International Desert Festival focuses on Hail’s attractions
International Desert Festival focuses on Hail’s attractions
The event is being held under the aegis of Hail Gov. Prince Saud bin Abdul Mohsin, who is also chairman of the Tourism Promotion Council, at the Al-Meghwat picnic center. Morocco is the guest of honor at the festival, now in its eighth year.
The festival has become a popular event in the Kingdom. Artisans of handicrafts from inside and outside the Kingdom will display their wares. Various dishes popular among desert dwellers will also be available.
Various local and foreign dance troupes and poets will perform their work at the event. The Saudi Geographical Survey will have a geological exhibition, while the Saudi Wildlife Authority will feature desert flora and fauna.
The organizers have also set up an exhibition of old photographs of Hail to be displayed by the King Abdul Aziz Foundation for Research and Archives. The other exhibitions include crafts by local community development societies, one by the medical club of Hail University, and another on books organized jointly by the Hail Public Library and the literary club. Hail Museum is also showcasing its antique collections at the festival.
The festival organizers also plan to organize tourist trips deep into the desert to dormant volcanoes and ancient caves in the region. Desert camps are organized for those who want to spend the night. There will also be various desert games such as horseracing, camel racing, sand skating and mountaineering.
Several scientists and researchers will participate in the forums and lectures on various topics related to desert life on the sidelines of the festival. Mayor of Hail Ibrahim Abu Ras said the municipality organized the annual event with government departments and private organizations. He said the event would also be beneficial for vocal people because they can display their products for sale to thousands of visitors expected to attend.
Gili Lankanfushi: A gourmet getaway in the Maldives
- This island resort is the perfect destination for foodies and sun-worshippers alike
DUBAI: The Maldives is one of those destinations that nature has bestowed with an embarrassment of riches. And what nature has given, numerous resorts have taken and perfected with their ultra-luxury offerings. Which is what makes choosing exactly where to go that much more difficult. And while each island has its own special charm, anyone seeking a gastronomic experience should look no further than Gili Lankanfushi.
This intimate resort, located a 20-minute speedboat ride away from Male airport in the north Male atoll, is home to just 45 over-water villas. Everything on the island ¬— and beyond, as several of the villas are perched on stilts offshore — from the villas to the restaurants and the spa, is done up in a rustic-chic style, making for a pared-back, but still luxury, setting.
The inviting villas, complete with direct access to the crystal clear lagoons; curated collection of activities including snorkeling and sunset cruises; and Insta-perfect spots — think idyllic hammocks swinging between drooping palms — are temptation enough for tourists, but it’s the gourmet offerings that make Gili Lankanfushi a must for gourmands. And with a sustainable ethos at its heart — much of the food is created using local fish, and produce from the resort’s own organic vegetable garden — you can feel good about yourself while you’re eating too much.
We’d recommend taking the Gili Tasting Journey as soon as possible after your arrival. It takes you through the island’s main dining destinations for a teaser of what each has to offer, through a mini course and beverage at each, led by the resident sommelier Fabrice Blazquez who colors the evening with enjoyable banter.
A typical evening could start with canapés at the over-water bar, the perfect sundowner spot, before moving on to the spectacular underground wine cellar, built around a tree trunk that washed up during the 2006 tsunami — a great example of how this sustainably minded resort works with the environment, rather than imposing on it. This intimate space boasts organic features and pebble floors (you’re provided heated foot pads, as everyone is expected to walk around barefoot around the island, in line with their ‘no news, no shoes’ policy) which, combined with the modernist glass and metal, make it feel as though you’re walking into an art installation.
Here you can try intricate creations such as octopus with mango salsa, and beetroot jelly with goat’s cheese mousse, after which you are led into the leafy surrounds of the organic vegetable garden. As the sunset casts a magical glow over the rustic wood ‘leaf table’ you can sample some traditional Maldivian smoked fish snacks.
You then make your way to Fini Foni, a cute ice-cream parlor which, for this tour, offers foie-gras macarons. The evening ends with sushi and sake at specialty Japanese restaurant By The Sea.
The breakfast offering, too, is superlative. And best enjoyed beachside. The morning buffet offers a range of regional delicacies, including Mas huni (tuna and coconut served with flatbread), while the a la carte menu features eggs to order — we’d recommend the Maldivian spicy omelet with tuna and curry leaves. Alternatively, keep it light and healthy with fruits, smoothies, and detoxifying spa beverages.
Personalization is key to the Gili Lankanfushi experience. Each guest’s stay is managed by a private butler, resulting in bespoke dining experiences. The island is dotted with picturesque spots perfect for romantic meals, whether a gazebo tucked away in the tropical jungle, a secluded slither of beach, the outdoor jungle cinema, or the tiny One Palm island just offshore. Pick your spot and a personal chef cooks up a three-course meal of your choice for a magical experience.
Or, if you fancy staying in and enjoying the plush décor of your villa, just order in and chill. Unusually for a resort, ordering in-villa doesn’t cost a premium. Try dinner on your upstairs terrace, after which, weather permitting, you can even sleep out under the stars.
And once the guilt sets in, there are plenty of water-based activities — diving, fishing, surfing, sailing, waterskiing — to help you work off a few pounds.