The entertainment in Riyadh centres around the Malls. And by entertainment – I mean shopping and eating. They are huge beasts and seem to have their own character. I had got used to the Granada Mall where we were first living and this featured a Carrefour supermarket and amongst other top names a Debenhams. All malls have an extensive range of take-out places in the food court and some exciting entertainment for children.
We have now ventured to the Hayat Mall, the Kingdom Tower and the Riyadh Gallery so far. They are much the same as I said but have their own character. I am sure that there are at least another 10, maybe more to go.
The Riyadh Gallery has a lake and fountains on the ground floor and a Hyper Panda supermarket. Hayat Mall has an ice skating rink (the size they set up in winter in Southend shopping centre) and a Danube supermarket. Danube is more geared to the American shopper whereas Carrefour is more European I think. The Kingdom Tower features top designer shops and I was able to have my first Taco Bell there. But it deserves it own blog entry.
There is no transport infrastructure in Riyadh. No buses, trains, metro, nothing. You get taxis everywhere or you have a driver. The distinction is that taxis drive along roads and get hailed. Drivers meet you at rearranged times. I don’t think they are any cheaper but I guess it saves women on their own having to hail down unknown men.
A tankful of petrol costs £2.50 here – water is more expensive. So everyone drives. Actually it is a loose term for driving as I don’t think they even have to pass tests. There are near misses on every trip. They don’t have roundabouts either or any means of crossing the dual carriageways that dissect the city. Instead, they little breaks in the barriers and you have to do a U-turn. Nuts.
No-one knows where they are going either. Yesterday after a 15 minute drive the taxi driver took us back to the mall he picked us up from. They charge what they like and if you let them will put it on a meter which is totally rigged. You have to haggle. Trouble is we don’t really know how far away anywhere is so it is difficult how far o haggle!