About Me

In August of 2013 I left my grown children, their spouses and children, my friends, my dog, and my home in Denver, Colorado, in the United States. But not for another country. My destination was a kingdom. According to the stories in the fairy books, a kingdom is a place where you find knights and damsels and dragons and castles with towers and banners. In Sunday School you have the Kingdom of Heaven, with its golden gates and streets in the clouds. In Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood you find the Kingdom of Make-Believe, with animals and people that talk to each other. In elementary school you’re introduced to the United Kingdom, which is a green island across the ocean with a palace and a queen with a crown and that shares its roots with Renaissance fairs and Camelot.

Surely there could be no such thing as a kingdom in the modern world, where we know about things like inalienable rights and universal suffrage and Facebook. But there is. A kingdom that also is building a financial district on the scale of Wall Street, from the ground up. A kingdom with rush hour traffic and mega-malls and Kentucky Fried Chicken. And Facebook. But still a kingdom, with an absolute monarch and with rules and traditions that baffle outsiders. Saudi Arabia.

Fish, a friend pointed out to me, discover water last. For me, the wonder of travel is discovering things that are different from what you know. Some better, some worse, some just different, but all illuminating to someone who sees them as an outsider. Air instead of water. I now live as a fish among the birds. It is an endlessly fascinating adventure.

~Margo Catts, August 2013

14 Responses to About Me

  1. Kathy says:

    Hello Margo,
    Love your blog. I live in KSA and would love to attend one of the morning coffees you recently blogged about, but work during the week. Do you know of any on the weekends? Also, would love to purchase some ceramics. Any recommendations? Would love to buy some beautiful, but reasonably priced(?) Middle-Eastern pieces, if possible?
    Thank you so much in advance,
    Cheers, Kathy

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    • margocatts says:

      Hmmm…I’m unaware of any regularly scheduled weekend coffee mornings. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist! You’ve given me an idea, though…maybe with a little research I can give you a better answer AND come up with a post topic. As for ceramics, I have only a single business card from one coffee morning vendor I like. (I’ve actually bought more from the one I DON’T have a card for, dratted.) The email is najwa.sabbagh@yahoo.com, and she has a Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/CforCeramics. There are also some great shops at Diyirah souk that don’t specialize in pottery but have a variety of decorative crafts including ceramics. You can find them behind the gold souk, toward the carpets. Good luck, and let me know what you find!

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  2. Christine says:

    I get on the plane after the holidays for Riyadh. And I’m so so happy to find your blog and your positive attitude. So refreshing!

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  3. Jane Marie says:

    I loved the article about you in the WSB newsletter. It was very positive. Like you, I look at my time here as a great adventure. Having just arrived, I am not familiar with the market shopping areas. (I have been to the malls). I hope to go to the market seen in the photo, where you are in a shop with wooden chests piled up high. Does that sound familiar? Is it possible to give us directions to that shop?

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    • margocatts says:

      Thank you! The shop in that picture is in the Diriyah souk, in the antiques area, which you get to by going through the men’s souk. It’s hard to describe, as most shops on the souk are. I’m planning to do a blog on the souk soon, with a map showing the different areas. I hope that helps!

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  4. Omar says:

    Hi. I just had a quick question regarding whether American/British/Australian/Canadian/Kiwi Muslims allowed to live in compounds?

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    • margocatts says:

      I’ve never heard of Muslims being excluded. Compounds in Riyadh often identify themselves as “Western living” compounds, and therefore have rules that residents and guests are not to wear thobes or hijab/niqab/abaya in the pool or restaurant areas (though those expectations are relaxed on coffee mornings when a lot of outsiders are there). Compounds where Saudis live don’t have those rules, but do require freedom for residents to dress and mingle as they please. I hope that helps!

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      • Omar says:

        Thanks for that. Any idea where I can find a list of Western style compounds where the hijab isn’t banned?

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      • margocatts says:

        I’m afraid I can’t help you with that one. I don’t know that such a list is kept. I’d recommend seeking out Facebook forums, expat groups, or doing some fishing on Twitter. Things may be different outside Riyadh. I know lots of Saudis live on Aramco compounds in the Eastern Province and both styles of dress mingle freely in the compound facilities.

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  5. S.W. says:

    Hello Margo
    I wonder if you can help me with a dissertation I am writing about Domestic Tourism In Saudi Arabia. I have created a questionnaire to ascertain the travel habits of expats within Kingdom. Would you be willing to complete the questionnaire to assist me with my analysis.
    Look forward to hearing from you in due course.

    Like

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