International Alumni & Friends
Saudi Arabia, traditional and modern

Huge hail storms 12 hours after having fallen in the desert outside Riyadh
Interior view of King Saud University main building in Riyadh

"When you come to Saudi Arabia, let's plan to have tea in the desert", proposed 1992 Ph.D linguistics graduate Abdulla Al-Watban to International Advancement director Martin Limbird in 1996.  The chance to accept that offer came during Limbird's travels to the Middle East in April, 2007 to meet Ball State graduates.

Al-Watban, a frequent guest in the Limbird home before and after graduation, made sure that Limbird's visit to the Kingdom introduced both the old and the new, including visiting the main administration building on the campus of King Saud University. "For starters, the Riyadh airport design is simply breathtaking", said Limbird, "but I was surprised to see how similar traditional Saudi building materials were to those used in the past by American Indians in the US Southwest."  Al-Watban made sure his guest enjoyed typical home-style food as well as coffee in several cafes where water pipes were being enjoyed.

The pair's trip to the desert, about 50 miles outside Riyadh, occurred the day after a torrential downpour, filling normally dry river beds and attracting city dwellers to marvel at the abundance of water.  The biggest surprise to Limbird was to be shown huge hail stones that had fallen about 12 hours before being shown them. "They must have been the size of baseballs or grapefruit when they fell', observed Limbird.  The desert terrain was reminiscent to Limbird of scrub brush land in west Texas.

Thanks to use of a modern thermos, the tea enjoyed in the desert was prepared before setting out.  "Sharing cups of tea in the desert with my friend Abdullah will rank high in my memory of great moments with BSU alumni around the world," said Limbird.

Huge hail storms 12 hours after having fallen in the desert outside Riyadh
Huge hail storms 12 hours after having fallen in the desert outside Riyadh