Riyadh - Day 5- Thu., Nov. 17

"Old City," Fort, Mayor, search for familiar + a special evening

This is another day for memories.  We visit some of the parts where the center of old Riyadh was located.  Only the Fort and a few glimpses around the old souk look slightly familiar.  It is, however, now a very attractive modern municipal area.  A visit with the major was a very special occasion which created new warm memories.  Meeting an English couple in the Fort Museum, who are educators in the local international school, was a pleasant surprise.  Keith's search for familiar sites from his 1960 era life here brought some successes - some guesses (corrections welcomed). 


Yuseff and Peg walk through the As Saah Square on the way to the old city's famous Musmak Fort in the Dirah District or the Old Quarter.

We were told this was the headquarters of the Matawah or religious police, officially: "The Authority for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vices."

Arriving at the fortress, Keith and Yuseff turn for a photo. Inside is an interpretive center that tells the story of the reunification of the Kingdom.

Yuseff and Peg stand by the famous fort door that played a significant role in the drama of King Abdul Aziz's capture of the city in 1902.

The broken spear point from that early battle still remains in the door. See:




The walls are made still of mud and when it rains a lot, repairs must take place.  Keith appreciates that building is kept in its original form as a well preserved bit of history.

Nearby is the modernized gold souk with assorted other shops for locals and tourists.

Zahir joins us as we are met by the city's mayor, HH Prince Dr. Abdulaziz bin Mohamed bin Ayyaf Al-Migrin - another warm cordial visit in his private office followed by a more public photo op. 

Zahir shows the mayor some samples of the photos Keith presented for the archive collection. Keith & Peg are rewarded by gifts of publications about the city.

The mayor's outer office shown here is actually a meeting hall following an age-old tradition of receiving citizens on a regular basis to hear their concerns.  In addition to being "Mayor," he holds the official titles of Secretary of Al-Riyadh District & Secretary General of the High Committee for the Development of Al-Riyadh.

Leaving the mayor's ultra modern office, Keith catches a glimpse of some of the old city just a few blocks away.  Will this too, be replaced by modern concrete and marble?

Our driver now takes us towards the old airport road (now called King Abdul Aziz Road) in search of recognizable buildings or places from 45 years ago. 

The old dilapidated Canada Dry building remains only because of a legal issue. (See Keith's earlier photo.)

This shot of the long closed up plant gives context to its more modern surroundings.

The historic "Camel's Eye," which used to stand out in the desert north east of the city, is now an amusement park well within the urban setting. (See old photo.)

Western fast food franchises are prevalent throughout the city, even in our old neighborhood!

This is the busy intersection just outside the Riyadh Air Base, which is located where the old airport used to be.

This modern military entrance to the air base prevented us from entering to see if any familiar parts remain, but we suspect there are none.

This mosque has been remodeled, but we were told that it is the original one that stood just north of our USMTM villas and right next to the airport. (See old photo.)

With a break in the heavy traffic, Keith gets this shot of the round-about located where he believes was the northern terminus of the old Airport Road.

This shot of a side road looking west of the Airport Rd., is where Keith believes is the site of the old dirt lane leading to the villas and would be where the old vagrant shack once stood. (See old photo.)

A must was a daylight return to the Zahret Al-Shark Hotel for more photos. This hotel played an active role in USMTM of 1960. (See old photo)

This round building, sometimes called the "barrel" or "Capitol Records" building, was just under construction in 1960. It still stands here behind an elevated freeway interchange. (See old photo)

This view of what we used to call Airport Rd. near the Zahret Al-Shark Hotel, is now quite different from the view north of the Hotel in 1960. (See old photo.)

Another landmark from times past is the Al Yamama Hotel, shown here behind a wall.

Here is a front view of the Al Yamama as we pass by in heavy traffic. (See old photo, left background).

NOTE: From here north, many of the ministry buildings were signed for no photography for security reasons.


Here is the busy King Abdul Aziz Rd. today with MODA & other modern buildings on both sides. Compare this to the large open desert spaces between buildings in this area in 1960. (See old photo 1 & photo 2.)

Later, in the evening, we would continue with specially enjoyable personal experiences, but these would not be recorded for web photos.  First we would visit Keith's old college friend Turki Al-Sudairy, his wife and son in their elegant Riyadh home.  Next we would dine with Dr. Zahir Othman and his wife on the Al Faisaliah Center's IL Terrazzo balcony restaurant.  Even though an atypical cold wind came up, we all enjoyed outstandingly delicious food and even more enjoyable conversation.  Another day from which special memories are made!


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