Hello Helsinki: 48 hours in the Finnish capital

The Finnish Capital, Helsinki, shot from above. (Shutterstock)
Updated 19 November 2018
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Hello Helsinki: 48 hours in the Finnish capital

  • The best way to explore the city center is on foot, walking around beautiful, clean streets and taking in the fresh air
  • The best-known landmark is Senate Square and its surroundings, which make up the oldest part of central Helsinki

DUBAI: Access to Helsinki has just become easier for Gulf travelers thanks to the introduction of a new route from the UAE to the Finnish capital. Last month, budget carrier flydubai launched its Dubai-to-Helsinki flights, offering the best connection from Saudi Arabia as well.
Our first port of call after the six-hour trip was the utterly enchanting Hotel Kämp, arguably the best-known hotel in Helsinki — after all, it has been around for over 130 years. The classy, comfortable five-star property is known as a place to see and be seen.
While there, do check out Kämp Spa, where saunas are, of course, available. (There are almost as many saunas as there are people in Finland.) Kämp Spa offers two options: the eucalyptus-fragrance grotto steam sauna and a traditional Finnish one.
The best way to explore the city center is on foot, walking around beautiful, clean streets and taking in the fresh air. The best-known landmark is Senate Square and its surroundings, which make up the oldest part of central Helsinki. You can take in the glorious architecture of Helsinki Cathedral, while also viewing the Government Palace, the main building of Helsinki University, and Sederholm House, Helsinki’s oldest building, dating back to 1757.

For shoppers, Helsinki is home to one of the world’s most exciting and influential design scenes, and a treasure trove for unique pieces. Try TRE, which stocks over 300 brands of well-known classics as well as mostly homegrown products — including fashion, jewelry and furniture — from new designers.
Be warned, though: Helsinki is expensive. Very expensive. So you’re probably better off investing in a cool design piece for the home rather than the usual gifts and gadgets. You’ll leave with something memorable that’s high-quality and, of course, unique.
For something on the quirkier (and cheaper) side, second-hand clothes store UFF has chains across the city, where you’ll find some gems that are as good as new.
Dining out in the city also doesn’t come cheap, but it is an experience to savor. For casual snacking, The Old Market Hall sells cheese, beautifully fresh fish (we’d recommend the salmon), fruit and veg, and has cute little cafés.

For dinner, it’s worth treating yourself. Garden by Olo is an official ‘spin-off’ of the Michelin starred Olo and serves Nordic ingredients fused with Asian elements.
One of the newer eateries on the block is Restaurant Andrea at the newly opened Hotel St. George. Here, Nordic and Anatolian kitchens come together to offer a variety of sharing plates, inspired by both cuisines.
If you fancy taking in some of Finland’s stunning scenery, head to one of the national forests close to Helsinki. Nuuksio National Park — forests and lakes spread over Espoo, Kirkkonummi and Vihti — is easy to get to by public transport, and features eight marked trails for hiking in the freshest of air.

If you are visiting for more than a couple of days, then it is well worth exploring Lapland, the official home of Santa Claus. You’ll need to take a one-hour flight from Helsinki to Rovaniemi.
If time is tight, try a reindeer sleigh and husky sled experience, where you can interact with the animals on farms and enjoy rides through the snowy forests.
There’s so much more to see and do than is mentioned here, of course. We’re sure we’ll return to Finland one day, it’s definitely a trip worth making. Just don’t forget to pack your thermals.

 


History of Al-Zareeb Castle in Tabuk celebrated in new study

Al-Zareeb Castle in Al-Wajih governorate in Tabuk was also used as a resting place for pilgrims traveling to Makkah. (SPA)
Updated 16 December 2018
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History of Al-Zareeb Castle in Tabuk celebrated in new study

  • The castle also includes a prayer area (musalla) and residential units surrounded by water wells
  • The city is full of historical monuments and is mentioned in the books of Arab travelers

JEDDAH: The King Abdul Aziz Foundation for Research and Archives (DARAH) has published a history of Al-Zareeb Castle in Al-Wajh governorate in Tabuk, to mark the visit of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz to the region. Located 10 km east of Al-Wajh, surrounded by mountains, the castle was built in 1617 to protect pilgrims and their goods on their way to and from their Hajj journey. It was also used as a resting place for pilgrims traveling to Makkah.
It is well supplied by groundwater and is located 7.5 km from the international coastal route linking Al-Wajh and other coastal areas, such as Yanbuh, Umlaj and Duba.
The castle was built during the era of Sultan Ahmed I of the Ottoman Empire on the route of the Egyptian Hajj, that is to say the pilgrims coming from Egypt and North Africa. It was bombed during the Great Arab Revolt in 1916 and was recently renovated. Castles such as this were built in the form of the mini-city model.
The report said the rectangular castle has a set of towers surrounding the courtyards. The castle also includes a prayer area (musalla) and residential units surrounded by water wells. It is considered one of the most important remaining archaeological sites in the Tabuk region. The castle was built in stone, with an entrance on the eastern side and two ponds for water storage. Al-Zareeb castle marks the importance of castles at that time, aiding pilgrims as they traveled to the holy lands by horse and donkey. Pilgrims needed a place with water to rest and these castles allowed them to store their luggage safely.

Renovation
In the renovation work, the same types of stone and materials were used to preserve the original appearance of the castle’s exterior.
A cemetery is located to the east of the castle on a hillside. It is believed to contain the tombs of the soldiers who fought to protect the pilgrims’ route.
Al-Wajh city lies on the eastern coast of the Red Sea and is considered an important historical port, given its major role in the stimulation of trade before and after Islam.
The city is full of historical monuments and is mentioned in the books of Arab travelers, historians and even explorers such as Sir Richard Burton.