There aren’t many places in Riyadh where women can go bowling when the urge strikes. A couple of the larger compounds have bowling alleys, but if don’t know anyone to let you in, then those locations are off limits. Previously, there were only two non-compound bowling alleys where women could bowl in Riyadh. One was in UBC, just off Al Maadha St that we have been to a few times. The other was at Al Khozarma Hotel whose alley we haven’t tried yet, largely because you need to book out the the whole place to use it. Not so long ago, a group of friends decided we would try the new arrival to Riyadh’s bowling scene – the Ritz Carlton’s Strike Alley.
As this was a ladies only outing, we rang to find out what days women are allowed (Tuesdays and Saturdays are women only) and then planned a visit. Apparently there is a family day for bowling at the Ritz but I forgot to ask which day that was.
Getting to the bowling alley required first having coffee and cake. Unfortunately, the Riyadh Ritz High Tea left a lot to be desired. We were very impressed, however, when we walked into their bowling alley. It’s a large, spacious area with floor to ceiling photo’s of bowling pins, just in case you don’t get the fact it’s a bowling alley. There’s a dry-bar at the back (which means no alcohol given this is Saudi Arabia) where you can order snacks and drinks, and there is sufficient space between the bar and the lanes to sit and relax in the plush armchairs. If you get sick of bowling there’s also a billiard table and a TV.
There are six lanes all together and on a weekday afternoon, there was only one other lane being used by a couple of Saudi girls. Being the ladies only time, abaya’s were quickly removed so we could get down to bowling business. A lot of hidden talent was uncovered this day, though not enough to make any of us give up our day jobs to become professional bowlers.
Naturally, sufficient time was taken between games to sit, enjoy a refreshing drink and chat about the good, bad and downright quirky aspects of living in this country.
I have no idea if this alley gets very busy during the week. It’s certainly a nice venue for getting out of the house although, like most other recreational facilities in Riyadh, it doesn’t open till 4pm. For some reason Saudi doesn’t think women like to do much before the late afternoon which, we decided is a bit sad for we expats ladies who prefer to be out and about before the husbands and kids are due home from work or school. Anyway, we had a load of fun and decided, Strike Alley at The Ritz Carlton in Riyadh is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon with a group of friends.