Since hundreds of millions of dollars are coming into Saudi every day from oil production, and Riyadh is the capital of Saudi, no expense is spared in their building projects!
The most amazing thing we were told last night is that a new University is being built exclusively for women (since men and women don’t mix very often anyway) that will probably be the biggest University in the world. We saw literally hundreds of cranes set up by each new building as we drove in from the airport last night but didn’t know what it was all about.
This place will be an education destination for 40,000 Saudi women. It is about seven miles square, is a five year project and will cost 11.6 BILLION dollars!
The current king is very progressive, especially in women’s right and progress in general and all the YPOers are hoping that he has a very long life because he is now 84!
When I asked Mohammend about whether or not he thought the rules about women not driving and the compulsory wearing of the abaya would ever change, he said he thinks that eventually women will be able to drive, but that the abaya is definitely a part of the religion and will never change (but the Jordanian guy on the plane the other day said that wearing the abaya was definitely just part of the culture.)
What a fascinating 24 hours in Riyadh…and now (hopefully, our plane is an hour late) on to a large group in Jeddah…some of whom we have seen before in 1998 and again about five years ago in Bahrain! Could there be a more fun job?