adverts are interesting too.  

Arabs got talent! 
 I took this picture straight off the TV. 
Hallumi McMuffin from Mcdonalds 
This looks scrummy and must try it soon for breakfast.

Well this is day 8.  We are very comfortable in our hotel accommodation and Martin has now spent 4 days in Al Kharj at the University, being transported there every day in a mini-bus with 12 other makes teachers.  I, on the other hand, have been hotel-bound other than a few visits to the mall.

On Sunday, the first day, the driver didn’t turn up, and Martin sat in the foyer with another couple of teachers from 6.30 till 8.30 chatting.  The second day, the driver turned up late and then got lost on his way to the university.  He got lost again trying to find his way back to the university because one teacher had been left behind (only realising 5 minutes after starting) and then got lost on the return home yet again.  This time he had been driving for an hour and a half before he realised he was going in the completely opposite direction and had to turn around once more.  Martin didn’t arrive home until 7.30 in the evening having spent over 8 ½ hours in a mini-van with 13 large men and ineffective air-conditioning.  He was in a bit of a state, he hadn’t eaten and had just a couple of cans of coke all day.  I had to laugh and told him that he should have taken a banana and a bottle of water with him.  He was better after a shower and a cup of tea.

For the rest of the week the driver has still been late but is better about getting lost.

It’s been a bit stressful not knowing what was going on, made worse by the fact that the 12 other teachers also didn’t know what was going on.  Everyone was a bit antsy about when they would get paid and when would the visa money be refunded but others had their own issues as well, particularly around their wives coming over and how and when that was going to happen.  Some were not happy about being placed in Al-Kharj when the agency had told them they were definitely would be placed in the city itself.

Al Kharj isn’t a bad place to live, it’s just that it’s not Riyadh and you have to think about the kind of social life your wife will have if she is coming to live with you, and there would certainly be less of it in Al-Kharj that’s for sure. 

Accommodation has been a bit of an issue and a lot of the time in Al-Kharj has been spent in viewing the range of accommodation that is available, that is the male teachers.  We get an allowance of 2500 sar each month for accommodation.  If you take the SBC accommodation as offered then they don’t give you any allowance as such, you just take it.  However if you want to live in private accommodation, SBC will give you the cash up front, for 6 months in advance, so you can put it towards private accommodation.  If you can find accommodation for less than the 2500 sar then you are in luck otherwise you can top this up for more comfortable or larger accommodation.

Most of the teachers have sorted out their accommodation and paid their rent, but there are 4 teachers who haven’t.  One thinks he is going to negotiate and haggle on the rent, one has to go back to London to get his visa sorted out again as a mistake was made, then there is Martin, who keeps saying that he cannot stay in Al-Kharj as his wife Is working in Riyadh and it is becoming increasingly evident that he cannot commute and the other guy was not happy with the accommodation available for his wife and 7 month old baby who is due to follow.

They found out yesterday that they are moving in today and have to leave the hotel.  This is an interesting situation for those who have not arranged alternative accommodation.  For the one who has been given his accommodation money already, he will have to get on with his negotiation sharpish. But for the others who have not taken the money, do they stay in the hotel? What about the arrangements for getting to work?  Rumours are running wild, “There’s no work on Thursday anyway” so they can all be moved with their luggage.  “Be in the lobby with your luggage at 6.30” is the other one.  No-one knows.

We were getting a bit concerned as I hadn’t yet been contacted by the Princess Noura University and we realised that Al Kharj was an hour and a half outside Riyadh and going to be a bit difficult to commute to.  The agency, Sudan Business Centre, didn’t seem to be taking into account that we were a married couple and that we needed to be working close to each other.  Calls to the agency we were recruited through in England had not been particularly fruitful but yesterday we were assured that they would sort it out.

So we went shopping.  That's all you can do!

Looking at garden furniture - we need a garden first!

Trying out wearing the scarf as well

I am sinking lower and lower
And watch some TV.

Anyhow, Martin, went to the foyer as usual at 6.30 and he didn’t come back, so I assume he has gone to work.

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