Historic Riyadh (الرياض) 1988-1989
A view of traditional life, in a relatively progressive city.
- Our house in Riyadh, with the usual courtyard and gate to keep others out. What do you mean "that's not historic"? It was 20 years ago! Anyway, you may find the car number plate interesting.
- As part of an exhibition for a national feel-good television programme (did you hear propaganda? I'm sure I didn't said it out loud...), this was a demonstration of traditional farming techniques. As far as I remember, the programme was called Zoom In, and used Axel F as its theme tune. Do you care?
- Also part of the exhibition, this is a water pump, with a 3 camel-power engine drawing water from a well. Riyadh used to collect most of its water from wells, tapping into the water flowing beneath the major Wadi Hanifah (وادي حنيفة) where Riyadh is built. Much of the city's water is now piped from desalinisation plants on the Persian Gulf.
- Just beside Riyadh is an entire adobe village - more accurately, the old Saudi capital city of Diriyah (الدرعية), finally abandoned in 1973, 150 years after losing its status, and after many years of neglect. As a ghost town, it is complete with houses, castles and mosques.
- The adobe village is a popular attraction, in part due to the impressive preservation status of the buildings.
- One of the not-so-well preserved walls, showing nicely how they are made with an underlying stone wall, covered with adobe bricks and mortar.
- Drying the adobe bricks in the sun. This is the hottest place I have ever been, with temperatures rivalling those in California's Death Valley, and the maximum we saw being 56°C (133°F). Touching anything metal, especially car seatbelt buckles, would result in burns.
- A street in the adobe village, leading up to the Saad ibn Saud palace.
- The ruins of a smaller street. A couple of the smaller houses like these had their own wells, and in one case, the protecting wall had crumbled away on a well hidden behind a doorway. The little things that are designed to keep you on your toes.
- Towering remnants.
- Decorated doors, removed from their doorways. Some of the houses were still in good enough condition for their doors to be kept in place, but apparently the owners of these were not.
- Decaying remains of the city.
- Stacked pillars.
- A street that still shows some of the detail, including water spouts that helpfully passed rainwater down the street to the houses below, and even power lines, showing how recently they were abandoned.
- A house on the slopes, at the edge of the city.