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January 15th, 2011 | Asia

Thwarted Again…!!

The first sign you will no doubt notice on entering the Saudi Embassy in Abu Dhabi, is one that your eyes will be drawn to often while you wait to be served, although I use the term “served” with reservation…!!

The sign, in bold red letters, reads:

“Warning: Trafficking of Drugs: Penalty = Death. You are responsible for all belongings carried by you”

And if that doesn’t get you rechecking your luggage, then nothing will…!!

Not to be outdone by neighbours Dubai, Abu Dhabi's skyline is also reaching for the heavens...!!

This set of curved highrise buildings is one of those that drew my attention...

The Saudis at the Embassy in Abu Dhabi are as unhelpful as their counterparts in Amman and Dubai…

The first guy I spoke to seemed doubtful that I would get a visa to ride across to Bahrain and Qatar, but told me that it “was in the hands of the Consul”, and I should call back later to hear whether or not he had made a decision…

I was not the only guy getting the runaround…

While waiting in the queue outside the embassy, I was befriended by an elderly Egyptian man, who tearfully explained how his sister had passed away in a Saudi hospital a few days before…

He had been trying unsuccessfully for the past two days to get a visa to cross in Saudi to make arrangements to have her body sent back to their family in Egypt…

You would have thought that the embassy officials would have shown a little sympathy and expedited his application as quickly as possible…

But you’d be wrong…!! This is Arrogant Arabia, remember…!!

By the time I left the embassy, he had been shunted (none to gently…!!) from lackey to official and back to lackey, and was no closer to getting a visa than he had been a few days previously…

Each time he rose from the chairs we were sitting on to ask a question, he was sent back with an annoying look, and at one point, the official actually shouted at the top of his voice for him to sit down until he was summoned… Many of the other Arabs waiting their turn clucked their tongues in sympathy, and muttered to themselves…

This had no effect whatsoever on the idiots behind the glass windows, who spent more time speaking on the mobile phones than doing any meaningful work…

I wished him well as I left, promising to visit him at his home in the Liwa Oasis, where he taught at an Arabic School…

On a visit to the fishing harbour, we found these Lobster traps being offloaded...

The assembled article... They are tightly packed onto the roofs of the fishing dhows that ply the waters of the Gulf of Arabia...

Back at the Wrigley residence, I waited for the appointed time to call the embassy and when I finally got to speak to the “official in charge”, was told that “no motorcycles are allowed to ride in Saudi Arabia”…

I was astounded by this, as I am pretty sure there are a few Princes and Sheikhs who own and ride motorcycles in that country…!! But I guess they are probably a law unto themselves, huh…!!

I have since discussed my “Saudi Problem” with Emiratis, Bahrainis, and Qataris, and have found there is no love lost between them and the Saudis…!! News that Saudi Arabia had not won a single game at the Asian Cup Football Tournament currently on the go  in Doha, was greeted with glee by all whom I spoke to, and the 5-0 thrashing handed to them by Japan was a particularly happy moment for the waiter who served me at a small restaurant…!!

“Zay sink zay are better zan us…!! Zay come wiz zer money and treat us like servants…!! We do not like the Saudis… Zey are no good…!!”

I could not agree more, and have taken to joining in the verbal jibes against Saudis whenever I get the opportunity…!! Try dealing with them, and you will find that taking the piss out of them becomes a remarkably easy thing to do…!!

Popped in to discuss a long term loan, but was reminded that I no longer qualify...!!

Leaving Abu Dhabi on a whirlwind tour of Bahrain and Qatar...

I had to rethink my position, and decided that I had spent far too much getting myself and the bike to this part of the world to lose out on visiting Bahrain and Qatar…

I went for a stroll to the local supermarket and on the way passed a travel agent advertising flights to Bahrain on Gulf Air…After only a few minutes deliberation, I pushed through the glass doors and sat down to discuss the various options open to me…

I wanted to spend enough time to get the feel the countries I was visiting, but also needed to get back and make my rides down to the Liwa Oasis, and cut across the desert to get to Oman, where, on the advise of Malcolm, I now planned to spend more time that I had originally thought I would…

I bought a round trip ticket that took in both Bahrain and Qatar, and Elspeth very kindly drove me out to the airport later that afternoon where I boarded the plane that got me into Manama at 7.00pm that same evening… Malcolm was there to meet me, and drove me out to his apartment. He had recently accepted a position in Bahrain, and in a few months time, Elspeth and their children, Jacob and Olivia, would be joining him there…

The domed ceiling of the departure lounge is held up with this colourful pillar... It's like being on the inside of a giant mushroom...!!

It had rained for most of the afternoon, but by the time I arrived, there was only a light drizzle falling in Manama…

After a tasty dinner at a local Indian restaurant, the Copper Kettle, we went back to Malcolm’s apartment and made a short list of the places I should visit the following day…

“Bahrain is a very small place, so you could take in all these sites, and make it back to the airport with plenty of time to spare…!!” he assured me…

Malcolm had arranged for a car and driver to collect me from his office early the next morning, and I would be spending the day doing a tour of the island before heading back to the airport to fly to Qatar…

A lightning visit, but then, as I was to discover for myself, Bahrain is not the biggest of countries…!!

©GBWT 2011

4 comments to Thwarted Again…!!

  • Deon Rautenbach

    Hi there Ronnie, a friend of mine lived in Bahrain and he says that riding a bike there would be trying to commit suicide because the drivers there dont care.He also said that one should never show the middle finger as it will get you locked up – rather put all ones finger tips together as it means – slow slow to them , in our world its the big 5 of the middle one, im still a big follower of your blog and enjoy every new entery you make. Enjoy and ride safe

  • Kim

    OK GB, leave you mischief at home, by the sounds of it you could get into major trouble if you try anything out of the ordinary….thank heavans you haven’t come accross a wedding….can you just imagine….
    Good luck with all the changes in your plans and remember the only constant in your life – is change!!!!!!
    BIG kisses
    K

  • Charmz

    At least you have had the opportunity to see Bahrain, so behave yourself and keep on smiling nicely, even if you want to scream…..Make the most of your time there and enjoy.

  • Mark Behr

    Not thwarted, just adjusted. All positive ! Who, in their right mind, wants to see Saudi anyway. They can keep it !

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