High Tea at the Faisaliyah

As recruiters to the Middle East, candidates look to us for answers to all of their questions regarding their relocation. Not only do we provide information about employers and accommodations, but we also try to portray an accurate image of what day-to-day living is like. Therefore, on a recent staff trip to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, we visited the same restaurants, sites, and shops that will likely be frequented by those relocating to this, the capital city. So when we had the opportunity to dine in one of the most breathtaking restaurants in the East, we decided to call it "research."

The distinctly structured Faislaiyah shopping and business center is an iconic skyscraper, which towers over and distracts from most other buildings in the Riyadh skyline. Pyramidal in shape, its four corner pillars peak just above a golden glass sphere which houses a three-storey gourmet restaurant and an outdoor observation deck.

Adjacent to Kingdom Tower, the city's tallest structure, the two buildings create an A-line silhouette that lights up the evening sky. Home to the largest shopping mall in the city, business centers, 5-star hotels and luxury restaurant, it's no wonder that the Faisaliyah was the number one suggested site to visit during our stay in Riyadh.

When the elevator doors opened on the 31st floor, 200 meters (656 feet) above the ground, I was instantly reminded of being at the top of the Empire State building in New York City. However, instead of the Brooklyn Bridge and City Park, we looked out to the Masmak Castle, the Kingdom Tower, and even our client hospital, The King Faisal Specialist and Research Center. The panoramic view of the city revealed a unique mixture of metropolitan concrete, surrounded by vast desert sand.

Back inside and safe from the winds that one encounters 200 meters in the sky, we enjoyed high tea within the globe's gourmet restaurant. Sipping on cappuccinos, we sat enjoying each other's conversation and marveling in the view of desert skyline illuminated by the light of the setting sun.

The high tea evening buffet was an awesome display of amuse bouche and light fare. Smoked salmon was served on a paper- thin crepe. Gourmet cheeses were spread onto thin, freshly baked breads. Some diners sipped pink Saudi champagne (non- alcoholic, of course) while enjoying bite-size sandwiches, salads, and desserts.

At the center of the dessert table, fresh fruits surrounded a fountain flowing with milk chocolate. Cakes, cookies, and mousse surrounded a giant champagne flute filled to the top with meringues. It was a treat for the eyes, as much as the mouth.

Following high tea, and quite content, we decided that we could not let this perfect evening go by without just one more extravagance. Therefore, we headed to a local spa for manicures and pedicures — strictly "research" of course.

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