Six months in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

For the western world Saudi Arabia is definitely not a destination anyone would think its great to live or travel. In fact the county has no tourists apart for the religious purposes. So if you are not an Muslim, such as myself, it is highly unlikely you will ever be able to get a tourist visa and enter the Kingdom.

However there are many foreigners living and working in Saudi Arabia. From example there is a very large community of American citizens working in the country but generally you will find people from all over the world. That is how I arrived in Saudi to work for six months!

The capital of Saudi Arabia is Riyadh and the second largest city is Jeddah.

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Riyadh city

Saudi Arabia is not an easy place to live. There are many rules you have to follow and certain social etiquette you have to follow. For example, every restaurant has two entrances – one for the single men and one entrance for families. Men and women are not supposed to dine together or drink coffee in public unless they are related.

Until recently you could have ended up in jail if you were drinking coffee with a colleague in public if the Religious Police, or as they called, the Mutawa would see you. Hence, few months ago the Saudi King decided that the religious police should not be authorized to arrest anyone! That is a progress!

Women are those who have many of the restrictions .. for example, women are not allowed to drive, so every woman needs to have a car and a driver. Also, all women are obligated to wear the Abaya even the foreigners. Abaya is a long rope, mostly back that covers your body reaching to the toes. As a foreigner I was always wearing the abaya once I was out of my compound but I never covered my hair or face. This is something actually acceptable. People here understands that you are not western lady and even not a muslim person. They really respect that and they never create a problem. That is because most of the saudi businessmen travel a lot and they are fully exposed to the western cultures.

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Me in Abaya

People thought I was not going to be safe in Saudi because people are extremely religious. That is a misconception! People in Saudi are perfectly normal. I always felt perfectly safe being around Saudis, I felt respected and welcome. Saudis are really hospitable people and they would never try to “force their religion to you”. That is another myth as well.

Saudis are genuine peaceful and unlike most people think they are against the terrorism. 

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The Kempinski, Burj Rafal

If you respect their culture and follow their rules, you have nothing to worry about. The reason is that the government is open to the foreigners. They understand that they need to exchange knowledge and grow the economy of the country. That is why they have made sure that foreigners will feel as comfortable as possible. The capital has almost 80 western compounds. The security measures are really tight and the compounds are protected 24/7 from the national army!

Inside the compounds the rules are entirely western; No police or religious police is ever allowed to enter the compounds and disturb the foreigners. The compounds have all the facilities including, restaurants, schools & nurseries, sport activities, pool areas and entertainment such as cinemas, bowling clubs etc.

The Diplomatic Quarter is another place where the expats can feel as Home ! Most of the Embassies are located inside the Diplomatic Quarter. This is also, an area protected by the national army and the special forces. Of course each embassy have its own security as well. Some of the Embassies are really active hosting concerts, movie nights, formal or casual dinners, events etc. Again the Saudi government and the Saudi people are ok with this. They understand and respect us the way we understand and respect them.

Needless to say that Saudi is a “dry country” – meaning, there is no Alcohol sold in the entire country

Riyadh is not a the most beautiful city in world because there are many constructions going on at the moment, as the new Metro; a mega project which will be amazing to see once its done. However, the city has many beautiful landmark building such as the Kingdom Tower, the Al Faisaliah tower and the Burj Rafal Tower where the Kempinski Hotel is located. Another mega project that should be finished soon is the King Abdullah Financial District; a complex of beautiful towers that soon will be the heart of the business life in Saudi!

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King Abdullah Financial District

Saudis love dining out! That’s why the capital is full of restaurants ! Here you will find all the international food chains, etc McDonalds, Burger King, TGIF, Five Guys, but you will also find boutique burger places and all kinds of the international cuisine.

 

Quick Guide:

When in Riyadh

Stay at the Kempinski Burj Rafal – because is really beautiful and modern

Rent a car from Europcar  they really have the best fleet and the best customer service

Order from Maestro Pizza – the most delicious pizza place, 100% Saudi made

Try the Biscuits of Anoosh – simply delicious & 100% Saudi

Visit – The Edge of the World  – is breathtaking

Dine at the famous turkish restaurant Tugra, at the The Globe and at the Spazio 77 –  fine dining restaurants with amazing panoramic view of Riyadh

Buy a perfume from O100

Explore the various malls where you will find all the international fashion brands

 

The legacy of Dom Perignon

Once upon a time there was a Benedictine monk named Dom Pérignon (1638–1715).

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Dom Pérignon was also a cellar master at the Benedictine abbey in Hautvillers. Back in 1670, he started to blend grapes in order to improve the quality of wines and deal with a number of their imperfections.  Then he placed corks, which were fastened to bottles with hemp string soaked in oil in order to keep the wines fresh and sparkling. In addition to that used thicker glass in order to strengthen the bottles as many of them would explode.  The development of sparkling wines as the main style of production in Champagne occurred progressively in the 19th century, over one century after Dom Pérignon’s death.

 

The first ever vintage of Dom Pérignon was made in 1921, and was only released for sale in 1936.  The first 300 bottles of the Dom Pérignon 1921 were the Simon Bros & Co, a company that imported Moët in the United Kingdom.  That was enough! The wine got immediate attention in the marketplace and immediately the market of the United States placed their orderes. One of the first customers was James Buchanan Duke, the billionaire who had founded the American Tobacco Company; he ordered 100 bottles for himself.

From that order, 17 bottles were sold at an auction at Christie’s in New York City in June 2004 where Doris Duke, the billionaire’s daughter, had kept them in her cellar.

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Until the 1943 vintage, Dom Pérignon was produced from regular vintage Moët & Chandon Champagne that was transferred to the special 18th Century-style bottles after extended cellaring.  It was thus effectively an oenothèquerelease of Moët & Chandon Vintage Champagne in a different bottle.

But from the 1947 vintage, Dom Pérignon has been produced separately from the start.  The number of bottles produced in each vintage is not precisely defined. As a result, the final composition changes every vintage.

Dom Perignon Rose 1959 Vintage Reaches a Record Price of 84,700 Dollars at a Historic Rare Champagne Auction in New York

According to Richard Geoffroy’s Manifesto : “Dom Pérignon expresses its first plenitudes after seven years in the cellar.”

As of 2010, the current release of Dom Pérignon is from the 2002 vintage and the current release of Dom Pérignon Rosé is from the 2000 vintage.

The current 2010 winemaker is Richard Geoffroy, who has been Chef de Cave for Dom Pérignon since 1998.

 

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For more Visit: http://www.domperignon.com

All the Muses of Woody Allen

There is no doubt that Woody Allen is one of the most important film-makers in the modern history of cinema. His myth is added by his “obsession” with his Muses.

Yesterday, Woody Allen presented his latest film Café Society in the Cannes Film Festival and everyone was absolutely stunned as he arrived with Blake Lively and Kristen Stewart.

In his 50 years career Woody Allen chose to work with women of great personality. Some say, these actresses were a safe choice for Allen, but Woody Allen seem to choose the right girl for the right role.

From Diane Keaton in the classic film, Manhattan and Tea Leoni as Ellie from the movie Hollywood Ending, to Scarlett Johansson as Nola Rice in Match Point and Marion Cotillard as Andriana in Midnight in Paris.

Last but not least, the all time muse of Pedro Almodovar, Penelope Cruz as the passionate Maria Elena in Vicky Christina Barcelona.

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