Riyadh is a business city, not a tourist city. Seeing museums and malls doesn't take more than a day or two, but visiting with friends and their families, especially during the Eid Holiday, was the best experience I've had since coming to Saudi Arabia.
Local friends were eager to show me what they through was the best that the city had to offer, whether that was going to a favorite restaurant, touring a museum, driving into the desert to drink camel's milk, or coming over to a father's house to drink coffee or play X-box.
My friend's little cousin was fascinated with talking to me. He quizzed me incessantly on sports stars and American pop singers. He know more than I did about pop culture! When asked why he was asking so many questions, he responded by saying that he had never met an American before and wanted to know if I really did know all of those things! Sometimes I worry about the image that is portrayed through media and movies exported from the USA...
I have missed being with families. My world at KAUST is filled mostly with other students my age and with faculty and staff who are older. Families are different though - and I have missed being with people from all ages and all backgrounds, not just with students, academics, and the foreign workers who have been hired to run our services.
Just hanging out was a blast. There is something freeing about hopping in a car to cruise around town with the music up and friends to joke with. This was a much needed break from the walls and windows of the KAUST library.
I think I suffered from drinking too much tea and coffee - a necessary component of any group gathering in Saudi Arabia.