Just arrived in Dammam, where I will be staying for a couple of days.
Really looking forward to it, as there are really interesting meetings and seminars coming my way.
But just needed to share my 'flight adventures'.
Just like my previous trip I was all worried about having to be veiled, showing a bit of hair, not showing a bit of hair, heels or no heels, what if you can see my feet (as it seems that its almost impossible to find abayas that suit me.. as they are all too short!), what if my veil slips, and so on.
Not that I was afraid of the religious police (although I probably should) but its just that I really dont want to be disrespectful to the culture. I get my visa through a really important Saudi family and really dont want to disappoint them, hence the constant worrying.
However, it does seems that things are not what they used to be (or maybe they were always like this... and its just that one makes general assumptions based on what you see on the media)
I take my seat on the plane and a oouple of minutes later a Saudi businessmen in his 50's sits next to me... completely drunk!! really!! Here he is, sitting next to me, stinking like whisky (argh) and trying to talk to me (well, as much as his alcohol intoxication would allow him).
I had always heard that this is quite common in Emirates flights. Since they cant drink in Saudi they come to Dubai or Bahrain for some fun... but never thought I would experience it first hand!
But, the adventures dont stop here! Luckly, next to me there was this really nice Emirati local (and cute too) that kind of "saved me" from the unconfortable situation. We spoke for some time and, in the end, he gives me a piece of paper folded into a tiny piece... with his mobile number!
Which is such a UAE/KSA cliche as well.
Since men and woman are not allowed to freely talk to each other, young men and woman exchange phone numbers like this, or use their bluetooths to start talking to eachother...
Anyway, the good news is that Im here now and all is good.
Even if I literally panicked the moment my colleague picked me up at the airport lounge and greeted me with 3 kisses on my cheek! I swear I had visions of running policemen coming from each corner of the airport with their sticks!
But apparently, that doesnt really happen in this city (Dammam). Uff.