The First Chapter Travel In The Middle East

The First Chapter Travel In The Middle East

 

Sitting in my home in Sweden and looking out as the sun set and the clear autumn sky revealed its color rim on the black canvas developing slowly, I could not avoid thinking of the adventure ahead of me.

In 24 hours I would be in Saudi Arabia, a country I only had read about and seen in the news on TV. I rarely knew anything about the country apart from what I had read and that it is the major oil producer in the world and the central country for muslims and with a long story in Islamic faith. I raised myself from the chair and closed the door, knowing it would be a long time till next time I would see this place again. Leaving behind me the memories of this place and embark on a new chapter in my life, and to enter a completely new way of living. This country not allowing bibles, nor crusifics with christ nor crosses on bracelets intreaged me as well as made me a bit nervous. How would it be to live in a country where there were no room for other faiths than Islam?

Travel In The Middle East

Travel In The Middle East

After spending several hours on the airplane from Gothenburg in Sweden, and after a pit stop in Amsterdam we were only minutes from landing in Saudi Arabia. I still was a bit confused about where this place was, it is called Dammam, but I had finally got the understanding that it was in Saudi Arabia, but whether it was the place I was going to stay or not, I did not know at this moment. Also the excitement of entering the country of mysteries and secrets made me a bit nervous.

Seeing all those uniformed men standing looking at you as you wait for your luggage made me feel a little bit uncomfortable, but trying to look unaffected by the situation I took my suitcases and left for the customs control. I had been told many stories and heard about adventures in this check point in Saudi Arabia before, now I was there, and the man looked first at me, then the suitcases, which he asked me politely to open and he just looked quick at them and asked me to close them. His attention was at my plastic bag I had in my hand which contained my newspapers, magazines and leftover of my snacks and a diet Coke. Looking at the bag, he pointed at it and asked to see it. I gave it to him slowly and he began eagerly to examine the magazines in there. The magazines I had was an issue of a Mans Health magazine, an issue of a trend magazine and finally a car magazine. He did not say a word as I inspected page by page the Mans Health magazine and then began slowly to look at the Trend magazine. He stopped at some pages, which of course had adverts of some women in bikinis and in beach ware, as he apparently got more and more concentrated reading my magazines. He quickly shut the magazine and handed it over to me and said it was ok and asked me to go.

Standing outside the customs area looking for my man to meet me and give me the drive to the apartment they had allotted me, made me worried maybe he was not there. Around 5-10 minutes scouting for someone that could be my contact person made me anxious, maybe I was left alone here now and had to find the way myself to my accommodation. However, as out of nowhere at short man stood next to me and asked If I was Steve. I turned my head and looked into his eyes, and said, i am Stig. He looked down at a note he had, and looked at me again, and said ok, follow me. I assumed he had found the right man and I had found the guide I needed to get me to a bed to sleep in.

After an hour or so with paper work at the airport I was sitting in a Taxi running down an endless asphalt road aiming straight as an arrow, patched with sand dunes here and there. It was dark so I could only see the lights of some buildings and the road signs. Names in Arabic combined with English made me at least understand we were in a country were infrastructure was ok. After one hour of silent driving, as the driver did not make any attempt to talk to me, we came to a security gate manned with men in helmets and guns. The driver talked something in Arabic to the guards and we drove further in to this enclosed area, which apparently were Saudi Aramco facilities. Then another gate appeared in front of us, and another guard in helmet approached the car and talked with the guard and he pointed at me and my driver showed some papers and we were told to drive apparently because the taxi moved again. After 5 minutes more driving we stopped at a parking lot and the driver told me, this is it, and we took one piece of luggage each and walked between some small grey houses. He stopped in front of one of them and pointed at the door. He looked at me and said, this is the place you will to stay, and he took out a key and opened the door. Inside a living room with carpet revealed itself and I could see an open kitchen in the end of the room, and stairs leading up to next floor next to it. We sat down my travel pieces on the carpet and he just made some checks and gave me the keys. Ok, he said, have a good night, bye, bye. He closed the door behind him and there I stood in the middle of the living room alone, very alone. The silence surrounding me, only hearing the buzz of the air-conditioning made me feel very alone at this moment. The silence was astonishing at this moment. I had arrived to Saudi Arabia and was completely alone, what a strange feeling. I found everything prepared for me, even some food and all necessities was there. I went upstairs’ and took a shower and my thoughts began to work, how do I get to the people I am supposed to meet tomorrow, I have no clue were I am and were they are? I just hope they will send someone to meet me tomorrow and guide me.

I buried myself in to the new bed with fresh sheets and a soft pillow, closed my eyes and made a slow breathing. Ok, Stig, your first lines in the new chapter of your life, Saudi Arabia, lets see how it goes then.

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