Riyadh - Day 7- Sat., Nov. 19

Prince's Farm, Flight Out

This would be our last morning in Riyadh.  Our flight out, back to Dubai, would leave Riyadh's new international airport around 3 PM.  But first we looked forward to the tour of Prince Sultan's working farm which he acquired in 1986 with intent to restore and preserve it as a showpiece of Najdi architecture.  As the project has proceeded, he has come to find great enjoyment and satisfaction in the place and hopes to one day make it his full time residence.  It is called  al-'Udhaibat.  The book that the Prince gave us, Back to Earth; Adobe Building in Saudi Arabia, and which details the farm's restoration, has now become even more precious.


Driving out from our hotel to Wadi Hanifah, Keith gets this transitional photo of a new tract of modern villas growing out of the barren desert on the edge of the booming city of Riyadh.

We were invited to visit this day Prince Sultan bin Salman's wadi "farm" home.  This handsome ancient door graces the entrance to the main building of the estate.

This large meeting room is used to host the many guests entertained by the Prince.  Here, our photographer and interpreter, Sherh, also appreciates the decor.

In the far corner is an extensive collection of dalla (classic coffee pots) gracing the shelves over this wijar or, coffee making hearth. 

Ah! Upturned sword blades.  Keith has wondered why most Saudi emblems have blades curved downward, while his old Army emblem had them up.  Note the carved patterns in the plaster.

Sherh, Peg, and Yusef, relax for a moment with dates and coffee before Zahir's arrival, here in the covered colonnade area facing the open central courtyard.

Beyond the pool, we note the wind sock and learn there is a landing place for the Prince's small ultralite aircraft. A few moments later we noticed a few gazelle blending in on this ridge.

Architecture here stands as a tribute to traditional Najdi style. With a small % added concrete and some compression improves the durability of the bricks without losing the heritage.

Terraced gardening takes place in the old well draw ramp site where animals were once used to lift the water pullied over wooden wheels.

Wonderful lines & shadows are apparent in this thick solid well structure. Nearby another structure is currently under construction to be utilized for additional meeting rooms.  

Part of the restoration of the farm included importing soil to areas that had been excavated over the years.  There are now some 1500 date palms of 18 varieties on the estate.

Keith and Sherh observe the use of irrigation which is now pumped mechanically and distributed with overhead sprinklers.  Vegetables are grown in the protective shade of the palms.

The additional room is an inviting place to relax and visit.

The kitchen reflects the primary color motif of traditional desert designs.  

Decisions have been made to use some water proofing preservative to enhance the life of the adobe surfaces.

Peg thought a photo of this well-used wheel barrow was in order.  It must have tales to tell - a tribute to workers & craftsmen.

The mosque south east of the house is an altogether peaceful place to contemplate the richness of this land and express one's thanks to Allah. Keith wonders if this could have been one of the mosques he found here many years ago?

Zahir and Peg share a few quiet moments as the visit nears its end.  Words are inadequate but feelings are shared by all without words - a reverend and fitting place as we will soon try to express some parting words of gratitude & friendship.

We have said our good-byes and approach the gate to the outside and the rest of the world, more than very grateful that we had this more than special experience.

Returning to the hotel for checkout, we passed this modern complex reminding us of the many many changes seen by Riyadh in 45 years.

Keith catches a few more street scenes of the vast metropolis which Riyadh as become.

On the long drive north to the airport, here is yet another (Peg chose this one as representative of of Keith's persistent "shutter-bugging").

We approach this check point, some showers and the airport. We prepare to say good-bye to Yuseff.  He talks of coming to California.  We hope he does.

Peg enjoyed the toilet zymology at the airport and couldn't resist a photo.

Our Saudi Arabian Airlines plane that will take us to Dubai in a short while.  This will be a much faster & more comfortable flight than Keith's recollection of the old "Goonie Bird" flights.

As we take off, the huge international airport shows a very large & modern facility - much in contrast to Keith's memory of flying out of the old tiny airport in 1961.

The aerial view of new farmland on the edge of the desert as we leave the Riyadh area. Soon there will only be patches of dunes showing through broken clouds as we wing eastward.

Words fail us at this time when we try to express our appreciation and gratitude for such a special visit to such a special place on the other side of the globe from our usual home --- It is not just this special place and the memories, old & new, that it now holds --- but the special people here that have welcomed us, assisted us and taken us in to part of their lives.  We thank you - Folks of Riyadh - Folks of Al-Turath - The many individuals, too numerous to mention, from Dignitaries to Hotel staff - We take with us warm memories of each of you - & wish you all Peace and Contentment in your lives.

Peggy & Keith


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