The interactive travelogue diaries of a Saudi across Europe
The interactive travelogue diaries of a Saudi across Europe
Abdullah Al-Jumah, a one-of-a-kind budding Saudi writer, legal adviser and postgraduate at Harvard, was inspired to write a chronicle on his travels across Europe at the beckoning of avid Twitter followers, who lived his journey with him online.
Madarek Publishing House published Al-Jumah’s Arabic account of his travels, entitled “Anecdotes from a Saudi journey across Europe” in Arabic in 2013, which quickly became a bestseller.
Unlike his two previous books, “Greats Without Schools,” another bestseller, and “Orphans Who Changed History,” the idea of writing his latest hit was inspired by the fact that his Tweets provided an interactive platform that was quickly gaining momentum.
“Through sharing my experiences with followers on Twitter, I felt I was traveling with several travelers and not all by myself,” he told French news channel France 24.
The book was a big hit at the Riyadh Book Fair, but the book-signing session by the author had been canceled twice thanks to an incredibly high turnout of fans, who caused bottlenecks at the fair.
Twenty-seven-year-old Al-Jumah is a lecturer at King Saud University, where he had completed his undergraduate degree.
The young writer had also studied at Bournemouth Business School in the United Kingdom before going on to pursue higher studies at the prestigious Harvard in the United States.
His book is a collection of 11 stories and anecdotes during the writer’s travels across nine different European countries.
Al-Jumah starts off his account with a surge of nostalgic emotions at his witnessing of Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece, where his hero Sultan Abdul Hamid II, the 34th sultan of the Ottoman Empire, was exiled.
The writer then moves onto New Forest, an area in southern England that includes one of the largest remaining tracts of unenclosed pastureland and forest, for an adventure under the rain with his friends.
The author then takes readers into the narrow roads of Genoa in Italy. His tiredness subsides as he takes a closer look at the majestic dome of Florence’s famous cathedral and he almost misses his flight getting a load of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
He then experiences a Titanic-like journey across the Baltic Sea and lives the joys of aristocracy at the famous English Ascot Racecourse, in addition to many other gripping tales in different cities.
The book is juvenile-spirited and provides a glimpse into the author’s youthful and firsthand accounts from its cover to the inside text.
Al-Jumah shares historical information to juxtapose reflective insight.
Indeed, his tone shifts from sadness and fear to curiosity and joyfulness throughout his account.
His writing style is simple and clear, targeting youth who are not avid readers.
At one point in the book, his travel buddies were prompted to ask him why he refused to drink beer or frequent nightclubs, evoking a deeper current of debate and cultural elements for thought.
The author also talks about some of the stereotypes he encountered as a Saudi.
An Italian tourist he had come across, for instance, wonders why Al-Jumah wasn’t staying at a high-end hotel instead of a budget hostels.
In fact, most hostel receptionists told Al-Jumah that he was the very first Saudi they welcomed at their premises.
The writer also mentions certain Saudi phrases, reflecting his identity and helping readers identify with his journey.
His book, however, is not well edited, with numerous misspellings, grammar mistakes and the occasional overdose of detail.
The book lacks creativity when it comes to descriptions, many of which are repetitive, and the Saudi element of his title isn’t always reflected in his writing with the exception of the chapter entitled “The Reversed Flag.”
Nevertheless, most of his anecdotes managed to grip me throughout.
Indeed, this is a brave and novel attempt by a young Saudi who may just have introduced a new frontier in national literature.
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Jada Pinkett Smith skydives in Dubai
DUBAI: Jada Pinkett Smith took to the skies of Dubai to jump out of a plane this week, skydiving in honor of her husband’s 50th birthday.
Will Smith celebrated his big day by bungee jumping from a helicopter in northern Arizona last month in a stunt billed as a leap “in the heart of the Grand Canyon.”
However, the “Fresh Prince” did not jump at Grand Canyon National Park but over a smaller gorge on the Navajo Nation, The Associated Press reported.
For her part, Pinkett Smith decided to go head-to-head with her thrill-seeking husband by skydiving in Dubai.
“He said this is my birthday gift to him. He was like, ‘I want you to come to Dubai and I want to see you skydive. That is what I want for my birthday’,” Pinkett Smith told People magazine. “I was like, ‘Really bro?’ I haven’t done a damn thing Will has wanted me to do in seven years!” she said. “I think for Will, he has always been adventurous. For now, in his life, he has released himself to be more of that. I’m not really adventurous in that way and he has been having his adventures and I told him, ‘These are the years – you’re turning 50, so this is the year of yes for me to you because I’m always telling you no’.”
She shared a photo of herself about to jump out of the plane strapped to a professional skydiver at Sky Dive Dubai on Instagram and captioned it: “Oh…by the way…I jumped out of a plane today.”
She was in the city with her wise-cracking husband, who earlier in the week posted a photo from a bathroom in the iconic Burj Khalifa.
The funnyman, who plays the role of the genie in the upcoming live-action version of “Aladdin,” posted a snap in which he is sitting on a toilet (fully clothed, don’t worry) in a bathroom in the tallest building in the world.
“Sitting on top of the world,” he joked in the caption.
The couple enjoyed a range of activities in Dubai, including a visit to the serene dunes of the city’s surrounding desert, where Pinkett Smith shared an inspirational message in an Instagram video about finding her path and facing feelings of loneliness.
“Thinking of those moments I compromised myself in fear of being alone,” she captioned the video, in which she can be seen wearing a traditional shemagh headpiece wrapped around her head.
The actress also got the chance to spend some quality time with elephants and thanked Dubai’s Crown Prince Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum for the opportunity, captioning a video of the playful animals, “I made a new friend today. I love elephants. They are soooo intelligent. Much love to HRH Sheikh Hamdan @faz3 for this opportunity (sic).”