15 April 2016

Saudi Arabia, Part 2

JEDDAH, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia—Between “Saudi Arabia, Part 1,” posted 31 March, and this entry, I have been home to Hull, visited Dublin for one night to give a lecture at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, was in Edinburgh for three nights, and now I have been in Riyadh for a week. This post comes from the Crowne Plaza Jeddah, a 90-minute flight from Riyadh, where I have retreated for the weekend (Friday and Saturday).

My Facebook memory told me this morning that it is, to the day, exactly one year since I was last here. I need this break, because it has been a hectic week with teaching, preparation for teaching, and meetings. I spent a day at the Female Student Campus of King Saud University holding consultations and teaching students who are pursuing their master’s degree in nursing. I visited King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre to arrange for my day of teaching there next week, and one evening I visited the British ambassador's residence for a function organised by another UK university, the University of Dundee, where I know colleagues well. A farcical taxi journey caused me to miss the address by British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, His Excellency Simon Collis, CMG, but I caught talks given by the Dundee staff.

Janice Rattray, University of Dundee, and
Ahmad Aboshaiqah, King Saud University.
I was very pleased to see Janice Rattray, PhD, RN, who is also working here this week. The last time I met her was a year ago in the first-class lounge of King Khalid Airport, Riyadh when we were both leaving Saudi Arabia. I also had lunch with her next day in the sumptuous Ritz Carlton hotel.

The journey to the British embassy did not go well from the start. My driver was unavailable, so the hotel staff summoned a taxi. It was clear from the outset that the cabbie had no idea where the British embassy was, nor did he speak English. When getting into the taxi, however, my thought was, “How bad can this be?” Well, it got bad. He drove to the diplomatic area as directed, I think, by the hotel staff, and tried to drop me off at a British school. I had the upper hand, of course, as I still had the 50 Saudi riyal, the maximum taxi fare, in my pocket.

We proceeded to do a tour of the embassies, and when I spotted the Union Jack on a sign, I thought I was safe, but it transpired—thanks to a Dutch gentleman who was trying to hail a taxi outside the Belgian embassy—that this was not the side of the compound where the British ambassador lived. My poor taxi driver was almost as stressed as me and refused to move, even after instructions in Arabic from the guard at the Belgian embassy who, I’m sure, was watching the commotion with amusement. I goaded the driver to move, but he wouldn’t.

I was standing outside the car when another drew up beside us to ask the Dutch gentleman directions to the British embassy. The occupants were two ladies I had met last year, and they recognised me. “Dr. Roger,” they shouted. I did not recognise them, however, as they were wearing traditional Saudi female attire. I paid off my driver, invited the Dutch gentleman to that taxi—he declined—and I joined the ladies in their taxi. The story does not end there, but it would take too long to describe every detail of our two tours round the diplomatic area with me crying, “Stop!” when I correctly identified the proper drop-off point—to no avail the first time, but successfully the second time.

James Smith, founding editor,
Journal of Advanced Nursing.
Meantime, turning the clock back a few days, I was in Edinburgh to attend the UK’s Royal College of Nursing (RCN) International Nursing Research Conference 2016, which celebrated 100 years of the RCN, 60 years of academic nursing at the University of Edinburgh, and 40 years of Journal of Advanced Nursing. I was there to interview James P. Smith, DLitt (honoris causa), OBE, founding editor of the journal, and Alison Tierney, PhD, FRCN, CBE, former editor-in-chief. I also entertained them, along with former editor Jacqueline Fawcett, PhD, FAAN. Fawcett recalled a lunch with my wife Debbie and me, and our then 10-year-old son Charles that took place more than 10 years ago on a very cold Boston winter day. You can hear the interviews in this podcast.

Despite coming to Jeddah to rest, I will be meeting two former doctoral students: Wafaa Al-Johani, PhD, RN, and Ahlam Eidah Al-Zahrani, PhD, RN, who both now work at The College of Nursing, King Abdulaziz University. They invited me to lunch with their dean, Hasnah Erfan Banjar, PhD, RN. I also had dinner with John Sedgewick, RN, director of nursing education and Saudization, King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre, and a doctoral student at the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom.

I don’t know if will return relaxed and refreshed to Riyadh tomorrow, but I have enjoyed every minute of this short break. I have a busy week ahead before I submit Part 3 of this Saudi Arabia trilogy.

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International. Comments are moderated. Those that promote products or services will not be posted.

1 comment:

  1. Dr Roger (!), it was great to see you at our Showcase Dundee event at the Embassy and you arrived looking as calm as ever despite the clearly frustrating journey. Look forward to our next meeting, probably in Saudi again!