When it rains, it pours.

Two working days in and so far so good.

Riyadh is certainly different from the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, definitely more conservative. Not in a bad way, just different. For example, I have never seen segregation at a fast food counter for men and women. Plus, the women’s line moves a lot quicker and it is service with a smile, as opposed to a grimace. I am used to family and single sections but family only shops and malls? This is an eye opener. Next to my hotel is the wonderful Al Faisaliah tower which contains a fantastic mall which has a great Harvey Nichols. I assume. I am not allowed in unless I am with a family, ideally my own. So, it looks great from the outside, probably has dancing polar bears and talking deer inside, but I will never find out. Great excuse for not buying any gifts though!!!

However, Riyadh is growing on me. Amazing buildings, well, massive buildings. I can’t cope with  the driving though! It makes Wacky Races look like a country drive in an old Morris 1000. Seriously folks, drive with eyes open, it helps.

After the ridiculous downpour, which I now understand has not happened in over 12 months, the majority of offices were closed on Monday (country wide) due to rain. Imagine in the UK if this happened, we would work for 2 days every year. Yes, I know some people do, but that’s a blog for another day.

Flooding in Riyadh

Flooding in Riyadh

Lightening strikes the Al Faisaliah Tower

Lightening strikes the Al Faisaliah Tower

So, onto business. The only reason I am here. So far so good. 2 education clients met, both very happy with our service and both want to develop long term business. The first will be taking out on Thursday to see all their colleges, we should have done this on Monday but due to the ‘national emergency’ all were closed…. Looks like we will be getting a lot more business from them, probably min 100 new vacancies in 2014 which bodes well and and will please the bank.

The second meeting went even better. CEO is delighted with us, all invoices signed off and new roles discussed. All 350 (min!) of them. Yes, that’s right, 350 roles. English, Maths and IT Teachers. They also want us to hold two interview events  in the UK for next year in order to fill the roles. At this point the bank are doing cartwheels. It is refreshing when clients speak to me as a partner and ask for advice, intelligent opinion and market intel. These are the sort of clients that I want to deal with and encourages us to work at the upper echelon of our ability.

I was taken to see the number one university in the Middle East, King Saud University. We have  a large number of teachers working there and I was pleased to get the opportunity to meet some of them. To put it into some perspective, KSU has 15000 students undergoing the 1 yr Preparatory Year Programme (English, Maths, IT) and 1000 Teachers administer the classes. Not all at once, obviously.  This is the largest PYP in the world and we are part of it’s development.

This PYP is the biggest in the world

This PYP is the biggest in the world

King Saud University PYP

So, 3 more business days in Riyadh, if they continue like this then I will be asking the bank to buy me some gold shoes. Size 8 please.

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