Unexpectedly, I find myself in Riyadh tonight. This is my first trip here, though so far the sum total of my experience has been airport, taxi, and hotel.
I hope that I manage to see something uniquely Riyadh during the trip, though I will not be surprised if my journey is a sequence of point-to-point trips, with no time in the actual city. A shame.
The story, so far as I know it, is that we (my team lead, Andrew Winfer, and I) have been called out as representatives of KAUST to assist KACST in the configuration of their Blue Gene/P. They have a single rack (4096 PowerPC compute cores, likely with four terabytes of memory disributed among them). As I understand it, KACST is structured much like a national laboratory, and this system is being managed by the group of research scientists using it. Apparently they haven't been terribly pleased with the system thus far; but a Blue Gene is a bit different from a traditional cluster, and those differences can be confusing at first.
I hope we will be able to assist them. More exciting, though, is the possibility that this is the first in a series of future collaborations between our two institutions.
Of course, I haven't been to KACST yet: we only just arrived in Riyadh at 22:00. I'm procrastinating sleep with the trickle of Internet available in my room.
KAUST has put us up in the Brzeen Hotel. (I'm giving up on trying to isolate a correct Arabic spelling.) The room is perfectly servicable, if a bit barren; but overshadowing everything else is the size of it all.
Anyway: I expect there will be more interesting things to say tomorrow.