And now, the end is near….

Well, as there is absolutely nothing to do here at King Fahd International Airport I may as well post my last Saudi trip related blog. Oh no I hear you cry! OH NO I HEAR YOU CRY. That’s better. (Pantomime season is almost upon us).

It has been an eventful 2 weeks. Riyadh was great for business, the focus was entirely on education and training and it was a great success. The city is massive, rammed with traffic and some pretty impressive buildings and unbelievably terrible driving.

My hotel, the Al Khozama oozed old school chic and service. Very friendly staff who actually took an interest as opposed to the plastic ones you get in some much bigger properties. I have not stayed in a hotel where you hand your proper key into reception when you leave every day for some time. Pretty cool actually.

Al Khozama Hotel, Riyadh

Al Khozama Hotel, Riyadh

 

The rain was heavy. Very heavy. Closing the whole of Saudi was slightly melodramatic but considering the state of the driving, lack of drainage and dodgy bridge constructions, I could see why. It was amusing to see pictures of one guy jet skiing down a road in Riyadh and another using a polystyrene block a as a raft! However a few years ago over 1000 people died in Jeddah due to the floods so it is an issue which needs to be addressed.

I will skirt over my aching back etc as I am sure you are just as fed up with it as I am. Safe to say it still aches, thanks for asking.

As usual the hospitality of my clients never ceases to amaze me. I genuinely do not expect anything in the way of gifts and I feel very awkward accepting them but it is rude to do anything else. It is very humbling and extremely kind. Receiving a wonderful gift from a candidate was even more surprising, most people we get a job for seem to disappear into the ether, so to feel a genuine warmth and gratitude makes my job a whole lot easier and satisfying. ‘Thank you’ is such an emotive phrase when delivered with dignity and feeling.

Of course I could not remain professional all the time:
*Sitting in the middle of the family section in the poshest hotel in Riyadh (Ritz Carlton) before being rescued by my client.
*Trying to open a wall thinking it was a door in another very posh hotel (Four Seasons).
*Being mistaken and then confirming that I am the British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia (he is over 6ft and white) so easy mistake…
*Killing time by going to a mall before discovering none of the shops would be opening for another 3 hours and I could not go anywhere so had to wander around aimlessly whilst the security guards wondered what on earth I was doing.

So you can see, international recruiter supreme I may be, but interspersed with bouts of idiocy.

After Riyadh I flew up to the Eastern Province to hook up with the UKTI trade mission. I always enjoy these missions as it is an excellent opportunity to make good contacts and showcase the company. As this part of Saudi was my route to entry several years ago, I always end up trying to see more people than I actually have time for. Plus the Arab culture is to arrange a meeting with nano seconds notice meaning a rigid schedule is never a good idea. I didn’t do too badly, a mix of confirmed and off the cuff meetings were had and all went pretty well. Even the bizarre client meeting (with a group that we have had tremendous recent success with) where one of the guys decided to rip into me for no reason whatsoever and I almost walked out. Even this one ended with us confirming more business and a vote of thanks! I am still shaking my head as to what twilight zone I wandered into.

It was particularly interesting to see some expat compounds. That is all I am saying on the matter!!

In summary, 2014 is going to be immense. My head hurts in trying to work out how we are going to fit it all in, but we will and it will all be a tremendous success. Coupled with the new contracts we have signed in Bahrain and Oman, plus existing clients increasing their requirements, I suspect next year will pass in a blink of an eye.

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