Riyadh’s Masmak Fort becoming popular tourist destination

Updated 29 January 2014

Riyadh’s Masmak Fort becoming popular tourist destination

Masmak Fort in Riyadh has become a model for modern museums in the Kingdom since its revamping by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) in 2012. Many of the most important historical artifacts related to Kingdom’s foundation and unification are found here.
“Masmak Museum is an important tourist destination for visitors of the Saudi capital, residents and students. Since its restoration in 1995 Masmak Fort has received around 1.3 million visitors,” said Nasser A. Al. Arifi, director of Masmak Museum.
With an aim to promote historical and cultural heritage of the country, the Ministry of Tourism has licensed a number of tour operators throughout the Kingdom to conduct periodic and systematic excursions to important places and cities in the country. These tours are becoming increasingly popular among youth and foreigners.
This year, an exceedingly large number of groups of expatriates joined the exposure visit to Masmak Fort accompanied by official tour operators. The Ministry of Tourism had appointed these operators for cultural exchange.
“The Kingdom has a rich potential for tourism. Displaying the country’s culture will help in its overall economic development,” said Salwa Hamad Al-Qunaibit, tour manager for Haya Tours.
Guided tours are increasingly becoming popular among inhabitants in the region.
Attending a line of display at Masmak Fort, Arab News talked to a group of tourists about their experience with tourism in Saudi Arabia.
“Tourism in Saudi has an interesting range that stretches from deep seas to endless deserts, rocks and mountains to holy sites. I have undertaken snorkeling and scuba diving excursions along the coral reefs in the Red Sea and I have made memorable visits to Madain Saleh and Taif with a couple of colleagues,” said Ed Young, a SABIC employee from England.
According to Mark Reilly from Scotland, who works for Al-Khorayef Company, “Visiting sites with tour guides is helpful. I have visited a number of tourist destinations in Saudi Arabia with tour operators. They provide accurate and detailed guidelines about the history, traditions and culture of the ancient and modern Saudi Arabia.”
Gerard van Heijster from the Netherlands, who works at SABIC Head Quarters in Arizona Resort, said, “I believe we have all gained extensive knowledge about the founder of Saudi Arabia, King Abul Aziz Al-Saud. The pictures and data in the different halls provided detailed information.”
Esabel from Germany shared, “I appreciate the English transcripts with various artifacts and exhibits in the museum. It really helped us understand the basic details about the historic displays.”
“I particularly liked the presentation on King Abdul Aziz and the men in armor, also the Najdi architecture reflected in the little triangular ventilators was fascinating,” said Erica Renbarger from California, a faculty member at Al-Faisal Academy in Riyadh.
Jade from England, who works as an English teacher at Princess Noura University, said, “It is enriching to utilize our stay in the country and learn about the richness and goodness of the Kingdom.”
Masmak Museum consists of several halls. The first recaptures Riyadh in its early days, the second showing the storming of Masmak Fort. A third hall explores the comrades of King Abdul Aziz Al Saud, who had participated in the recapture of Riyadh. There is a hall of Riyadh history, a hall highlighting the fort itself; how it was built and the material used in its construction. Another hall shows the building's various uses and purposes during King Abdul Aziz’s reign, in addition to a hall depicting the photographs of King Abdul Aziz in different stages of his reign.
With the rapid developments in the tourism industry, especially in Riyadh, there is immense scope for a better future and economic returns for tour operators in the Kingdom.

Safe Eid staycations in the UAE

The UAE extended the curfew to start at 8 p.m. as of May 20. (Shutterstock)
Updated 22 May 2020

Safe Eid staycations in the UAE

DUBAI: If you have been repeatedly pinching yourself to wake up from a bad dream, you are not alone. In the midst of the all-consuming coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the world has been forced to reconcile with a new order.

After several stages of grief for what was, and disbelief for what lies ahead, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and realized that summer is just around the corner, the same corner I had been walking to and from to stretch my legs since the UAE announced in March new measures to implement social distancing.

With this in mind, I decided not to stifle the ever-potent wanderlust that has powered me throughout the years. After all, there are places in the world with safe enough infrastructures to navigate the aggressive motorways of intercity traveling. So, I pumped my car with enough gas and hit the road.

Here are some tried and true (safe and in line with the directives of the Ministry of Health and Prevention) day trips and staycation destinations to keep you hanging in there:

Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach

The UAE Residents Key package starts from 1,100 Emirati dirhams ($300). (Fourseasons.com)

If you want to lose yourself in a micro-universe of (US filmmaker) Wes Anderson-esque opulence, look no further than the Four Seasons Resort on Dubai’s Jumeirah Road.

The UAE Residents Key package starts from 1,100 Emirati dirhams ($300) and is inclusive of a 20 percent discount on all in-house food and beverage outlets with early check-in and late check-out.

Upon arrival, guests are instantly beckoned by the tantalizing waters of the Arabian Gulf glistening through the panoramic windows of the lobby like a Henri Matisse painting.

Before heading out though, visit the Shai Salon near the check-in counter and bask underneath the lattice ceiling which resembles a starlit sky. While the kitchen is currently closed for dine-in, you may order from a selection of aromatic teas and nibble on finger foods on the terrace of your room.

After ample relaxation, it is time to soak up the sun. All beach beds are 2 meters apart, and if you forget sunscreen, worry not, as staff will come to the rescue.

The soft waves of this beachfront oasis, coupled with the tranquil, grainy white sand make for a dreamscape. Interspersing your cheeky dips in the water is a friendly ecosystem of shoals of bream, shellfish, and exotic birds.

Now that you are properly sun-kissed, head over to the SeaWake counter for some watersport playtime. Guaranteed to awaken the child within, you may choose a 45-minute wakeboarding session, a boat cruise to the canal, or a simple donut or banana ride into the sunset.

To answer the growling call of hunger, do not forget to claim the meal that comes with the UAE Residents Key package which offers a signature dish and dessert at Nammos by the sea.

Al-Qudra Lake, Al-Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve

It is the perfect spot to read that book you have been putting off all year. (Shutterstock)

A pleasant 30-minute drive takes you to this man-made wonder on the southern outskirts of Dubai as you bid farewell to the city’s skyline through the rearview mirror.

It is a habitat for flora and fauna, jaw-dropping migratory birds as well as local wildlife. You can spot deer, swans, flamingos, and some 200 bird species that have taken up refuge by the lake, some of which are endangered such as the Asian Houbara.

Catch the sunrise with a flask of hot tea as the birds announce the day or let the night sweep in as you stargaze under the silky skies. It is the perfect spot to read that book you have been putting off all year.

There are no on-site facilities at Al-Qudra, so be sure to stock up on food and drink. If you find yourself in a bind, head to nearby Bab Al Shams.

Ras Al-Khaimah Public Beach

The beach is on the same stretch as the famed Hilton Ras Al-Khaimah Resort and Spa. (Shutterstock)

This is not a de facto public beach but rather a serene strip of water that I stumbled upon while searching for a gas station.

On the same stretch as the famed Hilton Ras Al-Khaimah Resort and Spa and opposite the ADNOC station by the fish market, it is a little off the beaten track, which only adds to the mysticism.

The barren land surrounding it juxtaposed against the turquoise waves is a sight to behold. The boulders lined up on the side make for a nice little hiking challenge or a seat to prop you up for a sunset-tinted journaling session.

Just when you think you have the place to yourself, jellyfish swim up the shore. Do not forget to head back to the city before the curfew and grab an invigorating fresh pomegranate juice from Eat & Drink.