Jeddah Corniche: Over 100km of fun!

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Updated 22 January 2013
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Jeddah Corniche: Over 100km of fun!

Jeddah is located in the center of the western Saudi Arabia’s coast along the beautiful beaches of the Red Sea — hence its nickname the “Bride of the Red Sea”.
If anyone visits Jeddah, he or she should never leave without visiting the Corniche, where most recreational facilities for sports, enjoyment, and tourism are available.
The Jeddah Corniche — divided into the southern, central, and northern corniche — stretches almost 110 kilometers, with plenty of international hotels, restaurants, amusement parks, places for fishing, picnic areas, a science museum, and mosques. But most importantly, it has the famous King Fahd Fountain, also known as the Jeddah Fountain, which has become the symbol of Jeddah.
This beautiful fountain — the tallest in the world — was a gift from the late King Fahd. The 312-meter high fountain is located near the coast of Jeddah and can be seen from all over the city. It is even higher than the Eiffel Tower!
Along the Southern Corniche, we find a number of beautiful monuments and memorable objects, from 26 bronze sculptures made by world famous artists in front of the Al-Hamra beach to restaurants, hotels, famous fast-food chains, as well as Al-Hamra Mall.
The adopted design of the Corniche adds an artistic touch all along by placing sculptures and other artwork at roundabouts and on streets running alongside the Corniche. Most sculptures and artworks can be found along the northern and central parts of the Corniche. Jeddah is worldwide renowned for housing the largest number of sculptures and artworks by famous international artists such as Moore, Arp, and Miró.
At the moment, because of the Corniche refurbishing program, the sculptures area between Al-Hamra Mall and Hassan Enany Mosque is closed, as restoration work is going on. It will reopen very soon, providing a beautiful picnic location to enjoy nature. A sculpture museum has also been planned.
Hassan Enany Mosque is a very prominent mosque located along the Central Corniche near Palestine Street. It was built in 1984 by the architect Raouf Helmi and commissioned by Hassan Enany. It has a capacity of 1,200 worshippers in an unusual prayer hall covered by an octagonal golden dome.
The Northern Corniche is a strip that extends from the Coast Guard building to Fatima Al-Zahra Mosque, also known as the floating mosque. The Northern Corniche is made up of three routes — each one travels in both directions — that create artificial lakes along the roads and stretch toward the sea.
The Corniche is lined up with numerous facilities and services, such as playgrounds, amusement parks, lush landscape, and spacious paved areas, as well as many shaded seating, walking and jogging areas for families to enjoy the ocean view.
The new Corniche, starting from the Tahlia garden intersection of the Northern Corniche near the Desalination Plant to Faqih Mosque, has been completed with landscaping, pedestrian paths, public toilets within walking distance, and parking lots with internal roads. Numerous types of foliage, saplings, and green grounds have also been planted.
The new area has been refurbished according to international standards. New swings, challenging sports activities, slopes, monkey bars, shaded areas, grass gardens, tiled pavement, sitting areas, and benches — almost all facilities are available for family fun and a picnic.
The municipality plans to refurbish all parts of the Corniche to enhance local and international tourism. In the new Corniche, barbequing is not allowed, but visitors can still enjoy the barbeque at the sea front in the Northern Corniche.
Some areas between Faqih Mosque and Fatima Al-Zahra Mosque are still under refurbishment, but most areas are open for sitting at the seaside and have landscape, pedestrian paths, and parking lots with internal roads.
Another beautiful mosque is the Island Mosque with its simple and stunning white architecture, which turned into peach and cream shade with time. It was built in 1988 on a tiny island just off the Northern Jeddah Corniche. It is one of the four mosques built on or near the water. The other mosque of the Red Sea is the Corniche Mosque. The powerful classical silhouette of this mosque proclaims to all the presence of Islam.
This building reflects the architecture of traditional Egyptian mosques. The entire structure consists of bricks coated with plaster except for the dome. In the interior, the bricks are exposed and painted in a dark bronze color. The prayer hall itself is at the center of a composition that includes the mihrab, projecting outward from the eastern wall just below an oculus, an entrance porch covered by a catenaries vault, and a square-based minaret with an octagonal shaft.
Other things to see on this road are the lakes as well as the water roundabout with Arabic calligraphy. Along the Northern Corniche, visitors will find a number of restaurants with seating areas. When the blazing sun becomes too much visitors can enjoy themselves at the water parks of Sail Island, Green Island, Nawrus Restaurant and others while enjoying the pool and recreation facilities for adults and children.
The most visited mosque along the Red Sea coastline of Jeddah is Fatima Al-Zahra. It is famous by its nickname, the “Floating Mosque”. It is actually built in the sea and at high tide it seems to be floating in the water, like the floating mosque in Penang, Malaysia.
Another fascinating place is Atallah Happy Land Park, with rides for adults and children. It is an amusement park with indoor and outdoor rides and attractions, ice-skating and bowling, dining and shopping, and a 6D theater.
If you want to enjoy a roller coaster ride, you can visit Al-Shalal — Arabic for waterfall — Theme Park, which also features an ice-skating rink and theme area, and the Amazon ride with a jungle theme, complete with life-sized figures of animals, light and sound effects.
The park has a lagoon and 15-m high waterfall with many rides as well as a pirates ship, the largest merry-go-round, seven restaurants, party rooms, a theater, and a games arcade. The park also has a large number of retail outlets for souvenirs and soft toys for children.
The sea front is also the best place for visitors to spend time. Many people like to do fishing, while others enjoy horse riding, bicycling, and motorcycling. But for such rides there are special places allocated along the Southern Al-Hamra Corniche, as visitors are not allowed to do it anywhere for safety and security reasons.
Other than that, you can enjoy a boat ride on the open Red Sea with family and friends. Such facilities can be found on the Northern Obhur Corniche, where a number of boats and yachts are available for rent on an hourly or daily basis. Some are fishing boats, while others have been turned into floating restaurants.
In this area, jet skis are also available for youth, in addition to many resorts for families to enjoy swimming and picnicking.

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Influencer invasion as Pakistan launches tourism push

Updated 24 April 2019
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Influencer invasion as Pakistan launches tourism push

  • Cricketer-turned-prime-minister Imran Khan is keen to promote the nation’s tourism potential
  • The push has resulted in an influx of foreign travel bloggers extolling the virtues of its mountains and beaches

ISLAMABAD: They are young, Western, and full of praise for Pakistan: Travel influencers have moved in on the “land of the pure,” but critics warn their rose-tinted filters are irresponsible and sell an inaccurate picture of the conservative, militancy-scarred country.
As security improves, cricketer-turned-prime-minister Imran Khan is keen to promote the nation’s tourism potential, with the government claiming it has eased visa restrictions for many foreign visitors.
The push has resulted in an influx of foreign travel bloggers extolling the virtues of its mountains and beaches, as well as its rich heritage and history, from ancient Indus civilizations to Buddhist shrines and Islamic monuments.
“Pakistan, it was the trip of a lifetime,” food and travel YouTuber Mark Wiens told his four million subscribers.
Polish blogger Eva zu Beck informed her followers it could “become the number one tourist destination in the world,” while Canadian social media influencer Rosie Gabrielle said she wanted her stories to “tell the truth” about the country.
But there are concerns influencer content does not reflect the major challenges, from infrastructure to extremism, that Pakistan is facing as it embraces modern tourism.
Zu Beck, whose clip was even shared by officials, cites government commerce initiative Emerging Pakistan, as well as Pakistan International Airlines as partners she’s worked with, while Wiens credits tourism expo Pakistan Travel Mart for “making the amazing trip happen.”
Gabrielle says her 3,500-kilometer motorcycle trip across the nation was facilitated by a Pakistani association in Oman.
Once seen as an essential stop on the hippie trail, visitor numbers have slumped since the 1970s when the country first underwent sweeping Islamization then descended into a bloody battle with militancy.
Deadly attacks still occur but security concerns are easing, so authorities and businesses are keen to shake the perception it is a hostile and dangerous place.
They are enthusiastic that so-called social media “influencer” advertising, which generally provides glossy snapshots rather than in-depth investigation, can present an alternative vision of Pakistan to a new generation of young and adventurous travelers.
“People believe them,” says Pakistan Travel Mart CEO Ali Hamdani, who helped set up Wiens trip, adding that bloggers’ impressions are regarded as “authentic.”
Yet Pakistanis and seasoned foreign travelers warn such posts on social media do not paint a full and honest picture of Pakistan.
Tourism infrastructure is severely underdeveloped, there are opaque government restrictions on places foreigners can visit, and travelers are often harassed — whether by men bothering women in a patriarchal society; or suspicious intelligence officials detaining curious sight-seers or insisting on security escorts.
“All this ‘Everything is wonderful in Pakistan’ is just irresponsible,” reveals June, an indignant 51-year-old Briton who declined to give her last name, she had been harassed by a police officer during a visit to the northwestern Swat valley.
Influencers are shielded from many issues that ordinary visitors face, adds Zara Zaman, an attendee at a recent tourism summit in Islamabad.
“All of these travelers are also traveling with crews and are protected by more powerful people,” she argues.
Hamdani, for example, acted as a driver for both Wiens and another influencer, Trevor James, during their visits, smoothing out any issues.
Zu Beck and Gabrielle, were able to visit the southwestern province of Balochistan — famed for its spectacular scenery, but also for violent insurgencies, which means few foreigners are able to visit without the blessing of intelligence agencies.
What influencers publish “doesn’t represent the real experience,” warns Alexandra Reynolds, an American blogger on her fifth trip to Pakistan, adding that there is a risk that less experienced travelers will be misled by such content and potentially end up in trouble.
“In a time when Pakistan’s international reputation is so fragile, it is not something that should be risked,” the 27-year-old explains, revealing that she too experienced harassment from security forces during a previous trip.
Another tourist Sebastiaan, 30, says he was detained for 14 hours and questioned by suspicious government agents in the southern city of Mithi last September.
There is also frustration from Pakistanis that Western bloggers have been feted by authorities, while locals with better cultural understanding — especially of sensitive issues such as gender or blasphemy — are sidelined.
“It kinds of makes me angry to have white people represent us. We are not completely done with our post-colonial hangover,” says Zaman.
At the tourism summit a group of the Western bloggers were widely photographed meeting Imran Khan, with no local travel influencers in sight, prompting a backlash on social media.
Despite concerns, the bloggers remain enthusiastic.
Zu Beck, 27, has gained a huge following in Pakistan, where a local phone company has sponsored some of her videos.
She insists: “My job is not to love Pakistan. My job is to make content. But I love Pakistan.”