At the weekend we took the KAUST bus to Jeddah to visit another one of the large mall’s there – the Mall of Arabia. This mall is smaller than the Red Sea Mall but has a bunch of different shops, plus we are attempting to visit all of the malls in turn (no mean feat) so we hopped on the bus, I donned my abaya and off we went to battle with the other 40,000,000 cars on the motorway all undercutting/overcutting/ramming into each other in an attempt to get to their destination a milisecond faster. (For more about the daily wacky races in Jeddah see my previous mall related post).
Once again we managed to cheat death and arrived in one piece which is always a nice, faintly surprising feeling and in we went. This mall is smaller as I say but we came here for a main reason which was to BUY LOADS OF MAKE UP. This place is really the bomb for beauty – to give you a bit of a summary there is:
Make up Forever
Debenhams (the usual concessions – Chanel, Benefit, LV etc)
Lots of smaller Arabic make up stores which seem to be cheaper.
That’s just a snapshot of what I saw when I was there because now I can’t remember as I have a terrible brain and also like a moron I didn’t take any pictures. Apart from this one which I *think* was to show you the logos for the male/female toilets. Like anyone would ever care to know. Anyway, here is said solitary photo, drink it in, let your eyes feast upon the beauty of the bog sign. You are welcome.
Back to the mall. I didn’t see a Mac shop which there was definitely one of at the Red Sea, but to be honest after having to be dragged out of Sephora before I bought the entire shop it’s probably a good thing that there wasn’t one. I was disappointed that they didn’t stock Anastasia Beverly Hills or Kat Von D but they have a killer Urban Decay section which kept me happy enough. All the ladies in there are very nice and happy to help you find what you are looking for, they all speak great English and whilst it’s a strange experience taking make-up advice from a girl who’s face is entirely covered, (whereas in England you can sort of tell if a makeup girl knows what she’s on about by how well done her face is) they were brilliant and got me exactly what I needed – and then admittedly some that I didn’t *need* exactly but hey.
On a Saturday the time you have in the mall is shorter as you leave KAUST at 4pm and leave the mall to go home again at 9pm. If you take out an hour for both the evening prayers that will be on whilst you are there you will have about three hours – we had bad traffic on the way so it ended up that we only had a couple of hours in the mall. As a result we were running around like idiots trying to get everything we need and it turned into a pretty stressful experience overall so I think maybe we will stick with a Friday for shopping from now on.
We also managed to completely muck up the prayer times this week which meant we just had to wander around doing nothing for the best part of 30-40 minutes each time. Remember to download a prayer time app and check the times before you go shopping so you can avoid this. Also remember that shops begin to shut 30 minutes before prayer time so try and get in somewhere to eat before this happens. We did this during the second prayer but ended up leaving way too early and nowhere was open when we left the restaurant. It’s all a learning curve though – I’m sure we’ll get the hang of it eventually!
We ate at TGI Fridays, and actually I took another picture here! Spoiling you today. Here is a picture of a napkin and a menu – almost as lame as a picture of a toilet sign!
The food was okay, as usual I ended up creating a panic-situation by asking for a chicken and cheese salad with no chicken or cheese (seriously it was the nearest thing to vegetarian on the menu. Such is the life of a vegan.) but it was really good when it came. One of the (very few, so few they almost don’t count) benefits of living in a dry country is that your food bills are always ridiculously cheap from what we are used to – so the whole thing for both of us came to 100 SAR which is about twenty quid.
After dinner Paul was a super-super-generous hero and bought me a iphone 6 s plus which I am so happy about! Its gold and it is so pretty and shiny and MINE. He’s so good. So, I finally have my Saudi phone for all those friends I don’t have in this country to call me on. But most importantly the camera on it is brilliant so I will be using it in lieu of the SLR I’m saving up for and setting up an Instagram account to run alongside this blog. Watch this space!
In addition to the various beauty halls, there were a good few shops I haven’t seen in the other mall – a big sports direct, zara home, Gap, (peculiarly) Marks & Spencer, a GIGANTIC Forever 21 and so on.
The website of the mall is here:
With a full list of shops here:
One thing I noticed at this mall was that very few ladies had their hair uncovered. There also seemed to be way more mutaween (religious police) around than at RSM. This didn’t make any difference to us at all I just found it interesting. Having said that I did get ‘tutted’ at when I was stood waiting for Paul outside a shop – probably because I was on my own but it didn’t phase me. Tut away dudes! All I would say is that it’s definitely a good idea to at least carry your headscarf in your bag if you aren’t wearing it. As I’ve said before it’s seen as rude to be in another country and fail to respect the culture, I do wear my hijab when out in Jeddah (the discussion about oppression is one for another blog post) as aside from anything else, it is going to save a LOT of hassle if you get called out on it if you can immediately take it from your bag and put it on. I promised my mother I would not get sent to jail for being a disobedient feminist whilst I’m here so there you go.
In the next few weeks we will be going to Ikea, maybe some other malls and then some of the souks which will be fascinating. Any other places you want me to report on? Feel free to comment some suggestions!