Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Day Trip to Saudi Arabia

For a few minutes earlier today, I thought I might have to spend the night in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia.

I traveled with D this morning so I could have my visa renewed.  It needs to be renewed every 6 months and my deadline was Thursday of this week.  Wow, I can’t believe it has been 6 months since I first went there to get my Igama (approval to travel to SA) and multi-entry visa.

I looked forward to the trip over as the guys (3 or 4 in our building car pool each day) are always telling me about the commute and all of the stops they make.

#1 Checkpoint for insurance
# 2 Bahrain Immigration
# 3 Saudi Immigration
# 4 Checkpoint for dangerous materials (search of the car)
# 5 Check point to turn in the insurance verification

On the way back to Bahrain it is reversed. Sometimes D will call me from the Bahrain immigration check point as it is usually only 20-25 minutes from there until he is home. The complete trip can take from 90 minutes to 4 hours. It just depends on security and traffic. Right now they are on heightened security.

This is serious scaffolding on a tower at the mid way point.
An island just off the causeway with a complex for one of the SA Royals.
I think this was the first check point - they all started looking the same and I could not pick them out when I downloaded my photos.  By the way, all my photos are from the back seat - you had to deal with passport inspections if you sat in the front seat so I claimed a spot in the back.
Car scanners.
Another check point.
Coming into SA.
Searching the car.
Another check point.
We had a very fast trip in and arrived at the office at 7AM. I worked on my computer for a while. At 9AM I left to visit a store that I had been hearing about, Desert Designs.

Trip Advisor actually named them #3 of 7 Things to Do in Al Khobar.  It is an extremely interesting place.

The store is located just around the corner from D’s office but he insisted I could not walk over there alone.

One of the engineers was assigned to escort me and we ventured out.  I am sure I could have walked alone, but in SA women are supposed to be escorted everywhere.  UGH!

My escort - it is a hard job but someone had to do it.

This is a fabulous store and they had so many wonderful things that I have to go back again SOON.  I picked out 2 camel saddle stands and arranged for some custom saddle pillows.

Camel Saddle Stand with carvings.

The stands will make great stools for any room in our house and FANTASTIC items to take back to the States to remember from our adventure in the Middle East.

The fabric for the saddle pillow is woven in India but it is a traditional Saudi pattern. I picked out some fabric and it will take a month for the pillows to be completed.

This is the fabric they will use for my camel saddle cushions. It is going to look great in the Arabic bedroom I have planned -- or maybe the living room flanking the fireplace?

Since we arrived in the Middle East, I have not spent hardly anything on items to take back - except carpets.  I know D is saying in a loud voice - CARPETS! But, other than beautiful carpets, I have bought very little. So today I purchased a wonderful henna box and camel candleholder – with some other great finds.  It was a terrific and fun shopping trip. I had a BLAST!

Everything seemed to be going okay except the approval for my visa renewal did not arrive when we thought it would arrive.

Instead D received a text message that my visa had been canceled.  OOOPS!

After a few conversations with the HR department, we were back on our way to getting the needed approval.

Whewww!  That was close.  However, I did go prepared with an emergency overnight kit.  You never know what might happen when you drive over the causeway into the Kingdom.

I forgot to get D to snap my picture on the way into SA so I took this one after I arrived back at the flat.

I wore a new abaya that I purchased in the Souq with granddaughter ML when she was visiting in March. I really like it. A little teal, a little floral, just enough to give it some flare.

D arranged for a driver to take me home around 1PM. It was a fun day however when my driver crossed over into Bahrain, off came the hijab (head scarf). How in the world do women wear those things all the time?


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