(MENAFN - Arab News) Batha is a well-known landmark in Riyadh like Balad in Jeddah or Ramaniyah in Alkhobar. To many visitors, Batha's markets for gold, vegetables and fish, restaurants, computer shops and supermarkets make it simply a commercial or a trading area.
But Batha is more than that. It 's also home to expatriate workers who find it convenient to live in the area, despite the crowd on weekends and the bumper-to-bumper traffic and noise at peak hours in the morning and evening, said Jun Adriano, who works for a publishing company. He has been living in the area for more than ten years.
The area is popular among the Asian community. Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are concentrated in villas and flats in the northern part of the area. Pakistanis live in accommodations in the central area while Bangladeshis and Indians chose to take up residence in the southern part of Batha.
"Large numbers of OFWs, Indians and Pakistanis are living in Riyadh. They were among the first foreign manpower to come to the capital city to work. For this reason it's possible that they invited compatriots to share a flat with them and share the cost," Adriano said.
Living in Batha has many advantages. It is strategically located and residents in the area can just walk to the fish and vegetable markets for food or to the restaurants to eat if they are they don't have time to cook.
"I have been provided with a company car to service our customers in Riyadh and Central Region. I have decided to live in Batha because our head office is near the area," said Jay Rabano, who works for a local company and who hails from Oriental Mindoro in the Philippines.
This choice also helps him save on his yearly housing allowance and send the money to his family in the Philippines.
"The rents in Batha are not that cheap. But OFWs can share the cost, with each having a room to himself," he said.
Floro Brenna is a chief mechanic who lives in Sinayah. He said, "I have many friends living in Batha who also works as mechanics. Tired after work in the afternoon, they just walk to the nearest restaurant to eat." Sinayah is in Riyadh's old industrial area and not too far from Batha.
"Staying in Batha is convenient. You can buy what you need at a low price. This is because the numerous shops compete with each other sell at low prices as long as they have margins no matter how small," said 31-year-old Mohammed Shabir, who is from Kerala, India.
"Being a resident of Batha has many advantages. I just walk from our flat toward Airport Road where I take a bus in going to work. I pay merely SR 2, which means I spend SR 4 on my daily commute," he said.
"This is a very practical way of living, especially now that the prices of goods and commodities have gone up. I find it expensive to buy and maintain a car. In fact, many of my friends complain that they spend too much on their cars, in particular when they have a second-hand vehicle.
As my family will arrive in the Kingdom to join me in a week's time, they tell me I should buy a brand-new car on installment because it is easy to acquire one," he said.
Shabir is not used to the idea of incurring debt. He would rather save the money for his family and invest any savings in Kerala. "In doing so, my family and I will have something to fall back on in the future," he said.
Shaikh Abdul Haq, a computer engineer in a local firm who hails from Karachi, has been living in Riyadh for the last 30 years.
He had noticed other expats in Batha could live in style. "They were able to save money by being discreet with their earnings. They could buy what they want by being practical."