Friday, 30 October 2015

Graffiti Rock - Picnics and Petroglyphs

The last time we saw ancient graffiti was at Madain Saleh. There it was traders and camel caravans telling the story of first century BC Nabatean traders bringing incense and myrrh from Southern Arabia to the Mediterranean.

Today we saw rock art that was even more ancient, dating possibly as far back as 3000 BC. Although graffiti perfectly describes the random jumble of scribbled figures, the correct term is petroglyphs. Today’s story was quite different from that of Madain Saleh. We saw hunters, pastoralists and the animals that would have lived alongside them: the backward horned ibex, ostriches, camels, hyenas, antelopes and strange long bodied creatures with tails waving in the air.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Just A Coffee - From Riyadh to Ethiopia

Before sitting I wipe something white and viscous off the seat. I’ve chosen the best of the available family section eating booths. This one doesn't have vinyl ripped off the arms of the chairs, the table is wobble-free and the screens have fewer chips and peeling laminate than others. I’m out shopping with a friend in one of Riyadh’s malls and we thought we’d stop for a coffee. Somewhere different today we decided, not Starbucks. However the reality is that any cafe here is the same. Drab, tatty and dirty. The windows are sealed with an opaque sheen that’s peeling at the corners - there’s neither view out nor in. The poster above the counter says in bold red lettering, “Coffee roasted fresh every day.” It's the only splash of colour anywhere and I just don’t believe it.