A doubting Thomas sent me a message questioning the unavailability of a camera on my Red Sea trip. He probably lives in Saudi Arabia now and it may seem inconceivable to him that we didn’t have a camera on us. I can understand where he is coming from though.
This was almost 25 years back and Saudi Arabia was nothing like it probably is now, from what I see and hear on the net. The country was highly security-conscious then, and they just hated cameras and pictures being taken in public.
A colleague took his visiting parents on a drive around Riyadh and snapped off a few pictures of this really beautiful city. They had barely returned home when there was urgent hammering on the door. Security guys had followed them home! In fact, they had followed them all over the city trying to find out what the hell they were up to! They confiscated their cameras and destroyed their reels! They were lucky they were not thrown in prison as spies!
Which explains why we didn’t have cameras with us on this trip to Abha and the Red Sea, or on any of the many smaller picnics into the desert and even visits to other historical places when we were there. We were allowed to carry cameras on our other overseas trips, just not inside the Kingdom.
Sometimes, we did take photographs inside our homes during get togethers, but there was no selfie-photo craze those days. It was not a priority and people did not live with one finger on the camera button. Now, one does sight-seeing only through the lens of a camera!
So, sadly, we don’t have photographs of the country itself. We did snap off a couple of photographs furtively outside our compound (apartment complex) on the day of our departure to the US.
I went first to Saudi Arabia first and my wife joined me after a few months due to a delay in her visa. We wrote and posted letters (remember those things?) to each other during our ‘judai’. When her letters came to me, it was obvious they had been opened.
Which reminds me that we didn’t even phones for most of our stay, not even a landline. In fact, in the beginning of our stay, making an overseas call was a ‘questionable’ activity. We had many an adventure trying to make calls to India. But those stories are for other days.
So cameras, my doubting friend, nah, not possible.