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Read Around the World Saudi Arabia

Map credit to

June means it’s time for some fun in the sun…

Fun facts about Saudi Arabia from this website:

  • 350 million years ago there was a 20 foot mushroom (yes, a mushroom) in Saudi Arabia.  Scientists claim it is likely to have been the largest living thing on dry land at the time.
  • Unsurprising, given its desert climate, there are lots of camels in Saudi, but did you know that over 100 camels are sold every day in the capital city of Riyadh.
  • Many countries around the world would like to claim they have the world’s tallest building, but in 2019 that honor will be bestowed upon Saudi.  Jeddah Tower, in Jeddah, will rise through the clouds at 3,280ft tall (quite a bit more than the Burj Khalifa’s 2,717).  Designed by Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill of Chicago, it will be the first building in the world to reach the 1km high mark.  The project is expected to cost well over 1 billion dollars.
  • The Saudi king’s official title is “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.” Since January 2015, the monarch has been King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
  • Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the world that doesn’t have a river. It is the 13th largest country in the world at 830,000 square miles, but 95% of the country is considered desert or semi-desert and only 1.45% of the land is arable.
  • Saudi Arabia spends 10.4% of its GDP on its military.  (The US spends around 3.5%).  Their commitment to security, training and equipment will ensure it has a first-class military able to protect the Kingdom and assist allies around the world.
  • Traditional restrictions on women in Saudi Arabia have often prevented them from succeeding in certain walks of life, but there are several signs that this is changing and that an evolution in attitudes is occurring.  More than half of the college and university graduates are women, in 2015 17 women were elected to public office positions in an historical election where women could vote for the first time and in February 2017 Sarah Al Suhaimi became the first woman to chair the Saudi Arabia Stock Exchange.

I choose to visit Saudi Arabia via Finding Nouf by Zoë Ferraris. I spent my time in Saudi Arabia in the company of Nayir al-Sharqi a devout Muslim desert guide turned amateur detective, Katya Hijazi a female lab assistant at the Coroners office and the Shawris a rich but pious family who live on their own island complex.

This was a 4 star read for me I loved spending time with Nayir al-Sharqi and learning more about life in Saudi Arabia. I enjoyed seeing Nayir grow as a character and begin to realise that while the rich women he knows live a life most would be jealous of they still have to live that life in a cage and for some escaping the cage is the only thing that would make life worth living. By the end of the novel he has gone from believing that women should appreciate their restrictive lives to realising that like men women want a say in their own lives.

The story is full of cultural details, Katya Hijazi is only allowed out accompanied by her driver, women must keep covered up, religious police and over zealous men are always watching for breaches of morality, the men avoid looking at women, men promise their future wives the world before marriage and then casually take it away, women are not allowed to drive, there are “underground” family restaurants where men & women can eat together, prayer is an important part of daily life, the characters always know the direction of Mecca and there is no forgiveness for breaking the strict rules even within a family unit.

I enjoyed learning more about the desert and Wadis, about how water can be life giving and fatal and I really enjoyed the details about tracking footprints in sand and learning to read disturbances to tell a story.

Overall this was a great book and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a new take on the detective novel.

Other readers visited Saudi Arabia in the following ways:

RachelO from Litsy – The Belt by Ahmed Abodehman rated pick.

Currey from Litsy – Cities of Salt by Abd al-Rahman Munif rated pick.

Sprainedbrain from Litsy – Princess by Jean P Sasson rated pan.

TorieStorieS from Litsy – Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferrais rated so-so (not everyone shares my views)

Did you join us on our trip? What did you choose to read and what did you think of your choice?










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