For expatriates, Batha exudes familiarity
Residents of the Saudi capital have been visiting the parks or malls at night or on weekends with their families but many foreigners still visit the commercial district of Batha.
“All roads led to Batha for many years in the past for expats and many of them still go there either at night or on weekends,” said Abdullah Gacuan, country manager for a Philippine-based bank.
He said that there are many reasons why many expats still visit Batha. For one, he said, it is a commercial center.
“They could find there everything they need. This is very convenient for them if they are living there or in its vicinity. They could save on fares. They don’t have to drive or commute,” he said.
For another, he added, they have been used to meeting friends there and eat at their favorite restaurants while discussing projects or issues of common interest to them.
“They have been used to being in the place on weekends or after work or office hours at night. It is a place they have become familiar with. Batha has become like home for them,” he said.
Moneer Hadaya, a Jeddah-based Syrian who visits Riyadh quite often, said: “The place exudes the familiarity of home. You could see there what you find in similar districts back home.”
He said that during his stay in Riyadh recently in connection with the ongoing 22nd Gulf Cup he found many people in Batha of various nationalities at night.
“I also enjoyed my dinner at one of the Syrian restaurants there. The food is not only good but the price is also reasonable,” he told Arab News.
Ibrahim Ammar, a Lebanese, added that he used to visit Batha in the past and he still goes for old times’ sake although not quite often anymore.
“It has become crowded with the construction of buildings and other infrastructure in the area. These buildings have occupied the space for parking areas,” he said.
As a result, he said: “I take my family to the various malls which have proliferated all over the city.”
Eric P. Asi, an engineer, added that the parks or malls which have cropped up like mushrooms all over the city have become good alternatives for families seeking an enjoyable weekend.
“I still go to Batha because there are many things we need that could be found there. But for an enjoyable weekend with the family, we go to parks such as Riyadh Zoo or malls like Panorama,” he said.
For other expats, they go to Batha because they have to remit money to their families back home through the different banks based in the area.
“This is one reason why I have always come to Batha at the end of the month and in doing so I take the opportunity of eating at our favorite restaurants,” said Nour Noubi, who is from Bangladesh.