Al Tahlia is a street in the middle of Riyadh, lined on both sides with restaurants, coffee shops and a few boutiques and specialty shops. Last Thursday, February 11th, I went out to dinner with my sisters and afterwards, we decided to pass by Al Tahlia because we heard it gets crazy every Thursday. Our Thursdays are like Saturdays for the West. It’s the first day of the weekend. So my sister Fatten and I wanted to check it out especially since I had my camera handy and we weren’t disappointed. Keep in my mind that:
1- Alcohol is illegal and inaccessible to the majority.
2- These photos were all taken after midnight.
This one is just to show how crowded it really was. And those lighted poles on the left are palm trees with their trunks decorated with tiny yellow lights
And the police were out too. In full force, they had a bus parked onto one side and you can see police cars and police on foot bringing young men to the bus.
Here you can see men being led to the bus.
But that didn’t stop people (men actually) from making a ruckus, pointlessly hanging out of the windows of their cars and playing their music loud.
When they saw me with my camera they started to call out to me to take their picture. This one guy was especially persistent, that even the driver told me to take his photo! When he got the camera pointed at him he went back down into the car to get a sign on which he had painted his cell phone number. I blacked out his eyes and his number.
All over the street, they wanted to get their picture taken and posed for the camera. At one stop light a car full of kids actually ignored the red light so that they could get into the camera’s field of view. Some would even drive up to our windows to get a picture taken.
And it wasn’t only cars. motorcycles were aplenty. These guys didn’t mind having their photo taken as long as I gave them time to cover their faces with bandannas and scarves.
Restaurants too were packed. These photos were taken at 12:30 am.
The police blocked the crossroads in the middle of al Tahlia street so that the cars would have to disperse left and right.
Some say that the police were right to do so. This is an area in the middle of the city and by behaving this way, these men are causing traffic issues. There is an area just outside Riyadh, Al Mounisiya, next to King Fahad stadium where there is a cluster of sheesha (hookah) shops and restaurants. Also that area is famous for its isterhas (weekend houses) which are available for nightly rent. So you can’t say that they have no place to go.