For three days that is. ;)
An international symposium related to my job prompted me be a representative of my office at this event that was held at Intercontinental Jeddah. My primary duty was to be "eyecandy" really--to get the participants interested/informed about one of our medical journals by giving out its copies and flyers. As mentioned in my profile, I work in publishing so there you go, I produce these materials and was proud to get the chance to show off these babies. At first I was pretty much wrecked over the preparations and having to travel on my own in a place I've never been to before. But hey, I'm not one to say no to an adventure. Especially if it's paid for! :P
I had a very generous sponsor who booked me a room at the Radisson SAS (along Medina Rd) and had me fly business class via Saudia Airlines. That setup alone set the tone of my trip: Posh in Jeddah. And how posh the trip was! Devouring smoked salmon and prawns for lunch at the Intercon, joyriding through the boutiques of Tahlia St. and dining aboard a (mini)ship while cruising Jeddah waters at Mashar Al-Aham, Obhur--were just some of the "posh" things I did while I was there.
Aboard the mini-ship that took us around Obhur Creek
(eastern side of the Red Sea, I'm told)
Suffice to say, I was mixing (a lot of needed) pleasure with business. Being eyecandy is hard work but I'm not complaining. I just felt renewed at the opportunity to have been able to smile all day and meet new people from all walks of life. And of course, promoting our journal. :) The symposium had over 1,200 participants, so clearly, the surroundings had a stark difference from my regular days of sitting in front of the computer as my only form of "social life".
Other than that, I found Jeddah to be relaxed and pleasant. What struck me above all was the attitudes of the people, especially the Saudi folks. I never thought I'd meet a decent Saudi guy in my entire life (maybe because they're all in Jeddah! *haha*) But I did, perhaps three or five of them. I found our conversations equally platonic with no malice/seduction intended which is such a relief coming from a place that deems eye-contact as a form of flirtation already.
This is what a decent AND funny Saudi guy looks like. :D
Jeddah was almost "normal". For me it was friendly, fun and refreshing. The trip may as well have been a blessing in disguise. Prior the 23rd, I was reaching new heights of haggardness. Now, I can't even remember what I was fussing about. That trip did me goooood.
However, I still consider Riyadh as my home and Jeddah...well, Jeddah was the next great escape.