Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Back in the real world

I'm back in the real world.
Townsville, Australia, to be precise, for my Saudi summer and Ramadan break.

It struck me, the other day, how wonderful the real world is.  Wine had nothing to do with this thought.

The revelation came to me as I was walking along the footpath beside a main highway, waving to passing trucks.  Big rig cabs to be more accurate.   Some with a child or two waving from the cab windows.  Many honking their horns.  They were polished and shiny and a number were sporting awesome paint jobs.  There were more than hundred of them, I'm sure.

People were out in their driveways enjoying the procession.  A quick conversation with a gentlemen spectator filled me in on what was going on.  It was Convoy for Kids support for Camp Quality.  The parade was just the beginning of a fun filled day at the Townsville Showgrounds.

It occurred to me as I was enjoying the procession that I wouldn't see this in Saudi.  Not because big rig cabs are a rarity in the magic kingdom.  The roads in and out of Riyadh can be chock full of lorries carting goods to various parts of the country.  With no country wide railway trucking is the major transport medium, although my forays along Saudi highways haven't come across the polished, well kept, custom painted cabs that were showcasing Townsville this day.

Each time we've passed a lorry on the highway in Saudi I have wondered at a truckers life in the Magic Kingdom.  And how safe the tucks are.  It's a rather negative view, but I presume the same lack of regulation that exists for most industries in Saudi is also missing in trucking, though I do recall seeing a weighing station once.

On our travels through Saudi we have passed more than a few trucks with their loads disgorged over the road. (Hubby contemplated stopping to scoop up a few boxes of breakfast cereal once). The trucks we take a wide berth around are the ones carrying fodder for the livestock aka camels. These are loaded to bursting.

The only regulation for trucks that I'm aware of is the one that requires them to be off Riyadh roads at busy times to keep the city highways clear. Mr Noor explained this to me one day when I asked about the line of trucks parked up along the roadside.

Most truck drivers are nationals from Bangladesh, Sudan, Afghanistan and thereabouts.  How many drivers are Saudi nationals?  My guess is very few. 

The origins of the truck drivers is part of the the reason there's unlikely to be a Convoy for Kids truck parade in Riyadh, which is a shame because I'm sure these guys would love to drive their Macs through town and have people wave at them.  Being shown appreciation for the jobs they do isn't an attitude generally shown to the Worker Bees, a group into which truck drivers belong, by peeps in Saudi.  And I seriously doubt any of the truckers would be allowed to attend the family fun activities in the park afterwards.

...You know what, there's no need to go on the differences between Saudi and the rest of the planet.  It's enough to be here, enjoying reconnecting with the real world for a while.

Ka Kite,


  1. I have been on Saudi roads and I often wished I had more than health insurance.....

    Do you have life insurance in KSA?
    I found that American companies want to charge a lot for insurance that has cash value...but I don't make 1st world wages.

    Have you solved this problem?

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