The Lion Tombs of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is a surprising country. You never know what archeological treasures you are going to find when wondering around in the desert. Take for example these tombs.  They are located about 1 kilometer from the archeological site of Dedan and they date back to 5th century BCE. They are called the Lion Tombs not…

Mada’in Saleh Tombs

If you get the chance to visit Saudi Arabia, you need to visit the Mada’in Saleh tombs. The tombs are similar to the ones found in Petra, but unlike Petra, they currently don’t get a lot of visitors, which means there isn’t much security (actually no security that I could see).  And at the moment,…

Hejaz: Not your average race

Runners are a strange breed. It doesn’t matter where I live, it seems we unintentionally are drawn to each other. It starts with a sleepy nod in the early morning as you pass a fellow runner in silence during your pre-dawn training. It then extends to “likes” on Instagram and local Facebook running groups as…

Partaking in History at Saudi ComicCon

  Did someone say ComicCon? They did…and I was there. This past weekend marked the first ever ComicCon event in Saudi Arabia and it was pretty amazing. It took place in Jeddah and the guests included Charles Dance and Julian Glover from “Game of Thrones”, Giancarlo Esposito from “Breaking Bad” and one of the world’s…

The Strange World of Old Jeddah

  Walking in Old Jeddah (also known as Al-Balad) is like going back in time, but strangely that time really isn’t all that long ago. While parts of it were built in the 7th Century as a route for the pilgrims on their way to Mecca, other parts were built just a 100 years ago….

Art scene in Saudi Arabia

People always seem to be surprised that art (and really good art) exists in Saudi Arabia.  There may be certain restrictions due to Muslim religion, but art can still bloom within restrictions.  And often what comes out are powerful and memorizing images that speak to you. This was the case of the Maïmouna Guerresi’s  Solo Exhibition…

Mesmerized by the art and words of Qin Tian

Qin Tian’s exhibit at KAUST in January 2017 Writing has always been a part of my life. I wrote my first novel when I was 6 about an Irish Setter named Cinnamon and his adventures living with a koala bear in New Zealand (it wasn’t very good). All my life, I have always jotted down…

Sailing in Dubai

My friends will tell you that I’m not very good at sitting still. I love hiking and the outdoors, but sitting in a campground or camping sounds horrible. My idea of a picnic is standing at the summit, eating a protein bar while enjoying the view for 5 minutes and then going on my way….

Running with my tribe doing the Dubai Marathon

Dubai is one of my favorite cities that I have been to so far. I love the mix of East and West, I love the whole bigger than life sleek skyscrapers and I like that it’s still slow-paced, unlike Shanghai and other modern cities. I admit that it is expensive there for eating and drinking…

Saying Farewell to Saudi Arabia

At KAUST wearing my favorite yellow abaya When I moved to Saudi Arabia in 2014 to work at KAUST, I had no idea what to expect…and I had no idea I would like it so much. I met such wonderful people and learned so much about the culture, their humor, their creativity and their challenges….

The skiing in Lebanon trip

Did you know you can ski in Lebanon and it’s supposedly pretty good? Someone mentioned this to me, and of course, I had to go and check out this novelty for myself. It’s not that I’m a big skier. Actually, I’ve never skied, but the exotic slopes of Faraya in Lebanon seemed like the perfect…

One word to describe the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi? Wow!

Dubai gets all the hype when it comes to tall buildings, expensive hotels and crazy things of luxury that nobody can afford. But the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is something to behold. It’s absolutely gorgeous.  The mosque’s official name is Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and it’s in Abu Dhabi.  My friend calls it the…

Filled with amazement in the Empty Quarter

The trailer for the new Star Wars movie “The Force Awakens” is out and the buzz surrounding where it was shot in the desert outside of Abu Dhabi is everywhere.  Let me tell you, this desert is amazing and even better in real life than on film. Parts of “The Force Awakens” was shot in the…

Crossing Doha off the bucket list

Doha is one of the Middle Eastern cities I’ve been wanting to visit since living in Saudi. Not only will it be the city for the 2022 World Cup, but it’s got some pretty amazing buildings and an interesting history.  Because of this I wanted to see it before it got wrapped up in the World Cup…

Inspired by a great mind who studies brain energy

Tea, stuffed toy mice and stimulating conversation around the desk of Prof. Pierre Magistretti When I was six years old, someone told me that we only use 10 percent of our brains.  After that I was determined to use 15 percent of mine just to beat that statistic.  Whether I’ve actually achieved that or not…

Walking through history in Al-Balad in Jeddah

Sometimes I can’t believe that I live in this amazing place. There is so much history to Jeddah and when you ask the people who grew up here they just shrug and think I’m crazy for thinking it’s so cool. Just like we don’t look twice at the black squirrels that live in Toronto, these…

And then there was this crater…

At 4 a.m. on a Saturday morning, most people are sleeping.  But not my friends.This Sunday in August, we are up and already on the road in an effort to beat the heat of the Arabian Desert. It was still dark out and already 38 degrees Celsius, but we had a quest. We were going to…

Crossing Dubai off the bucket list

  I finally made it to Dubai!  The city has been on my bucket list for years and when I accepted the job at KAUST in Saudi Arabia, I promised myself that I would go there and see what all the hype is about. Dubai is everything they said it would it be.  It’s super…

The other pyramids of Egypt

  Did you know that the Great Pyramid of Giza is not in the middle of the desert?  I’m sure it was centuries ago, but now the city has expanded to the pyramid and The Sphinx looks out at a Pizza Hut. It’s also the best place to go if you want to be mobbed…

Sleeping on a houseboat in Egypt

 The little bridges leading to each houseboat. You can sleep in a hotel any time, but how often do you get to sleep on a houseboat in Egypt? When I saw the property on AirBnb, I couldn’t resist.  At just over $100 a night the price was right and so was the location as…

Did someone say Whale Sharks?

Each spring between March and May, the staff, faculty and students of KAUST frolic around the professors of the Red Sea Research Center for the chance to go on a Whale Shark diving expedition. Sadly, I was not one of them – or rather I “tried” to be one them, but by the time I…

20/20: Advice for Expats Moving Internationally

So happy I decided to bring my cheesy collection of Starbuck’s mugs. They say hindsight is 20/20 and I agree. If I could take what I know now into a time machine and go back two months ago when I was packing, moving and frantically trying to sell stuff on Craigslist, I would do things…

Learning How to Shop Saudi-style

The malls in Saudi Arabia are incredible – and gigantic.  I’ve only been to the ones in Jeddah, but I’ve been told the ones in Riydah are just as fantastic.   They are multi-leveled and have interesting things in them like a full-scale amusement park, a snow village where it actually snows fake snow, tropical lagoons,…

A warm welcome from old town Jeddah

Wednesday was my first day at work and already I got to visit Jeddah, which is the nearest city to KAUST and the second biggest one in the country with 4.1 million people.   Jeddah is currently having its first cultural festival in the city’s old Balad area and I went to check it out with…