مجموعة بن لادن و"قطعة قطعة" مربع: الرياض، المملكة العربية السعودية
In other Middle East news this late summer and fall: While American Embassies across the map were being stormed by deranged militant temper tantrums, and a Pakistani government minister was putting up a 100,000 dollar bounty for the death of a filmmaker- in response to an awfully pathetic youtube clip, and bigger reasons withheld.... evidence of freedom and pursuit of fulfillment was still found in one of the most restricted cities and countries in the region.
Crowds of expats flown in from all ‘round the globe mad dashed out of the congested traffic, careless driving and hardline religious devotion that is the capital city of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh every Friday, or Sunday according to the Saudi workweek. Barbecues, leisurely strolls, blistering runs, abaya & burqa-free socializing, no loudspeaker calls to prayer for thirty minutes five times a day, no shame in wearing shorts or even a tank top...our own secular T.G.I.F.
Inner Riyadh’s one of a kind tourism spots and distinct cultural landmarks are no less thought provoking or controversial than any other in the world. Visitors to the Malaz district can catch a glimpse of the Saudi Bin Ladin Group, a testament to the historical and modern powerhouse multinational construction conglomerate family that disowned its extremist son seven years prior to the attacks. The organization surely recognizes the tourist attraction through the heavy security surrounding the corporate offices. Photos and video is frowned upon, but keen investigative minds never let this stop an idea.
In addition to the jewellers, currency exchange and discount clothing shops of the Batha markets, a short cab ride to the Masmak Fort and National Museum of Saudi will lead those with true grit gazing in a daze at the centre of Deera, or better known among the English speaking population as ‘Chop Chop’ square. It is no longer advertised as the public spectacle it once was, but open executions in accordance with Sharia law via beheading and sometimes also ‘stoning’ are still conducted here around 9am on unpublished dates, as often as required. Crucifixion of the beheaded remains has also been part of sentencing in the past.
It’s impossible to put a price on a good night’s rest. In the best interest of a peaceful life free of distress over unanswerable questions- the happy go lucky and blissfully ignorant traveler will ignore such tumultuous complexities. Order the ‘hashi kapsa’, camel meat with rice, traditional Saudi dinner for a little thrill... and call it quits.
“Dark was the Night, Cold was the Ground”
Blind Willie Johnson