How To Find Your Way in Riyadh

How do you address the address situation in Riyadh? It’s not easy to remember places. Believe me, when I first went on my trip in the city center on May 2008, I muttered to myself, “I will never ever be able to navigate this city!” Riyadh is a grid of long and wide roads, boxy and low-rise housing and villas, and a ramble of Arabic-named stores. Fast forward to today, I can pretty much go out on my own (of course, equipped with taxi tips from this blog: here, here, and here)  and I can pretty much find addresses, no matter how vague they may seem.
Here is The Pink Tarha’s ONLY tip:
Hire a reliable car/taxi driver that knows his way around. 😉
A good and knowledgeable driver can save us from haggardness and stress. Most of you probably have your own drivers but for those who don’t have, pick your own suki from the drivers of taxis you’ve ridden. Choose the one you’re most comfortable with (and someone whom you can trust your life with).

Of course, our reliable drivers are not know-it-alls. No one knows where every store or house is so it’s really a good thing to have good drivers who’ll be patient enough to take you round and round an area to find the specific location you’re looking for. 😉

Now you may ask, what if our drivers don’t know where to go? Or what if I have a husband (aka driver) who gets cranky when I ask him to go to this place but I don’t know where that place is either? Or the taxi driver keeps on saying “mallum” (I know) when I asked him if he knows this place and suddenly becomes clueless when I’m already inside?
Well, here are our other tips when the ONLY tip doesn’t work for/doesn’t apply to you:
1. Never leave your house or workplace without knowing where to go. If you have a restaurant or store in mind, look up their address in the Internet. If the address is as vague as “Tahlia St. Riyadh, KSA” then call their contact number and ask them where it’s located. If they don’t have a contact number or no one is answering, ask The Pink Tarha. Hahaha. Chances are, we’ve already visited the place, or have seen it in our lakwatsas. Ask in our Facebook wall so we can answer faster. 😛

2. Memorize major streets and highways. If they’re major, they’re popular! Check if you know where these are:
Can you see the Faisaliah Tower up ahead?
^King Fahd Road
^King Abdullah Road 
Try if you know the following streets and visualize them in your mind:
Makkah Road
Khurais Road
Oruba Road
Olaya Street
Tahlia Street
Takhasussi Street
Thalateen Street
Dabab Street
3. Remember prominent buildings. They will serve as your landmarks, guides to your trips in the city. And we’re not just pertaining to the Kingdom Tower or Faisaliah Tower. All the big and popular malls can serve as landmarks. Or those establishments which have huge, catchy signs in the major highways or those with unusual shapes or structures. Remember hotels and government buildings (hello, Ministry of Interior!) too. Associate these landmarks to the major streets. 
In your neighborhood, try looking out your window (I hope they’re not too screened) and see the stores or eating places around you. Your building will probably have a number too. I thought ours doesn’t exist but it was right in the center, just above the doorway of our building! Haha. What if you’re in a residential district where most houses/villas are the same? Chances are, you have a number outside. Or take note of the color of your gate and walls. Draw maps to your house so you can guide relatives and friends over. Speaking of maps…
4. Learn to navigate maps. I know, I know… it’s so old school. But they’re helpful! What isfthe only available address in the Internet for the newly-opened store you’re looking for is on Wikimapia? When Sugar Sprinkles in Takhasussi was new, I looked up the store in the Internet and found this map:
Where you at?
That little red box is where it’s at. Now, if you look at surrounding details, there’s not much to go on. Er, an empty lot? There are a lot of those here. Wow, the building near it has a pool. Nice! Okay, so you can’t find it looking from above so what you do is to zoom out a bit until you can see the surrounding areas in a wider scale. To give you that perspective, here’s what it looks like zoomed out:
Click to see larger image.
I spotted the Kingdom Center a few frames below. Hello, would I know where that is?! You bet! Now that I know where it is, I scrolled down a bit more to know that Faisaliah is way below (South) so Riyadh Gallery must be up that map (North). I can already clearly see the roads in my head and they’re like puzzle pieces forming into a picture.

From King Fahd Road, I will just turn left to Oruba (where the ornate  AlGarawi building is in the corner) and head to Takhasussi. From there, turn right and drive straight. From that time on, I’ll already be on the lookout for the Sugar Sprinkles on my right side.

This visualizing and analyzing is easy if you have mastered tip numbers 2 and 3. Don’t worry, you’ll get there. Just be observant when you’re out and about Riyadh. 🙂 Thank goodness, the street signs in Riyadh are also translated in English now. There was once a time when I just stared helplessly at those Arabic green signs and arrows looming overhead. I could only translate the numbers then.

5. Use a GPS device. My father would have laughed at me if I told him I’m still studying and consulting maps when the coordinates are clearly in the page too.  From the Wiki, it says Coordinates: 24°44’7″N 46°38’54″E for Sugar Sprinkles. With the right GPS device, it will be easy for you to find the place.

Hi-tech navigation!

However, I don’t own a GPS device and the father is not always around. I’m guessing you have the same fate with your fathers and husbands so it’s always handy to heed tip number 3. However, most guys will benefit from this tip because they’re the ones using these devices. The Pink Tarha are actually thrilled to receive questions from guys asking us for the GPS coordinates of a place (ex. Edge of the World, Red Sand, etc… sige na, kayo na ang may GPS device!) but sorry guys, we don’t have a GPS device and we don’t even know how to use it. Besides, where’s the fun in using that in a city?! Lol.

Do you have your own tips and suggestions on how to find your way in Riyadh? We’d love to hear them. We’d like to read ‘lost and found in the road’ stories too so do share.

Hope our tips above can help you. If all things fail, ask and you shall be answered. 😛

*Click on photo for photo sources and credit.  


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The Editor-in-Chief speaks 7 languages: Filipino, English, Wit, Sarcasm, Truth, Creativity, and The Pink Tarha.

1 Comment

  1. Grace Reply

    Hi , nice reading lots of stuff about Riyadh. I’m here in Bahrain and will be relocating in Riyadh in a couple of months. When my husband broke the news the we will be relocating, I’ve done some research about life of expat in Riyadh, but didn’t get any. Until I bumped into your blog. Most of my friend have negative things to say about Riyadh, especially for woman. Which I think the only setback is wearing an Abaya and Veil. But upon reading your blog, your seems to be very much adjusted in Riyadh where everybody claim that it is most strictest part of Saudi. Thank to your informative site… Please continue to give more valuable insight about Riyadh as it is very helpful to those newcomers. Keep it up.

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