10/11/21 – Desert vs Dessert

It’s been eighteen months since the last time we presented our show Messi10 to the public. Many things have changed since, including but not limited to Leo Messi parting ways with Barcelona FC and joining PSG. Despite all of that we are on track to reopen the show in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It’s a new market for us and a little unusual providing the country just recently started to open up and loosen up. Nonetheless, we are here. Allez hop, donc!
One week passed since I arrived in Riyadh. Our compound is in the middle of nowhere: Uber drivers don’t know how to get here, neither do delivery guys. It is desert all around, mixed with piles of rubble. And it’s hot. I did cycle nonetheless: I started with laps within the compound, then did a 20-kilometers circle outside and finished the week with 45 kilometers loop. You would think this would be enough to get to the city center but you would be mistaken – it was more or less the same desert/rubble landscape, with the occasional shopping plaza.

If you ask me what I prefer – being in the desert or have dessert – the answer is the latter, although I lately cut back on desserts. It seems Saudis like their desserts as well: 69% of the population is overweight.
At the supermarket I bought something for ١٥.٩٥, only to be surprised at the checkout when it rang at 15.95: the cashier explained that it was written in Arabic and what I took for 0 was number 5. It was my cultural discovery of the day.

Foot note: Saudi Arabia is my 97th visited country, and 47th for Greengo, my Brompton. Where will we be for our 100th/50th?

First week in Riyadh in numbers:

122 km – distance cycled
95% — of the country is desert
13th — most obese country in the world