A young man came to work in Saudi Arabia for an IT company in Riyadh. An Indian who lived in the USA and was a USA citizen came here in Riyadh , excited and happy. He brought his pregnant wife here too. Life was ok the first few months. He bought a new car. He got furniture for his apartment and was all set to start a life. One day, he was driving around with his wife in the car and he decided to go to HARA ( Hai Al Wizarat) to buy something. Having heard stories about mugging and car thefts, he decided not to take any risks – so he left the car on for air conditioning and locked the doors to get off and quickly buy what he needed as his wife waited in the car. He was in the shop a few seconds when he saw his car speeding away, with his wife in it!
A man, a Saudi, had walked up to the car, very quickly broken the window, jumped in the car and taken it – with the pregnant wife! He came on to the DABBAB street, hoping to hit the highway asap. Meanwhile, the wife begged and cried and told him she was pregnant ( in what language or signs I don’t know!) and he felt sorry or guilty or I don’t what , and he told her to leave her purse, mobile and anything else in the car and that he will stop for JUST a minute so she can get off. She got off, leaving all her belongings in the car as he took off – never to be caught. The Indian Professional went to his office the next day, resigned from his job and left the country for good.
This is one story. There are countless stories of people being mugged, threatened with knife, beaten up and much more by Saudi youth in this area called HARA. Surprisingly, the major population in this area comprises of Indians, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis. Mostly labor and small shop owners with a few professionals too. There are stories of the Bengali Mafia, Indian Mafia and other mafias operating in this large area in the center of Riyadh.
You go there, and you feel you are in an old city neighborhood of India. Areas never developed. The building you see in the picture, has been there since I was a small child. Small apartments, with clothes drying in the balcony. Small shops. And in the alleys, very scary guys. dark in color hanging around. A deprived segment of the society that can resort to any act if they badly need something. Clear and obvious negligence bythe Municipality. There is filth, garbage all over the place.
You never, as a rule, leave your car on and get out. You do not walk alone there late at night. In fact, you avoid going there at all. NEVER ever take your family there when you need to buy something.
Hara, apart from the scary people, also has many nice small indian and Pakistani shops where people can get loads of products from back home.
I sit here and wonder how many of the thousands of people living in Hara are legal in KSA, not associated to some political party from their country and not associated to a criminal activity!
Finally, one does wonder: this is in RIYADH? The capital of KSA? Truly unbelievable.
The populations of various Asians is growing day by day. There are gang wars sometimes. Due to the very strict laws here they don’t use guns – but they have enough blade power to make anyone hand over their wallet to them.
People who have been mugged or harassed in Hara, have learnt, with much pain, that reporting a crime against them will bring no definite solution to this – so why bother.
So when you go to Hara, pay attention to the following:
1. Go alone or with male friends, but never family.
2. Do not talk to too many people. You will find many beggars and other kinds of people.
3. Take out the key after turning the car off when you want to just step out for even a second.
4. The best time to go there is in the morning. Less people and more convenient.