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Riyadh Foyer

October 25, 2006

The Saudi is a very nocturnal beast, sleeping late and only really getting going in the evening. Helped along by the restaurants being open until 11pm and the coffee shop even later the Saudi men, usually in the national dress, drift into the foyer, settle in to smokes and coffee and get down to business. Few have elected for alternate cell phone rings so a constant Nokia chorus interrupts the low rumbling murmur which arises from the dozen or so couches and paired seats which encourage these business couplings. Papers are pored over, laptops press out presentations, phones ring, hands gesture and smoke rises. Few Saudi’s raise their voices – that is reserved for the Indians who service the Avis desk propped in the middle of all this is. As I write this and glance down the foyer I can see prayer beads being fingered, heads bent across a table in earnest conversation, middle aged and portly gents reclining and pointing their bellies at each other in studied genteelness – which will vanish as they try to pry themselves free of their seats later. Silver haired Aryans flock around the Avis desk and laugh and jibe each other while white Saudi thobes and red dishadashas drift past offering murmured Salams as they go. The young Indian “coffee boy” with an accent so thick I have to point to the menu before we understand each other, flits from table to table. There are no tips but jobs like this would be tough to find and dressed as “labourer casual” will be the last thing he will want.

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