Riyadh: Deal first step to end Iranian nuclear plan

Updated 28 November 2013
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Riyadh: Deal first step to end Iranian nuclear plan

Saudi Arabia on Monday cautiously welcomed the Geneva deal reached between Western powers and Iran, describing it as a possible initial step toward reaching a comprehensive solution to Tehran’s controversial nuclear program.
“If there is goodwill, then this agreement could be an initial step toward reaching a comprehensive solution to Iran's nuclear program,” the Cabinet said, expressing hope that the accord would also lead to the removal of weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, from the Middle East and Arab Gulf region.
It was Saudi Arabia’s first official reaction to Sunday’s deal. GCC countries had previously expressed unease about the US outreach to Iran, as they generally view any normalizing of ties between Tehran and the West as a direct threat to their own stability.
In a statement issued after the Cabinet meeting, which was chaired by Crown Prince Salman, Saudi Arabia also hoped that the accord would lead to “important steps” that ensure the rights of all countries in the region to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
The Arab League expressed hope that the pact would encourage the international community to take effective steps for making the Middle East free of nuclear and mass destruction weapons. “The international community, especially the permanent members of the UN Security Council should deal with Israeli nuclear arms with the same concern to prevent spread of such weapons,” the league said.
Kuwait’s Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Khaled Al-Jarallah said he hoped the agreement “would pave the way for a permanent accord that would defuse tension and preserve the stability and security of the region,” state news agency KUNA reported.
Related reports ­— Pages 6 & 10


Height of adventure: Treading the ‘Edge of the World’ near Riyadh

Updated 19 April 2018
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Height of adventure: Treading the ‘Edge of the World’ near Riyadh

  • Cliffs in Tuwaiq were formed as a result of the movement of the Arabian plate toward the northeast because of the spread of the Red Sea rift
  • Several prominent Saudi tour companies offer daylong excursions to the site

Thrill seekers and fitness gurus all over the Kingdom will be pleased to know that their choices for weekend activities have increased. 

Several tour operators in Riyadh have started offering trips to the area known as the Edge of the World, making the location more accessible than ever.

With the country’s obesity rates on the rise and many citizens growing more concerned about their physical health and stress levels, people are seeking ways to maintain their fitness without having to restrict themselves to the monotony of a gym routine.

One such solution that has steadily increased in popularity over the past year is hiking, which many have embraced as being much more exciting and fulfilling than spending hours on the treadmill. And most popular of all for hiking and other fitness activities in a natural setting is the magnificent landmark of Jabal Fihrayn, more commonly known as the Edge of the World.

Described as a “window framed by rock,” the Edge of the World offers stunning views of the valley below, a lush grove of acacia trees teeming with wildlife and vegetation. The spot is well-known for being a favorite of visiting picnickers.

Hikers can choose from several trails of varying levels of difficulty, making their way to the top of the Tuwaiq escarpment to take in the magnificent views at the top of the trail, where the colossal cliff faces drop off to reveal the dizzying height from the valley below. In addition to the rich wildlife unique to the location, you can also find samples of fossilized coral and raw mineral deposits in certain areas of the valley.

The cliffs in the areas were formed as a result of the tectonic movement of the Arabian plate toward the northeast because of the spread of the Red Sea rift situated 1,000 km to the west of Tuwaiq.

Due to the increasing popularity of the site, the authorities have built a hardtop that leads to the gates of the sites and arrangements are in place to protect the area and its natural treasures. 

Several prominent Saudi tour companies offer daylong excursions to the site. The more intrepid explorer also has the option to go alone; though past visitors recommend that solo travelers take an all-terrain, 4x4 vehicle and extra precaution. Visitors can spend the day at the site and leave before 6 p.m. (when the gates are closed for the night) or stay behind for a night of camping to enjoy the sunset and the breathtaking celestial views of a star-studded night sky.

Nora Alfard, amateur hiking enthusiast and two-time visitor to the location, was quick to offer praise about her trip. 

“The trip out there was a bit tiring, but totally worth it,” she said. “The views are stunning, and the hiking itself is not that difficult. Most people should be able to make it to the top without too much trouble.” She said she was likely to go a third time, and encouraged others to do the same.

The Edge of the World is roughly 100km northwest of Riyadh, about 1.5 hours’ drive from the capital. Visitors should be prepared for at least 30 minutes of hiking, possibly more depending on your trail and your level of fitness and experience. Previous visitors recommend bringing water and snacks, and stress the importance of dressing appropriately — hiking shoes only!

Decoder

What is hiking?

Hiking means a long, vigorous walk, usually on trails in the countryside. Day hikers generally carry at least food, a map or a GPS navigation device.