Irina Bernebring Journiette

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Tag: riyadh

120218–Oh Riyadh.

It’s 2.50 at night and I have to get up and go to work in 4 hours. But I don’t care. Life here is so surreal. I don’t even know where to begin and describe it. Spent the weekend in DQ which was nice, went to Steak-night at the US embassy and then an after party during Wednesday and then headed to a Marine event on Thursday.

However, none if it is even comparable with what happened today. First I hiked along the outskirts of DQ before heading to the “magilist” a forum where some of the most prominent members of society gathers and reflect upon different topics. Today the islamization of psychology.

Afterwards we headed out to a farm in the desert outside Riyadh where they slaughtered a sheep in the honor of T’s birthday and then cooked it in the ground for 1,5 hrs. It was the freshest meat I’ve ever tasted. And the only thing difficult with a midnight feast was the fact that your almost not allowed to stop eating. Which was fine though since it was absolutely amazing.

Driving home in the Riyadh night we, four women and one guy, all off a sudden saw hundreds of cars parked along the highway, blocking off a huge part of the road. At first we though it was an accident, but then we saw that there were hundreds of people standing on the divider in the middle of the road watching the other side of the highway. We stopped and climbed out, and found ourselves being the only four women amidst hundreds of young saudi boys watching cars drift by. INSANE. The sound the cars made as they swirled down the sandy roads, the cheering of the crowd closing in on us shouting about how crazy the saudi men are, like being in the midst of a wolfpack, watching the wolf snarl and show it’s teeth. The adrenaline was amazing, an incredible rush. Five minutes pass and two cars drift by, our hearts beating like drums, before the crowd (after taking countless pictures of the spectacle we provided) let us back in the car. After surrounding the car for several minutes they finally let us drive of. A Land Rover follow us, the young men showing of their best tricks hanging out the car, playing with death. Apparently 17 people die every day in traffic, according to official statistics. But who really knows? Soon the boy loose their interest and speed off. We are left in a state of bizarre chock. Like the one hours before when the man dressed in white slits the sheep’s throat and the blood sprays everywhere and then the head is thrown on the ground. We drive towards home only to be slowed down by the passing of a massive convoy of police-cars escorting some prince or princess somewhere. Finally we make it home. I stumble back inside. This life. The intensity. Oh. Riyadh!



So many great songs seem to revolve about this expression! Apparently it’s supposed to mean problem. But my mind is filled with nothing but simplicity and joy. There is something absolutely magical about dancing around a small living room in Riyadh, listening to African music, just finished reading a chapter on Salafism in Yemen, and trying to figure out were in the world to go next. As tradition the summer will be spent in Sweden. But then who knows? Had a quick conversation with mama on Skype about the endless possibilities in life. On another note this weekend turned our to be another great weekend in the Kingdom. Went on a quick trip “around the world” last Thursday and spent the night in France before heading to Denmark for a kvasi-afterparty and then falling asleep back home in Sweden. Sleep is something that I’ll soon find myself lacking here. But who can complain about the intensity of life?


Kom nyss hem från middag i ambassadörsresidenset. Tyckte vinet smakade allt för gott och blev salongsberusad med ambassadören som bordsherre. Lyckades dock hålla minen och avhandlade ämne om allt från politisk och humanitär situation i Yemen, via kulturuttryck i betongdjungel till exempel på palindrom. Snubblar i säng och ser fram emot helg imorgon. Ma’salama för danskarna på onsdag och sedan party på franska ambassaden på torsdag.

120125 — Good morning Riyadh!

So. Today is the last day of my first week at work. (Since this is a non-Christian country, we don’t have the friday to sunday weekend but instead wednesday to friday.) Anyway, I left V., Friis and Malmö behind and vetured off in the search for new adventures. First stop was here–Riyadh. Actually The Swedish Embassy in Riyadh. Work entails being a trainee working with Human Rights and Politics here. As of now it’s still pretty awesome. I’ve been able to meet some very interesting people and I’m excited to see what this will bring.

101231 – Underground Riyadh!

Discovered a new side of Riyadh a couple of nights ago. The underground life that excists in the dark depths of the night. After two weeks at this place I’m still intrigued. If forbidden fruits are supposed to taste the sweetest, living here is like living in Candyland. Stories about rave getaways in the middle of the desert and secret private resorts with access only to thoose who know the secret password.

101224 – Mafii Maloom!

It’s supposedly Christmas. I still havn’t, after much effort, managed to round up any Christmas spirit. So from now on, to H*ll with it. Spent tonight having dinner at a South African Christmas party. It was different. Enough said about Christmas. On our way home I sat in the front seat! Felt like home again. (It is the small things that matter!) The cab-driver thaugt me some useful words/phrases in arabic. (The spelling is probably completely off, so don’t bother correcting it. Just say it out loud.)

Due to my skin-color and “difficult-to-place” ethinc background, everyone here thinks I’m Saudi. An assumption which have led to some awkward moments. Among other things elderly women are constantly trying to make me cover my face, which Saudi women are oblidged to do by law. I, not speaking Arabic, are having difficulties to fend them off. Now, however I’ve learnt how to deal with them. “Mafii Maloom” – I do not understand. “(S?)Halas!” – Stop, it’s enough!. At the moment I feel pretty pleased with myself and my new knowledge.

Ma’a Salam!

101223 – The night before Christmas

“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;”

Spent the day before Christmas having “high tea” at the Globe, again the contrast are striking. This oasis of luxury on top of the world in Riyadh. (I’m actually wearing a very nice dress under my Abaya.)

101222 – Deserted

101031 – Riyadh

I miss my mom. She’s Kickass. We are an awesome team. If everything works out as planned I’m going to Saudi Arabia over Christmas break.

101001 – LA v. Riyadh

By the way. If any one feels like learning about encountering and living in a culture totally different than your own, check out my moms blog. (In Swedish though). My mom just came back from Greenland and now she’s spending a year working at a hospital in Riyadh. She’s my greatest inspiration.