Saudi Arabia- Land of Sand and Oil
Woo hoo! It's week 31 and we are off to the desert. We picked Saudi Arabia because my daughter wanted to "learn about the country where Princess Jasmine was from". Princess Jasmine, for those of you who don't watch many kid movies, is from the Disney movie Aladdin. So here we are, on the Arabian Peninsula, in Saudi Arabia, the largest Arab country in the Middle East. We will, of course, watch the movie and maybe ride a flying carpet or two. We are going to make their most common dish- Al Kabsa and maybe something with dates, since there are over
18 million date palms in Saudi Arabia, producing over 600 million pounds of the sweet fruit per year! We will learn a few words in Arabic and talk a little bit about the main attractions in Saudi Arabia - Mecca and Medina, both of which are very important holy places in the Islamic religion. I try not to bring much religion into the blog so that it stays neutral, but most of Saudi Arabia is defined by it's ties to Islam.
The way people dress, the women are almost completely covered when they leave the house, and the way they eat, pork and alcohol are not permitted, is defined by their religion and the absolute monarchy of the King Abdullah. Rules are strict and are strictly enforced and there is no tolerance for jokes or impudence regarding the religion - so I'm going to step lightly.
The capital, and also the largest city, is Riyadh, on the Eastern side of the country. It's coordinates are 24.65°N/ 46.71°E. It is a city with luxurious homes, pricey cars and high-end shopping! Saudi Arabia is the leading petroleum exporter in the world and those exporters are very wealthy men. Like solid gold toilet rich. Life has changed in a country that was traditionally populated with tribes of nomadic sheep and goat herders or traders taking caravans of camels across the desert.
Many of the traditions are still there but the trapping of success and the comfort that comes with money makes living in one of the driest countries of the world a little more comfortable.
I can't wait to see what we discover - maybe we'll even find a magic lamp!